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Juvenile Justice in Nevada: A John Waterhouse editorial

Key people inside the Nevada Juvenile Justice Department are apparently considering recommending major changes in procedure to the Nevada Legislature. This has been reported at least twice by television station KSNV, channel 3. I have tried to research the details, and the specifics have been hard to locate.

As it stands now, it is my understanding that in Nevada, juveniles aged eight and older can be tried as adults for extremely serious crimes like murder, rape and a few others. These juveniles can then be sentenced as adults and perhaps be sent to prison with adult inmates.

They are looking at two changes. The first would be to send juveniles to their own detention center and not send them to prison with older adults. The second change is that at a certain age, like 18 or 19, their sentence would be terminated and they would be given a clean slate to start over.

The first change, sending juveniles to their own facility as opposed to mixing them in with adult criminals, is a good goal and should receive wide support. The second change, wiping the slate clean after a certain age is obtained, is not good. If a juvenile is tried and found guilty of a serious crime and sentenced as an adult, he/she should fulfill the entire sentence. When the age of majority is obtained, the individual should be transferred to an adult prison rather than just being set free. We have a significant problem with juvenile crime in Nevada as it is. We do not need to open the floodgates and establish policies that further weaken what is already relatively weak. Nevada citizens will need to watch this issue carefully and let their legislators know just where they stand on this issue.

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