A Legislative Message from our President, Mark B. Jackson

“I am honored and humbled to serve my fourth term as President of the Nevada District Attorneys Association for 2023. This year also marks the beginning of my fifth term as the Douglas County District Attorney and my twenty-third year as a prosecutor. This year will be one of the most important years for our association as we prepare for the 82nd Session of the Nevada Legislature which will begin on February 6, 2023, with the hope of assisting our legislature in enacting laws that are focused on safer communities and protecting victims’ rights.

Criminal justice reforms enacted in the 2019 and 2021 legislative sessions have had detrimental effects on public safety in Nevada. There has been an increase in repeat offenders committing crimes in our communities and a decrease in accountability for criminals. Moreover, the alarming rate of early releases of inmates from prison and the substantial reduction of sanctions for many of our serious felony offenses has emboldened career criminals without fear of consequences. There is no truth in sentencing in Nevada. Victims of crime and the public at large are being deceived by, and frequently express their outrage at, our state’s current sentencing laws. Our association believes that truth in sentencing means guaranteeing that criminals serve prison terms that reflect the sentences imposed by the judges. Under our current laws, a criminal who is sentenced to prison is being released months, and even years, earlier than what they were sentenced to serve. This includes early releases of violent repeat offenders.

With the 2019 reforms of our drug laws, we are not only seeing an increase in the use of illicit drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl, but the quantities of those drugs being sold on the streets has increased substantially over the last three years. The increased use and distribution of these drugs is leading to overall higher crime rates across our communities. Additionally, we are seeing a rise in fentanyl related deaths that is becoming one of the leading causes of death in adults between 18 to 45 years of age. According to the CDC, nearly 58,000 people in the United States died from overdosing on synthetic opioids (primarily fentanyl) in 2020. In 2021, the synthetic opioid (primarily fentanyl) deaths surpassed 71,000 which is a 23% increase from 2020. With laws that make it easier to manufacture, distribute and traffick in these illicit drugs without fear of reprisal, we can expect fentanyl related deaths to continue to increase under our current laws. We strongly urge our legislature to address these issues. It can do so by repealing failed criminal justice reform policies. It can do so by giving law enforcement officers the tools they need to combat the drug abuse epidemic. Finally, it can do so by giving prosecutors and judges the ability to punish those serious criminals who are preying upon our communities by sending them to prison for appropriate sentences that will actually be served. Seeking justice for victims of crime and working to make our communities safer remain our top priorities for 2023. We look forward to working with our Governor, legislature and other elected officials to meet those priorities.”