Nevada district attorneys are gearing up for a legislative session where they hope to roll back some of the changes they say have contributed to increased crime in the Silver State.
On Tuesday, Douglas District Attorney Mark Jackson issued a statement setting out the agenda for his fourth term as president of the Nevada District Attorneys Association.
Jackson began his fifth term as district attorney and his 23rd year as a prosecutor this month.
“This year will be one of the most important years for our association as we prepare for the 82nd Session of the Nevada Legislature which will begin on Feb. 6, with the hope of assisting our legislature in enacting laws that are focused on safer communities and protecting victims’ rights,” he said.
Jackson said that changes in criminal laws in the 2019 and 2021 sessions have had detrimental effects on public safety.
“There has been an increase in repeat offenders committing crimes in our communities and a decrease in accountability for criminals,” he said. “Moreover, the alarming rate of early releases of inmates from prison and the substantial reduction of sanctions for many of our serious felony offenses has emboldened career criminals without fear of consequences.”
Jackson said that sentences handed down by judges rarely reflect the actual time someone serves in prison.
“There is no truth in sentencing in Nevada,” he said. “Victims of crime and the public at large are being deceived by, and frequently express their outrage at, our state’s current sentencing laws. Our association believes that truth in sentencing means guaranteeing that criminals serve prison terms that reflect the sentences imposed by the judges.”
He said that reducing penalties for drug crimes are increasing the use of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl.
“The quantities of those drugs being sold on the streets has increased substantially over the last three years,” he said. “The increased use and distribution of these drugs is leading to overall higher crime rates across our communities.”
According to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, coroners have responded to 22 overdose deaths since 2018. There were three during 2022.
“With laws that make it easier to manufacture, distribute, and traffick in these illicit drugs without fear of reprisal, we can expect fentanyl related deaths to continue to increase under our current laws,” Jackson said. “We strongly urge our legislature to address these issues. It can do so by repealing failed criminal justice reform policies. It can do so by giving law enforcement officers the tools they need to combat the drug abuse epidemic.”
But the main answer is giving prosecutors and judges the authority to send criminals to prison for sentences they will actually serve.
“Seeking justice for victims of crime and working to make our communities safer remain our top priorities for 2023,” he said. “We look forward to working with our governor, legislature, and other elected officials to meet those priorities.”