Lawmakers consider package of criminal justice reforms

CARSON CITY — While legislative approval of several changes to Nevada’s criminal justice system now appears almost certain, other proposals are still meeting with resistance.

Inmate advocates pushed lawmakers Monday to pass AB416, mandating stronger oversight of the state’s Parole Board and prisons. The bill is one of the more controversial elements of a package of criminal justice reforms that lawmakers are considering.

Prison officials have opposed part of the bill creating an advisory committee to supervise prisons, saying it overlaps with a commission created in AB508, a sentencing reform bill.

The resistance has resulted in AB416 languishing in an Assembly committee. Senate Judiciary Chairman Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, said Monday he didn’t expect the bill to make it out of the Assembly.

But other elements of the bill, such as judicial discretion for certain penalties and changes to the Parole Board, may end up being rolled into a third measure, AB510, said Amodei.

That bill, which passed the Assembly 37-4, would expand the good-time credits offered to offenders who complete programs while incarcerated.

Both money committees have already approved budgets that set aside half of the estimated $6.6 million in savings those credits should bring.

AB416 also would make Parole Board meetings subject to the open meeting law and grant inmates the right to get an explanation of why they were denied parole.

Under the current system, prisoners often don’t get that, said Assemblyman David Parks, D-Las Vegas, who has been pushing the bill together with its chief sponsor, Assemblyman Harvey Munford, D-Las Vegas.

Supporters of the bill say the current Parole Board operates with little oversight, despite the fact that it complied with open meetings laws several years ago.

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