LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Reforming Nevada’s juvenile justice system — that is the goal of a new bill which was recently introduced during the legislative session.
Nevada Assemblyman C.H. Miller (D-Clark County, District 7) says the main idea is to address the “school-to-prison pipeline.” That is when young people are funneled into the criminal justice system, even though rehabilitation would serve them better.
Assembly Bill 230 (AB 230) would essentially act as a barrier, so other options can be explored.
“Youth should be treated as youth,” Assem. Miller said.
Assem. Miller says AB 230 would change the process of direct filing, which places young people who have committed certain crimes directly into the adult criminal system.
“What we need to do is at least put the stop gap in place where they have to see a juvenile judge first, which is what this bill would do,” Assem. Miller said.
Those judges would check if rehabilitation through the juvenile justice system is possible for those teens, instead of sending them to prison. Assem. Miller says it is a simple step that can make a world of difference.
“When juveniles go to the adult criminal system, they most likely will return to the criminal system, and that’s what we want to stop,” Assem. Miller said.
But the bill, with an amendment provided by the Clark County District Attorney’s office, would not apply to those who commit crimes such as murder and attempted murder. The hope is to eventually include them. That is why the ACLU of Nevada is sponsoring a separate amendment, which would require a deeper look at what resources are needed to make that happen.
“To really deal with these kids who fall into this category where they’re a little bit older juvenile and they’ve committed some pretty serious crimes,” said Nicholas Shepack, a policy fellow with the ACLU of Nevada. “It’s really working to build a robust juvenile justice system that can hold all kids regardless of any crime they may have committed.”
But the first step is AB 230.
“Just passing this bill doesn’t get it done,” Assem. Miller said. “We still have a lot more to do.”
Again, the bill was just introduced. Next, it will need to be discussed in a committee work session, before it is voted on.