Committee wants office to inspect juvenile facilities

The Legislative committee studying Nevada's juvenile justice system voted Friday to recommend creating an office that would inspect all juvenile jails and other facilities in the state.

The recommendation was spawned by problems at the Nevada Youth Training Center in Elko, which resulted in sharp criticism from federal inspectors. There were reports of physical abuse of inmates among other issues.

That prompted the Nevada District Judges Association to pass a resolution calling on the governor to create "an institutional inspector's office" to conduct periodic inspections of everything from state prisons to state and county juvenile facilities as well as residential treatment facilities where juveniles are placed by court order.

The legislative committee headed by Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, agreed calling for inspections of adult prison and treatment facilities is beyond its scope. But Leslie has said on several occasions juvenile facilities need oversight to prevent more problems.

She said it should be created within the legislative counsel bureau rather than the governor's office.

"I think there's an inherent conflict in the executive branch regulating itself," she said.

Sen. Maurice Washington, D-Sparks, agreed, arguing the office should be created under the Legislative Audit Division. He was joined by Assemblyman Bernie Anderson, D-Sparks, and Sens. Valerie Wiener and Terry Care, both D-Las Vegas.

Anderson also said juvenile justice needs a "continuing standing presence" and that the study committee should be made into a permanent statutory committee.

The panel voted to ask for bill drafts that would create their committee as a permanent oversight committee and to create an office with staff to inspect and monitor all juvenile facilities in Nevada.

That legislation will be presented to the 2005 Legislature for consideration.

Contact Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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