In a historic move for the court system, Clark County now has its own special court for gambling addicts. So, instead of prison, those with non-violent crimes can now get help through treatment.
Its been a long time coming for many people who have been pushing to implement this in Nevada.
“We need this. Nevada needs this. It’s huge,” said Judge Cheryl Moss.
Nevada has one of the highest rates of problem gambling in the country. However, Judges will now be able to order intensive counseling for gamblers. They’ll retain oversight of their recovery too.
“Here in Clark County, I believe that our legal system is recognizing how significant it is to provide that opportunity,” said Carol O’Hare, Executive Director of Nevada Council on Problem Gambling.
Not only is the court system giving people a second chance, but it will also be cost-effective.
“The average person who would receive treatment can run anywhere between $1,400 to $2,500 or up. The average person who is kept incarcerated in the state of Nevada would cost the state $24,000 a year per person,” said Moss.
For the past 10 years, Judge Moss has been fighting to get this done. A picture of the person who inspired her sits on her desk.
“My late mother used to be a psychiatrist here, and she was one of the founding mothers who advocated for treatment,” said Moss.
In her 17 years as a Family Court Judge, Moss says this could be one of her greatest accomplishments.
“These are folks who have a diagnosable and treatable mental health disorder,” O’Hare said. “Lacking their addiction, the crime would not have happened. So, putting people in prison does not resolve the problem; it merely delays the justice for their victims and for them to get the help they need.”
If gambling addicts are unable to pay for treatment, Moss says grants are also available.
“I waited to see this, and my mother’s probably smiling down from heaven,” she said.