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TPPF Overcriminalization Paper Inspires Nevada Legislation

| August 14, 2013

Taking a cue from the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s paper, 12 Steps for Overcoming Overcriminalization, the Nevada State Legislature has unanimously passed Senate Bill 264. Citing the paper’s recommendation to “create a commission to examine and identify all criminal laws that are redundant, unnecessary, or overbroad”, Senator Barbara Cegavske introduced the bill to compel the Legislature’s Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice to include a meeting agenda item to review the current state code for issues of overcriminalization. Specifically, the bill mandates:

1. A review of all criminal sentences.

2. A review of all criminal offenses which may be duplicative or sanction the same or similar behavior.

3. An evaluation of the reclassification of certain misdemeanor offenses to determine whether jail time is necessary and whether such offenses may be more appropriately classified as civil violations.

4. An evaluation of certain felony offenses to determine whether misdemeanor punishment may be more appropriate given the disparate impacts a felony conviction may carry. The Commission shall consider the lasting harm caused by the unlawful act, the blameworthiness accompanying the offense and the impact on future public safety.

Senate Bill 264 took effect July 1st, 2013. The unanimous passage of the measure bodes well for future bipartisan cooperation in effectively reforming Nevada’s criminal justice system.

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DEREK M. COHEN is Deputy Director of the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation and the Right on Crime campaign. Cohen graduated with a B.S. in Criminal Justice from Bowling Green State University and an M.S. in Criminal Justice from the University of Cincinnati, where he is currently completing his Ph.D. dissertation on the long-term costs and outcomes associated with correctional programming.  His academic work can be found in Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management and the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Theoretical Criminology and The Oxford Handbook on Police and Policing, and has scholarly articles currently under review.  He has presented several papers to the American Society of Criminology, the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, and the American Evaluation Association on the implementation and outcomes of various criminal justice policy issues. Prior to joining the Foundation, Cohen was a research associate with University of Cincinnati’s Institute of Crime Science.  He also taught classes in statistics, research methods, criminal procedure, and corrections.

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