LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across Nevada, there are new concerns about how victims of crimes will be kept in the loop of important case information in accordance with a newly enacted "Marsy's Law."
"With the COVID-19 outbreak and the pandemic, it has just flipped everything upside down from what we've been doing on a normal basis," said Lynda Tache, director of Marsy's Law Nevada.
Tache said on Wednesday, district attorney offices and other stakeholders across Nevada got together for a video conference to discuss Marsy's Law and the implementation and possible setbacks since COVID-19 closed courts and rearranged priorities.
Tache says COVID-19 is also creating a backlog of information to be relayed to victims of crimes in Nevada through VINE, or the Victim Information and Notification Everyday system.
"There has been a backlog and it has been increased or exacerbated just because of all the attention that's having to go to this and work from home and being disrupted from their daily routines and having to address these COVID-19 challenges," said Tache.
"Even though the courts are closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the criminal justice system is still running," said Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson during a news conference on Wednesday.
Wolfson said his office is running on a 'skeleton staff' with many people working from home.
Las Vegas police have also prioritized violent crime arrests over misdemeanors, traffic bench warrants and other nonviolent offenses in order to ease the jail population.
While prosecutors and court staff adjust to a new a normal, Tache says it has been an adjustment for other jurisdictions.
Tache says locations such as Los Angeles, New York City and Cleveland have released hundreds of nonviolent inmates from jails and detention centers to try and slow the spread of COVID-19, which can quickly infect people in close quarters.
While authorities have not signaled that may happen in Clark County, Tache is hopeful 'reasonable' efforts would be made to inform crime victims before perpetrators are released.
Victims of crimes and sign up for VINE by clicking here.