Money committees reject governor’s cuts to parole & probation; split county costs of presentencing reports |

Money committees reject governor’s cuts to parole & probation; split county costs of presentencing reports

A joint session of the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees Monday decided the governor’s cuts to the Division of Parole and Probation went too far.

With Republicans opposed, the majority voted to reject the governor’s proposal cutting 40 officers and five sergeants to save $7.8 million over the biennium.

Instead they voted to add back 44 positions over the biennium to ensure the average caseload doesn’t exceed 80 per parole officer.

“This is really about public safety,” said Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno.

She said the governor’s option of shifting more parolees to a classification where they aren’t actively monitored by Parole & Probation isn’t acceptable. Under the governor’s plan, staff told lawmakers, there would be at least 3,440 parolees where they aren’t monitored directly by P&P officers. They were told that, with P&P’s average 15 percent staff vacancy rate, that number would climb to more than 5,300.

“Home visits have to be done,” she said adding that, if they know they aren’t being watched, more of them will commit new crimes. “These are dangerous people.”

Senate Majority Leader Staven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, said not monitoring parolees properly amounts to “breaking the public’s trust.”

In addition, a majority of the two committees voted to share the cost of preparing pre-sentence reports instead of shifting the entire cost of the district courts.

Making counties pay the cost would cost them a total of $10.7 million over the biennium but lawmakers said they recognize that the state as well as the district courts benefit from those reports.

Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, said pushing this cost onto the counties just adds to the burden the state is imposing on them this session.

“We’re looking at a lot of things not being funded,” she said.

Assemblyman Tom Grady, R-Yerington, pointed out that, while the state pays salaries of the judges, the counties pay all the other costs of operating the district court system.

The votes on both issues were party line with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed.

They decided to bill the counties for 70 percent of the total cost of preparing those reports – an estimated $7.5 million. The state would pick up the remaining $3.2 million needed.