Please call today to have these important Bills heard!

Please PRESS FOR A HEARING ON SB 279 (Independent Ombudsman)  and AB 401 (COURTS OF INQUIRY bill that would EXONERATE the Innocent). Please call your Legislators and/or Ira Hanson (see below) today to have these Bills heard.

SB279 – Extremely important for Human Rights (Independent Ombudsman) – PRESS FOR A HEARING ON THIS BILL!We need an independent Ombudsman in Nevada to go to for complaints about the many abuses people in Nevada’s prisons suffer. This would be an independent office, not run by NDOC.

And AB401:COURTS OF INQUIRY Bill to EXONERATE the Innocent.

PRESS FOR A HEARING ON THIS BILL!

Please call Ira Hansen, Assembly Judiciary Chairman’s office today: 775-684-8851,ask that they call his office and pass AB401.

See also ThinkProgress for an article about AB 401.

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ACLU: Democracy Tarnished in the Silver State

From ACLU Nevada
Jun 17th, 2011
Posted by Rebecca Gasca, ACLU of Nevada & Nicole Kief, ACLU

We had hoped that, amidst a sea of restrictive voting initiatives across the country, Nevada would be a beacon of light. But today, with a stroke of Gov. Brian Sandoval’s pen, the Silver State jumped on the voter suppression bandwagon.

Right now in Nevada, if you’re convicted of a felony, good luck figuring out how to get your voting rights back. The state’s absurdly complicated and overly punitive voter disfranchisement law bars an estimated 43,000 people with felony convictions from voting. (Across the country, these laws keep more than 5 million people out of the political process.)

If you get your hands on a copy of the ACLU of Nevada’s brochure (which needs two full pages to explain Nevada’s policy), you’ll learn that some people get their rights back when they finish their sentences, while others have to petition their courts of conviction for restoration. Those with federal convictions need — wait for it — presidential pardons in order to vote again.

Recognizing this mess, the legislature passed a bill to simplify and improve the state’s law, but Gov. Sandoval has just vetoed it. So much for expanding democracy.

Not only is Nevada’s disfranchisement law undemocratic, it’s a voter registrar’s nightmare. Indeed, when the ACLU of Nevada surveyed the 17 county clerk offices around the state, we found that not a single elections employee was able to provide a comprehensive answer to the question of whether people who had completed their felony sentences could vote.

If even the highly capable individuals charged with administering Nevada’s election laws are unable to comprehend all of the law’s twists and turns, how can we expect the voting public to understand it?

And it’s not just the ACLU and our ally the Brennan Center for Justice who recognize the need for change. In fact, the head of the American Probation and Parole Association testified that “full civic participation by citizens living in our community protects public safety…restoring the right to vote sends the message that ex-offenders are welcome as integral members of their home communities and helps invest them in our democracy.”

Shame on you, Gov. Sandoval. Investing people in our democracy is something we should all be able to get behind.

Governor vetoes audit for costs of death penalty in Nevada

Sandoval’s veto tally at 10 bills
By Ed Vogel
Las Vegas Review-Journal
Posted: Jun. 8, 2011

CARSON CITY — As the Legislature was rushing to adjourn at 1 a.m. Tuesday, Gov. Brian Sandoval was doing what he has done with increasing regularity during the legislative session: vetoing bills.

Sandoval vetoed Assembly Bill 501, which would have required an audit on the costs of the death penalty …

In vetoing the death penalty audit, Sandoval said he was not convinced it would be a fair audit.

“The bill, for example, lists the costs to be assessed in determining the overall fiscal impact of the imposition of the death penalty, but it does not specify how it is these costs will be assessed,” the governor said.

Sandoval, a former state attorney general and federal judge, said that death row inmates make “individualized litigation choices” that drive up the costs of their cases.

Nearly 80 prisoners are on Nevada’s death row in the Ely State Prison.

Almost all Republican legislators voted against the two bills.

Read the rest and the pieces inbetween here.

ACLU: Let’s be Smart on Crime

Submitted 04/11/2011

The death penalty is expensive. An increasing body of evidence shows that death penalty cases cost far more than cases seeking life in prison without parole, from trial preparation to execution. Seeking the death penalty automatically triggers heightened obligations for state-appointed defense attorneys. A recent review of the federal death penalty found that the median cost of a case in which the government seeks the death penalty is nearly eight times greater than similar cases where the death penalty was not sought.

By simply seeking the death penalty, the State significantly raises the stakes of a case – not only to the defendant, but to the taxpayers who foot the bill.

Nevada has no official studies of its own to confirm that the death penalty in fact is more expensive for the state. AB 501 authorizes such an in-depth study into the fiscal costs of the death penalty in Nevada and places a moratorium on executions through July 1, 2013 while the study is conducted.

We do know, however, that Nevada has expansive and often vague statutory language concerning the capital punishment. This opens the door to both costly litigation to pin down the meaning of these statutes and to prosecutors seeking the death penalty more often than they should. AB 460 aims to streamline and clarify Nevada’s death penalty laws and better allocate the limited resources of the criminal justice system.

Both of these bills will help the state focus money where it is most needed, and not on the costly, inefficient system of the death penalty.

Please send an email to your Assemblyperson now and urge them to support AB 460 and AB 501.

Sample Email in Support of AB 460 and AB 501

Dear Assemblyperson:

Like many Nevadans, I am concerned about the financial priorities of the state. I know that you have very hard choices ahead in deciding where to spend our limited resources and where to make cuts. There are no easy solutions, and like you, I want our state to focus its resources in the most thoughtful and meaningful ways. That is why I am strongly urging you to support AB460 and AB501.

AB501 will examine how much money we are spending on the death penalty over life in prison without the possibility of parole, and will impose a temporary moratorium on executions while the study is conducted. AB460 will clarify vague statory language about the death penalty, reducing the need for costly litigation over the laws and over-charging the death penalty.

Both AB460 and AB501 will save the state money – money that is desparately needed in other areas of the budget. We need to start being smart on crime, and can no longer afford to continue down such an expensive road.

Sincerely,
Your Name
Your Address
———————–
Note by NPW: NPW supports at least the end of the death penalty and the end of Life without Parole sentences, as well as excessive sentencing.

SB 201 Ombudsman for Nevada´s prisons approved

SB201 for the Ombudsman has been approved (with amendments)!

S.B. 201

SENATE BILL NO. 201–SENATORS PARKS, LESLIE; BREEDEN,
COPENING, DENIS, HORSFORD, KIHUEN AND MANENDO
FEBRUARY 28, 2011
____________
JOINT SPONSORS: ASSEMBLYMEN MUNFORD, ANDERSON;
ATKINSON, BOBZIEN, CARLTON, CARRILLO AND HOGAN

Referred to Committee on Judiciary
SUMMARY—Revises provisions relating to correctional
institutions. (BDR 16-827)
FISCAL NOTE: Effect on Local Government: No.
Effect on the State: Yes.

EXPLANATION – Matter in bolded italics is new; matter between brackets [omitted material] is material to be omitted.

AN ACT relating to correctional institutions; establishing an
Ombudsman for Offenders to receive and process
complaints by offenders and certain other persons;
establishing the powers and duties of the Ombudsman;
requiring the Ombudsman to adopt regulations relating to
the processing of such complaints; requiring the
Ombudsman to make certain reports to the Department of
Corrections, the Legislature and the Advisory
Commission on the Administration of Justice; requiring
the Director of the Department to adopt regulations which
comply with certain standards; and providing other
matters properly relating thereto.
Legislative Counsel’s Digest:

1 Section 7 of this bill creates the Office of the Ombudsman for Offenders within
2 the Office of the Attorney General.
3 Section 8 of this bill grants the Attorney General the power to appoint and
4 remove the Ombudsman for Offenders.
5 Section 9 of this bill sets forth the powers of the Ombudsman.
6 Sections 10 and 11 of this bill specify the accounting and use of money
7 collected by the Ombudsman.
8 Section 12 of this bill directs the Ombudsman to establish regulations
9 governing the receipt, processing and reporting of complaints from Legislators,
10 offenders and family members of offenders and from the Ombudsman.
11 Sections 13 and 17 of this bill specify the responsibilities of the Ombudsman
12 concerning the processing and reporting of complaints and actions taken in
13 response to the complaints.
14 Section 14 of this bill requires the Ombudsman to notify certain persons of the
15 Ombudsman’s decision regarding the processing of a complaint.
16 Section 15 of this bill makes confidential certain information relating to
17 complaints, reports and recommendations.
18 Section 16 of this bill requires the Ombudsman to prepare and submit a
19 biennial report for the Department of Corrections, the Legislature and the Advisory
20 Commission on the Administration of Justice.
21 Section 18 of this bill prohibits the penalizing of an offender for certain acts
22 relating to complaints and prohibits the hindrance of the Ombudsman in performing
23 the duties of office.
24 Section 19 of this bill provides that the authority of the Ombudsman is not
25 exclusive of other available remedies.
26 Existing law requires the Director of the Department to protect the health and
27 safety of the staff and offenders in the institutions and facilities of the Department.
28 (NRS 209.131) Section 20 of this bill requires the Director to establish regulations
29 which comply with the standards set by the National Commission on Correctional
30 Health Care to govern staff training in medical emergency response and reporting.
31 Existing law also requires the Director to establish standards for the personal
32 hygiene of offenders and for the medical and dental services at correctional
33 institutions and facilities. (NRS 209.381) Section 21 of this bill requires those
34 standards to comply with standards set by the National Commission on
35 Correctional Health Care.
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEVADA, REPRESENTED IN
SENATE AND ASSEMBLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:
1 Section 1. Chapter 209 of NRS is hereby amended by adding
2 thereto the provisions set forth as sections 2 to 19, inclusive, of this
3 act.
4 Sec. 2. As used in sections 2 to 19, inclusive, of this act,
5 unless the context otherwise requires, the words and terms defined
6 in sections 3 to 6, inclusive, of this act have the meanings ascribed
7 to them in those sections.
8 Sec. 3. “Administrative act” includes an action, omission,
9 decision, recommendation, practice or other procedure of the
10 Department.
11 Sec. 4. “Complainant” means a Legislator, an offender or a
12 family member of an offender who files a complaint as described
13 in section 12 of this act.
14 Sec. 5. “Official” means the Director, a deputy director,
15 manager, warden or employee of the Department.
16 Sec. 6. “Ombudsman” means the Ombudsman for
17 Offenders.
1 Sec. 7. The Office of the Ombudsman for Offenders is
2 hereby created within the Office of the Attorney General.
3 Sec. 8. 1. The Attorney General shall appoint the
4 Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is in the unclassified service of the
5 State. The person appointed:
6 (a) Must be knowledgeable in the field of corrections; and
7 (b) Must be independent of the Department.
8 2. The Attorney General may remove the Ombudsman from
9 office for inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance in office.
10 Sec. 9. The Ombudsman may:
11 1. Employ such staff as is necessary to carry out the duties
12 and functions of his or her office, in accordance with the
13 personnel practices and procedures established within the
14 Attorney General’s Office. The Ombudsman has sole discretion to
15 employ and remove any member of his or her staff.
16 2. Purchase necessary equipment.
17 3. Lease or make other suitable arrangements for office
18 space, but any lease which extends beyond the term of 1 year must
19 be reviewed and approved by a majority of the members of the
20 State Board of Examiners.
21 4. Perform such other functions and make such other
22 arrangements as may be necessary to carry out the duties and
23 functions of his or her office.
24 Sec. 10. 1. All money collected by the Ombudsman must be
25 deposited with the State Treasurer for credit to the Account for the
26 Ombudsman for Offenders, which is hereby created.
27 2. Money in the Account may be used:
28 (a) To defray the costs of maintaining the Office of the
29 Ombudsman; or
30 (b) For any other purpose authorized by the Legislature.
31 3. All claims against the Account must be paid as other
32 claims against the State are paid.
33 Sec. 11. All gifts and grants of money which the
34 Ombudsman is authorized to accept must be deposited with the
35 State Treasurer for credit to the Account for the Ombudsman for
36 Offenders.
37 Sec. 12. The Ombudsman shall, by regulation, establish
38 procedures for receiving, processing and reporting complaints
39 from a Legislator, an offender or a family member of an offender
40 and for processing and reporting allegations personally known to
41 the Ombudsman concerning:
42 1. An administrative act which is alleged to be contrary to law
43 or a policy of the Department; or
1 2. Significant issues relating to the health or safety of
2 offenders and other matters for which there is no effective
3 administrative remedy.
4 Sec. 13. 1. The Ombudsman shall advise a complainant to
5 pursue all administrative remedies that are available to the
6 complainant. The Ombudsman may request and shall receive from
7 the Department a progress report concerning the administrative
8 processing of a complaint. After the Department has taken
9 administrative action on a complaint, the Ombudsman may
10 process and report a complaint on the request of a complainant or
11 on his or her own initiative.
12 2. The Ombudsman is not required to process or report a
13 complaint brought before the Ombudsman. A person is not
14 entitled as a right to have his or her complaint processed or
15 reported by the Ombudsman.
16 Sec. 14. After the Ombudsman receives a complaint from a
17 Legislator, an offender or a family member of an offender as
18 described in section 12 of this act and decides to process
19 the complaint, the Ombudsman shall notify the complainant, the
20 offender or offenders affected and the Department. If the
21 Ombudsman declines to process the complaint, the Ombudsman
22 shall notify the complainant in writing and inform the offender or
23 offenders affected of the reasons for the Ombudsman’s decision.
24 Sec. 15. 1. Correspondence between the Ombudsman and
25 an offender is confidential and must be processed as privileged
26 correspondence in the same manner as letters between offenders
27 and courts, attorneys or public officials.
28 2. The Ombudsman shall keep confidential all matters
29 relating to a complaint and the identities of the complainants or
30 persons from whom information is acquired, except so far as
31 disclosures may be necessary to enable the Ombudsman to
32 perform the duties of the office and to support any
33 recommendations resulting from the processing of a complaint.
34 3. A report prepared and recommendations made by the
35 Ombudsman and submitted pursuant to section 16 of this act are
36 exempt from disclosure under chapter 239 of NRS.
37 Sec. 16. 1. For each regular session of the Legislature, the
38 Ombudsman shall prepare a report on:
39 (a) The conduct of the Office of the Ombudsman for
40 Offenders;
41 (b) Complaints processed by the Ombudsman; and
42 (c) Findings resulting from those complaints if the
43 Ombudsman finds:
44 (1) A matter that should be considered by the Department;
1 (2) An administrative act that should be modified or
2 cancelled;
3 (3) A statute or regulation that should be altered;
4 (4) An administrative act for which justification is
5 necessary;
6 (5) Significant issues relating to the health or safety of
7 offenders; or
8 (6) Any other significant concerns as set forth by
9 regulation.
10 2. The report must be submitted not later than September 1 of
11 each even-numbered year to the Department and the Director of
12 the Legislative Counsel Bureau for distribution to the Legislature
13 and the Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice.
14 3. Subject to section 17 of this act, the Legislature may
15 forward all or part of a report prepared and submitted pursuant to
16 this section to the complainant or the offender or offenders
17 affected.
18 Sec. 17. 1. Before publishing a finding or recommendation
19 that expressly or by implication criticizes a person or the
20 Department, the Ombudsman must consult with that person or the
21 Department.
22 2. When publishing a finding adverse to the Department or
23 any person, the Ombudsman shall include in that publication a
24 statement of reasonable length made to the Ombudsman by the
25 Department or person in defense or mitigation of the action, if that
26 statement is provided within a reasonable period of time as
27 specified by regulation.
28 3. The Ombudsman may request to be notified by the
29 Department, within a specified period of time, of any action taken
30 on a recommendation.
31 4. The Ombudsman shall notify a complainant of actions
32 relating to the complaint taken by the Office of the Ombudsman
33 and the Department.
34 Sec. 18. 1. An offender must not be penalized in any way
35 by an official or the Department for filing a complaint,
36 complaining to a Legislator or cooperating with the Ombudsman
37 in researching a complaint.
38 2. A person or the Department shall not:
39 (a) Hinder the lawful actions of the Ombudsman or employees
40 of the Office of the Ombudsman; or
41 (b) Willfully refuse to comply with lawful demands of the
42 Office.
43 Sec. 19. The authority granted the Ombudsman pursuant to
44 sections 2 to 19, inclusive, of this act:
45 1. Is in addition to the authority granted under:

1 (a) The provisions of any other act or rule under which the
2 remedy or right of appeal or objection is provided for a person; or
3 (b) Any procedure provided for the inquiry into or
4 investigation of any other matter.
5 2. Shall not be:
6 (a) Construed to limit or affect the remedy or right of appeal or
7 objection; or
8 (b) Deemed part of an exclusionary process.
9 Sec. 20. NRS 209.131 is hereby amended to read as follows:
10 209.131 The Director shall:
11 1. Administer the Department under the direction of the Board.
12 2. Supervise the administration of all institutions and facilities
13 of the Department.
14 3. Receive, retain and release, in accordance with law,
15 offenders sentenced to imprisonment in the state prison.
16 4. Be responsible for the supervision, custody, treatment, care,
17 security and discipline of all offenders under his or her jurisdiction.
18 5. Ensure that any person employed by the Department whose
19 primary responsibilities are:
20 (a) The supervision, custody, security, discipline, safety and
21 transportation of an offender;
22 (b) The security and safety of the staff; and
23 (c) The security and safety of an institution or facility of the
24 Department,
25 is a correctional officer who has the powers of a peace officer
26 pursuant to subsection 1 of NRS 289.220.
27 6. Establish regulations with the approval of the Board and
28 enforce all laws governing the administration of the Department and
29 the custody, care and training of offenders.
30 7. Take proper measures to protect the health and safety of the
31 staff and offenders in the institutions and facilities of the
32 Department [.] , including, without limitation, establishing
33 regulations, with the approval of the Board, which comply with
34 standards set by the National Commission on Correctional Health
35 Care to govern staff training in medical emergency response and
36 reporting.
37 8. Cause to be placed from time to time in conspicuous places
38 about each institution and facility copies of laws and regulations
39 relating to visits and correspondence between offenders and others.
40 9. Provide for the holding of religious services in the
41 institutions and facilities and make available to the offenders copies
42 of appropriate religious materials.

1 Sec. 21. NRS 209.381 is hereby amended to read as follows:
2 209.381 1. Each offender in an institution or facility of the
3 Department must be provided a healthful diet and appropriate,
4 sanitary housing.
5 2. The Director with the approval of the Board shall establish
6 standards which comply with standards set by the National
7 Commission on Correctional Health Care for personal hygiene of
8 offenders and for the medical and dental services of each institution
9 or facility.
H

Please call the Legislative Hotline and tell them you support SB 201 – Ombudsman for NDOC

To One and All:

Starting on Monday, please call the legislative hotline and tell them that you support SB 201. For every call received it will be distributed to the members of the Legislature and one phone call will count for 20 constituents votes.

This is the Ombudsman bill that will benefit the inmates as well as the taxpayers. It will give the inmates a voice and at the same time it will reduce the lawsuits that are being filed by inmates, thereby, saving the taxpayers money.

Here is the phone 1-800-992-0973. In the Las Vegas area. 486-2626

Thank you,
Tonja Brown

SENATE BILL NO. 201–SENATORS PARKS, LESLIE; BREEDEN,
COPENING, DENIS, HORSFORD, KIHUEN AND MANENDO

FEBRUARY 28, 2011
____________

JOINT SPONSORS: ASSEMBLYMEN MUNFORD, ANDERSON;
ATKINSON, BOBZIEN, CARLTON, CARRILLO AND HOGAN
____________

Referred to Committee on Judiciary

SUMMARY—Revises provisions relating
institutions. (BDR 16-827)

FISCAL NOTE: Effect on Local Government: No.
Effect on the State: Yes.

EXPLANATION – Matter in bolded italics is new; matter between brackets [omitted material] is material to be omitted.

AN ACT relating to correctional institutions; establishing an Ombudsman for Offenders to receive and process complaints by offenders and certain other persons;
establishing the powers and duties of the Ombudsman;
requiring the Ombudsman to adopt regulations relating to the processing of such complaints; requiring the Ombudsman to make certain reports to the Department of Corrections, the Legislature and the Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice; requiring the Director of the Department to adopt regulations which comply with certain standards; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.

Legislative Counsel’s Digest:
Section 7 of this bill creates the Office of the Ombudsman for Offenders within
the Office of the Attorney General.

Section 8 of this bill grants the Attorney General the power to appoint and
remove the Ombudsman for Offenders.

Section 9 of this bill sets forth the powers of the Ombudsman.

Sections 10 and 11 of this bill specify the accounting and use of money
collected by the Ombudsman.

Section 12 of this bill directs the Ombudsman to establish regulations
governing the receipt, processing and reporting of complaints from Legislators,
offenders and family members of offenders and from the Ombudsman.

Sections 13 and 17 of this bill specify the responsibilities of the Ombudsman
concerning the processing and reporting of complaints and actions taken in
response to the complaints.

Section 14 of this bill requires the Ombudsman to notify certain persons of the
Ombudsman’s decision regarding the processing of a complaint.

Section 15 of this bill makes confidential certain information relating to
complaints, reports and recommendations.

Section 16 of this bill requires the Ombudsman to prepare and submit a
biennial report for the Department of Corrections, the Legislature and the Advisory
Commission on the Administration of Justice.

Section 18 of this bill prohibits the penalizing of an offender for certain acts
relating to complaints and prohibits the hindrance of the Ombudsman in performing
the duties of office.

Section 19 of this bill provides that the authority of the Ombudsman is not
exclusive of other available remedies.
Existing law requires the Director of the Department to protect the health and
safety of the staff and offenders in the institutions and facilities of the Department.

(NRS 209.131) Section 20 of this bill requires the Director to establish regulations which comply with the standards set by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care to govern staff training in medical emergency response and reporting.

Existing law also requires the Director to establish standards for the personal
hygiene of offenders and for the medical and dental services at correctional
institutions and facilities. (NRS 209.381) Section 21 of this bill requires those
standards to comply with standards set by the National Commission on
Correctional Health Care.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEVADA, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEMBLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

Section 1. Chapter 209 of NRS is hereby amended by adding
thereto the provisions set forth as sections 2 to 19, inclusive, of this
act.

Sec. 2. As used in sections 2 to 19, inclusive, of this act,
unless the context otherwise requires, the words and terms defined
in sections 3 to 6, inclusive, of this act have the meanings ascribed
to them in those sections.

Sec. 3. “Administrative act” includes an action, omission,
decision, recommendation, practice or other procedure of the
Department.

Sec. 4. “Complainant” means a Legislator, an offender or a family member of an offender who files a complaint as described in section 12 of this act.

Sec. 5. “Official” means the Director, a deputy director, manager, warden or employee of the Department.

Sec. 6. “Ombudsman” means the Ombudsman for Offenders.


Sec. 7. The Office of the Ombudsman for Offenders is
hereby created within the Office of the Attorney General.

Sec. 8. 1. The Attorney General shall appoint the
Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is in the unclassified service of the
State. The person appointed:
(a) Must be knowledgeable in the field of corrections; and
(b) Must be independent of the Department.
2. The Attorney General may remove the Ombudsman from
office for inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance in office.

Sec. 9. The Ombudsman may:
1. Employ such staff as is necessary to carry out the duties and functions of his or her office, in accordance with the personnel practices and procedures established within the Attorney General’s Office. The Ombudsman has sole discretion to employ and remove any member of his or her staff.
2. Purchase necessary equipment.
3. Lease or make other suitable arrangements for office space, but any lease which extends beyond the term of 1 year must be reviewed and approved by a majority of the members of the State Board of Examiners.
4. Perform such other functions and make such other arrangements as may be necessary to carry out the duties and functions of his or her office.
Sec. 10. 1. All money collected by the Ombudsman must be deposited with the State Treasurer for credit to the Account for the Ombudsman for Offenders, which is hereby created.

2. Money in the Account may be used:
(a) To defray the costs of maintaining the Office of the
Ombudsman; or
(b) For any other purpose authorized by the Legislature.
3. All claims against the Account must be paid as other
claims against the State are paid.

Sec. 11. All gifts and grants of money which the
Ombudsman is authorized to accept must be deposited with the
State Treasurer for credit to the Account for the Ombudsman for
Offenders.

Sec. 12. The Ombudsman shall, by regulation, establish procedures for receiving, processing and reporting complaints from a Legislator, an offender or a family member of an offender and for processing and reporting allegations personally known to the Ombudsman concerning:
1. An administrative act which is alleged to be contrary to law
or a policy of the Department; or

2. Significant issues relating to the health or safety of
offenders and other matters for which there is no effective
administrative remedy.

Sec. 13. 1. The Ombudsman shall advise a complainant to pursue all administrative remedies that are available to the complainant. The Ombudsman may request and shall receive from the Department a progress report concerning the administrative processing of a complaint. After the Department has taken administrative action on a complaint, the Ombudsman may process and report a complaint on the request of a complainant or
on his or her own initiative.

2. The Ombudsman is not required to process or report a complaint brought before the Ombudsman. A person is not entitled as a right to have his or her complaint processed or reported by the Ombudsman.

Sec. 14. After the Ombudsman receives a complaint from a Legislator, an offender or a family member of an offender as described in section 12 of this act and decides to process the complaint, the Ombudsman shall notify the complainant, the offender or offenders affected and the Department. If the
Ombudsman declines to process the complaint, the Ombudsman shall notify the complainant in writing and inform the offender or offenders affected of the reasons for the Ombudsman’s decision.

Sec. 15. 1. Correspondence between the Ombudsman and an offender is confidential and must be processed as privileged correspondence in the same manner as letters between offenders and courts, attorneys or public officials.

2. The Ombudsman shall keep confidential all matters relating to a complaint and the identities of the complainants or persons from whom information is acquired, except so far as disclosures may be necessary to enable the Ombudsman to perform the duties of the office and to support any
recommendations resulting from the processing of a complaint.

3. A report prepared and recommendations made by the Ombudsman and submitted pursuant to section 16 of this act are exempt from disclosure under chapter 239 of NRS.

Sec. 16. 1. For each regular session of the Legislature, the Ombudsman shall prepare a report on:
(a) The conduct of the Office of the Ombudsman for
Offenders;
(b) Complaints processed by the Ombudsman; and
(c) Findings resulting from those complaints if the
Ombudsman finds:
(1) A matter that should be considered by the Department;

(2) An administrative act that should be modified or cancelled;
(3) A statute or regulation that should be altered;
(4) An administrative act for which justification is necessary;
(5) Significant issues relating to the health or safety of offenders; or
(6) Any other significant concerns as set forth by regulation.

2. The report must be submitted not later than September 1 of each even-numbered year to the Department and the Director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau for distribution to the Legislature and the Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice.

3. Subject to section 17 of this act, the Legislature may forward all or part of a report prepared and submitted pursuant to this section to the complainant or the offender or offenders affected.

Sec. 17. 1. Before publishing a finding or recommendation that expressly or by implication criticizes a person or the Department, the Ombudsman must consult with that person or the Department.

2. When publishing a finding adverse to the Department or any person, the Ombudsman shall include in that publication a statement of reasonable length made to the Ombudsman by the Department or person in defense or mitigation of the action, if that statement is provided within a reasonable period of time as specified by regulation.

3. The Ombudsman may request to be notified by the Department, within a specified period of time, of any action taken on a recommendation.

4. The Ombudsman shall notify a complainant of actions relating to the complaint taken by the Office of the Ombudsman and the Department.

Sec. 18. 1. An offender must not be penalized in any way by an official or the Department for filing a complaint, complaining to a Legislator or cooperating with the Ombudsman in researching a complaint.
2. A person or the Department shall not:
(a) Hinder the lawful actions of the Ombudsman or employees
of the Office of the Ombudsman; or
(b) Willfully refuse to comply with lawful demands of the
Office.

Sec. 19. The authority granted the Ombudsman pursuant to sections 2 to 19, inclusive, of this act:
1. Is in addition to the authority granted under:


(a) The provisions of any other act or rule under which the remedy or right of appeal or objection is provided for a person; or (b) Any procedure provided for the inquiry into or investigation of any other matter.

2. Shall not be:
(a) Construed to limit or affect the remedy or right of appeal or
objection; or
(b) Deemed part of an exclusionary process.
Sec. 20. NRS 209.131 is hereby amended to read as follows:
209.131 The Director shall:
1. Administer the Department under the direction of the Board.
2. Supervise the administration of all institutions and facilities
of the Department.
3. Receive, retain and release, in accordance with law,
offenders sentenced to imprisonment in the state prison.

4. Be responsible for the supervision, custody, treatment, care,
security and discipline of all offenders under his or her jurisdiction.

5. Ensure that any person employed by the Department whose
primary responsibilities are:
(a) The supervision, custody, security, discipline, safety and
transportation of an offender;
(b) The security and safety of the staff; and
(c) The security and safety of an institution or facility of the
Department, is a correctional officer who has the powers of a peace officer
pursuant to subsection 1 of NRS 289.220.

6. Establish regulations with the approval of the Board and enforce all laws governing the administration of the Department and the custody, care and training of offenders.

7. Take proper measures to protect the health and safety of the staff and offenders in the institutions and facilities of the Department [.] , including, without limitation, establishing regulations, with the approval of the Board, which comply with standards set by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care to govern staff training in medical emergency response and
reporting.

8. Cause to be placed from time to time in conspicuous places about each institution and facility copies of laws and regulations relating to visits and correspondence between offenders and others.

9. Provide for the holding of religious services in the institutions and facilities and make available to the offenders copies of appropriate religious materials.


Sec. 21. NRS 209.381 is hereby amended to read as follows:
209.381 1. Each offender in an institution or facility of the Department must be provided a healthful diet and appropriate, sanitary housing.

2. The Director with the approval of the Board shall establish standards which comply with standards set by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care for personal hygiene of offenders and for the medical and dental services of each institution or facility.

LEGISLATURE 2011: Bill: Juveniles can’t face life without parole unless the crime is murder

Nevada Appeal, Feb 12, 2011

Legislation introduced in the Assembly Friday would prohibit sentencing a juvenile offender to life without parole unless the crime was homicide.

Existing law already prohibits the death sentence for a juvenile who commits a crime before age 18.

The reason for the legislation, according to the legislative counsel, is a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling life without parole unconstitutional for juvenile offenders.

In addition, the bill applies retroactively to any current Nevada inmates who were sentenced to life in prison without parole for crimes committed before age 18.

The maximum sentence for a juvenile offender would be life with the possibility of parole.

Assembly Bill 134 was referred to the Judiciary Committee.

In addition, the Judiciary Committee introduced Assembly Bill 136, which allows criminals serving time for class B felonies to apply good time credits to reduce their minimum sentences. Inmates convicted of lesser felonies can already have their minimum sentences reduced by good time credits but that has been denied in the case of more serious and, particularly, violent crimes. Study committees made the recommendation noting that some B felonies aren’t crimes of violence.

The change would help relieve prison crowding by getting some of those inmates out of prison earlier.

Please Pass SB236 as Amended ~ No Fiscal Impact

From: Make the Walls Transparent on June 9, 2009
Dear Community Leaders and People for Criminal Justice Reform:

To update you, all the key budget bills that Gov. Gibbons vetoed have been overridden by both houses of the Legislature. We need to thank them and congratulate them all for working together in a non-partisan way for the good of all Nevadans!

Today I’m asking you to write them ASAP, as there is only today and tomorrow before the Legislature will be out of session. The bill we have been honchoing the most almost got lost in the budget fights. But, Senate Finance did pass it out and passed it on the Senate floor today. Now it is in the Assembly Ways & Means Committee instead of Assembly Judiciary—where it should have gone. In it’s original form, it did have a fiscal impact, but that has been amended out of it, at RAIN’s initiative. We need to ask Ways & Means to pass it out of their committee–not to Judiciary because it’s too late for that—but directly to the Assembly floor. It has to be read 3 times there before it can be voted and sent to the Gov. So no time to lose!

Please send them an emergency message asking them to pass SB236, which will set up a fund to accept money with which to fund more re-entry programs for ex-offenders coming out of prison. In it’s current form, it really is a simple, straightforward bill, and it does not have a fiscal impact on state revenue.

You can read what I sent them below, and send a shorter version of that to them.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Subject: PLEASE PASS SB236 AS AMENDED – NO FISCAL IMPACT

Dear Assemblypersons:

First, RAIN and I thank you very much for your nonpartisan working together to override Gov. Gibbons’ vetoes, all of them that you have overridden! This is the way that legislators should be serving the best interests of ALL the people of Nevada.

As for SB236, as amended, there is no fiscal impact. All we are asking for at this time is that a fund be set up that can receive government grants, grants from ngo’s, and churches, in order to assist ex-offenders make a successful re-entry back into the community after they have served their time. Research tells us that 95-98% of people incarcerated will return to the community at some point. Most of them have drug and/or alcohol addiction problems, and the great majority also have some level of mental health deficits or problems (besides being psychotic or sociopathic, many have ADHD; learning disabilities; Fetal Alcohol Syndrome [FAS]; PTSD [especially Vets, but also anyone physically or sexually abused as a child, which again is a majority of them]; brain damage from drug abuse, etc. In order for ex-offenders to learn to live successfully, legally, and addiction-free in society, most of them will need assistance and treatment during the first few months after incarceration.

Wouldn’t you rather see them make a successful transition than be part of the revolving door and recycled back into prison? Prison costs five times what treatment in the community costs, plus community treatment is much more effective for the time and money it costs.
RAIN has worked on this bill for the past two years, in conjunction with members of the Commission on the Administration of Justice, and especially Chief Justice Hardesty. — RAIN has also worked with the few recognized half-way houses and treatment centers in the community to develop this legislation. As amended, it is simple and straightforward. We are trying to get our community programs and official departments to work together to bring about the best results for the community at large. Nevada would be eligible for Federal funds in this category, and we can get the churches to join the cause as well. We need to get his fund established!

PLEASE PASS SB236 OUT OF COMMITTEE, TO THE FLOOR OF THE ASSEMBLY IN TIME FOR IT TO GET PASSED AND TO THE GOVERNOR!
THANK YOU SO MUCH!
The Rev. Dr. Jane Foraker-Thompson
Episcopal Diocese Social Justice and Prison Ministry Coordinator
RAIN Board member and past president
Ret. Criminologist and Prison Chaplain
WHY WE NEED RE-ENTRY PROGRAMS FOR EX-PRISONERS

Background:

This is a nonpartisan issue. It affects every citizen regardless of political party,

whether they live in cities or rural areas, regardless of education level, type of work, or family history. This is a subject that affects everyone’s life in Nevada, whether they know it or not.

I. The United States has the highest incarceration rate (number of people in jail or prison per 100,000) in the technologically developed world.

A. A Pew Center on the States Public Safety Performance Project study titled “More than One in 100 Adults are Behind Bars” released in Feb. 2008 found that “for the first time in history more than one in every 100 adults in American are in jail or prison –a fact that significantly impacts state budgets without delivering a clear return on public safety.”

B. “As prison populations expand, costs to states are on the rise.”

C. In 2008, over $50 billion was spent on state corrections systems and consumed one I every 15 discretionary dollars.1 U.S. prison population in 1987 was 585.084 and in 2007 it was 1.596,197.2

D. In 2007, the U.S. had the highest absolute number of adults in prison in the world: 2.3 million, with a rate of 750 per 100,000. Second highest nation for prison population was China, with 1.5 million adults; and third was Russia with 890,000. Compared with the U.S. rate of 750 per 100,000, Germany had a rate of 93 per 100,000.3

II. The crime rate has been decreasing over-all since 1980, yet growth of prisons and prison population has increased four-fold during that same period. Why?

A. The public was misled by media hype to think that crime was increasing, and media hype created fear of crime in people’s minds.

B. Thanks to media hype about violent crime, it became politically popular for politicians to run for office with a slogan “to get tough on crime.”

C. Part of the same syndrome meant new policies kept offenders in prison longer.

1. Elected legislators passed new sentencing laws which called for longer sentences, and “three times and you’re out” statutes, which often meant that minor offenders who got caught three times ended up doing life or very long sentences, while offenders who committed one violent crime might get out in a few years.

2. Judges gave longer sentences for crimes than they had before the so- called “sentencing reforms” or “truth in sentencing” laws were passed. Minor offenders who might have been sentenced to probation ended up getting prison and longer sentences.

3. Parole Boards started leaving people in prison longer for given crimes.4

4. America now has more than 7.3 million adults under some form of

Correctional control.5

5. “Prison growth and higher incarceration rates do not reflect a parallel

Increase in crime.”6

III. Recidivism rates show failure of the American corrections system. Recidivism means the return of released prisoners, back to prison within three years, for whatever reasons, i.e., it is a failure rate.

A. In spite of cost of state corrections rising from $11 billion in 1987 to $50 billion in 2007, recidivism rates have remained the same.7

1. Recidivism in 1994 study was 60% for all released prisoners after

three years

2. Recidivism rates for released prisoners aged 18-34 was 66.5%

a) 71.4% had been rearrested

b) 50.3% were reconvicted

c) 53.1% were returned to prison with or without a new prison sentence, i.e., on a technical violation such as positive drug test, missed appointment with parole officer, missed payment of fees, etc.8

3. In a 15 state study, over two-thirds (67.5%) of released prisoners were rearrested within three years.9

a) 68.1% to 73.8% for property crimes

b) 50.4% to 66.7% for drug offenders

c) 54.6% to 62.2% for public order offenders

B. “For all the money spent on corrections today, there hasn’t been a clear and convincing return for public safety.” said Adam Gelb, director of the Public Safety Performance Project.10

C. “If a business tried to operate on this kind of deficit and production failure rate, it would go out of business.”11

IV. How to expeditiously make our correctional system more cost-effective, productive. Assumption: dangerous and violent offenders should be locked up to protect society. So which offenders can be safely released and/or kept in the community? How can prison populations safely be decreased?

A. Community Corrections holds a big promise.

1. Probation and Parole, the dominant form of community corrections

“seven times as many new dollars went to prisons as went to probation and parole… while fewer than one out of three offenders is behind bars, almost nine of 10 corrections dollars are spent on prisons.”12

a) “The number of people on probation or parole has skyrocketed to more than 5 million, up from 1.6 million just 25 years ago. This means that 1 in 45 adults in the United States is now under criminal justice supervision in the community, and that combined with those in prison and jail, a stunning 1 in every 31 adults, or 3.2 percent, is under some form of correctional control.”13

b) The daily cost of supervising a person in the community in fiscal 2008 was $3.42; the average daily cost of a prison inmate is $78.95 ($28,816.75/person/year), which is more than 20 times as high as community supervision.14

2. Community Corrections of all sorts are drastically under-funded, even though they are less expensive than incarceration and more often than not, more appropriate for the level of offender. Nevada’s Probation and Parole Officers have caseloads of over 120 parolees; whereas national standards state that P&P officers should have a caseload of no more than 45 parolees. This means that they cannot spend sufficient time per person

for adequate supervision and assistance.

3. “For hundreds of thousands of lower-level inmates, incarceration costs

taxpayers far more than it saves in prevented crime. And new national and state research shows that we are well past the point of diminishing returns, where more imprisonment will prevent less and less crime.”15

4. Half-way Houses, Residential Treatment Centers, Day-Treatment:

Half-way houses and treatment centers can be used as “half-way into the system” or half-way out” of the system.” That is, they can be an alternative to going to jail or prison as a first opportunity to get their lives straightened out, or as a transition help & control for ex-prisoners coming out of prison back into the community.

a) Studies indicate that about 80% of offenders have a drug &/or alcohol addiction problem, which exacerbates their behaviors and often leads them to commit crimes. Addict treatment has been shown to be more effective in community facilities than in incarceration. It would be cheaper for the state to fund community treatment facilities than to pay for incarceration or build new prisons.

b) Numerous criminal justice studies place the number of mentally ill offenders at between 12-15%. This figure usually refers only to prisoners who are psychotic or schizophrenic. Prison psychologists and trained chaplains can testify that many more prisoners have lesser mental health problems such as: bi-polar disease; ADHD; fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS); PTSD, especially among veterans but also those who were abused as children; substance-related disorders; dissociative disorders (especially women offenders who were sexually abused as children, which is a high percentage of women offenders); sexual and gender identify disorders; other impulse control disorders; borderline personality disorders; antisocial personality disorder; narcissistic personality disorder; avoidant personality disorder; obsessive-compulsive disorder; etc.

c) Even people with learning disabilities who became early “failures” in School when parents and teachers did not understand their deficits, often become anti-social due to that rejection and isolation.

d) When one adds all these people in prison together who have these conditions, I would estimate the prison population has more than 60% who have some level of mental health deficit and/or behavior disorder that needs to be addressed before they can become healthy, self-disciplined and self-motivated citizens in society.

e) Again, community treatment of people who fall under these categories would be much less expensive and much more effective if done by trained professionals in the community. Prisoners will never receive adequate or appropriate targeted treatment in prisons, as they lack that kind of trained staff, plus the atmosphere is not conducive to mental health treatment and emotional healing. Such offenders would be best sent to community treatment directly rather than ever being incarcerated, unless they are violent and have uncontrolled behaviors. In most cases, drug courts and mental health courts are very appropriate if combined with treatment facilities to meet the needs of the offenders. At this time, Nevada has two drug courts and is considering a mental health court. This is a move in the right direction. But Nevada also needs to fund the community facilities to treat people who are sentenced by these courts. Currently, Nevada only has a handful of licensed, qualified half-way houses and offender treatment facilities.

B. Policies to reduce prison population: 1) the number of new admissions, and 2) length of time an inmate spends in prison. Small modifications in each decision point can yield marked slowdown–or acceleration–in prison population growth.16 Which offenders can safely diverted to community corrections?

1. Non-violent, and victimless crime offenders, to probation with proviso For restitution, counseling, education, etc.

2. Drug-addiction offenders, sentenced to drug treatment centers

3. Offenders with mental health/mental deficit issues, sent to small, Specialized mental health treatment facilities

4. Probation and Parole violators. In 2005, parole violators accounted for more than one third of all prison admission, 40% of which were for technical violations; not new crimes. One-half of people in U.S. jails are there for probation violation, not new crimes. It would far less expensive to sentence them to community corrections rather than prison.17

5. Since 2004, 13 states have adopted legislation creating an expansion of community corrections options

a) adjust length of prison terms

b) use earned credit for “good time” to reduce time spent, i.e.,

completion of education, drug treatment programs, sex-

offender treatment, pre -release classes, good behavior–

no write-ups for bad behavior. Nevada uses this policy.

C. Who benefits from these policies?

1. The Public benefits. These community residential programs cost about one-fifth of the cost of incarceration, while the treatment effects are found by research studies to be much more effective in helping offenders to change their behavior patterns.

2. Offenders benefit. These are not violent offenders but people with severe behavior disorders. Appropriate, targeted treatment gives them the help they need to learn skills and discipline to lead a responsible, law-abiding life. They would rather do this than waste away in prison where they will receive no such help.

3. This in not “being soft on criminals.” It is an intelligent, targeted approach, and one that can hold the offenders more accountable.

V. Is this approach politically viable? Will any elected officials and judges dare to

buck the current stream of revenge and “lock them up and throw away the key,” and work toward a more intelligent, less expensive treatment and accountability system?

A. “It’s always safer politically to build the next prison, rather than stop and see whether that’s really the smartest thing to do. But we’re at a point where I don’t think we can afford to do that anymore.” John Whitmire,

State Senator from Houston, Texas, Chair of Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee.18

B. Critical shortage of state funds would be better spent on state education and Human services such as health and mental health care. “Collectively,

Correctional agencies now consume 6.8% of state general funds, 2007 data show. That means one in every 15 dollars in the states’ main pool of discretionary money goes to corrections.”19

C. “Between 1987 and 2007, the amount states spent on corrections more than doubled while the increase in higher education spending has been moderate. Higher education grew 21%, while corrections grew 127%.”20

VI. What do ex-prisoners need in order to make a successful transition, or re-entry, to the community?

A. Some need residential treatment from an accredited half-way house such as

The Ridge House in Reno. We need more of these across the state, and in the population centers of Clark County, Washoe, Carson City and Elko.

B. If they don’t have families to go to, they need other support in the community, possibly from faith-based organizations, the Urban League, or whatever solid community organizations exist in each urban center

C. Ex-offenders need mentoring during the first few months to help them learn to deal with a changed society, to learn social and practical skills, and discipline to stay away from drugs and alcohol. They are lonely and scared when they leave prison.

D. They need jobs. Someone needs to be willing to take a chance on them and mentor them in their jobs. They may need more education and job training.

E. They will need long-term housing and be able to pay for it.

F. They will need health care, and possibly mental health care. If they are addicts, they will need on-going contact with an addict recovery group, and to be held accountable to attend consistently.

G. Not only Parole & Probation needs to track the ex-offenders, but they need friendly mentors to encourage them, teach them, believe in them until they get on their feet emotionally, financially, employment-wise, etc.

Faith-based groups and others interested in helping ex-offenders are needed in the community, such as My Journey Home and Kairos in the Reno-Sparks area or the Urban League, Salvation Army, Southwest Prison Ministries, or other prisoner support groups in Clark County and other areas.

F. When they have housing and a job, ex-offenders can begin to pay restitution to victims, where appropriate; pay for their supervision, and begin to get ahead in establishing a life for themselves in the community. When they are working they will join the ranks of tax-payers and become legitimate members of the community.

G. It benefits society when ex-offenders become law-abiding, tax-paying citizens who will be responsible for themselves and can leave a normal, crime-free life.

H. One possible source of funding for some of these program is The Second Chance Act passed by Congress and administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), U.S. Department of Justice. The Council of State Government Justice Center is conducting free webinars (seminars Via the web) to help potential applicants apply for grants from The Second chance Act. These funds will be either for mentoring adult ex-offenders of for juveniles through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP).21

I. The Justice Center also has an online database that provides a comprehensive inventory of collaborative criminal justice/mental health activity across the country.22

VII. There are solutions for the current dilemma of overbuilding and over-reliance on prisons and over-institutionalization of too many people as prisoners. It is time for society to re-assess where it is going with the handling of offenders, both juvenile and adult. We can undo the damage and build a better system.

It is time for society to wake-up and realize how insane, counter-productive, outrageously expensive and what a failure this current system is of large warehouses for anyone and everyone who has ever inconvenienced society in anyway.

It is also time to realize that if people are really interested in reducing the crime rate in our society, the best way to do that is to intervene with troubled families, protect children from being abused and neglected, and see that children and others who have the mental health and learning disabilities listed above, get the appropriate, compassionately delivered help and treatment required to help them learn to deal with their disabilities and assist them to become self-maintaining, self-respecting individuals in society, rather than punishing them for not being perfect.

There is no good reason that the United States should have the highest rate of incarceration in the world. We have over-criminalized our own society, ourselves.

It is to our shame that we can be thus described by people around the world. How ironic that we have the miss-conception about ourselves that we are a society that loves children, is family-oriented, loves democracy and freedom, and upholds human rights as a high standard that all should live by. We need to learn to live by it ourselves first before we point fingers at others.

“Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5

This is a nonpartisan issue. It affects every citizen of Nevada in one way or another. It has to do with our moral, financial, social, commercial, educational and spiritual health. What kind of society are we? Who do we want to be?

The Rev. Dr. Jane Foraker-Thompson

Episcopal Diocese of Nevada, Social Justice & Prison Ministry Coordinator
RAIN Board member and past president
Retired Criminologist and Prison Chaplain