Panel Members Discuss Ways To Hold Down Nevada Prison Growth

A state panel has been told that a broad effort is needed to get more money for Nevada programs that keep people from turning to crime and that help convicts stay straight once they're back on the streets.

Members of the state Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice saya a key part of that effort will be to convince Gov. Jim Gibbons in advance of the 2009 legislative session to improve funding for such programs in the budget he sends lawmakers.

Sen. Mark Amodei (AH'-mo-day), a commission member, said there's no disagreement on the urgent need for various program and service upgrades in the criminal justice system - but previous moves to get the necessary funds have been ineffective.

He says it's crucial to hold advance meetings with the governor - since governors tend to get most of what they propose to lawmakers.

Justice Jim Hardesty, chairman of the commission, says hard data is needed to show how programs can be financed by savings achieved
by freeing prisoners who aren't public safety threats and whose crimes don't warrant long sentences.

Such steps would reduce the need for costly prison expansion projects.