May 31, 2011, Nevada Appeal:
The legislation to expand good time credits and get more felons out of Nevada’s prison system won legislative approval Monday.
But not without drama as, on the first vote in the Senate, Democratic Senator John Lee joined Republicans to defeat the bill allowing more categories of inmates to get good-time credits.
Category B felons can already get good-time credits to reduce their maximum sentences. AB136 would have allowed certain Category B felons to apply good-time credits to the minimum term of incarceration, which is already allowed for lesser categories of felon. Supporters say that will save the state money by getting those felons out of prison, which saves the state about $25,000 apiece each year.
With all Republicans and Lee opposed, AB136 failed 10-11 on the first vote. But on the second agenda shortly before 7 p.m., Lee moved to reconsider the action. On the revote, the bill passed 11-10.
Sen. Allison Copening, D-Las Vegas, said only non-violent B-class felons could reduce their minimum sentences under the legislation. She said they would also be denied if there was a firearm involved or for any felon serving his or her third felony sentence.
Supporters also pointed out the credits don’t actually get the inmate out of prison, that they just allow earlier access to a parole board hearing.
“It does not in any way assure the inmate will be granted parole,” said Sen. Valerie Wiener, D-Las Vegas.
But Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, said the bill would add more confusion to a system that is already so vague that victims don’t know how long a person will serve in prison after conviction. He said a retired judge told him judges don’t even know.
The measure goes to the governor.
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