Youth Confinement in Nevada
For several years, the ACLU of Nevada has advocated for the removal of teens from adult correctional facilities, specifically adolescents sentenced to the Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC). As the state’s population grows, so does the rate at which youth are certified as adults. Youthful offender units are overcrowded and housing for girls is unavailable. Additionally, laws to protect adolescents, including the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) and the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), make it increasingly challenging for adult facilities to meet the needs of adolescents. PREA and JJDPA require sight and sound separation between children and adults in correctional institutions. PREA further requires a 1:8 staff to child ratio during waking hours and 1:16 during sleeping hours.
These parameters are necessary to protect a child’s health and safety, but present challenges for meeting their age-specific programming needs, including education and work training. Facilities must either put their entire adult population on lockdown when adolescents are engaged in programming or hire more correctional officers to comply with PREA’s ratio requirements. As a result, children receive less in-class and personalized educational instruction; experience a significant reduction in outside recreation at a critical stage of their growth and development; and miss out on earning sentence credits.