Lawmakers vote for good-time credits |

Lawmakers vote for good-time credits

Associated Press

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Nevada's Senate Judiciary committee meets on the Senate floor Friday at the Legislature as state lawmakers hit crunch time in the final weekend of the 120-day session. From left are, Sen. Maurice Washington, R-Sparks, Sen. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, legal analyst Brad Wilkinson, and Sens. Steven Hosford, Valerie Wiener, both D-Las Vegas, and Mike McGinness, R-Fallon.

The state Senate voted 16-5 Friday for a measure that could help ease overcrowding in Nevada prisons by providing expanded good-time credits for inmates and more sentencing discretion for judges.

Under AB510, judges would have more discretion on enhancement penalties. Also, the bill would increase good-time credits that inmates get for completing educational and drug treatment programs.

Lawmakers have said that the reforms are needed to get the state’s prison budget under control. This year’s prison budget assumes $3.3 million in savings from the reforms.

The bill ultimately won support from law enforcement lobbyists, who said they were satisfied that it would not create a flood of prisoners returning to communities. All releases are still subject to the approval of the state Parole Board.

Senate Judiciary Committee members who revised the bill said they were open to returning judicial discretion on enhancement penalties, although some panel members were concerned that the reforms would ultimately lead to undoing the state’s “truth in sentencing” laws established in the mid-1990s.

Those laws imposed penalty enhancements, including a mandatory doubling of sentences in some cases. AB510 would allow judges to issue enhancement sentences worth an extra one to 10 years in prison, or one to 20 years in the case of enhancements for using a handgun. In any case, the enhancement penalty could not be longer than the length of the original sentence.

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The bill did not include some reforms to the prison system and Parole Board that had been requested by reformers such as Assemblyman Harvey Munford, D-Las Vegas.