VEGAS LOST: Nevada running out of room to house juveniles who are charged as adults
LAS VEGAS (KSNV) —
Nevada has a problem in its prisons. They are struggling to house juveniles charged as adults. There is a rising number of young teens committing serious crimes, and little to no place to put them.
Last week, a 15-year-old girl, minutes away from being sentenced to adult prison for stabbing her classmate, watched her future be put on hold.
The crisis in Nevada prisons spilled into her trial, justice held hostage.
Attorneys had no idea their teenage client, Dayshara Paschal-Campos would be shipped out of state because Nevada had no place to keep her.
New 3 told them, they told the judge, and the judge stopped the sentencing.
In our state, girls convicted as adults are sent to Arizona.
Boys convicted as adults are sent to a small wing in Lovelock Prison, once home to O.J. Simpson.
Federal law means they can’t be housed with other adults for their own safety.
When a kid is convicted as an adult in Nevada, they’re sent to prison.
However, they can't go inside because of a federal law called PREA, the Prison Rape Elimination Act.
It's a legal wall that protects them from violent adults inside.
In Nevada, they can’t go to Juvi either. Since they've been convicted as adults, PREA stops them from being housed with the kids there.
The Department of Corrections says they wish there was a different option, but Director James Dzurenda says the kids in prison are just too violent.
“I wouldn't want these offenders either,” said Dzurenda. “You don't want those harder-core violent offenders educating the better population to become bad.”
So that's our answer.
Nevada houses dozens of kids, by themselves, even though its admittedly a bad idea, because federal law makes them and violent kids could teach other juveniles how to be better criminals.
However, what if that's not true?
Other states, from Oregon to Virginia, house those violent certified adults with kids.
We asked the federal government about PREA. They say in an email, that there's nothing prohibiting the Oregon model from happening.
The ACLU of Nevada is campaigning our state to make a change
No change is planned though, which brings us back to a courtroom in Clark County, where a 15-year-old girl and her victim wait to see where justice will be served.
The decision will take place on a pivotal day in court on Nov.28.
They’re looking at alternatives to sentencing in Dayshara's case. We have heard that some politicians are considering introducing a change to prison housing this coming session, though nothing is confirmed.
If you have a story idea for john, you can send those over to VegasLost@news3lv.com