Nevada's prison population had been among the fastest growing in the nation. In 2007, the Council of State Governments Justice Center reported that the state's prison population was estimated to increase by 61 percent by 2017, at a cost to state taxpayers estimated to exceed $2 billion. At that rate, the projected increase in corrections spending was on track to outpace state spending on education and human services.
Research by the Justice Center, a partner of the Public Safety Performance Project, revealed a combination of responsible factors: the rapid increase of the state's resident population, high rates of failure among probationers and the lack of community-based treatment for substance abuse, mental illness or co-occurring disorders. In response to this growth, the 2007 legislature voted nearly unanimously to enact several policy measures developed by the Justice Center:
- increase program credits awarded for in-prison education, vocational and substance abuse treatment;
- increase the number of credits people in prison and on community supervision can earn for good time and compliance with conditions, respectively; and
- reinstate a sentencing commission to review sentencing and corrections policies for effectiveness and efficiency.