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.