Clark County is in the southeast corner of Nevada, encompassing the Las Vegas metropolitan area. When joining the Safety and Justice Challenge, the greatest trend affecting Clark County’s jail population was the increase in arrests of the transient and/or indigent population, with many suffering from substance use disorders and/or mental illness. An estimated 35 percent of the county’s jail population was on psychotropic medication for various mental illnesses. As a result, the county jail was often referred to as the largest mental health facility in Nevada.
Unfair and ineffective bail practices took a particularly heavy toll on people of color, low-income communities, and people with mental health and substance use issues. Pretrial detention and relatively long stays were the main drivers of the jail population. The pretrial proportion of the jail population was 67 percent in 2017, with 7.9 percent remaining in custody for more than one year. In 2017, 16 percent of all low- and low-moderate-risk defendants remained detained beyond three days, spending an average of 58 days in jail. Despite making up 42.3 percent of the local population, Black and Hispanic people made up 54.1 percent of the jail population on average.