Gov. Steve Sisolak signed Assembly Bill 449 on Wednesday, which authorizes an interim legislative study to look at juvenile detention in Nevada.
In 2018, the ACLU brought concerns to the Legislative Committee on Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice that the state was ill-equipped to house youth offenders, who are currently placed in adult facilities. Holly Welborn, the policy director for the ACLU of Nevada, said this interim study builds on the information the group presented.
The committee, Welborn added, will look at the costs and feasibility of removing young offenders from adult facilities to put them in separate, juvenile accommodations. Additionally, it will look at their access to programs and education as well as review any incidents of physical or sexual assault.
According to Brooke Santina, a spokeswoman with the Nevada Department of Corrections, there are 13 boys at the Lovelock Correctional Center and two girls are housed out of state. Welborn added there might be an additional two juvenile girls housed at the Clark County Detention Center, however Santina couldn’t confirm that.
The number of juveniles also fluctuates because those who start their sentences as teenagers will be moved from juvenile housing once they age out. There are currently only 20 beds in the unit, which means when it is at capacity, boys have had to be housed in the infirmary — in previous years the population has been as high as 23.
Because of the Prison Rape Elimination Act, NDOC also has to follow strict standards to make sure youth offenders never engage adults, which can result in juveniles to be housed in segregation.