Ten more added to try reduce criminal history reports backlog | NevadaAppeal.com

Ten more added to try reduce criminal history reports backlog

The Interim Finance Committee on Monday agreed to add another 10 staff to the crew trying to reduce a huge backlog in criminal dispositions at the state Criminal History Repository.

Julie Butler, administrator of General Services at the Department of Public Safety, said even though IFC in June added 10 permanent staff and 10 temporary staff to her crew, they still are buried in court decisions — many dating years back — that were never reported to the repository and entered into the criminal history database.

Law enforcement officials have said the accuracy of that database is critically important to officers on the street. Butler said it also is important to those seeking background checks to get jobs in a long list of professions as well as the companies that want to hire them. Those background checks are mandatory for a variety of jobs including those that deal directly with school students, children and seniors as well as others.

The problem is that, as of last June, only 57 of Nevada’s district courts were reporting their dispositions in criminal cases to the repository. Some, lawmakers were told, hadn’t reported case decisions for up to 20 years despite statutes requiring them to do so.

Butler said now all 78 courts are reporting but that the increase has resulted in a flood of cases landing on her staff, further increasing the backlog.

As off a week ago, she said that backlog was 883,911 cases.

The additional 10 temporary workers, she said, will be funded entirely by a $230,192 federal Criminal Justice grant. She said the grant and staff will enable the repository to add a graveyard shift to process old cases and reduce the backlog without requiring added office space and computers.

She said the plan is to eliminate the backlog by 2019.

In other business, the legislative committee:

Approved adding $1.5 million to the state’s Statutory Contingency Fund — primarily to cover growing expenses of the legal battle between Nevada’s Health and Human Services Department and the City of San Francisco. The city is suing claiming damages resulting from alleged “patient dumping” by the Rawson Neal Hospital for mental patients in Las Vegas. The allegation is that Nevada was giving newly released patients bus tickets to San Francisco to get them out of Nevada.

Director of Administration Julia Teska said those expenses so far have reached about $2 million because Nevada has had to hire California lawyers to defend the case. The good news, according to Senior Deputy Attorney General Linda Anderson, is that the state’s case has been strong enough that San Francisco has agreed to sit down and discuss settlement.

Gave final approval to the Supreme Court to spend the $782,500 set aside by the 2013 Legislature to fund the first six months of the newly voter-authorized appellate court. Justice James Hardesty said three finalists for each of the three positions has been sent to Gov. Brian Sandoval who is expected to select the new justices in the near future. He said furniture and computers have been ordered and that offices in both the Southern Regional Justice Center and the Carson Supreme Court building are being prepared.

Hardesty said the goal is to swear them in Jan. 5.

After they are officially in office, Hardesty said the Supreme Court hopes “to be able to hand them 150 cases to get working” almost immediately.