Len Engel, Director of Policy and Campaigns

CJI friends –

Now that most state legislative sessions have concluded, I’d like to share some thoughts. Criminal justice was on many state legislative agendas. Some states, like Oklahoma and Florida, missed opportunities. And Alaska rolled back a criminal justice law that opponents blamed for increasing crime, despite the fact that the rate had been increasing well before the law passed.

Other states focused legislation on improving key components of their criminal justice systems. In one notable advancement, Utah became the second state to pass clean slate legislation mandating the automatic sealing of certain criminal records.

Nevada was a standout, passing 2019’s most comprehensive package. The state reviewed its criminal justice system and adopted transformational policies – reforms that will improve public safety and increase access to crucially needed behavioral health alternatives.

With support from CJI, Nevada state leaders researched, crafted, and passed an impressive bipartisan reform package .

Truly something to be proud of!

Nevada state leaders’ commitment to effective interventions aims to reduce crime
and recidivism. We are excited to continue to support Nevada as it implements these important changes.

Nevada benefitted from the counsel of many of you. We are especially grateful for the support and guidance from the Justice Reinvestment Initiative funders, Bureau of Justice Assistance at the U.S. Department of Justice and Pew Charitable Trusts. 

Thank you all.

To learn more about the Nevada legislation, see below.

  • CJI Applauds Passage of Nevada Criminal Justice Legislation: "With the passage of AB 236, Nevada has embraced evidence and data over fear and anecdote by advancing criminal justice legislation that will pave the way for continued work to focus prison resources on those who pose the greatest risk to public safety."

CJI provided technical assistance to Nevada leaders in the development of AB 236, signed into law by Governor Sisolak on June 14.

Nearly a year of data collection and analysis; assessment of effective correctional practices and service-delivery gaps; and the development of policies designed to reduce recidivism, expand access to services, and improve public safety resulted in the passage and signing into law of AB 236 . This comprehensive piece of criminal justice reform will move Nevada toward a more balanced and sustainable criminal justice system.

AB 236 will significantly impact Nevada by slowing its prison population growth over the next decade and will allow the s tate to invest in the behavioral health gaps identified by the Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice (ACAJ) and to provide law enforcement with additional tools to more effectively intervene in addiction and mental health crises.

More specifically, AB 236 addresses Nevada’s specific challenges by targeting interventions and services for individuals with behavioral health needs, aligning sentence lengths with the severity of conduct for non-violent offenses, and incorporating best practices into community supervision that effectively change individuals’ behavior rather than cycling individuals in and out of the system. By engaging stakeholders across the political spectrum, analyzing data, and focusing on evidence-based strategies that reduce recidivism, AB 236 gives taxpayers a better return on their public safety investment and makes resources available for necessary public services such as employment training, education, and housing.

CJI's examination of Nevada’s prison population showed that an increase in the number of admissions and the amount of time individuals served time in prison drove its growth. Over the past decade, more and more individuals cycled through Nevada’s prison doors and a failing community supervision system. The majority of admissions (66%) were for nonviolent property and drug offenses, especially for the female prison population (70%). Apart from admissions, data revealed that individuals served 20% longer in prison than six years ago. 

Currently there are more than 13,700 inmates in Nevada prisons, an increase of 7% since 2009. CJI projected Nevada’s prisons would top 15,000 inmates by 2028 without significant action by the Legislature. Instead, the state will avert 63% of its prison population growth, save $543 million, and reduce crime and recidivism to make Nevada communities stronger and safer. 

Thanks to the many partners who helped Nevada make this possible:

The American
Conservative Union

Americans for Prosperity

Americans for Tax Reform

Battle Born Progress

Clark County
Chamber of Commerce 
Culinary Union

Faith and Freedom Coalition


Justice Solutions

Nevada Attorneys
for Criminal Justice

Nevada Catholic
Nevada Retail Association

Progressive Leadership
Alliance of Nevada

R Street

Reno Sparks
Chamber of Commerce

Right on Crime

Thanks to our many partners and funders who help us make this work happen. Read more about the Arnold Ventures , Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) , National Institute of Corrections, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) , and Pew Charitable Trusts.