Brief History of Parole and Probation
Nevada’s First Pardons Board
In 1864, provisions for commuting punishments and granting pardons were written into the Nevada Constitution. The Governor, Justices of the Supreme courts, and the Attorney General were authorized to take these actions in 1867, and Nevada’s first Pardons Board was created.
In 1909, The Nevada Legislature expanded the authority of the Pardons Board to parole inmates. The Governor’s private secretary was designated as the Secretary of the Board and all paroled inmates were required to report to him at least once per month.
1945 - 1969
In 1945, the Legislature created the Parole Department, which was initially staffed by the Chief Parole Officer. In 1951, the Legislature passed laws allowing District Courts to suspend the execution of sentences and grant probation. The Parole Department was charged with the supervision of these probationers, and in 1954, the Department increased the staff to four officers. In 1959, an officer position was established in Las Vegas, and the state was divided into three districts: Carson City, Reno and Las Vegas. A fourth District was opened in Elko during 1965, and nine additional officers were authorized by the Legislature. The Department of Parole and Probation was created by the Legislature in 1969.
1970 - 1989
Between the years of 1970-1981, Parole and Probation officer positions increased from 22 to 117, due to the increase of Pre-sentence Investigations (from 705 to 3,160). In 1971, the Department began a decade of growth and development. A training officer position was created and mandatory training programs for staff were developed. Specialized units were created to provide intensive supervision and services to specific cases, and community programs, including inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities were developed. The Legislature also authorized the collection and distribution of restitution
The decade of the 1980s revealed an increase in staff to 311, and offender supervision increased to 10,143 offenders by 1990. During that decade, many additional programs were developed, including Street Readiness, Pre-release, and "in-house" drug testing. The number of Pre-sentence Investigations had increased to 6,675 by the fiscal year of 1989-90. The Department’s case management system was developed to provide risk and needs assessment of offenders, and to develop strategies for case supervision. The establishment of community service programs became available to District Courts, and supervision fees were collected to help defray the costs of supervision.
An electronic monitoring program was developed to enforce Court or Parole Board ordered residential confinement, and a mandatory parole release program was established for inmates within one year of expiration.
As the Department moved into the decade of the 1990s, the residential confinement programs have been expanded. In fiscal year 1993, 7,069 Pre-sentence Investigations were completed and officers supervised an average of 11,200 offenders. State laws were amended allowing certain prisoners convicted of felony DUI offenses to be supervised as an inmate released in the community by Parole and Probation under residential confinement with electronic monitoring.
The 1995 Legislature augmented policies on the release of prisoners to community supervision by allowing certain nonviolent inmates to be supervised by Parole and Probation under the Expanded House Arrest Program.
Following the 1995 Legislative Session, the Division in cooperation with the Department of Motor Vehicles and Public Safety’s Information Services Unit, expended a great deal of resources in planning and development of the Dangerous Offender Notification System (previously known at the Interim Notification System). This system has been fully operational generating over 53,000 notifications. Law enforcement agencies, booking facilities and officers on the street are able to immediately identify the parole and probation status of offenders they come into contact with throughout the State of Nevada, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Also, after the 1995 Legislature Session, the Division was appropriated funding for a five-year automation plan. This system became fully operational within the time frame and budget set forth by the Division and approved by the Legislature. This system has improved efficiencies within the Division and replaces out dated stand-alone systems previously maintained by the Division that required duplicate data entry and maintenance, none of which was shared.
The new system provides a personnel component, accounting and case management and all information is entered at the time it occurs, rather than through hand written data entry sheets. Information is real time and shared by all staff, which has never been available to the Division prior to this new system.
Accounting processes have been streamlined and duplicate work virtually eliminated. Officers and staff have offender and victim accounting information available to them without having to make telephone calls or other inquiries that wasted valuable time and resources.
Following the 1997 Legislative Session, the Division was mandated to carry out the registration and tier level assessment components of SB-325, Sex Offender and Crimes Against Children Offender Registration.
Since its full implementation, the Division, in cooperation with the Nevada Criminal History Repository recognized the need to consolidate the preparation of records of registration, tier assessments and notification process into one cohesive unit. After making assessments and conducting program reviews, the centralized component of the registration and assessment process were moved to the Criminal History Repository, where staff have available to them more resources for obtaining the criminal history information required to complete a record of registration and tier assessment. Division staff located in district and sub-office locations continue to receive and prepare the initial registration information packages for the Criminal History Repository.
Finally, following the 2001 Legislative Session, Department of Motor Vehicles and Public Safety became two separate departments, and the Division of Parole and Probation became part of newly created Department of Public Safety.