The ACLU of Nevada will support or oppose dozens, if not hundreds, of bills during the 2019 session of the Legislature. But our proactive agenda for this session focuses on government transparency, criminal justice reform, and voting rights.

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Some of the ACLU of Nevada's legislative priorities

Silver State Sunshine Act

The purpose of the Nevada Public Records Law “is to foster democratic principles…[and] must be construed liberally to carry out this important purpose. Yet, the public continually faces an uphill battle when attempting to obtain public books and records. Requestors often wait several months for a response, are overcharged for records, have little recourse to challenge a denial, and are seldom offered an opportunity to clarify their request which could help the entity provide the requested information and avoid potential litigation. 

The ACLU of Nevada is seeking an act that will: 

  • Create a statutory definition of “public books and records,” consistent with Nevada Supreme Court interpretation;
  • Facilitate cooperation between a requestor and the governmental entity, allowing the parties to work together to clarify the request;
  • Identify the person(s) responsible for the denial, thus allowing the requesters to be able to contact the person(s) who make decisions about the request directly and resolve issues without delays;
  • Mandate prompt disclosure of requested information;
  • Simplify provisions regarding costs a requester may be required to pay;
  • Clarify provisions regarding attorneys’ fees; and
  • Incentivize compliance with the Nevada Public Records Act. 

The Right to Know Nevada Coalition strongly supports this legislation. Coalition members include, The ACLU of Nevada; the Las Vegas Review Journal; The Reno Gazette-Journal, KOLO-TV, Nevada Business Magazine; the Nevada Press Association; Nevada Wildlife Alliance; Power2Parent; Reno Gazette Journal; League of Women Voters; The Nevada Policy Research Institute; the Society of Professional Journalists Las Vegas; and more.

Youthful Offender Facility Placement Study 

The ACLU of Nevada has long advocated to remove teens from adult correctional facilities, specifically adolescents transferred to the Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC). 

Nevada is approaching a crisis concerning where and how the state houses youth tried as adults. Transfer of juveniles to the adult criminal justice system is on the rise. 

Youthful offender units are overcrowded and housing for young women is non-existent. Federal and state laws make it increasingly challenging for the NDOC to meet the needs of their youthful population. The boys housed at the Lovelock Correctional Center live an isolated life with only one hour a day of in-class educational instruction, one day of outdoor recreation, zero opportunity to participate in critical rehabilitative prison programming, and more. 

Girls tried as adults face even more obstacles as the NDOC does not have anywhere for the girls to live, thus they are sent out of state, or otherwise would live in isolation. 

In June of 2018, we released a report, Youth Confinement in Nevada: Facility Assessment and Recommendations for Housing Youth Sentenced as Adults, which explores the history and rationale behind confining youth in adult correctional facilities, and made policy recommendations to address this ever increasing problem. 

The Interim Committee on Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice agreed that this problem must be resolved, and adopted our recommendation to conduct a feasibility study which will explore what it will take for Nevada to house youth tried as adults in juvenile facilities — a successful practice in several states. 

Same-Day Voter Registration

In order to bring voter registration into the 21st century and make voting as convenient as possible, the ACLU advocates for reforms that have been demonstrated to be extremely effective at making sure that all Americans who want to cast a ballot are able to do so. Same Day Registration (SDR) allows eligible voters to register to vote and cast their ballots on the same day. As of November, 15 states plus the District of Columbia offer same day registration. 

SDR increases voter turnout; eliminates arbitrary deadlines that cut off registration when voters are most interested; remedies inaccurate voter rolls; increases ballot access to geographically mobile, lower-income citizens, young voters and voters of color; and greatly reduces the need for provisional ballots.

Cash Bail Reform

Jailing a person indefinitely based on their inability to post bail is an archaic approach to assuring their appearance in court. Cash bail requirements undermine due process, criminalize poverty, perpetuate the mass incarceration crisis, and cost taxpayers millions of dollars annually. A practical and just approach to reducing overcrowding and saving local jails millions, is working to end wealth-based detention. 

Money bail is not only unnecessary to secure court appearance and ensure community safety, but also detrimental to these goals. Money bail decreases success rates – the chances that an arrestee will appear in court – and increases the risk of future crime. We therefore support the elimination of money bail. 

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