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Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Nevada to Establish Diversionary Court Program

Casey Harrison at The Las Vegas Sun:
Nevada is primed to become the first in the nation to establish a diversionary court program statewide for at-risk adolescent youths with autism, a move officials say will help children on the spectrum stay on a path of success.

Gov. Joe Lombardo held a ceremonial signing Monday in Las Vegas for Senate Bill 411, which allows family courts statewide to establish an “appropriate program” for children diagnosed with or suspected to have autism spectrum disorders. The bill passed unanimously through the Nevada Legislature.

“It shows you how much effort it takes to have successful legislation,” Lombardo told attendees at the Grant Sawyer State Office Building, which included autism advocates, judges and public defenders. “The thing that surprised me with today’s bill is that it hasn’t happened before today. And that’s unfortunate, but now, fortunately, we’re moving forward as a community.”

A child assigned to the program must be made aware of the terms for successful completion of the program, including probation or other informal supervision, and the court must also provide benchmarks to “ensure that every child is making satisfactory progress” toward completing the program.
Clark County’s 8th Judicial District Court launched a similar diversionary program in 2018, spearheaded by juvenile court Judge Sunny Bailey, who is the mother of an autistic child, she told the Sun.

That program, which is called Detention Alternative for Autistic Youth, or DAAY Court, came about after Bailey was assigned a case involving a delinquent on the spectrum. She and others from the district attorney’s office volunteered on the side to develop a tailored supervision program to fit that child’s needs.