Nevada Assembly passes sweeping criminal justice reform bill
A sprawling criminal justice reform bill that aims to curb the state’s growing prison population inched one step closer to becoming law on Tuesday.
Democrats in the state Assembly passed the amended legislation, which now must gain approval from the Democrat-controlled state Senate before becoming law.
The measure lessens penalties for certain crimes, such as raising the monetary threshold for a felony theft charge to $1,200. But an amendment to the bill rolls back an effort in the original legislation to lessen jail time for certain crimes, changes that came after backroom negotiations with prosecutors and law enforcement officials.
The original bill aimed to ease the penalty for a first-time drug offense, classifying a possession charge as a misdemeanor in cases involving less than 14 grams of drugs. The amended version of the bill restores the penalty to a felony charge.
It’s unclear if other reforms will be rolled back when the bill reaches the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is headed by Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, a Clark County prosecutor.
Assemblyman Steve Yeager, a Democrat who backs the bill, says projected savings from the amended reform bill will be less than expected. He said the changes will result in about $550 million in savings over the next decade. The figure is $90 million less in savings than what was projected from the original legislation.
Assemblywoman Lisa Krasner, a Republican, spoke in opposition of the measure Tuesday and told fellow lawmakers she feels “there’s still just a little work that needs to be done on it.”
Another Republican, Assemblyman Tom Roberts, said the $1,200 threshold for a felony theft charge is too high and voiced concerns that certain portions were a bit too lenient on parolees and probationers.