CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

Lawmakers passed a bill decriminalizing traffic tickets so minor traffic violations are treated as civil infractions and unpaid tickets are not punishable with jail time. The effort failed in at least four previous sessions because of opposition from local governments funded through ticket fees, but the bill this session — AB116 — had an easier path after prosecutors joined in support.

A bill to abolish the death penalty, AB395, cleared the Assembly, marking the furthest such a concept has advanced in at least the last 20 years. But legislative leaders and the governor later declared that there was no path forward for the legislation; Gov. Steve Sisolak has said he had concerns about getting rid of the option in cases of mass shootings or terrorism.

The Legislature approved banning ticket and arrest quotas through AB186, a bill prohibiting law enforcement agencies from requiring police to issue a certain number of citations or make a certain number of arrests. AB403, a bill to decriminalize jaywalking, passed unanimously from both houses.

On the heels of frequent Black Lives Matter protests, advocates called for more policing reform. In a summer 2020 special session, lawmakers banned chokeholds and pared down protections for police officers accused of misconduct. 

Bills that passed this session include AB396, seeking to narrow the circumstances in which deadly police force is justified; SB236, calling for data collection from traffic stops and an “early warning system” at police agencies to try to identify officers who biases or behaviors might cause problems down the road, and SB212, requiring police use de-escalation techniques whenever possible, calling on Nevada police agencies to report use of force incidents to state and federal databases and requiring the provision of ample warning and escape routes before deploying tear gas on protesters. 

Gov. Steve Sisolak has signed a bill, AB58, authorizing the attorney general’s office to conduct “pattern and practice” investigations that would probe the policies and trends in an entire agency that might be leading to constitutional violations instead of just the facts of individual police force incidents.