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Prison Reentry Court

Prison Re-Entry Court Overview

The Prison Re-Entry Court in the 2nd Judicial District began as one of the nation’s first two federally funded Re-Entry Courts, operating in Clark County (Las Vegas) and Washoe County (Reno). The goal of the Re-Entry Court is to reduce the number of nonviolent offenders in prison by providing them with intensive supervision and treatment in an effort to break the cycle of crime associated with drug use.

The Re-Entry “Early Release” Program was created by the state Legislature in 1999 on the recommendation of Governor Kenny Guinn. It was created by statute (NRS 209.4311 - 209.4317). Originally, inmates with one prior felony conviction were allowed to participate in the program, making it very difficult to find candidates who qualified. An amendment to the law during the 2001 legislative session (AB 574) opened the program to inmates with up to four prior non-violent felony convictions, significantly increasing the number of eligible participants. Further changes were made in the 2007 Legislative session which may lead to even more eligible participants, and possibly additional funding to serve them.

Currently, participants must be within two years of probable release from prison, have a history of drug addiction, and be a nonviolent offender. They must be able to secure fulltime employment or participate in a full-time educational or vocational training program. Program participants must fully cooperate in the court-supervised program that provides intensive supervision, drug testing, graduated sanctions and other rehabilitative efforts in areas such as education, medical services, housing, and employment.

The Prison Re-Entry Court operates under the Adult Drug Court model with one exception: each prisoner is required to live for four months in a transitional living facility to ensure that re-integration into society proceeds at a measured pace. The cost of living in the facility must be borne by the participant. The Court pays for the cost of treatment when clients are initially enrolled in the program although participants are expected to repay the cost of their treatment as they progress through the program.

Educational and vocational services are part of the comprehensive treatment plan, and participants are offered financial literacy classes, pre-employment skills training, and assistance in securing appropriate employment. Assistance in reviewing educational status is provided along with goal setting for furthering each client’s educational goals. Each Prison Re-Entry Drug Court defendant must complete at least a year in the program, with “good behavior,” (no illegal substance use or missed appointments) during the 90 days prior to graduation. Six months of Continuing Care is required with random drug tests according to the Judge’s order and at least monthly appearances in Court.

Expulsion from the Drug Court is at the sole discretion of the Judge and typically occurs if a defendant shows little or no motivation to succeed after repeated efforts by the Team to motivate improved performance. Chronic and persistent illegal drug use and/or repeated failure to comply with even minimal treatment requirements may lead to expulsion from the program and an immediate return to prison.