Nevada Bill Protects Youth in the Adult System
On June 11th, Nevada Governor, Brian Sandoval, approved Assembly Bill 202 which protects youth from entering the adult criminal justice system in the state. AB 202 does several things to encourage the safety and rehabilitation of youth in both the juvenile and adult systems. The bill raises the age at which a child will be automatically transferred to 16 for murder or attempted murder. AB 202 also protects youth entering the adult jails by allowing those kids tried as adult to petition the court to be placed in juvenile detention facilities pending their court proceedings. Previously, youth could automatically be housed in adult jails while awaiting trial and research shows us that youth in adult jails are 19 times more likely to commit suicide than youth in the general population and 36 times more likely to commit suicide than youth in juvenile detention facilities.
Finally, the bill will take a retrospective and prospective look at the practice of prosecuting kids as adults by creating a task force to study certain issues relating to juvenile transfer, including blended sentencing as an option, capacity of juvenile facilities to house youth charged as adults, and costs analysis of housing those kids. The taskforce-- comprised of youth serving agencies, mental health professionals and child advocates--will work on gathering information and providing analysis through the interim session with recommendations for legislation provided to the 78th Session of the Nevada Legislature.
While this is a vast improvement to the Nevada justice system, there is much work to be done to ensure that youth are appropriately charged and rehabilitation is truly an option for all children.