Consistent Data-Sharing is Key to Identifying Pitfalls in our Jail System

By: Marcie McMahill

Community Engagement Data Analysis Interagency Collaboration July 14, 2020

Relationship-building and data-information-sharing have proven to be invaluable assets for our agency, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD). In recent years, our agency—like many others—began to struggle with funding, jail overcrowding, slowed case processing, and increased average-lengths-of-stay (ALOS). To better identify the root cause of the problems, we created a Population Analysis Unit in 2012:

  • Our vision: to ensure the effective management of the jail population to prevent jail overcrowding.
  • Our mission: to identify inadequacies within the criminal justice system using evidence-based approaches to reduce the number of people going into or being detained in our facility, the Clark County Detention Center (CCDC).
  • Our goals: to create a system of checks and balances, and coordinated efforts so that the inmate population can consistently be monitored to promptly address any process delays.

It was through these efforts that we began to build and strengthen relationships with criminal justice partners who had a direct impact on our success. By reaching out and educating our partners on our challenges, we were able to gain their commitment to developing alternatives to incarceration and reducing the over-use of jail. Collectively, we understood the benefits and realized the only way to make improvements was by working together. Additionally, bringing together our criminal justice partners enhanced awareness that alternative solutions must be established to better protect and serve our community. Due in part to these efforts, Clark County was selected earlier this year as a Safety and Justice Challenge Innovation Fund site, to continue our work to reduce the county jail population.

To fulfill the data-sharing piece, we put together an Inmate Population Summary Report. Our deputy chief at the time was interested in identifying our population: who was here and why. During the creation of this report, we discovered our population was being impacted by other entities within the justice community. Thus this report is distributed throughout the justice community on a bi-weekly basis. The report identifies our current population to include our average daily population (ADP), ALOS, etc. This report is data-driven, and as such it spotlights areas of concern.

For example, our most recent report noted an increase in the number of incarcerated people in custody longer than one year compared to the last reporting period. This number has grown consistently each month. Currently, we have 16 incarcerated people who have been in custody for more than five years. By sharing this information, the court, public defender, and district attorney began to look into possible causes and solutions. As a result, the court recently established a “homicide” court to address those specific cases for the purpose of moving them through the process more quickly and efficiently.


There are a total of 408 inmates who have been in custody more than one year, four more than the last reporting period.

Year <1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
#Inmates 3,785 275 78 27 13 6 5 2 2


As noted by Anne Carpenter, major of the Nevada Department of Public Safety/Parole and Probation Division (NPP) Southern Command:

“I have been taking this information since I started 16 months ago and trying to find ways to improve NPP’s processes. For example, regarding our presentence investigation reports—from conviction to sentencing…the days that it takes our writers, on average, has now gone down to 46/47 days from the mid-50s…so we have improved…and this has assisted Clark County Detention Center with their overcrowding issues.”

We collectively understand that our challenges are not confined to our “jail” system. Working together, we have established various short-term solutions and continue to work toward solutions that are sustainable in the long term.

Lastly, each agency learned how to think about their own business process, and find ways to improve and streamline them. We identified and shared the various resources and services each of us could provide to enhance overall efficiency.