CARSON CITY -- A Nevada lawmaker testified Thursday that the main consideration in granting paroles to inmates should be their potential to stay out of trouble and contribute positively to society once they're back on the street.
Assembly Bill 424, proposed by Assemblyman Harvey Munford, D-Las Vegas, and backed by inmate advocates and family members, would change the state Parole Board's current system of considering severity of an inmate's crime as a major factor in parole decisions.
Also under the bill, decisions to release inmates with low-level felonies who follow prison rules and aren't seen as threats to society would shift to the state Department of Corrections director, a plan opposed by the current director, Howard Skolnik.
Munford said corrections directors are better suited to grant paroles for such inmates because they deal with them on a daily basis and can gauge better how they would behave upon release. He added his bill would save the state money by reducing the number of inmates behind bars.
Assembly Corrections, Parole and Probation Committee Chairman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, questioned the plan, saying conflicts of interest might arise if prison staffers play direct roles in inmate parole determination.
Skolnik said prison system standards only permit prison staffers to give the Parole Board factual information about inmates and not recommendations regarding potential inmate success after release. He said correction and parole staffs do two different things.
"Our people are geared to success inside the institution, Skolnik said. "The skills required by an individual to succeed in prison are not the same skills they need to succeed in the community."