Leading Social Indicators:
Quality of Life in the Silver State
Justice & Democracy Forum Series
UNLV Center for Democratic Culture
William S. Boyd School of Law
Friday, November 5, 2004*
Children and Youth in Nevada
Session 1. 9:00 - 12:00 a.m.
PROFESSOR SHALIN: Good morning, everybody, and welcome to the forum. I'm Dmitri Shalin, Director of UNLV Center for Democratic Culture, and this is the third gathering in the Justice and Democracy Forum series that is sponsored by the UNLV Center for Democratic Culture and William S. Boyd School of Law.
About once a year, we bring together politicians, scholars, and community members to reflect on the problems confronting our community. Our first forum was on how we select, elect, or appoint our judges. The second one was a debate about tort reform. And this forum is on quality of life in the state of Nevada.
This forum is tied to the National Survey of Social Health – the survey conducted by Fordham University that rates all 50 states on several parameters. Here are some of the leading indicators that are part of that national survey -- infant mortality, child abuse, child poverty, youth suicide, teenage drug use, high school dropouts, teenage birth, unemployment, wages, health care coverage, age 65-plus poverty, life expectancy, violent crime, alcohol-related traffic fatalities, affordable housing, and inequality in family income. To the 16 indicators, we have added two more, somewhat peculiar to our state, although not all other states. One has to do with gaming, gamblers and problem gambling, and the other one covers sex industry issues.
We have two sessions. The morning one is on children, youth and schooling in Nevada. The afternoon session will be on health care, housing, gaming issues and so on. Governor Guinn's office indicated an interest in this project and will be working with us to produce the first social health report for our state. Several states in the nation now have made such a report mandatory. I hope someday we'll produce it on a regular occasion as well.
Before I turn the floor over to our first moderator, Professor Mary Berkheiser, I would like to recognize Andrew Bell, Associate Dean of College of Liberal Arts, who wants to say a few words of welcome to the forum panelists.
DEAN BELL: Thank you, Dmitri. I'd just like to extend an official welcome on behalf of the University of Nevada Las Vegas and the William S. Boyd School of Law and the College of Liberal Arts to all of you this morning, and extend my hopes for a good, successful day of doing what the university, the school, the college is devoted to -- asking good questions, doing the hard work, thinking things through, and with a spirit of moral earnestness. That's quite a disquieting list of indicators that Dmitri just cited. I suppose the real cause for optimism is that there are people that are asking the right questions, and are doing the right business, and all common betterment of independent-minded citizens in this community, this state, and in this republic. So all my best wishes for a successful day. Thank you.
PROFESSOR BERKHEISER: Good morning. It's my pleasure to be here. My name's Mary Berkheiser. I'm a professor here at this fine Boyd School of Law with our Wiener Rogers library, and our Thomas and Mack Legal Clinic. One of the hats, among the many that I find myself wearing at this law school, is the hat of co-director of the Juvenile Justice Clinic, which was one of the original clinics that we founded at this law school, so the issues on this morning's panel are near and dear to my heart and to those of some of my colleagues who are here today.
I don't want to take a lot of time introducing our panelists. You will learn how qualified they are to speak on the issues they speak of when you hear them speak. Let me just say this: Each panelist will speak for 15 to 20 minutes. If you have questions to clarify something a panelist has said, please feel free to raise your hand and be recognized. However, if there are longer questions, we'd like to really save those for the end in this, the wrap-up sort of period after all of our panelists have spoken. And we will try to stay somewhat on schedule. I know it can be difficult when there're so many interesting issues to discuss. But I'd like to get us going here this morning with our first panel of speakers on child abuse, teen pregnancies, and unwed mothers. By the way, we will take about a 10-minute break after our second panel to allow people to mill about and our Court Reporter to replenish his supply of paper.
So first off, speaking to issues of child abuse, teen pregnancies, and unwed mothers, we have with us two very knowledgeable and experienced women who have worked in these areas for many years, Susan Klein Rothschild, the Director of the Clark County Department of Family Services, and my colleague, Professor and Associate Dean of Clinical Studies, Annette Appell, who is also the co-director of the Child Welfare Clinic here at the law school. We'll start off with Susan, and then go to Annette. I'm going to be using first name, I guess, for the people that I know. I hope that's okay. It's a friendly gathering. And welcome. Thank you for being here.
MS. KLEIN: Thank you for having me. Just by way of introduction, let me tell you that I've worked in the area of child abuse/neglect for over 25 years. It's a passion for me. I worked here in Nevada for the last three years. I worked in Colorado before that. And for eight years, I was consultant and worked in about 20 different states, all in the area of child abuse/neglect.
When we talk about child abuse and neglect, what do we mean? Well, the statute defines child abuse and neglect as physical or mental injury of nonaccidental nature, sexual abuse or sexual exploitation, negligent treatment or maltreatment caused by or allowed by the person responsible for his welfare under circumstances which indicate that the child's death or welfare's harmed or threatened with harm. What that means is you're talking about harm of children by people who are parents or in care-giving roles who are responsible for protecting the children. We have different types of child abuse and neglect, including physical abuse, physical neglect, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse. All of them can result in significant harm to children.
I say to you that my experience before I worked in the field was that I made an assumption like many people do that physical abuse is the worst kind of abuse. Certainly, physical abuse is terrible. But approximately half of the deaths of children in this country due to abuse/neglect are the result of neglect. Neglect can be as dangerous to children as physical abuse is. We're talking about direct harm, particularly young children who are at most risk of harm. In our country, I think there's a history that parents have the right to raise their children the way they choose to raise their children. Families have that ability. But there's a belief that the government intervenes when the family's not reaching a minimum level and that there are safety concerns for the children. In abuse or neglect, that means when a parent is maltreating the child or allowing maltreatment of that child. Some people in our society must report suspected abuse or neglect. If they think a child may be abused or neglected, they must report it. Those are individuals who may be involved in the medical profession, school professionals, others such as that. But many calls related to child abuse and neglect may come from people in the community, neighbors, friends, people who choose to remain anonymous, people who care about kids and want to make sure children are protected.
All of us have seen children in families, in grocery stores, anywhere in the community, and you see a situation that may leave you feeling uncomfortable. Is that child safe with the person who’s responsible for caring for that child? Our responsibility in the public agency is to receive reports of abuse/neglect, determine if they, in fact, may be legitimate, and meet their legal criteria for us to investigate. We do investigate. We pursue to learn what's happened on behalf of the child. It involves interviewing and seeing the child and any of his or her own siblings, the parents, any others, to determine if this child is safe. Bottom line for us first and foremost is safety of the child. If the child is safe, we conclude the investigation. If the child is safe now, an immediate factor, but may be at future risk of harm, we may make a referral of the family to a community service, a community agency. We may offer services ourselves. If we feel like there's an imminent, right-now risk to the child, if the worker leaves and the child may be injured, then we have a responsibility to remove that child from the parent or to bring services into that home so the child does not have to be removed to assure the child's safety.
Whenever a child is removed from their parents and caregivers, it's our responsibility to make reasonable efforts to return them and reunite them. And how you define "reasonable efforts" is just a very tricky thing, obviously. But in our community, we do what we can to provide services to families. We do what we can to identify relatives. If a child cannot be with his or her parents, is there a relative who can provide safe care? Many times relatives are alternatives. Most children who are involved in our system are not removed from their homes. Most children remain with their parents, obtain the services. But there are a number of children who are removed. I want to give you some high-level statistics to get a sense of what we're talking about.
In 2000, there were an estimated 879,000 victims of child maltreatment in the United States. In 2000, an estimated 1200 children died because of child abuse or neglect in this country. The number of children born each year exposed to drugs or alcohol is estimated between a half a million and three quarters of a million annually.
The number of children in foster care in the country is a little more than half a million children. In Nevada in 2003, there were somewhere between 12,000 and 13,000 reports of suspected child abuse or neglect that were received in our state statewide. About 22 percent, a little less than a quarter of those reports, were substantiated. "Substantiated" means after the investigation, they were found to be accurate and true.
Neglect is the most frequent type of maltreatment in Nevada. Physical abuse follows as the second most frequent type of maltreatment. I suggest to you that many out of home cases are about the youngest children, because children who are younger are more vulnerable. They do not have the ability to protect themselves or meet their basic needs.
Between 1993 and 2003, we've had a number of children who have died because of abuse or neglect in our state. The low was three a year. The high was 18 in a year. That's a lot of children.
Let me share information about Clark County. It's the county I'm most familiar with. In 2000, we received 6,359 reports of abuse and neglect in which we did a Child Protective Services investigation. That averaged 530 per month. Between January and September of this year, we've already, in the first nine months of the year, received 6,757 reports of abuse and neglect that were investigated. That's an average of 751 a month, or about a 29 percent increase between 2000 and 2003 in our county.
We've seen a dramatic increase in the number of children who need to be removed from their parents' care for their own safety. I'm very, very concerned about this trend. In 2000 to 2003, somewhere between 3,300 kids and 3,600 kids were removed from their parents' care and placed in shelter care for some period of time. Emergency shelter is used when the child is not safe at home. This year, between January and September alone, we've already had over 3,400 children removed that remain in shelter care. That's up from an average of about 280 per month to 380 per month. The increase has been absolutely substantial and I am struggling with trying to figure out why. It doesn't match the population growth. It doesn't match the poverty levels. Certainly, many people in Nevada, many people in our Child Welfare system are from poor families. Many people in our Child Welfare system are also families where substance abuse or alcohol abuse are a huge factor. It's estimated in different research across the country that as many as 80 percent of our families may have substance abuse and alcohol abuse problems. A number of our families have domestic violence issues or mental health issues by the parents. So we're trying to look at what some of the factors are. I am concerned. I am very concerned by what's happening in our community
And I would like to enter a dialogue with you after our presentation about what you see as what may be changing and might be contributing to the increase. I share with you that in Nevada, we have changed. The legislature, I think, made an excellent decision and helped change the organization of how Child Welfare services are provided. It used to be that Clark County, at the county level, would receive reports of a child abuse/neglect, would investigate them, would provide emergency shelter for children, and provide in-home services for families. But if a child could not return home, where services and ongoing foster care was needed, that was provided by the State through the Division of Child and Family Services, and adoption was provided by the State. Therefore, every child that needed an ongoing care needed to switch from the County to State. Every child needed to get a new worker. Every child needed a new placement. And that has added delays to the process. I'm happy to share with you that as of October 1st of this year, we no longer switch across from County to State, that all the foster care and adoption services are now being provided by the County. And part of our primary responsibility is not only to meet the emergency needs of children and families and the long-term needs, but look at how we serve families. I share with you, as a consultant working in 20 different states, one of the things I found is that California had many more children than Rhode Island did. They had almost a hundred thousand children in foster care at the time. But if you look at the individual families, the dynamics were very similar. These were families that had substance abuse, that had domestic violence, had similar criminal histories. But the way the agencies and organizations and the states responded resulted in different outcomes. I believe the way we provide services and intervene with families really does make a difference. So it's our responsibility to look at how we do that and how we can do that better.
I share with you a couple of things we've started since we've begun this integration process. One thing we started is an after-hours investigation unit. We recognized families don't just have crisis Monday through Friday 8:00 to 5:00. We have a unit of staff now whose job is to intervene at the time of crisis, up to 10:30 at night, every night of the week, as well as all day on weekends. If there's a domestic violence situation, if somebody' taken to jail, those are the situations which historically children were just placed in Child Haven and shelter and we were saying to the families, we'll help you come Monday morning or the next morning. We don't do that any more. We have a whole group of staff whose job is to intervene at the time of crisis, to say, is there an answer? Is there someone we can bring in to support alternative others, [we] can bring in to assist you? The after-hours investigation unit, which began as a unit of six people, has now grown to a unit of 10 investigators and is working more diligently.
We've added new staff to the agency over the last year or two. Beginning in July alone, the County government has added 22 positions to our department, which is incredible in this fiscal environment. We were not able to answer all the calls of people who felt like there was abuse of a child and investigate. So we are working intensively in adding positions. We've initiated a safety assessment tool. When a worker goes out to see a family, what is it they're assessing? How do we know we're looking at the same factors and making the same judgment? It's a huge decision to remove the child from the home, and that decision is traumatic for every child. We should not do it lightly. So we instituted a safety assessment tool for every worker across the state.
Clark County’s received a federal grant, I'm pleased to say, a five-year grant that will give us up to $500,000 a year up to five years to look how we can strengthen our system with particular emphasis on relatives and kin. If we have a child who cannot remain home, how can we better support those relatives who are often hanging out with very difficult children? The research also shows us that children who are different or perceived as different by parents are more difficult for us to parent. As a parent of two children, I will tell you, I have one child that fits the book, much easier to parent than the other one. So we are excited about using that federal grant to help wiht difficult children.
We've developed a universal process and tool. Anyone who wanted to be a foster parent or an adoptive parent, we used to assess them as a foster parent. They might care for a child for a couple of years, and then the child becomes legally free for adoption through the court process. We would go back and do an adoptive home assessment. We're not doing that again. We're doing a single assessment of every family. If the family is safe enough and good enough and appropriate enough to care for a child for two or three or four or whatever years, they're good enough for the rest of their lives. Let's look at assessing the right things up front. We're doing that with every family. We're doing that universally now in Clark County.
We're also looking at increasing the number of people who make the decisions about kids. When do you remove a child from their home? Where do you place a child? When do you consider termination of parental rights? These decisions should not be made by one person. We need a brain trust of people who have different perspectives and viewpoints. We're looking at team decision making about these key areas, like about case planning, what services are needed, and where we place the child. We are looking to use that intensively because too many children in foster care move too many times. And every time you move a foster care, you're adding to the damage and trauma of that child.
There's some very good research out of Illinois right now. They have some excellent access to data which we hope to get in the near future. We're working on that, aren't we? They can now tell us that for boys who were in foster care in Illinois, if they have more moves in foster care, there's greater likelihood of them being involved in the delinquency system. You’ll hear more about delinquency, and they made a direct correlation, very important. So the things we do every day in our work in child abuse/neglect have lifelong impacts that we need to consider for each child and what that means and how that means.
We're also doing a couple of other things I want to point out to you. When children are in crisis and they need emergency assistance, we've been traditionally using Child Haven as a shelter facility, which is a wonderful place. For anyone who's not been to Child Haven, I encourage you to visit any time. It's a wonderful, nurturing, caring environment with staff who work there who make it their life's work. We don't have a turnover of staff like most facilities do. But we're still a residential facility. And for some children, we know it's best to have children in a family home. And if at all possible, their own family. But if that's not possible, it should be another family home where there's a single caretaker, where there's a person, one person who's there 24 hours a day, because that's so important for bonding and attachment. We don't want to disturb kids as they grow up. So we have expanded the use of shelter foster homes for children who come into shelter. I tell you today we have approximately 130 children in Child Haven. We have approximately 100 more children who are in shelter foster homes. It's incredible. And that hundred children in shelter homes, almost every single one of them is under the age of 4. We have lots and lots of kids who need safe care.
So those are some of the things we're working on. I do want to come back and share with you -- I am concerned. I'm concerned about the growth in our community. I'm concerned about the capacity of the agencies in our community to serve families, because child abuse/neglect is so clearly associated with so many other things. Do families have their basic needs met for shelter and housing and utilities? Do families have alternatives for counseling and mental health services when and how they need them? Do families have substance abuse treatment when and how they need it? Because if that doesn't happen, those things contribute and that's what we're seeing in our [community].
I think there are three areas I would focus on in terms of stating priority needs in the areas of child abuse and neglect. First is to expand availability of community services and community providers. We need people in this community to serve families in need. What concerns me -- and I'll be right up front about this -- is an agency that deals in child abuse and neglect, we cannot say no at the door. We accept every call, every kid, every time. We cannot say no. But a lot of the factors that contribute to child abuse/neglect could be addressed be agencies if we had enough resources and those agencies have waiting lists. And those agencies have limits and numbers. So the same families and the same individuals who have mental health crisis who are backing up the emergency rooms are also parents. Where are their kids? And who's caring for those kids? We get calls of infants and toddlers being left alone. Infants and toddlers. So the better we do in our community of meeting peoples' basic needs when and how they need them, the better we will be, because you need to know when we see kids come to us, they don't just come to us as a result of child abuse/neglect. They come to us showing signs of not getting their basic needs met over a long period of time. We see toddlers with rotted teeth because they've been having bottle, just holding bottles, that's all they've had. We see kids who have never been to the doctor, not getting immunizations. Kids come to us with lice. We no longer have any furniture that's not made of plastic. Too many lice, too many insects. We have kids who have not had the basic holding and care and nurturing that an infant needs. What happens if an infant cries and the mom or dad or adult does not respond to their need? That cycle of attachment. Kids have a need. They get tense. They cry. They need someone who comes and meets that need and they go, "Ah." It's the repetition of that cycle of getting that need met in which an infant learns to attach and bond and trust. If an infant has trust, they can transfer it to other people. We have infants and toddlers and older kids who never develop trust because no one was there when they cried. They stopped crying. We have kids who run up to strangers to give them a hug because they don't know them any more than they know anyone else. They don't know who to trust. They don't know how to have relationships. You know and I know what happens to kids who don't have relationships as they grow up. They become a challenge in every other system in our society. We want to see the expansion of community services.
We clearly need more staff to address the needs of families and kids. As our numbers go up, how can we begin to keep on top of meeting these needs effectively? These are not families who need one or two things over a little bit of time. This is very intense. These court cases -- just so you know in Clark County, we almost don't have any cases that don't go to court and don't have civil action going on. We are all involved in court in all these cases. But a key factor in whether we are successful in finding a timely permanent home for a child, which is our goal -- a safe, permanent home for every child in a timely way, bottom line, safe, permanent home -- is the amount of time they have with the worker to do the job. Our work is about relationship, just like human beings are about relationship. If I have a good relationship with my worker or my parents, I learn to build on that. And if workers don't have that, we know that doesn't work. We have national information from the Child and Family Service reviews that talk to us about the frequency of visits between workers and parents, the frequency of visit between workers and kids. Those factors make a difference getting that positive outcome.
And I guess the last thing I say to you as a priority need -- we need more foster and adoptive families, because we have too many children who would do well and need an individual family who are now in group care. I'm concerned about that, because I'm concerned they're not developing those individual relationships and getting those needs met and we'll see them down the road. This is a high-level view of child abuse/neglect.
PROFESSOR BERKHEISER: Professor Annette Appell.
PROFESSOR APPELL: Good morning. How's the volume? I have a visual aid, so I'm going to stand near my visual aids.
I want to thank Professors Shalin and Berkheiser for bringing this diverse group of experts together and for looking at these important issues, and I'm very, very pleased and honored to be here.
I am law trained, not trained in the social sciences. There will be a little bit of numbers and I'm sure they'll be a little confusing. I don't do numbers. And I'm going to talk, I think, pick up on some of the things that, or echo some of the things that Susan said, but perhaps frame them a little bit differently.
I've been asked today, as Susan was, to speak about child abuse, teenage pregnancies and unwed mothers. So I want to do three things this morning, briefly. I want, first, to address an overarching point about how we frame and identify these topics. I then want to address the way our State treats abused children who are in or at risk of being removed, in State care, basically, who have been removed from their homes. And Susan's remarks today have given me a great deal of hope about the things that the County is doing regarding assessments and placements for children. And I'm going to end with a brief call to address the large immigrant population, the growing immigrant population that we have in this community, because I'm not sure that's being addressed today during the course of the panel presentations. But it's very important that we examine the special needs that immigrant families face as we look at the quality of life in the Silver State.
First, my overarching point is how we identify and examine social issues. And with full respect for the aims of this symposium and the wisdom of its organizers and participants, including myself, we customarily frame the issues of the particular topics of this portion of the panel as child abuse, teen pregnancies-and unwed mothers. My issue is that this framing narrows the gauge to individualized assessment and solutions. In other words, this framing seems to place the problem on the individuals who are abused or who abuse, on the teenagers who become pregnant, and on the mothers who are not wed. Instead, it seems it would be more fruitful and, I would argue, more just to look at these problems as issues of community support for families and children.
Regarding child abuse -- and I think that Susan made this point and, in effect, talked about child abuse and neglect and not child abuse -- the phrase "child abuse" is shorthand generally for child abuse/neglect that requires some form of governmental intervention. And I think it's the wrong shorthand, since the vast majority of child protective issues are related to neglect -- here and nationally.
Keeping in mind, first, the vagaries of categorizing and counting findings of incidents of abuse and neglect -- and our state is notorious, we all laughed at data problems regarding Child Welfare -- it seems that in 2002 of the 6,428 substantiated instances of child abuse/neglect, 1124 involved incidences of physical or sexual abuse. The remainder, 5,464, appear to be incidents of neglect. 2,442 of this 5,464 are in the other category, a category apparently encompassing domestic violence and substance abuse, which I can take to mean -- and I may be wrong -- children who are exposed to parental substance abuse, of spousal or intimate domestic violence, and intimate partner domestic violence. So I think of that in the neglect category, but it's not clear. It is that type of conduct, it’s more akin to neglect, because it is adult conduct directed elsewhere, not at the child, although the child feels very, very serious effects.
So anyway, if we look at these numbers, just in a very broad way, we see that most substantiated incidents of child maltreatment, 60 to 80 percent are for neglect. Nationally the numbers are similar. Generally about under a third of the substantiated cases had incidents of physical or sexual abuse. Yet, we continue to characterize the problem, particularly in the popular media, as one of child abuse with all of its connotations.
Let's look briefly at the neglect categories in Nevada. I think Susan mentioned them. Physical neglect -- and those are up here, I don't know if they're -- I don't know if you can see them well enough. Basically, and this data's taken from the Kids Count, Nevada's stats that they give to the feds and also federal data. Basically, physical neglect refers to things like lack of basic care, clothing, housing, et cetera, lack of supervision, another neglect round, inattentive parents or failures in child care arrangements, leaving children too young without adequate supervision while a parent shops, works, sleeps, does drugs, gambles. Unfortunately, we see that here in this particular community. Educational neglect -- not insuring that the child is in school. This could be related to lack of supervision, transportation, or being unable or unwilling to monitor or control the child. Abandonment -- leaving a child without a care plan or support or being unavailable when the caregiver can no longer care for the child. Emotional abuse or neglect -- this category includes having intellectually or emotionally-impaired child and being emotionally unavailable, having unreasonable expectations of the child or dissocializing the child, whatever that means. Medical neglect -- being unable to afford health care, having differences of opinion regarding the appropriate medical treatment, failing to appreciate and meet the child's medical needs. And then there's the other category which I discussed earlier.
Now I don't want to minimize child abuse. But the problems of neglect are more pervasive and tractable and, as Susan pointed out, deadly, unfortunately. Moreover, there are close and complex connections between neglect and poverty in that poverty is often confused with neglect and impoverished families do not have the resources to mediate the underlying causes of neglect and abuse relating to substance abuse, mental illness, and violence in a general, a dearth of supports basically for families. Thus, presenting child protection issues as abuse obscures the financial and social isolation families and children most at risk face.
And visual aid No. 2 -- this is a chart from DCFS, indicating the -- Nevada's DCFS, indicating the family stressors basically that they've identified that have led to protective services involvement in 2002. And we see on this list things like alcohol and drug dependency affecting over 2,000 families. Health problems of caretakers -- 660 incidents. Health problem [involving] children -- 760 instances. Insufficient income -- 1584 families. Inadequate housing -- 760 families. The list goes on. Domestic violence, which has been mentioned -- nearly 1,000 families. Parents who are unable to cope -- 2,042 families. And another section, which includes stress factors that the Child Welfare system hasn't been able to identify or may be too diverse to categorize -- over 5,000. But these stress factors I've listed, that are listed in the longer list on this visual aid, are largely social and community issues around housing, income, health care, and mental health care. So we can characterize child protection more accurately, instead of as abuse, but as a welfare or protection issue and think about them that way.
First and foremost, as we know, and as Susan mentioned, the privilege and obligation to protect and provide for children's welfare rests with the parents. But also, it's a community responsibility to provide the supports necessary for families to function and children to be well. And that means -- I like the way Susan put it -- having the services needed when and how they need them, basically, having things for people in the community when and how they need them.
I'm sorry if I misquoted you too, Susan. But that's the idea.
And a number of these things Susan mentioned, but let me [mention] perhaps some other. We need safe and engaged schools. We need after-school programs, parks where children can play and where parents can go and meet other parents and provide support and community networks that way. We need affordable and safe child care, affordable medical care, affordable and available drug treatment, affordable housing, agencies that provide material supports to families at risk, adequate and available community-based mental health services for children and adults, and families together, and redouble efforts to diminish the unexpectedly high levels of domestic violence in our community.
Characterizing the problem as child abuse does not evoke these community norms and does not invite community solutions. Instead, it invites a form of child saving we know does not work well, does not serve children, and does a disservice to the pluralistic principles on which this democratic public was founded. Moreover, characterizing the issue as abuse obscures the known risk children face as a result of being removed from their families, from their neighborhoods, their homes, their schools. And that's a risk that I want to come back to a little bit later, but something we have to really think about when we're talking about Child Welfare.
Teenage pregnancy, the second category for this panel. Again, this phrase directs our gaze to the pregnant girl, rather than at the larger systemic issues that face or fail girls and contribute to their inability to control or postpone their reproductive lives. These include lack of information, lack of options, inability to perceive options. Those of us who have dealt with youth understand the limitations of forward thinking and understanding the implications of their actions. Coercion, and lack of access to or control over birth control. Focusing on pregnancy also foreshadows what we can do for pregnant and parenting teenage girls. First, give them opportunities regarding whether to birth or to keep the child once born, including both the controversial [options] of adoption and abortion. If they keep the baby, make sure they have child care. Make sure they can stay in school so that they will be able to improve their outlook beyond having children, will minimize having more children in their teen years. Provide other supports if those teenage parents, own parents, are unwilling to provide, such as a place to live, parenting assistance, the kind of wrapping one's arms around the new unit, the teenage mother and her child.
The third topic of the panel is unwed mothers. This phrase, too, focuses our gaze on the person and it is especially loaded in an often moralistic way. Identifying unwed mothers as the problem masks so many deep and complex issues around gender, class, and race that we could be here all day talking about it. I promise we won't do that, and I won't do that. But problematizing unwed mothers targets individualized, stereotyped women while admitting the fact that our political and financial economies privatize dependency. What we do is we leave the rearing of children in private hands, which is a good thing under the principles of liberal democracy, but we do not provide the public supports on many levels, including health care, child care, and income support for families to rear their children. Because even in two-parent families, increasingly both parents must work to support the family. While we force single poor mothers to enter the work force rather than remain at home and care for their children. And then we don't even necessarily provide the means for them to obtain an education and job training, but instead force them, in many communities, to take low-wage jobs which really mean they can't support their family and certainly can't do much to improve the lives of their children.
There's no question that single parents are between a rock and a hard place in having to provide both the financial and child care role functions in the family. Nor is it a controversial assertion that a parent cannot raise a family on minimum wage. Two incomes, a stay-at-home mom or dad, grandmother or grandfather sure helps the family's economic and perhaps emotional health. But the truth is that poor families, working families, even middle-class families with one or two parents are struggling to provide for their children. And this is a community problem.
My main point here is to encourage us today in this process of assessing the quality of life in the Silver State to look more broadly at what all parents and all children have in common and what we, as a community, can do to meet their needs with special attention to those most vulnerable among us who cannon do it on their own.
Now, my second issue is our care and treatment of children in substitute care, children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect and are placed in State, and now County, primary care, generally foster care, but also higher levels of care like group homes, other institutions, and unfortunately psychiatric hospitals. And we've just undergone a federal review of our foster care system. It's kind of a silly and superficial process that requires an extraordinary amount of effort and resources on the part of the State agencies to find out what they, and we all, pretty much know, the strengths and weaknesses of the agencies. But it's a good thing in some ways in that these reviews at least shine a light on the Child Welfare agencies and threaten to administer sanctions if the State’s not improved or overcome the deficiencies that were found.
Nevada, like most states, though perhaps a little bit more, was found to be failing its children in many ways during this review process, ways that mattered to families and in ways that anyone who had even a remote, you know, relationship to the Child Welfare system was not surprised about. Nevada is now then engaged in developing a program improvement plan to meet the federal guidelines in the areas that Nevada was deficient. Unfortunately, so far it's not terribly encouraging. The plan is formalistic and it makes promises that have been made for years but have still not been realized. And it seems to be terribly inorganic in that it speaks the language of Child Welfare professionals and bureaucracies and not really of the community. I understand it is a bureaucratic document, but it seems quite cold.
In particular, I want to focus on the children who are in State care or relying on the Child Welfare system to protect them when their parents are unable to do so. These are our most vulnerable children and we are in this state failing them miserably. Of course, it's difficult to know how miserably because, again, we come back to the lack of reliable data, and Susan's not responsible for most of this. I don't see any faces from DCFS. But for some reason, over the years the State has not been able to marshal data.
So what I'm reduced to are anecdotes based on my experiences and experience of my colleagues here and at the Clark County Legal Services, Children's Attorneys Project and at the Special Public Defender, which has a couple of attorneys who represent parents. Children in foster care are moving around way too much. They have an extraordinarily high number of placements that are not simply related to the old bifurcated system. We used to blame it on that -- the County places them first, then they go to the State. It's way worse than that. I sit in court and routinely hear children who have been in five, 10, 15, 20, even more than 20 placements in their time in State care. And it's not -- you know, it's not occasional. I hear that a lot. I don't think we have a child in our small case load across the hall in the clinic that has been in less than five placements, and some in many, many more. And Susan alluded to this. Moving a child -- I mean, think about when you move. Think about, you know, when you have a relationship that breaks up or a divorce, same difference. You move homes, how stressful and difficult that is. Now you take a child and you do that one time is bad, two times is bad, [what about] 20 times? It's unspeakable.
Then, our foster children, and especially a lot of these kids, but who have been mistreated the most by their families and by the system are really heavily drugged. Shockingly so. They can't function in school sometimes, they're so highly drugged. They can't stay awake. Our foster children are also placed for long periods in very restrictive psychiatric settings. It's no wonder if you move around 20 times, it's hard for them to adjust to their various places. But we shouldn't be placing them for long periods in psychiatric hospitals. And this is due very much because of our lack of qualified and equipped foster and group homes and foster parents to care for our lack of supports for these children in the community and their foster homes and in the group homes.
Now also, our foster children who cannot return to their families are staying in care for long periods because we do not have the expertise, resources, or apparently the will in our state to get our kids adopted. These are the kids who can't go home, for whatever reason. And some of these kids require a lot of care. Most of the kids who are adopted from -- who have been in foster care adopted by their foster parents, that's true nationally, and I think probably here, but I'm not sure if we have data about that, but there are a lot of kids who don't get adopted by their foster homes, by their foster parents. Judge Hardcastle who's our Juvenile Judge here in Clark County -- and will continue to be, it looks like, after the election -- has made countless findings against DCFS, and now DFS as of October 1st, for failing to make reasonable efforts to get children adopted. These findings deprive this state of federal monies for these children. Yet, in the year or two or three that Judge Hardcastle has been doing this with regard to the State, the State hasn't responded as far as I can tell. The judges keep making these findings on new cases, on the same old cases, and I've seen no improvement in this very important area of -- and very specialized area of finding adoptive homes for hard-to-place children. And it is doable, and people are doing it around the country. We have apparently no plans to do that here, although I don't know what the County's up to. I look forward to . . . it, because I'm sure I will see a plan for that to happen.
So in my experience and research, which is pretty extensive here and in other states, the State is a poor parent, and I mean that, the government, not just the County, is as bad or worse as a poor parent, but different than many of the parents from whom the children are removed. So you know, you've got bad parents on both sides, arguably, and I use "bad" with parenthesis. But even the best state cannot provide the kind of flesh and blood, individualized and relatively conflict- and interest-free care the children need. So we need to do better to move our kids out of institutional care as efficiently and safely as possible. I fear that in our system there is very little accountability and support for the state and county, because we have little community organization here. The agencies are not terribly transparent and there's very little legal representation for children and even less for parents, and it's particularly true in Clark County. I think in the rural counties and in Washoe, [things are done] better than we do in this area. We have very smart, very good-willed, and very, very highly competent people in our Child Welfare leadership. But the community still must support and push them. That means being at the table. That means being vocal with the legislature to provide the means necessary to protect our most vulnerable children and families. That means holding our Child Welfare agencies accountable and expecting more transparency. That means demanding data. And that means -- that means coming down to the Juvenile Court sometimes and sitting in there and seeing what's going on.
Finally, let me conclude, at least by mentioning immigrant families. It's an area that I don't have much expertise in, but I feel should be -- should be at least mentioned. The immigrant families are very -- are generally very, very strong and healthy. But they're also on average challenged by things like parents with less education, low wage work with no benefits, language barriers, discrimination and racism, poverty and related risk factors, and lack of supports such as TANF, food stamps and Medicaid. I urge us to consider the special needs of our strong and growing immigrant population while we assess and improve the quality of life in the Silver State.
PROFESSOR BERKHEISER: Thank you very much to our first panelists. I think that you would agree, that you would agree with me that we don't need TV at this time.
We have much that's live and happening here at the Boyd School of Law. Susan Klein Rothschild and Annette Appell have gotten us off to the kind of start that I knew they would, by framing the issues, by setting the stage, helping us understand the importance of public -- and not just the public -- but community support of all kinds, and of challenging, as I know my colleague Annette Appell always does, assumptions that we make and characterizations of issues. I think we're going to see very interesting -- I look forward to seeing how the information we've gotten from these two speakers plays out, as I suspect it will, when we move to some of the other issues of children and youth in Nevada, particularly when we think, if we do, as the real problem being neglect of children, not abuse of children, that more intractable problem of neglect.
So we now will excuse these panelists from their chairs, and invite our second round of panelists to come on down.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Like a TV show.
PROFESSOR BERKHEISER: My mother was living with me for over a year, and she just loves that show, that "Come on down" show.
Today we are really fortunate to have with us two distinguished and knowledgeable speakers, presenters, workers in the fields of juvenile justice.
Senator Valerie Wiener has long been a tremendous advocate for juvenile justice and for juvenile justice reforms in the state of Nevada. She just shared with me that probably over half of her legislative agenda has been either directly on indirectly related to issues of juvenile justice. As a result of a bill that she sponsored back -- how many years ago was that, Senator, that we had our first study committee on juvenile justice issues -- 1997, so seven years ago. We had our first study committee on juvenile justice. And those committees continue. And the reforms in juvenile justice that I myself have seen in the past six years have been remarkable. We are making some strides, and as you know, we still have a long way to go.
And Fritz Reese is here today. He stepped ably into the shoes of Kirby Burgess when Kirby, who is the Director of Juvenile Justice Administration for Clark County, was suddenly called out of town. Fritz is the Assistant Department Head of Juvenile Justice Services, and he will start off this panel, and there may be some sort of back and forth between them, between our two panelists. Fritz, of course, will be able to talk about services that are being provided and sort of new wave of activity in our juvenile justice administration.
MR. REESE: Good morning. It's a pleasure to be here.
I don't usually get that kind of response when we're talking about juvenile justice because it's a complicated thing and it actually pairs and goes hand-in-hand with what Susan Klein Rothschild was talking about in terms of child abuse/neglect. Senator Valerie Wiener has been a long-term supporter of juvenile justice reform in the state of Nevada, and particularly in the community of Las Vegas. So what I would like to do is turn it over to her and we're going to more or less tag team and she's going to talk about statistics around suicide, nationally and here in the state of Nevada, as well as substance abuse. And then I'll provide some information about my department.
One thing real briefly I want to say is that Juvenile Justice Services here in Las Vegas is the fifth nationally largest Juvenile Justice Services agency in America. Some of you might say, how do we do that? Well, our agency's unique in the sense that most agencies don't have a detention as part of the department. It's actually somewhat separate and more or less is either administered by just probation or by a judge. So we have probation services, whether that it be intake and field services, and we have a booking and receiving area. We have a 235-bed detention facility, as well as our Spring Mountain facility which is up in Spring Mountain, that houses a hundred youth, young men. And so our agency's somewhat complicated in terms of juvenile justice. It was actually more complicated when we had Child Protective Services. And so right now I'm going to turn it over to Senator Wiener.
SENATOR WIENER: They always tell me to stand, but I'm about the same height standing or sitting, so I think I'll sit. Is that okay, Chris?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: That's perfect.
SENATOR WIENER: When I was first asked to do this -- and thank you for being the pit bull to get me here -- I graciously tried to decline, not because I don't want to do it, but I knew it would be a rigorous campaign season and I didn't know if I'd have the opportunity, after Tuesday, to recover, but I did. And I'll share some statistics and again maybe how I got involved in both the substance abuse arena and also the suicide one. I've served on the Drug Commission for Nevada as the Senate representative since I first went to legislature in 1997. It has not been active because of funding, but we did an extraordinary amount of work and, of course, we never do enough work when it comes to juveniles. As one of the members of the Judiciary Committee, this is something that always concerns me because substance abuse is an extraordinarily difficult issue to confront when you're dealing with young people, because that's where you need to do the job, and in the state of Nevada, over and over again, in the limited funding that we have in BADA, Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, we don't seem to front end the services the way we need to. We are extraordinarily underrepresented in that funding arena, where it needs to be done, the most it's done the least. Of course, if we don't grab those young people early with those substance abuse issues, they certainly don't change on their own.
Also, when I first went into legislature in 1997, introduced a bill on treatment communities in prison, therapeutic communities in prison. It was a novel idea for Nevada. No one knew what I was talking about, including the Director of Prisons at the time. And initially, he refused to accept that program, and I didn't learn that until I went to the Finance Committee and said he couldn't deliver what the bill had asked for. And so I had to track him down and say, yes, you can, I'll reduce the number of people we'd address, but you can't say no to therapeutic community bill, it's the right thing to do. We're going to send probably 95 percent of our adult inmates into the community at some point. And a vast, vast majority of the numbers vary, depending upon which study, up to maybe 85 percent of those inmates are going to be substance abusers. If we can correct their issues while in the facility, then we have a chance to send them out clean. It won't happen without that assistance. And they might become taxpayers and certainly many of them will not return to that facility. So that was a big bill for me in substance abuse in 1997. 1999, 2001, and 2003, I addressed fetal alcohol syndrome, and I got wrapped up in this issue, not primarily because of the health care concerns -- though that is primary -- but because Mr. Burgess -- Fritz, you were there too at the conference, was it Orlando?
MR. REESE: Yes.
SENATOR WIENER: A Juvenile Justice Conference, where I, one of our speakers was national expert on FAS, and, at a Juvenile Justice Conference and the thrust of her presentation lingered in my mind. And I came right back and started working on this issue. And this was startling. 50 to 60 percent -- I think that's probably a low estimate -- of our juveniles in the system are FAS babies. It's a hundred percent preventable if mom just wouldn't drink during pregnancy. At the time I introduced that bill the social and additional costs, however those are measured, for an FAS baby were about a million and a half extra dollars to taxpayers and to families in the lifetime of that child. When I brought the bill back a second time to require signs, warning signs where alcohol is sold by the drink that drinking during pregnancy can cause birth defects in the unborn child – [the bill] didn't pass, but it passed last session -- that cost had risen to $4 million. We did a snapshot, one-week snapshot of the special clinic for children here in Las Vegas, just picked a week, and there was one mother who had seven FAS babies. So a primary concern in the original bill and FAS dealt with the education, getting the health care providers in determining which ones were most important, educated about drinking during pregnancy.
When I first got involved with the issue, doctors, OB-GYNs were still telling mothers-to-be, it's okay to have a drink once in a while, it will calm you down. That evolved, I guess, with a more positive, more assertive message that you probably shouldn't drink during pregnancy. Now the message from most doctors is, if you're thinking about getting pregnant or think you might be pregnant, no alcohol. Because once FAS sets in -- and we don't know which drink does it, there's no science to know that -- there are those doctors who said it's only heavy drinkers, that lets everybody else off the hook because most people don't think they're heavy drinkers, no one knows which one sets it off. So why risk it? So anyway, I had a colleague in the Senate, though, when the sign bill coming through the second time who said, well, my wife had a drink once in a while and our kids are okay. So I guess there's still work to be done. So FAS, we finally got that sign requirement through.
The next session, I'm going to be doing a bill based -- and I don't know the language, I haven't been asked yet -- the language, I've been meeting with the juvenile justice people on this. I had a resolution last time and I didn't know what I was going to do with it in the bill draft request for, and I kind of had to figure it out -- about inappropriate illegal behavior while operating or driving a motor vehicle, but it ended up being about those use, up to 25 years old, so we can capture some of the young adults who would have alcohol in the car, maybe primarily the mobile parties.
Nevada ranks fourth in the social and public costs for those who participate in mobile parties. So the bill I'm probably looking at -- and I'm really in the vague thought stages here, we're bouncing some ideas around -- would be something to deal with the social hosting and that would be bringing the parents back in. We've done a lot of targeting of the juveniles. We haven't done enough targeting of those adults who allow the drinking in the home and allowing children to leave those homes where alcohol has been used. Sometimes we don't even learn when children die. Those behaviors often continue, and we need to maybe look at parents more carefully, that's where they're falling through the cracks. So I'm looking at something in that arena.
Nationally, just under 5,000 kids under the age of 18 will try marijuana for the first time every day. That's about 4,700 to 5,000 kids every day [who] will try marijuana for the first time. About a hundred thousand young people enter treatment every year. Almost 7 percent of our population 12 and older uses illicit drugs other than marijuana. In Nevada, we are the number one state in the nation for illicit drug use, other than marijuana. That's a stunning, difficult challenge for us to deal with. We have about -- just under half of our high schoolers will try marijuana by their senior year. Two-thirds of Clark County kids will try marijuana by their senior year. About 60 to 70 percent -- I think this might even be a low estimate -- of our crime in the Clark County involves drug use at some level that prompts the crime.
So we have some issues with drug use leading to other behaviors that are illegal and we don't budget for it enough. We tackle it every year, trying to get enough funding for the front and often I think the Legislators, except for people like Chris Giunchigliani, who is a forward-looking thinker, many of us get caught up in the now of it, and we can't. We can't -- I know we have limited resources, but doing even now stuff just keeps us in the emergency mode way too much.
And as we think ahead to the preventative side, which has been a primary focus of my work, let's front end it rather than back end it. And all that we'll do at the back end is attaching larger band-aids to a problem that doesn't go away until we front end it with preventative work. Takes more money to do it, people think, but by front ending, we did save the multiple dollars on each dollar expended at the front end, and all we get is repair work instead of turning behaviors around.
Let me talk a little bit about the suicide component. We have an interim study between 2000 and 2001 on suicide. And as they were assigning interim committees, this was the one I specifically said I do not want to serve on. I couldn't think of anything that would be more distressing than to go to many meetings, knowing who was going to be chair, and I knew it would be many, and talk about suicide. It was probably one of the most profound experiences I ever had -- yes, I was put on the committee -- one of the most profound experiences I had . . . because it was such an eye-opener to many other social problems in our state.
We have, interestingly, our highest rate, at least at that time -- I might be old on my numbers -- the highest rate of suicide was among men over the age of 60 or 65. And if you think about what might be happening in the life of that person -- many people, we are the fastest growing senior population in -- not just the country, but . . . unless it's changed, it's the fastest rate of growth for senior population in the world. So there are many countries that look to Nevada and look to Clark County to determine how we handle this social phenomenon.
And the snapshot of the senior population would be people coming here to retire, and they're probably healthy, maybe coming from a colder climate or where it's too expensive to live, and they probably have 10 healthy years, if they're the walkers, bikers, swimmers, golfers. And at that point, maybe one of the spouses has a health issue, mental health, physical health, and passes away, or becomes an extraordinarily dependent person on the other spouse. At some point, it's probably going to be the man who's left behind, in case that happens. The man left behind often is the one who is least able to take care of himself when left alone. And so that, at least two years ago, that was the highest rate of growth for suicide. But not to underestimate the teen suicide issue, nationally suicide is the third leading cause of death among 10 to 24-year-olds. It surpasses AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, chronic lung disease, heart disease combined. And 60 percent of the people who kill themselves use a firearm.
Young men in the teen years are more likely to succeed in their efforts to commit suicide. But young ladies are more likely to attempt, and they report depression at higher rates. In Nevada, 15 percent of our high school students by 2003's numbers had a specific plan for suicide. And we in Clark County have seen a decrease in the attempts, but we see an extraordinary rise in those who feel depressed, which is the step toward the attempt. We don't have the facilities to address this. Many of these are substance abuse-related. Many of these are mental health issues.
And I know, Kathryn, it's probably difficult to separate the two. Kathryn Landreth works extraordinarily well and with exceptional commitment in mental health. It's tough to separate out mental health and substance abuse. And one of the challenges we have -- because I work in both arenas pretty heavily -- when you have co-occurring issues of mental health and substance abuse as to which one came first, who cares? They're there. Whether it was substance abuse -- I don't mean to be flip -- but if it's substance abuse that led to the mental health issue, we have to deal with both. If it's a mental health issue that require a dependency on a drug, that leads to a dependency on something else, it's still both. What we found when we started working in both these areas -- because I've done a lot of coordinated work on both -- we had some issues between the professionals in both areas where -- let me get this right -- the substance abuse community has at least historically been reluctant to deal with people who are taking medication to get them stabilized because of their mental health problems. So until they are clean of drugs, the substance abuse community was not willing to receive them. But the people, many people who are on mental health meds need that medication to be stable enough to get help. I mean, it's just a difficult place to be. But they're now talking. At least, they're talking. And we're having to get past some long history of attitudinal differences. It's a challenge. Again, funding is a challenge. But if we don't address sometimes both of these combined -- again the suicide is one byproduct, crime is a major byproduct -- we have additional social ills if we don't get to that front-end issue of being honest enough about how to handle social issues by going at the front end rather than the back end. It takes a lot to change peoples' attitudes towards funding front end versus back end because back end is on the emergency end. We've got to stop it. And the way to stop it is to go to the front, not the back.
MR. REESE: Let me talk now how, in conjunction with juvenile services, your community responds to suicide and drug abuse and then I will provide some national statistics and local statistics on juvenile crime and where juvenile crime's going really in this country and where it is going here locally.
In terms of suicide prevention and intervention, it's important to understand that we get involved with clients and families when they're referred to us for delinquent offenses. So we're not really in the market, our job is not out seeking to assist youth that are having mental health issues. This past year, out of the youth that are referred to us -- and we have 25,000 referrals a year, and that results in 16,000 youth, so there's youth being referred to us, either multiple times or with multiple charges, that's so you can get an understanding of the depth of that population. Out of those that are referred to us, our staff are then referring 1,200 to our psychology department, which we have, to [determine] whether or not they should be assessed, whether they should have community placement, and so forth. And so what we've been able to do when we have found youth with mental health issues, we've had immediate intervention and we actually have contracts in the community. We have in-patient facilities that we refer those youth to. Now, the important thing to understand is there's a great, huge amount of youth out there in our community that aren't being referred to us, obviously, that are experiencing mental health issues, particularly [involving] suicide. And the statistics, though, are looking upward, I believe, and I think Senator Wiener kind of mentioned that this is changing, but it's certainly alarming because people don't think [this to be] one of our major juvenile issues. Most think of it as serious crime, and that it's really mental health and substance abuse [issue].
Let me talk briefly about our response to substance abuse. We get a tremendous amount of referrals for first-time alcohol and drug abuse. I'll be honest with you, 10 years ago we had a graduated response. First time, okay, don't do it. Second time, what did I tell you the first time? The third time, we might be thinking about, okay, now what if we have some type of intervention? So what we have started for the past couple of years is that every youth referred to us for drugs and alcohol gets an immediate assessment. For example, from August 19th of '02 to June 30th of this year, a total of 2196 out of roughly 2200 youth [referred to us] were assessed. That's how many youth were referred to us for first time. Out of that, 98 percent completed the assessment, and probably the 2 percent -- you're wondering what happened to those 2 percent -- they probably got referred to us for other charges and we're having some different type of responses to them, not that we're overlooking their substance abuse issues. What we've found then going back and looking at the outcomes is that 84 percent that were assessed -- and we have three levels at which we look at them -- whether or not they need just mild intervention, do they need drug education, is this a first time experimentation? Were they at a party where drugs were [used], and they got arrested? The second is, Do they need some type of educational intervention? The third is, Do they need to be involved immediately in a counseling program, whether that be outpatient or in-patient? So those are the three levels of responses. Out of the outcomes that we've had over the past two years of this program, 84 percent that went through our assessment process have not returned for drugs or alcohol offenses. That's powerful. We also established a program called SOAR, which [operates] in conjunction with the National Guard. Most people wouldn't link juvenile justice and the National Guard, other than boot camps – but we started a program called Seeking Opportunities and Accepting Responsibility for youth that are referred to us more or less for minor infractions but are experiencing problems at school, substance abuse, and we're doing some intervention regarding mental health.
What I'm gratified with is that it is just not geared towards boys, and I'm going to talk briefly about how I think girls are underrepresented in terms of community programming here locally, and what we've done about that, as well as nationally. Just in the year '04, we've put 114 youth through [this program], and out of that -- 58 were males and 56 were females. It wasn't a disproportionate level of females, even though we have a higher national rate in terms of female referrals to us for delinquency, which is 33 percent. The national average is roughly around 28. So, we're trying to do some immediate interventions regarding mental health. We're trying to do some immediate interventions regarding substance abuse.
I just want to briefly say, too, that I'm on the statewide committee on underage drinking. Most people laugh about that. One of the things I'll reveal is that I've taught wine classes at UNLV, and continue to do so at community colleges, for the last 10 years. But people don't really understand how serious underage drinking is in this country. One of the things I'm supporting, and I am going to work with Senator Wiener on that, is keg registration. And most people -- how many people in this room know what keg registration is? All right, now you'll know. If someone goes in -- if I go in to a liquor store and I purchase a keg, i.e., if you rent it, you put up a deposit. Once you do that, they've established a number, I sign my name and they look at my driver's license as the person who bought that keg. If that keg shows up at a party where there's underage drinking, not only are the youth responsible for being under the influence and possession of alcohol -- I'm in serious trouble for providing that keg and alcohol to them. So it's a national initiative around the country, particularly gaining a lot of support and momentum around the East Coast and I'd encourage you to look into that further.
The other thing I want to mention concerns mental health. And then I'm going to talk about some national and local statistics for juvenile justice. It is the misrepresentation of detention in this country for youth that are experiencing mental health issues. And really, youth that are experiencing mental health issues come to us fairly quickly, because if they're having mental health issues, they're depressed, they may be involved in drug abuse, they may be involved in acting out, inappropriate behavior, stealing, all of those types of things that a lot of them are drawing attention to. I think that Senator Wiener mentioned that boys are much more successful in committing suicide than girls. But with girls, it's more of an attention-getting mechanism, [sort of ] saying, “Help me, I need help.” So we're concerned that a great deal of youth that have mental health issues are being incarcerated in our detention center because they don't fit at home, they're out of control, they're having trouble, even in specialized schools in the School District -- so, gee, they're assaulting other kids in the class, so we get them arrested through the School District police and they're referred to us for assault because they assaulted the kid sitting in the chair next to them, and then what do we do with them?
So it's a real challenge in terms of finding appropriate mental health services for kids that now are being locked up in a detention facility who really aren't delinquent. It's a national reform process -- the one thing I want to say, is that crime is down in this country. Most people wouldn't say that. They would think we need more police and we need more prisons and we need more jails. Every year, crime goes down in this country. Juvenile crime is down in this country this year 8 percent. It's down in this community 10 percent. We've had 10 percent less referrals in the fastest-growing county in America for the last 10 years. I'm optimistic about the programs and the partnerships that we've established in the community -- Boys and Girls Clubs, Clark County Parks and Recreation, all the community centers. Providing for after-school programs or for kids that are at risk, to gang members -- it used to be thought, we don't want to have any gang members in our community centers -- we want the police to find them and lock them up.
When I go around -- I have many speaking engagements -- I challenge my audience, and I am going to challenge you to do the same thing and say, all right, what do you think the average age of someone, a male, who commits a serious aggravated assault and [causes] serious bodily harm? Anybody want to take a guess? Some people say 12. That's good. Some people say 15. I've had 19, up to 19. The other day I had 20. It's 33. The attitude of this past 10 years has been to quickly move juveniles through the process and to the adult system. People don't realize that they get out. Youth involved in gang activities like drive-by shootings, whether they're a principal in that shooting or whether they're part of the group that was involved in that -- and I'm certainly not diminishing drive-by shootings or serious crimes that result in either death or serious bodily harm, but they're going to do 7 or 8 years and they're going to get out.
One of the things I want to think about, one of the challenges facing this nation and the state is that as we move youth into prisons as juveniles -- we currently have 500 under 21-year-olds incarcerated in Nevada state prisons. 85 of them are under 18. Now, it would be a good guess that those 800 started out as juveniles. And the issue is, they're going to get out. And so what do we do in terms of prevention and intervention, and that's been our challenge particularly for our agency and my director for the past 10 years, as opposed to being an agency that's just been responsive. The police show up, we take them, and we do something with them. Our staff has been very excited because we're actually doing prevention. We're actually trying to [form] partnership with community agencies in terms of working with at-youth risk and try to make a difference.
So, on one hand, we're cautiously optimistic in the reduction of juvenile referrals in this community by 10 percent. But we're also concerned that nationally juvenile crime is down, as I mentioned, 8 percent. We have a 40 percent higher rate of incarcerated youth in detentions and correctional facilities than we did 14 years ago. So what we're doing is we're escalating youth faster into detention facilities and into incarceration juvenile facilities than we ever had in the history of juvenile justice.
So one of the things here locally -- we just recently opened here the past couple of years a detention center that has now 235 beds. Now one would think, okay, we have the fastest-growing community in America, we have a need for that. Our previous detention center, which is almost inside the new one, had 112 beds and we were running up to about 240 youth in that facility, which is outrageous, 2 or 3, maybe sometimes 4 youths sleeping on mattresses in one room. This is -- this is what's happened to detention centers across the country. So we opened a beautiful facility. So, guess what? Approximately 13 or 14 months ago we were sitting at 290.
So we decided we needed to do something. We engaged the help, because they're a very active proponent, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, to work on detention reform -- one of our major issues. And we were approved as a pilot site and we really want to become a model site in the country, in terms of changing the attitude of even our staff and our community of locking kids up. There's a very safe way to maintain kids in the community and also keep the public safe. The statute says detention is to be used for protection of the youth, protection of the community, and to ensure that they'll return to court. So through home management programs, through electronic monitoring, through community programs, we have through the Boys and Girls Club, we have afternoon reporting where they'll come in after school and do their homework, just to keep youth out of detention. We've also changed the configuration of our detention, and you'll probably say that seems pretty basic, in that we had kids coming into our old facility, where, too, we were keeping the most serious, sophisticated juvenile offenders. Now we've established an intake unit and we've freed up an extra five beds, an extra four staff to deal with other issues we have in our facility.
Let me talk about national [figures]. Nationally, we have about 2.3 million arrests per year for juveniles, and although juvenile arrest rates for violent crimes such as murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assaults grew substantially during the '80s, through the mid-'90s they decreased for eight consecutive years by 8 percent. Over the last eight years, there's no longer the statistical proof that there's juvenile predators out on the street. The [number of] juveniles arrested for violence in '02 was the lowest since 1987 nationally. Nationally 29 percent of juvenile arrests involve females. That's roughly about 654,000 arrests of females under the age of 18. Currently here locally, we run at 33 percent.
I was at a national forum on juvenile statistics, and I find this really fascinating, in that one of the major reasons that we had an increase of assault-like charges on females is because of the domestic violence issues. Moms and dads call the police, the police come and arrest them, and charge them with domestic violence, battery. . . . This is the single most [important cause] of the rise in batteries and aggravated assaults for females nationally. Now that's certainly not to diminish the issues of how this ties in with substance abuse and mental health for our female population, which is so important, which is not actually being served like it should. So we're not really seeing girls until they come in for domestic violence, aggravated assault. Now the schools act very quickly -- and I understand that -- if a girl hits another girl, they used to pull them apart and call their parents and say, “They can't do that at school.” Well, [now] the school police brings them in and charges them with battery or aggravated assault. So that's one of the major reasons why there's been an increase in the female population [when it comes to] physical types of gross misdemeanors and felonies for females.
Let me just briefly talk about Nevada's population. About 2.3 million in '03, and that was the estimate, in June. Between 2000 in '03, juvenile arrests for violence crimes declined overall by 16 percent. That's a good thing. However, violent crime arrests for juvenile females increased by 23 percent. Really what that does, it represents what's happening nationally in those types of offenses for females.
Here in Clark County -- the entire state, the entire state of Nevada had a population, as I mentioned, of roughly about 2.3. Clark County was the most populous county in the state, which we know. The population's about 1.6, and in '03 there was an estimated 295,000 juveniles between the ages of 6 and 18 living in Clark County. That's roughly about 19 percent of the population in Clark County.
In '03, there were, as I mentioned, about 16,000 juvenile referrals to us, I mean youth, and that resulted in about 25,000 referrals. 60 to 70 percent of the crimes committed in Clark County emanates from drug abuse. Let me state that again. 60 to 70 percent of the crimes committed in Clark County is a result of drug abuse. We did a snapshot a few years ago, because I mentioned we were, I thought, inappropriately handling first time offenders for drug and alcohol, in that we have -- we got a consultant -- we did a study for over a period of two weeks, and found that 80 percent of the youth that came in with a net two-week period were under the influence of some type of drug or alcohol. So kids are committing crimes under the influence. That's pretty easy to see. In terms of our substance abuse intervention, I mentioned that we're very proud of the fact that we've had an 80 percent reduction, and those kids referred to us have gone through our assessment process.
So what I'd like to do is leave this open for any questions. The one thing to say is that on the back table back there, just in front of the pastries, are the national juvenile websites that you can go to and get this information. And as I get up, I'll also put my personal e-mail address at work. And if you e-mail me, I'll send you in Word format the approximately 7 or 8 pages I have of bullet points information on juvenile justice and crime.
In leaving you, the one thing I want to say, that I'm very encouraged. Sometimes this paints a terrible picture, but I'm very encouraged that over the last eight years juvenile crime has subsided, particularly serious crime. And it seems clear that the challenge for us to deal with mental health and substance abuse with our youth. And so as long as we have that type of response, to females as well as males, and that we continue to establish the type of community program and partnerships, because to all of us, it's clear that it's a community solution. It's not an agency solution.
PROFESSOR BERKHEISER: Certainly, issues are inexplicably intertwined with the other issues we've been hearing about this morning. I want you to welcome -- we have three panelists. We have an addition to our panel. First to my left is Dr. Rebecca Nathanson, Professor of Special Education and Law. She has a joint appointment at the School of Education here at UNLV and with the Boyd School of Law, and is someone I have the great pleasure to work with in our clinical work. Then we have, seated next to Dr. Nathanson, Dr. Ina Dorman. She is a social worker, professional social worker, and is the social worker in our Thomas and Mack Legal Clinic here at the law school and in that capacity does a lot of work with the children and teens that we represent and supervises graduate students in their Masters and social work programs in their placement in the clinic. And then to the far left, we have Dr. Sandra D. Owens-Kane, who also is with the School of Social Work here at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, and I believe we'll be starting at the far left. Is that correct?
PROFESSOR OWENS-KANE: Good morning. I'm Dr. Sandra Owens-Kane. I'm Assistant Professor in the UNLV School of Social Work. I've worked as a social work practitioner and researcher for the last 20 years here in Nevada and California. I have been a licensed clinical social worker since 1993 here in Nevada. Most of the research that I do and the training that I've done has been related to the bio-psycho-social aspects of problems experienced by at-risk groups, groups involved in the Child Welfare systems, children and families living in poverty, and groups experiencing negative health disparities because of their race or ethnicity.
I'm very pleased today to discuss the subject of high school dropouts and graduation rates in Nevada. I will try my best to outline some of the most important factors that must be considered when we're evaluating high school dropout rates in Nevada. It's a crucial social indicator for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that high school graduation is directly and positively correlated to income and improved economic success over life span.
I will share with you some of the statistics that I found, and I have shared with you in a handout setting forth the references I have used for this presentation, as well as a few tables and charts that illustrate my findings. And I want to thank my research assistant, Jessica Reyes, who assisted me with finding some of these statistics and we'll make sure each of you have the handout.
First and foremost, I'd like to share some of the specific national, state and county statistics on high school dropout and completion rates and some of the related socio-economic indicators contributing to these rates. I will then provide you a summary of suggestions and recommendations for how we can continue to positively impact these dropout rates.
So, if you look at Table 1, these are key indicators of child well-being nationally and in Nevada. High school dropout rates will vary, depending on the criteria used to measure them. The Annie E. Casey Foundation defines high school dropouts as a percent of 16 to 19 year-olds who are not enrolled in school and who are not high school graduates. Students who earn the GED are considered graduates. Based on these criteria, the Annie Casey Foundation estimates Nevada high school dropout rate for 2001 as 14 percent. This ranks Nevada as the second worst in the nation. And Arizona has the worst ranking with a 16 percent high school dropout rate. The national average dropout rate was 9 percent.
It is significant to note, and encouraging to note, that between the years of 1996 and 2001, Nevada's dropout rate decreased from 17 percent to the14 percent. This represents a negative 18 percent change score for these years. You can see that in Table 2. In other words, in the past five years, we have experienced an 18 percent decrease in the percentage of high school dropouts. Nationally, there's only a 10 percent decrease from 10 percent in 1996 to 9 percent in 2001. And so that was just a 10 percent decrease. Nevada's dropout improvement was twice that. We want to continue this trend.
If you take a look at Table 3, you'll see the national dropout rate by ethnicity. As I mentioned previously, 9 percent of teens nationally age 16 to 19 are high school dropouts. What is alarming is that 18 percent of Latino teens nationwide are high school dropouts. 10 percent of both African-American and American Indian teens are dropouts. And about 6 percent of white and Asian and Pacific Islander teens drop out of high school. In Nevada, as you can see from the single-page insert from Nevada's Kids Count, 14 percent of teens age 16 through 19 have dropped out of high school. Of these teens, 9 percent are Latino. Nine percent of black teens dropped out of high school, compared to almost half as many -- only 5 percent -- of whites, Asians and Pacific Islanders and Native Americans. Thus, when compared to national dropout rates by race, Nevada has similar statistics. Latino and black teens are facing the most challenges. However, the state indicator that is most different from the national indicator is the fact that the 9 percent Nevada Latino dropout rate is almost half of the 17 percent Latino dropout rate nationally.
As you can see in Table 4, of the young adults in Nevada, ages 18 to 24, 55 percent were white and 29 percent were Latino. This 29 percent Latino population represents a significant proportion of the youth in our state. Table 5 provides an analysis of the Clark County School District high school dropout rates for 9th through 12th graders in the 2002-2003 academic school year, the most recent date for which we have statistics. Clark County has a total school enrollment that year of 267,858 students and this represents 70 percent of the state of Nevada's student enrollment. The total student enrollment is 383,230 students.
As you can see in the table of the Clark County School District, the dropout rate overall is 9.5 percent. The only ethnic group with a higher than average dropout rate is the Latino students, with a 9.8 percent dropout rate. This represents an actual total of 1,787 Latino student dropouts in one year. That number is extremely high by any standard, regardless of the fact that many are joining the workplace, are in the work force. It seems that these children are being left behind by our educational system.
In Table 6, you'll see that Nevada has a slightly higher percentage, 10 percent, of high school dropouts not working and not attending school, as compared to the national average of 8 percent of teens ages 16 through 19 who are not attending school and not working. There's some relatively good news when we look at the employment rates of teens 16 to 19 that are not attending school and that are not working. The good news is that of the Latino high school dropouts nationally, only 13 percent are not working. Thus, we can infer that the vast majority, mainly 87 percent of Latino high school dropouts, are joining the work force. Conversely, only 83 percent of American Indians and 86 percent of black high school dropouts are working. Although it is good news that high numbers of Latino dropouts are working, their earning capacity and representative health and well-being may be negatively impacted. The initial and long-term earning capacity of those working high school dropouts is much compromised, and thus it will contribute to low-paying, low-skilled jobs that place them at the lower than average socio-economic status throughout life.
I didn't include this table, but the U.S. Census Bureau in 2002 estimated that high school graduates earn on average approximately $7,000 more per year and 20 percent more over lifetime than high school dropouts. Specifically, for full-time, year-around workers for 40 years synthetic earning estimates are about $1 million in '99 dollars, in year 1999 dollars, for high school dropouts. While completing high school would increase earnings to almost a quarter have a million dollars, to $1.2 million, if you have a high school diploma. Additionally, individuals with a Bachelor's degree would earn an average of $2.1 million over a 40-year work history. An individual with a Master's degree will earn $2.5 million over 40 years. A doctoral degree earner will earn $3.4 million over a 40-year work life. Lastly, an individual with a professional degree will earn a whopping $4.4 million over a lifetime. This is 4 1/2 times what a high school graduate would earn over lifetime. These figures are not so startling if one believes in the adage that money does not buy happiness. However, these figures are very alarming if one believes in the fact that money does buy good food, good housing, good clothing, good education, and 76 savings even. I think these aforementioned earning disparities between high school dropouts and various degree earners will serve as an impetus for motivating community constituents such as yourselves to work even harder to reduce the high school dropouts.
I will now transition to talking about graduation rates in the nation and in Nevada.
The term "high school completer" as defined by the National Center for Education Statistics includes both diploma recipients and other high school completers, such as those receiving a certificate of attendance or a GED. In the 2000 and 2001 school year, the four-year completion rate ranged from a high of 90.1 percent in North Dakota to a low of 65 percent in
Louisiana. You can see that from Table 8, the three-page table that I've distributed. Seven states had a four-year completion rate above 85 percent. Those were Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Dakota, Wisconsin. Five states had a four-year completion rate below 75 percent -- Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Nevada, and New Mexico.
National Center for Education Statistics reports that between the 1996-97 school year and the 2000-2001 school year the changes in completion rates were relatively small, 77 [percent] -- less than 2 percentage points in 18 states. Two states, however, Idaho and Nevada, increased their four-year completion rates by over 9 percentage points between 1996-97 school year and the 2000-2001. Again, good news for Nevada. In 2000-2001, Nevada had a 73.5 percent four-year high school completion rate. Rural areas, small and large towns under 25,000 people in population had completion rates of 58 to 87 percent. Midsize cities had 77 percent completion rates. And urban fringes of large cities have the lowest completion rate of only 70 percent.
[Total school enrollment] in Nevada is currently 51 percent white, 30 percent Hispanic, 11 percent black, 7 percent Asian and Pacific Islanders, and a 2 percent American Indian/Alaskan Native students, as you can see in Table 9. Hispanics represent 30 percent of the enrollment statewide and blacks represent 11 percent of the student enrollment. These are significant numbers and they have implications for this discussion and for future action. In the 2002-2003 academic school year, the Nevada graduation rate was 75 percent, as you can see in Table 10. White and Asian and Pacific Islander students had a graduation rate of 81 percent. American 78 Indian/Alaskan Native students had a graduation rate of 69 percent. Hispanic students had a graduation rate of 63 percent. And black students had the lowest graduation rate of only 60 percent. These low rates of graduation in the two largest ethnic minority groups in Nevada correspond, as expected, to the relatively high dropout rate as compared to the other ethnic groups. So while we must address the dismal dropout and graduation indicators in general, we must also target these ethnic minority students who are at highest risk for dropout and least likely to graduate. These youth will make up a large portion of the unemployed and disenfranchised youth in Nevada and those who will work with decreased earning capacity as they begin their 40-year work life trajectory in Nevada and coming years. The resultant problems caused by low skilled, low-paying jobs are obvious and too numerous to discuss here. Suffice it to say that in Nevada, the high school dropout and graduation rates should be a top priority in our collective efforts for promoting social justice, economic and equal successful educational student opportunity and advanced earning potential for our youth, particularly these ethnic minority youth who are at risk.
In conclusion, I'd like to just say that the National, State, and county statistics discussed during this presentation illustrate the most important information related to high school dropout and graduation. I want to emphasize the fact that there are many complex, inextricable factors that contribute to these statistics. Some general factors include, but are not limited to, poor school readiness, poor educational environments, family poverty, and lower neighborhood socio-economic status, which, in turn, contributes to lower educational aspirations by the students who live in those low income neighborhoods. Some factors specific to Nevada include the ready access and acceptability of youth working in the gaming industry, and the sex industry, and in other low skilled, yet potentially lucrative service industry jobs. These factors are the subject of other forum presentations today and will be addressed in more detail during those panel presentations and discussion.
However, if we are to positively impact a dropout and graduation rates, we will have to take into consideration the aforementioned general and specific factors. We will have to devise and consistently implement a wide array of interventions. These interventions will have to fully identify and, to the extent possible, ameliorate the underlying causes of dropping out. We'll need to target our efforts towards the needs of the groups at highest risk of dropping out. And the resolution of these causes of dropout will require the combined efforts of students, parents, school administrators, teachers, community organizers, as well as federal, state and local governments. In short, there must be a careful and thorough study of all of these factors as they pertain to Nevada, and systemic improvement of the conditions that make for educational success. And we can discuss some of those statistics after my next two co-presenters. Thank you. (Applause)
PROFESSOR DORMAN: Good morning.
I'm the addition to the group, because I was the school social worker for 27 years with the Clark County School District, and the main population of students I worked with was homeless. The information that we thought might be of interest to you [concerns] the students who are dropping out and the reasons this happens. Nevada is the fifth largest School District in the nation with a population currently of over 280,000 students. Our district is also located in a setting where cultural factors associated with academic failure often lead to student dropout. Millions of students drop out each year. And of those students, one-third are entering the society without high school diploma nationally.
In Nevada, according to the most recent data for the Nevada Kids Count, you can see from the year 2000-2001, there was a drop from -- or a decrease in the high school dropout grades 9 through 12. Just a second. Okay, thank you. The high school graduation rates from 2000 to 2003 had dropped, and continued to drop from 77 percent in 2000 to 2001 school year, to the 2002-2003. These numbers aren't the most recent, but that's what we have for up to the last school year. So hopefully, [the numbers] will improve.
There are a myriad of social reasons why students are dropping out. As a school social worker, I have been directly involved with assessing and monitoring many of those reasons. Poverty, homelessness, pregnancy, parenting, mental health, domestic violence, gender issues, bullying, supervision, 24-hour economic cultural environment, and lack of school intervention and prevention programs are the ones want that stood out the most for me. So far as poverty, we've already talked a little about that. We know that Nevada has a large working population [living] at poverty level, and that can't be dismissed. We just passed, hopefully, an increase for the minimum wage. We really do have a lot of poor working families in our School District. This is probably the most invisible group of children that the School District has because they're not identified in any special way. This poverty has increased the number of people unable to attend school, [whose] basic needs are not being met. You live in a house with no heat and water and you don't -- can't -- go to school. You can't take a shower -- you don't attend. These are just really basic kinds of things that are impacting the students as they try to attend school, and reasons why they are not going to school. And when you get to high school -- and I don't know how many of you are familiar with the attendance policies -- but if you miss more than so many days in a year, you are referred to an alternative program. Once you're in that alternative program, the risks are increased even more that you won't finish the year and be able to graduate or maintain your credits to the degree that you should.
Homelessness. We've a large homeless population. . . . Last year, the number of homeless children documented in the School District was over 2,000. That's significant. As already indicated, when you make numerous moves, it's hard to stay on top of things. And so homeless children move frequently. When you get to high school again, it's difficult to stay in school. And transportation becomes an issue. You can't stay in your home school. You lose credits. You end up needing to drop out.
Pregnancy. That's another factor. It's already been stated, nationally we have a high pregnancy rate. Those teens have to drop out. We don't have schools that have facilities for pregnant teens to attend. We do have some alternative programs, but it's not nearly the number that we need to support the number of pregnant teens that we have.
Parenting. [Teenagers with kids] drop out. You have to, if you can't comfort your child or if you're not in a setting where you can parent in school, you can't attend.
Mental health issues. That's been touched upon by many of the presenters this morning already. For many years, the recognition that children are affected my mental health issues in school was missing. Depression is significant. And oftentimes, behaviors that are going on in school are related to mental health issues. Acting out behaviors are not being diagnosed for the right reasons. The children aren't getting the right services. They end up dropping out or ending up in our juvenile justice system. Even though there are schools in those systems, again, you're missing your regular courses and you're not in a regular setting, so your chances of success are again being minimized.
Domestic violence. The speaker just spoke about the significance of how students are being impacted by that and the acting out behaviors that result from it. And it's not necessary that they go to school and act out because of these behaviors, but they do impact their ability to succeed, their ability to learn, their ability to respond. If you're concerned about the things that are going on at home, [if you are] witnessing those things -- and I'm not talking just high school, I'm talking about all school age children – you will know this is a factor.
Gender and life issues. I don't think there are enough services in school to address the issues that children are coming to school with related to their gender. There are not enough support services. Again, if you're not comfortable, if you don't feel like you fit in, or you're being discriminated against, you're not going to stay in school. You're not going to -- you're just not going to go.
Bullying. Nationally, bullying is a factor and a safety issue. Kids are going to school all the time and being taunted and bullied. You can only take so much of that, again, before you don't go to school.
Substance abuse. We live in a culture where substances are easily accessible, and I think more and more of our young people are being involved in activities where they are exposed to substance abuse a lot earlier and it's a contributing factor.
Supervision. A lot of our students aren't being supervised. And, again, I'm talking of the younger students. A 24/7 town, it's hard when you're a single parent, working graveyard shifts, to be home. So the lack of supervision allows children to become involved in some activities that could be detrimental, and again, make them accustomed to not being in school during the times they need to be. One of the biggest factors, in addition to Las Vegas being a 24-hour town that never shuts down, there's constant activity, constantly something going on, [tempting] students to get involved. I'm not saying it's all negative, but it provides an opportunity that other places may not have, that make our students to be involved in things. But the thing that stands out most to me in terms of a risk factor is lack of school intervention and prevention programs. We just don't have enough things in place within the school system to facilitate the need to allow a student to come to you, talk to you about something, or programs that would provide some services that would be very beneficial to them.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Were those in order?
PROFESSOR DORMAN: No. No, they're not ranked. Those are just issues.
The good news is -- all is not lost and there's a lot of hope. The School District has developed several alternative programs to accommodate the students who are at risk of failure. And even with the good news, there are still challenges that need to be met. But according to the School District currently, several of the programs we have are beneficial. We have the Academy for Individualized Study, which is a program designed to assist seniors in graduating on time by offering them the opportunity to take an independent study course concurrent with their home school. So if a student is credit deficient, this is an opportunity to be able to make sure that they're on time for graduation. Adult education is designed to serve adults out of school, [as well as] youth aged 16 or older who desire to earn a high school diploma. The program also serves students enrolled in regular day schools who need to make up a number of deficient credits in order to graduate on time.
We have Horizon and Sunset programs, and these are alternative settings for high school students who are considered at risk of dropping out or for those who have already dropped out and are under age of 18 and are scheduled to graduate within that current year.
We have the GED program. And in the absence of a high school diploma, the General Education Development test, otherwise known as the GED, is used as a measure of an individual's basic competencies in the area of English, social studies and mathematics and it serves as the Nevada State Certificate of High School Equivalency. There's an option there for students who need something, if they want to go on to work or even go on to school.
Home schooling -- a student may be excused from compulsory attendance at a public school when written evidence is provided to the School District that a student will be receiving equivalent instructions in a full-time program. An exemption will be provided by the School District prior to the student's withdrawal from school.
The last program the district has in place is called Virtual High School, and this is probably the most innovative program I'm aware of right now. And it's a full-time for concurrent program for students through interactive online services and courses. Students can take courses from any location, as long as they have access to a computer. All classes are based on the Nevada State standards, and students can enroll full-time at no cost and may take all the necessary coursework to earn a high school diploma from home. Concurrent students may enroll in two courses per semester at a fee of $95. So for students doing it full-time, through the technology piece, it's free. If they're going to a regular school and they want to take additional classes, then they can pay for those additional classes to get ahead or to get caught up.
That's pretty much what I wanted to share in terms of what the problems are. I always get asked, why are students dropping out of school? There are a lot of reasons why and it's not the same for any one family. You might have students in the same family, one is very successful, one is not. But you have to look at each individual student. I am a firm believer that every student should have an individual education plan. They have them for Special Ed students, but I believe it would be beneficial [for everyone], because we miss too many of the factors that impact the outcome. We miss the mental health issue. We miss the domestic violence issues that are going on. We miss the poverty issues. And students, especially when they get in high school, are very good at masking things that are going on. But if we had knowledge of what was going on with those students at the time things are happening to them and we had an ability to provide some intervention early, we would have a lot more students who could be successful and not have to drop out. Some things are within our control and some things aren't. Same things depend on the students. Some things happen to them that are way outside their control. Being homeless is out of their control. Yes, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I want to ask a question. I get the impression that the curricula in the high schools are primarily focused on quantitative and verbal aptitudes. And if a person doesn't have high quantitative or verbal aptitudes, then they're necessarily going to do poorly, no matter how frequently they come. What is the extent of programming for people with other aptitudes, aptitudes for mechanical and vocational and technical and craft capabilities, engines, electronics, plumbing, heavy equipment and so on? I mean, there's so many ways you could have an aptitude.
PROFESSOR DORMAN: Right. We do have some alternative programs with a vocational focus and Professor Nathanson here will talk to you about some of the Special Education programs. But in terms of those that are nonacademic or those you want to see as a vocational program, we do have a couple of schools that do address that. But they still have to be able to meet the basic academic standards set by the state.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: In other words, I'm wondering about the proportionality here. Is it true that, for example, if we have two vocationally strong places and 30 -- I don't know -- some number like 30, that are primarily quantitative and verbal, is that the same breakdown genetically that we get in the human race where about 30 out of 32 are strong quantitatively or verbally and 2 out of 32 are not strong [in this way]? I don't see it, no?
PROFESSOR DORMAN: We have our Superintendent here who can answer you.
SUPERINTENDENT GARCIA: First of all, our goal right now -- we're building another Vo-Tech on the northwest side. Our goal is to have a Vo-Tech in every single area in our district. And in the next three, four years we will have three new Vo-Techs added on. I mean I personally found it rather absurd that we only had one vocational technical high school in a district our size. So we're trying to catch up because we do see an absolute -- in fact . . . -- Vo-Tech has the highest attendance rate of any school in our entire district. So we know that what you're saying is absolutely true. So that's why we're going to build these schools, because they have to be out, you know. Not all kids are going to travel that far to go to Vo-Tech. So if we can bring it to their neighborhood and set up some hubs like that, then I think more kids will be successful, and that's what we're doing right now.
PROFESSOR DORMAN: Thank you for that question, and thank you for that answer. And at this point, I think I'll turn it over to my colleague, Dr. Nathanson. (Applause).
PROFESSOR NATHANSON: As Professor Berkheiser said in her introductions, I'm Rebecca Nathanson. I'm a Professor of Special Education here in the College of Education, also Professor of Law here at the Boyd School of Law. And as a Professor of Special Education, I have the privilege on an almost daily basis of preparing future teachers for children with special needs and disabilities. And that's really an exciting opportunity for me. It's great to be able to see students who are so excited and have such positive attitudes about kind of changing the educational system and really teaching children with disabilities. The other part of my job, as I said here, as a Professor of Law, is primarily focused in the Thomas and Mack Legal Clinic, where my primary responsibilities focus on supervising education students who work as part of the legal teams addressing the educational needs of our clients in clinics such as Juvenile Justice, Child Welfare, Immigration, Capital Defense Clinics. In that capacity, I have the opportunity to really observe what happens when educational needs of student are not met. And unfortunately, those aren't always real positive outcomes. So I get kind of both ends of the spectrum in my job, going from positive, enthusiastic, new teachers, to what happens when these needs aren't met. So what I'd like to do today is just spend a few minutes kind of talking about special education in general, and particularly in here in the state of Nevada.
Many of you are probably familiar with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997, which was originated in 1975, as Public Law 94-142. And basically, this is a federal law that mandates that we provide a free and appropriate public education to all children, regardless of the nature and severity of their disability. In other words, prior to 1975, there were over a million children who were not even attending school because of disability. There was one case cited that a child with cerebral palsy, for example, was denied access to school. Why was that? Because he was deemed to, quote, have a nauseating effect on the teacher and other students. Fortunately, things, I think, have come a long way since that time.
However, and I was always talking about this in my class, it was as recent as 1975 that this happened. I won't tell you what grade I was in at the time, but me being in school now, most of my students weren't even born at that time. To me, it's still fairly recent. Since 1975, we have had changes that require states to provide this education to students with disabilities. Unfortunately, even though that was almost 30 years ago, we still, I think, have a long way to go.
According to the Kids Count book in 2002, there were 42,532 children in the state of Nevada that were receiving services under eligibility for special education. Of those, the two counties that had the highest population of these students were, as you can see, Clark County and Washoe County, with Clark County serving 27,713 students. Just as important to note is that the majority of these students -- and this is consistent with national statistics, of course -- are actually what we consider mildly disabled. Most of them had learning disabilities, almost 24,000 of these students, so again, more than half of these students were classified under learning disability.
So how are we doing meeting the needs of our students with special education needs and what are the challenges that we face? I could probably sit here and talk to you all day about that, but I won't, so don't worry. But just kind of a couple of top things that come to my mind that we face here in the state of Nevada and in particular, of course, in Clark County, the first one being a shortage of teachers. And we're going to talk about again why that happens. The difficulty in identifying students with disabilities. And also the challenges in providing appropriate education for students with disabilities.
Teacher shortage. As we know we hear it almost on a daily basis, because of our growth rate here, almost 6,000 people moving in every month to Clark County, we have a shortage of teachers. And that's the bad news. The good news is that we have, and I'll speak for our programs here at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, we have tried to develop innovative programs and have worked collaboratively with CCSD. And I thank you, Mr. Garcia, for support at all levels of our efforts to provide opportunities for people to obtain teacher licensure. We have a number of programs for a cohort program, alternative licensure program, a step program. These are all programs that enable current people in the School District to obtain licensures and specialty licensures. So, for example, one of the programs focuses on student teaching assistants. And many of those folks have great experience working with students, but haven't had the opportunity because of money, family obligations, work, et cetera, to go through a degree program and obtain licensure. So with the cooperation and the major support of the Clark County School District, we're able to offer these alternative programs where Clark County School District can help financially support these students to enable them to obtain licensure. We at the University have been innovative in our delivery of these services so that teachers can sign up for programs where they're basically complete courses in a shorter amount of time by going full-time while they're being excused by the School District from work temporarily or going on weekend programs. So again, there are these programs that have been developed and are continuing to be developed, and that are producing some very high-qualified teachers to address this need.
There're also some issues with that. Critics of such programs often wonder, Do you get the same quality of education if you go to a standardized program, as you would in a standardized program, for example? So the initial data that's out, at least, supports the notion that these programs are just as effective, that the teachers are just as qualified and capable as people who go through traditional training programs. But again, I think we need further evaluation over a long period of time to assess the efficacy of those programs.
Another issue related to teacher shortage is this notion of categorical licensure that we have here in the state of Nevada. Many states across the country have a generic licensure, meaning the teachers are prepared to teach children with disabilities. And they could teach a child with a learning disability, a child with mental retardation, with autism, with emotional disturbance, with basically any type of disability. Many states also have a dual categorical system of licensure in which teachers are prepared to train either children with mild to moderate disabilities, again, folks with learning disabilities, behavior disorders, or severe profound disabilities, children that have mental retardation, for example, multiple impairments or serious emotional disturbance.
Here in Clark County, as I said, we have categorical licensure. What does that mean? Well, according to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, there are 12 different categories of disability. So here in Clark County, we have endorsement programs to teach in the different areas of disability. For example, if you get an endorsement in the area of learning disabilities, you are only permitted to teach children with learning disabilities. If you get an endorsement in the area of emotional disturbance, you're only permitted to teach children with emotional disturbance. The positive of that, many people argue, is that, well, you have more specialized instruction, therefore, more specialized expertise and, therefore, a better teacher for those children. The problem with that is then we run into shortages in the various areas. And as the coordinator of the program in emotional disturbance here at University of Nevada Las Vegas in Special Ed, I know, for example, that there's a great shortage of teachers for children with emotional challenges in the School District. And oftentimes, many of my students who have not completed the endorsement in that area are put into those classes because there's a lack of teachers for those students.
We also have to remember that the recent modifications of IDEA in 1997 stated that we should focus more on the child, the individual child, as opposed to the disability. So if we're focused so much on a particular category of disability, are we really looking at the individual needs of that child? Many of you may know people with learning disability, for example. And we all know if we lined up five different people with learning disabilities, they would probably have five very different sets of characteristics associated with that disability. Again, I kind of question, Is it best to educate kids and license kids according to their disability, or according to their individuals needs?
Another challenge in serving kids with special education needs is identification of these students. And I'm not going to give you a Special Ed class here, so I won't go into the inherent issues in assessment in trying to identify some of these children, especially when we have disabilities such as autism with a whole spectrum of disorders that many people are still learning about. So there's those issues. But some issues that are unique to Nevada, the transience issues we have with so many people moving in and out of the state, I find that oftentimes parents are very frustrated. They were receiving special education services in California, then they come to Nevada and either they don't bring their educational records with them or they have to be reassessed and sometimes they're told that the procedures are different here in Las Vegas or Nevada, versus California. And oftentimes, or sometimes, there are months and sometimes unfortunately even years where their child is kind of lost in the educational system without having the appropriate assessment and because of the frequency of moves and whatnot.
Again, from my experience here working at Thomas and Mack Clinic, and we're witnessing many children in -- a number of our presenters today, Susan, Annette, and others, have talked about the numbers of children, the vast numbers of children in the Child Welfare system. And unfortunately, I found, again, those children are at risk for being identified for Special Ed, or not being identified. Why? Because once again they fall through the crack. Or as Professor Appell noted, kids are oftentimes in five to 10 different foster homes. And without having that consistent advocacy, it's very difficult to track kids and make sure that they're identified when they're having difficulties in school.
Professor Moore, who's not here today but who is a Professor of Law and co-director of the Child Welfare Clinic [working] with the help of Susan, basically organized a training for DCFS workers in the area of special education law so they could be better advocates for their clients which I think is real positive.
Just real briefly, because it's a pet peeve of mine, behavioral issues are a big problem with many children in the schools because of social issues that have been talked about and will be talked about today, and those behavioral issues oftentimes interfere with the appropriate identification of kids with disabilities. According to the Individuals with Disabilities Act, we are required to provide an individualized education program for kids with disabilities and renew that every year. We're also required to provide appropriate behavioral intervention plans. And if we have these appropriate education plans in place, it not only facilitates their education and appropriate education, but also reduces their risks for other factors. It has been estimated by some that 40 to 60 percent of children involved in the Juvenile Justice System have disabilities. 40 to 60 percent. And yet, we know that only 11 percent of the population has learning disabilities. So why is there such an increased rate of these students in the Juvenile Justice System?
Just briefly, I had a student of mine this past summer look at the educational records of our clients in the Juvenile Justice System, children that have been accused of crimes, many of them school-related crimes. Most of those clients were deemed to be eligible for Special Education Services. At the same time, most of those students did not have appropriate behavioral intervention plans, did not have appropriate IEPs. To me, that's a concern. What are the challenges in providing this appropriate educational plans these students need so desperately? Again, we have the social issues. Children being involved in Child Welfare system, the transient nature of our community.
Training. We're working here at the University, I think very diligently, on preparing teachers and preparing excellent teachers to teach our students in the state of Nevada and elsewhere. But I still think we have to look at honing those programs so students are prepared to actually go out and meet and face the challenges that our students are faced with in the schools.
Resources. We certainly need -- I can't tell you how many IEP meetings I go to -- I'm sorry to inform you of this, Mr. Garcia -- but how many IEP meetings I go to and, by law, by federal law, by IDEA, it's mandated children are entitled to related services. For example, they might need transportation to get to school. They might need counseling or psychological services or speech therapy or occupational therapy. And I can't tell you how many times I hear, "Well, as a school psychologist, I'm only at this school twice a week and I don't have the time." Or, "There's not enough time, I have to serve seven different schools." So we need to find a way to provide more resources.
Accountability. We have these federal laws. And oftentimes, students and parents who I teach about these laws are dismayed. Well, that's not the way it happens. It's a law. But along with the law, we have to have accountability. So we need to push, as a state, for more accountability. And this issue isn't just inherent to the state of Nevada, but across the nation as well, as we have to push for more accountability on the parts of the schools, that these services and the appropriate services for these children are being provided.
What's going to happen if we don't provide appropriate education for students with disabilities? That's things unfortunately I witness in the clinic on a daily basis, and I'm sure most of you witness as well in your professional capacities. We see kids who are truant. We know that kids with disabilities again are at heightened risk for truancy. We know that students with disabilities are also at a heightened risk for school dropout, and abuse, and juvenile delinquency.
In conclusion, Nevada currently serves approximately 28,000 children with disabilities. These children, as I just said, are at increased risk for school dropout, abuse, four to 10 times as much as their nondisabled peers, and delinquency. We need to develop and continue to hone the teacher preparation programs that prepare teachers to address the individual needs of students with disabilities, and not the category of their disability, but again their individual needs.
I believe we also need to rethink the classification education of children with disabilities, as IDEA mandates, focusing on the child instead of the disability. We need to increase our educational resources in order to better provide appropriate educational services for children with disabilities.
And lastly, schools need to be more accountable in the provision of an appropriate education for students with disabilities. Thank you. Any questions? (Applause)
PROFESSOR BERKHEISER: Thank you to this series of panelists. I'll now invite our final morning panelists with apologies for running behind schedule, to both Superintendent Carlos Garcia, Superintendent of our huge Clark County School District, whom we are very glad to have with us today. He is being joined by Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani, a long time educator herself and an advocate for education and education spending in our State Legislature. They will address issues of public school finance and other issues as we hear from them. I'm not sure who's going to be first, but I think the two know each other pretty well and can carry on without further ado.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN GIUNCHIGLIANI: I will start out. We'll play back and forth, I think. With some of the discussion I've heard this morning -- I'm sorry – I’ll get my own mic. We’ll be sharing. Anyway, I was a Special Ed teacher in the Clark County School District for 20-some-odd years. Actually, I was Special Ed teacher for 23 years. So while I appreciate some of the observations from the clinical side, I also have the real side perspective as far as what happens on a day-to-day basis, as you take things that happen in a contained manner and actually contend with the public school system. Mr. Garcia also came as a public school teacher, so we kind of, I think, have a perspective of having been there, [knowing] what we need to do, the pressures from the public and federal level.
I'll briefly touch upon spending. Let's see, for K-12, in the 2003-2005 school year, we have 34.7 percent funding out of the entire state budget. 20.5 percent was for higher education. That's a 55.2 percent of the entire state budget goes to education. That’s about a 26 percent increase from last session, I think. However, 20 years ago, when I first started teaching in the Clark County School District, 59.8 percent of our total state budget went to education. We have done worse, not better. And yet, we had one of the largest increases of student population in the United States.
So, you know what? I guess maybe part of my presentation -- or just everything that's been discussed today is very key and very important, but to quote a paper that I don't care for, the Review-Journal, everything we've mouthed is about the nanny state. And what are we going to do about it? And that's part of where I hope this forum will take you today -- How do we deal with that mentality? There are so many needs out there, but we can't continue to do it alone.
With the Question 2 not passing, you're going to have the fools out there who will say, See, that means there's no education mandate. No, that's not what that was about. The reality was, when anything's difficult, they vote no, number one. Number two, people didn't know how to pay for it. And so they were somewhat shy about making that commitment. So what did they do? They went the easy way, which was a junk question, as far as I'm concerned -- let's fund education first. What the hell does that mean? Absolutely nothing. But it sounded good. And so I think what happened is we trade baited concept for substance, or at least percentage of substance. I think Mr. Garcia might talk more about the VEST plan, what the Superintendents had looked at and the School Boards and the teachers and PTA had put together to try to fund us at a national average, God forbid that we should be. And yet, those needs are still there regardless of what happened. But I can see Senator Raggio saying, "Chris, here we go again." I mean, it's going to be the fight all over again.
I think we're what -- $4,424 per pupil for next school year? In the area of special education, though, we're at 32,447. Now, we still in Nevada define Special Education unit as [having] a teacher in a classroom. We've never expanded the definition of all the ancillary programs that really should be funded. But unfortunately, we've never changed that category of funding. And so really a unit for a special ed teacher should be around 54 to 58,000 if you add transportation, your social work need, although the district years ago got rid of that. But they're starting to bring social workers back into the program (dropping them years before was a bad decision). All the other ancillary programs -- we don't count and don't fund them, and, therefore, the local districts have to go into their General Ed budgets to subsidize. What that does is pit General Ed kids against Special Ed kids in matters of funding, which does damage, which gets parents upset and teachers upset and gets all of us upset because we're not properly paying for anybody and we're constantly raiding Peter to pay Paul.
We allocated another 66.7 million last session for textbook, supplies and hardware. My husband can still tell me -- except I've been out of the classroom for two years -- exactly what I spent out of pocket over each year for every year, and you continue to hear that. We still have faculty and administrators buying not only -- not only paper, pencils, and kleenex, but supplies, things for incentives within their classrooms, you know, backpacks and we have homeless kids that come in, we take up a fund. We have all those things going on. I just wish I could one day get PTA not to hold a fund-raiser for the entire school year and then you could really begin to show people how much is being subsidized for everyday public school needs, not something extra, but everyday public school needs. That's kind of my thing. Class size reduction -- there was huge fight -- that's the reason we went into the first special session, ladies and gentlemen, regardless of what the people out there say about the constitutional two-thirds issue. I was still fighting with Bill Raggio over kindergarten and class size reduction. Pure and simple. Had nothing to do with hostage taking, except he didn't want to pay for babies to go to school. That's the reality of it. And that fight's going to get even worse next year. It's going to cost us even more because every time you delay, it costs you more and more and more.
And if you want to talk about intervention versus waiting for juvenile justice, which in a way is an oxymoron, but if you want to deal with that, we have to deal with our kids earlier. We have to find out what's wrong with that family, what they need. You don't wait until their fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade. Grade three is generally the cusp. You're either going to make it or break it, especially for African-American young males. And we're not dealing with those types of problems.
I can't be with you this afternoon because I have to go to some election business -- but it's huge as far as the issue that's out there. As long as we continue to execute babies under the age of 18 -- I'll save that plug in for later, I got the bill back in for you.
Accountability. Now that's the major buzzword out there. We have passed an accountability law in Nevada back in 1987. And every year, we've added to the laundry list. And at no time have we ever sat back and said, what does this really mean? Should parent know how their child's doing? Yes. Should parents in the community know how their public schools are doing? Absolutely. But every time we made a change to that accountability list, we gave no one more time, more support, more resources to implement it. And the worst travesty, in my opinion, is no child left untested. It is an ill-thought law that was written by a bunch, with no disrespect, of young interns for John Ensign and a variety of other Congress people and Senators back in Washington who had never -- some of them had never -- been in a public school, had no concept of what it takes to teach, let alone manage. And that is very frustrating to me, because I want my kids accountable. I mean I had the first bill requiring CRTs, Criterion Reference Tests, so you could judge me as a teacher, whether or not I was teaching the curriculum. It took six years to get that on. Then we had to be mandated by the feds and we had to throw everything out. Biggest problem in public ed, in my opinion, is we teach the trends. Somebody comes up with a new idea, and you throw everything out. We need basics, but we've never been given more time, more training, more ways to instruct. We've given money for professional development, and that kind of leads into my piece about equality.
Teacher training starts, not just at the School District, but at the University level. What linkage is there? How many of your professors and instructors know what the national -- what our state --standards are that we're required to have and that have nothing to do with what you're instructing the students to come out of the high schools in? That makes us automatically look like we're not doing our job, because our profs don't even know what that linkage is. We're not allowed to teach a lot of stuff that you think is absolutely important. There's no communication. There's no linkage. There's no network between higher ed and K-12 in that format. And that's a disservice to the students. That's a disservice to the industry, so to speak.
In addition to that, the district, in my opinion, has to do a better job with professional development. There're some regions doing that, but much of it is irrelevant. Oh, we have two days of professional development this year, and what shall we do? Let's go and do it, duh, and it has nothing to do with the population of students I'm teaching, it has nothing to do with beefing up my skills. Maybe they bring in Ruby Payne and deal with children and poverty and how you instruct children in poverty. That is very different. You have to learn to teach differently. Those are things that make a qualified teacher, but also translated what's better in the classroom.
The young lady, the professor was saying about categorical licensing. I'm a sped [special ed] teacher, I came from Kansas and we didn't have that, when I came here. There's a pro and a con. I don't think that's a problem. My biggest concern was, under no child left untested, now we license people based on what building they're assigned to. You're in middle school? You get to be a middle school license teacher. This is stupid. It does not translate to the kids I'm instructing.
So those are other issues that are there, and, Dr. Walton, you're absolutely correct, our testing is antiquated and it's based on the premise that everybody's going to college. With no disrespect, not everybody needs to go to college, nor should they be forced into taking something. I want them prepped so five years down the road they say, You know what, I never thought I could do that, maybe I want to try it. I want them prepared for that, but I don't want to dismiss the other talents that they have that we do not test for.
Length of day. Now, I'll get on my thing. We need to lengthen the school day and we need to lengthen the school year. It's been 180 days since before we were born. It still is. Look at the curriculum we have to instruct on. Look at the time. I had to do on average 70 IEPs a year. No time, no extra prep. And then I had an additional 270 kids that I and my colleagues had to write objectives for their IEPs. So about 350 a year, with not one minute more. Don't tell me my instructional time did not suffer, because if I had to right that objective up real fast, I did and passed it down. It was not proper for that kid. It sets us up for not being accountable and following the law. But what we do then, it's so generic, that it does lead to problems. And it's not intentional. You just do what you can do in order to survive at that point.
Length of day of school year. Starting times need to change. I've been advocating this for 12 years. High school kids should start later. Babies should start in the morning when they're rocking and rolling, and middle schools in between. And the district's going to -- statewide -- to see a bill, besides Bob's bill of incentives if you go ahead and change the times and I'm going to take money away if you don't.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: The bus passes.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN GIUNCHIGLIANI: I have that in the bill.
Management. Our school principals want to evaluate me as a teacher. Fine. But I should have input in [the work of] the administrator that's running my facility, while I have none. That's something that needs to be looked at. The district, I have to commend then, it's been years but it finally got started as we worked on our building plan. But things that translate into research were students studying, and the ability to succeed has to do with daylighting. As they're building their new facilities, they're finally getting into more daylighting. I think Clark County's been more innovative than the rest, but it can go further. I think we should do more solar and other programs out there, but it does translate into test scores out there, whether we like it or not. You have to, because the property or land's not available any longer as far as that's concerned.
Report cards. I had a bill eight years ago to do a form of IEPs for every kid no matter what, so parents could see their child as a whole person. We've not changed our grade. What the hell does an “A” mean? What does it mean in your class? What does it mean in another professor's class? There's no -- it relates to nothing. I feel badly for parents who say, My kid's in fourth grade, they're on a fourth-grade reading level. Not even close comparison. They're not even correlated.
So we have to do something different to help parents understand where their child is. I always made my kids sit in every IEP and they'd know I'm not a first grade, second month reading level, I know 222 sight words, and my goal is to learn them by the end of the school year. Parents would get floored when they found out their kids were only on the first grade school level and they're in eighth grade. They need to know. It just means you're cognizant of it. There isn't this blissful going along, my kid's getting passed through.
Higher ed instruction. Throughout all this, besides daylighting, smaller schools need to be constructed or we need to look at schools within schools in order to be able to make sure that you have more of a team working, networking with those kids and those faculty.
Finally, the lack of mental health. I know that Carlos shares this concern as well. We do not have mental health programs in our schools. Chicago was one of the first that moved, embarked on that 15 years ago or longer. But I was trained to teach emotionally disturbed, learning disabled, mentally retarded. I was trained [to work with] 18 to 21-year-old trainable mentally retarded. However, it's been a long time and you need to brush up on those skills. I was not trained to deal with a child that has a true mental illness lumped in with others as an emotionally disturbed kid I really don't know what to do about.
Those are other programs that all require money, all require due diligence. It can't just be a sitting in forums. It can't just be coming to Legislature. Many of us understand this. There needs to be a ground swell of grass roots support out there that's coordinated in every single community so that we're supporting each other.
When I have a fight on proficiency exams, which I personally don't think we should have, I want kids and parents to be able to have the opportunity to argue. Come up with a better idea. I don't care. But I don't think a kid should be denied a diploma just as they didn't pass one stupid test. Yet, home-schoolers don't have to take the test. So you have this disparity that's out there, and there's only like 1900 of them statewide, but their voice was far louder than any parent and any child in this entire School District or state of Nevada, or private schools. That's right. So you want to hold me to a standard? No problem. But you better teach everybody equally. You better treat everybody equally. And that is what's missing and we've not articulated that as well as we could. Anyway, thanks. (Applause)
SUPERINTENDENT GARCIA: I love the topic of accountability because it's always very popular in America to use public education as the piñata of society. Everybody beats it, and just keeps hitting and hitting it, because everything is public education's fault. And everybody says, we need to hold public education accountable.
Well, I'd like to broaden this discussion. What is accountability? Is accountability passing a law in 1975 for Special Education that said it would be funded at 45 percent, and then the most any district gets is 15 percent? Is that accountability? Is it accountable to allow the Special Ed in our district to be about a hundred million dollars? Is that accountable? Because the feds didn't give -- it's easy to pass laws, you know, and boy, I always worry any time there's a legislative session, because you know they're going to fix us again. Everybody wants to come in and fix us. And you know, I don't think our country has the will to really fix public education.
I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said, you know, when we finish rebuilding Iraq, can we start rebuilding our public schools? It's easy and fashionable and we have a lot of people involved with No Child Left Behind who want to point the finger and say, we can't do it. I always laugh here in Nevada, because I assume everybody must think we're just a bunch of morons who don't get it running the School District here. We know what it takes to educate kids. I could tell you program after program that I know would turn around this district within a year. But the reality is, we don't come close to funding education. How can we say we're going to compete when our state is in the bottom five in the nation of per-pupil allocation? You don't think that has an impact?
Let's say you're a high school teacher like I was, and I used to give essay exams. At the time I'm glad I was single because I would have not had a life. I had 200 kids a day that I saw. Now, I don't know about you -- you may be a quick reader -- but you try grading 200 essays and see how long it takes you. We as a state rank fifth, between fourth and fifth, largest class sizes in secondary education. You wonder how we're able to manage, to run a school district with $5,000 per student? It's simple -- on the back of kids. On the back of teachers. Everybody has a great idea. You ought to teach this. You ought to have this on. But can never take anything off the plate and you cannot continue. No wonder our teachers are getting burned out. You know, all these things sound great, an IEP for every student. I'd be the first to say hallelujah, amen. But are we going to add something else for them to do when they can't even do what they have now? At what point do you say enough?
And that's what's tragically happening in public education. How can we pass a bill, No Child Left Behind? If a company, any major company in this country or in the world, wanted to put out a new product, they'd invest in research on it, they'd invest in retooling the plant, they'd retrain all their employees, do marketing. They'd invest a fortune. They don't put out a car without investing a fortune. And yet, No Child Left Behind wants a new car to come off the assembly line without investing anything into it.
How is it fair that a state like New York or Connecticut or Massachusetts could get $12,000 per student, and we get 5,000? And yet, we're supposed to end at the same finishing line? You want to talk about accountability? Let's hear it from the other side. It's easy to throw it one way, but I'm throwing it back, because we do get what we pay for. We have that beloved newspaper that says money isn't going for fix it. Why? They always cite Washington, D.C. Well, Washington, D.C. is dysfunctional. It's one place. But you can't argue. Look across the map. Who has the highest test scores in America? The states that invest the most per child, whether we like it or not. And you know why? Because they have smaller class sizes. I was the Chair this year of the Council of the Great City Schools, the 65 largest urban districts in America. When we got together and we did workshops and they were talking about their large class sizes, you know how many kids we're talking about as large class sizes? 22, 24 kids. I'd kill to have that in a high school. Our average class size in Clark County ranges from 35 to 40 kids. That's a disgrace. And we're the Silver State? We're not even tin, folks.
I mean, I'm sorry to say it, but, you know, for everybody to sit there and blame it on the School District -- you don't think we want to provide the Special Ed services that kids deserve? Absolutely, we want to. You don't think we want ELL kids, the fastest growing segment of the population? I want to read this statistic to you. You know, across the country in the last 10 years, the American population, ELL, English Language Learners, people who are learning, who don't speak the language, in 10 years, grew by 73 percent across the United States. You know what it grew here in Clark County? 517 percent.
We're not Kansas, folks. You know, everybody sits there and says, why aren't your test score better? Well, what world do they live in? Come visit our classroom? Anybody who wants to criticize public education, you know what, give me a call. I'll personally take you to see what the real schools look like. [Only] 3.5 percent of the population was born here. That's all. That's pretty strange. Somehow that 3.5 think it's like when they were in school. It's not like that any more. One out of five students is a non-English-speaking student. You know, then you take Special Ed students. You know, our test scores, if you have get the data, our test scores are phenomenal. It's amazing, we kind of maintain our scores where they are considering that shift happens. This huge shift has occurred in our population.
15 years ago, we had 12 percent of our kids on free and reduced lunch. Today we have 35 percent. You know, when you start looking at the data of what's happened across here, 40 percent of our schools in Nevada are Title I schools. That didn't happen 15 years ago. Yeah, 72 percent of the population 15 years ago was white. Today, it's changed radically. Now it's only about 45, 44 percent this year. Things have shifted. The Latino population went from 12, 15 percent to now 35 percent. People think that all these folks are going away. You know, I go on talk radio -- boy, you really want to get abused, go on that. (Laughter)
And everybody always calls in, why do you allow all these illegal aliens, why are these kids, why all these ELL students? You know what, folks? Should we follow the fine example of a third world country and let kids just be out on the street? Those kids didn't make the decision to come here. They're here. And I don't know about you, but they're our kids. They're not somebody else's kids. And I always remind people that they're not all my relatives. (Laughter). You know, these are our kids and they're our responsibility. And it's real easy for people to want to turn their back. Just think, 38 states in this country fund additional resources if you have ELL populations. What do we give? Not a cent. We think they're invisible people. How disrespectful can we be to any human being? At least Special Ed gets, you know, 12 to 15 percent. But ELL gets nothing. And they're the fastest-growing segment of our population. Think about it. That's the biggest oxymoron I ever heard.
We can't even afford full day kindergarten. She mentioned the fact, and she's right on, that by the end of third grade, we know who's going to be successful. You don't believe me? Go visit the prison program. 70 percent of the people in prison are illiterate. They were illiterate by the end of third grade, and they just kept going. Why do we have to catch up at third grade?
You know when I first got here, our initiative was to get everybody perform at grade level by third grade. What we found in four years of doing extensive research was that, no, we'd never catch up. What we need to do is having full day kindergarten for every single child in Nevada, because the research tells you get the bang for your buck. It's worth it. Kids already caught up. Right now, we've had for a quarter of the year -- first quarter just ended -- our kindergarten kids who were in full day kindergarten are almost to the point where they ended the year when they were in only a minimum day kindergarten. Think of that, [they achieved this] in a quarter. You really don't want to leave kids behind? Then let's use some common sense. We want to do that. It's not that we don't know how to do these things, but how are we supposed to fund that?
What we did is we took all our Title I, all our funds, and we funded that because our state was too cheap to fund it. We took the 54 at-risk schools and we said, we're going to put our money where our mouth is, because if no one else is going to do it -- my momma always said, don't wait for someone else to do it – do it yourself. So this is what we're doing. We have some fee-based programs and they're packed where parents can afford it. But it shouldn't be a question of whether you can afford it or not. That should be a right in this state, and across this country. When you start looking at, you know, standards -- boy, I'm standard out, I guess. Everybody talks about standards -- you should have these standards. Well, when are we going to have standards for Legislators, for Senators, for Congress, for Presidents – that’s what an American education's all about. (Applause)
There should be a Constitutional amendment that says everybody has the right to a full paid education in this country. And not just some kids, but all kids.
I will end by telling you this. If you look at the research on standards, including our state -- and we did an analysis of our state, because we followed Robert Marzano, who writes research papers on education. He did an extensive analysis across the entire country on state standards and school standards. You know what he found? The 13 years, if you include kindergarten, curriculum, in standards, if you wanted to fully implement them and make sure everybody covered everything in the standards, it would take between 21 to 25 years to do it. So what are these poor teachers supposed to do? How are they going to cover that when they only have half that much time to cover all the information? You know, it's nice to raise the bar and say -- people say to me, well, Carlos, you know, you talk about that, but on the other hand, you're making everybody take algebra. You're making everybody -- of course, I am, because I don't care who you are, you could learn algebra as long as you have a qualified teacher who could motivate you and knows how to teach it in a way that you can understand.
We've got to stop this thing when somebody brags that I flunked 50 percent of my class. That's not a good teacher. We've taken kids who were supposedly slow kids and they passed algebra and did well, because they had a teacher who was dynamic, who motivated them to learn, including Special Ed. If you look at our Special Ed -- something I'm really proud of -- the biggest gains under No Child Left Behind in the last two years in this district have been Special Ed students on their regular standardized tests. We know how to do this. Do we really want to fix the dropout rate? Fine, we could do it overnight. We could say, all employees, everybody in this county -- you will not hire anyone unless they have a high school diploma. But we don't want to fix that. Because we're too busy hiring them all. So what are we supposed to do? Then we have a high school proficiency exam to graduate, when we know the largest population, 517 percent increase of non-English speaking students, that exam is only in English. That means if Albert Einstein came here in 12th grade when he didn't know English, he wouldn't graduate from the Clark County School District or any school in Nevada. What does that tell you? I mean, we only value intelligence in English? (Laughter)
Doesn't any other language have intelligence? I mean, I pose these questions, because -- Mark Twain said it best -- the problem with common sense is that it is not very common. We overcomplicate everything in this world of ours, when we ought to just sit down, have some common sense. It's easy to turn around and require, you know, every parent -- it seems like everybody talks about the good old days when they were in school. They're a bunch of liars. I'm sorry -- schools haven't changed that much. The good old days -- when were the good old days? When blacks were slaves? When women couldn't vote? When we had segregated schools? When in the '50s and '60s, over 50 percent of the kids dropped out of high school? I'm sorry, folks, there aren't any better days than today.
I'm glad the election’s over because we've got to stop whining about stuff and start rolling up our sleeves, using common sense and seeing that, if we want a quality education in our state, then, by golly, you know how to do it. I know the initiative failed, but you can run, and you can hide, and you can say it's not a problem, but unless you're an ostrich -- most of us can't just put our head in a hole and think that the whole thing's just going to go away. Pretty soon we'll lift our head out of the hole and find out we have no body, because we weren’t proactive.
The 17 County Superintendents and the 17 School Boards once again will bring in VEST. The problems that I see in this country and the VEST plan is how to fund public education to make it better. What is it that we need to have in place? Full-day kindergarten. What are the programs we need to have in place? We need to have that. The problem here is, we lack vision. We have elections every so many years and everybody talks about it, but where's the 10-year strategic plan to get us there? If we can't fund it -- and realistically we cannot fund education at the national average right now, because it would cost our state a billion dollars. So who's going to pay for that? We all say the tourists, right? Or gaming or somebody, as if the kids belong to the tourists. I'm sorry, those are our kids. This is our community, not the tourists' community.
I think that the Legislature and everybody needs to develop a plan that says, Okay, you know what, you eat an elephant one bite at a time. Let's create a 10-year, 20-year vision. But how are we going to get there? Let's not let them off the hook. How are we going to get there? Tell us how will we eventually get to a national average? And imagine, any of you parents, how many of you hug your kids before they go to school and say, gee, son, gee daughter, go out there and be average. And that's all we're trying to get? Thank you. (Applause)
PROFESSOR BERKHEISER: Wow. I'm inspired. If this -- if our last two speakers didn't inspire you, then I think, you know, whoa, you're in trouble. Thank you so much. I think we have a few minutes. I know we're running late, but there are questions, we can take a few minutes for questions. Dmitri's nodding yes. These and our earlier panelists who are out and about, if there are questions, let's have them.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: What can we do? I'm not a parent. I work here at the University. So what can I do to help with higher education? What can I do to help you in the legislature?
ASSEMBLYWOMAN GIUNCHIGLIANI: And Carlos can jump in, too. There is a multitude of things. I think these types of forums -- we have to learn from Carl Rove. We have to learn how to do true grass roots and we have not done that in a long time. So any community function that you go to and someone's criticizing education, you have some stats. We can get them to you. You can become our mouthpiece. I hate the RJ, but you got to deal with them. Any time there's a negative editorial or negative letter to the editor, we need to fight back. They won't write our letters. I got attacked on some issue, my own constituents and neighbors wrote letters, but they refused to print them. You go to the alternative papers or you get them in "The Sun," any question not answered is assumed to be correct. So those are things – you don't have to have kids. Schools are wonderful, the job that we've done, they can just do so much more if we get them the opportunity to do so. I think that's all Carlos is saying. I think you'd hear that from any teacher and administrator in the state.
SUPERINTENDENT GARCIA: You have a lot of folks who are pushing vouchers. Know what I say to the voucher [system]? Come on down, but you have to abide by all the regulations, have your hands and feet tied and gagged like they do with us in public education, and if we have to compete at the same level and they have to put up with all the same things we do, they won't compete with us. Because what people forget is that the top 20 percent of the students in America today [studying] at the major universities did not come from private schools. They came from public schools.
PROFESSOR BERKHEISER: Other questions? You know, the word we've heard the most today, that keeps resonating with me, is that "C" word, "community." From the first speaker down through every speaker and our last speakers -- it's about community. It's about us coming together, not because we have children of our own, or because we have we have a job in a particular area. It's because we are a community, and so I'm glad to hear our panelists speaking to grass roots organizing and the need for us to really take seriously these issues and do what we can in our own ways. And we have another question.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I was just going to make the comment that I was a social worker in Illinois in the area that Hillary Clinton went to school, in Parkridge. There were so many social workers in that district and there were so many psychologists in that district, and if you had to have your children in classroom where there were 27 kids, the parents were outraged. I mean, this was going on maybe 15-20 years ago.
ASSEMBLYWOMAN GIUNCHIGLIANI: And here they sit quiet. We have to be cautious not to confuse quietness with acceptance. As Carlos said, with that many parents who are not language speakers themselves, they care about their kids just as much as anybody else. They just don't know how to work the system as well, and they don't -- they're intimidated by going before a School Board. I remember when Sunrise Acres, before you moved here, was going to be turned into year-round and the parents did not want it. The faculty and PTA spoke side by side with the parents to show the passion and concern on the issues they had.
We have barriers we have to break down. That's where those of you with a professional background can help people know that their voice can count. We should be identifying the 487,000 that voted for Question 2 and get on the phones, [asking] did you vote for it? We need your name, address, and e-mail. We need this, we need that, we need to start, because I know Bill Raggio's immediate agenda will be -- they did not speak, therefore, we're not doing to do anything. And it doesn't mean that he doesn't care about education. He only cares about his idea of education. Not a 116-page No Child Left Behind implementation piece of garbage. Now you tell me any teacher, let alone any Legislator, that read this thing does not exist. But that's what we're all being held accountable for.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I have just got a statistical question for Susan. Given that a couple of people have mentioned that 60 to 70 percent of crimes emanate from drug abuse, you had a statistic earlier that seemed outrageous, just want to make sure I wrote it down right. What percent of families in Nevada have drug or substance abuse issues?
MS. KLEIN. The numbers I was talking about are in the Child Welfare system, so when there is child abuse and neglect, which percent of the families [is affected] -- the research varies, but it's up to 80 percent. They're guessing it's between 60 and 80 percent of families with children in the Child Welfare system.
PROFESSOR BERKHEISER: Is that the number you had?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: That's what I wrote down.
PROFESSOR BERKHEISER: It's pretty astounding.
MS. KLEIN: This is a tough town to live in. And you have a lot of people that come in and they have an obsessive compulsive behavior in the first place. And they come here, they're not skilled enough to be able to get the job. They succumb to many of the ills. It's very easy to become an alcoholic in this town. We also choose in this country not to realize that's a genetically-based disease, not a choice, and that you have those who abuse drugs.
While Valerie mentioned the marijuana issue, most of it is tied to alcohol and tobacco leads to your crack and your meth use, and that is the largest increase, although, unfortunately, kids can access marijuana now more than they could tobacco because of the laws we put in regarding tobacco. So it's kind of an interesting twist. Every time you make one change, you have to watch out for what happens on the other side of it.
PROFESSOR BERKHEISER: Well, thank you all for your participation. Thanks for all of our wonderful panelists. Come back at 1:15 for the afternoon session. We'll try to get started at 1:15 with all our other fine speakers we have lined up for the afternoon.
Community Involvement and Quality of Life
Session 2. 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
PROFESSOR SHALIN: I think we are about to begin. Welcome to Session Two in our public forum. I'm Dmitri Shalin, Director of UNLV Center for Democratic Culture, and this is the Justice and Democracy Forum series. This is the third year that we assemble a conference where we bring together politicians, community activists and scholars to reflect on problems confronting our community. Our forum is on social health of Nevada. It stems from the national survey of leading social indicators that ranks 50 states on 16 different indicators, such as infant mortality, child abuse, child poverty, youth suicide, teenage drug use, high school dropouts, teenage birth, unemployment, wages, health care coverage, age 65-plus poverty, life expectancy, violent crime, alcohol-related traffic fatalities, affordable housing, and inequality in family income.
To these 16 variables indicators, we have added two more which we felt would be appropriate for our state. We have to do with gaming industry and its contribution to our state, as well as whatever problems may be coming from this quarter. And then there is sex industry [and its problems].
There's a lot of perception and misperception in the rest of the country about Las Vegas. Perhaps we need to address that. Governor Guinn's office has taken an interest in our undertaking and we hope will help us assemble the first Social Health of Nevada Report. Some of you, and indeed I'm sure, all of you following the national media are aware of certain local realities. Just to give you a few figures, in 2000, Nevada ranked 46th in the nation, with four states showing worse overall performance than our state. Behind us are Arizona, Mississippi, Louisiana and, the 50th state, is New Mexico. The top ranked five states in the nation, if you want to see where we are trying to get some time in the future, in the afterlife perhaps, are Iowa, [which is] number one, followed by Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Maine and Nebraska. These are five states that have overall highest ranking on the 16 indicators.
Nevada takes the last place in the nation when it comes to elderly suicides. The elderly in Nevada are almost five times more likely to commit suicide than the elderly in Rhode Island, just to give you an idea. Reasons are complex. We touched upon the causes earlier on, in the morning session. We will come back to this again. And by the way, Nevada ranks 49th in school completion and 47th in teenage drug abuse. I could continue, but we will hear more details from speakers.
With this, I would like to recognize Joan Howarth, Associate Dean of the Boyd School of Law, which co-sponsors the Justice and Democracy Forum Series with the Center for Democratic Culture. Boyd School graciously gave us these facilities. Now Joanne would like to say a word of welcome.
PROFESSOR HOWARD: Thank you, very much, and actually I'm here on behalf of Dean Morgan, the law school's dean. Dick Morgan is unfortunately today in Washington, D.C. If he were any closer, he would be here with you all, because I think the work that all of you are doing and the work that you will do together today, and have done already this morning, is part of the vision that Dean Morgan and the faculty have for the potential benefits of the law school He is very happy, and we're all very happy, to cooperate with this program and help you help us make the law school a center for engagement with the most important social and political policy problems that are facing our communities here. That's very much the vision that we have for the law school. In addition to welcoming you on behalf of the Dean and on behalf of the law school, I want to thank you for the work you're doing that is so vitally important to all of us. So thank you and welcome. (Applause)
PROFESSOR SHALIN: I would like to add that the Center started about three years ago with Jim Frey, our old dean, who helped us a lot. I would like to recognize also Ed Shoben, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, who is also taking interest in the forum. Would you like to wave or would you like to say words?
PROFESSOR SHOBEN: No, I'll wave and shout at the same time.
PROFESSOR SHALIN: OK, good. This is in part through the assistance of Dean's office that we have this forum.
And now I would like to recognize Hal Rothman, who will be moderating this afternoon's session. Hal is a distinguished member of our campus and Southern Nevada community. I think most of you are familiar with his work, if not his face. This is your chance to associate the face, the name and intelligence. He will introduce our first panel.
PROFESSOR ROTHMAN: Thank you, Dmitri. It's funny to be called a moderator. "Moderate" is not a word people typically associate with me. (Laughter).
We have a few ground rules for this afternoon in the interest of getting everybody home for dinner. There are going to be five presentations this afternoon and they're going to go about 15 minutes. If you get over 20, you're going to hear from me on that. What I'd like to do is at the end of each [segment] have a few minutes or questions and clarifications, and then try to bring it together at the end with a more general set of discussions. So the first set of presentations this afternoon will be by Dale Erquiaga, Vice President of R&R Advertising, pinch hitting for Billy Vassiliadis this afternoon, and Keith Schwer who will address employment, gaming and other growth industries.
PROFESSOR SHALIN: We will break midway through to provide a breather to court stenographer, okay?
MR. ERQUIAGA: Thank you, Hal. And good afternoon.
First, let me say that I realize showing up when you're expecting to see Billy Vassiliadis and finding me is a little like going to a Broadway play and finding one of those notes that says, you know, the role of Bill Cosby will be played by Gary Coleman in this evening's performance, but I will try to share with you what I do know about the gaming industry.
Let me begin with a disclosure. R&R counts the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Caesars Entertainment Group and Mandalay Resort Group among its three largest clients. In addition, the agency's Public Affairs Division has represented the Nevada Resort Association for more than 15 years. So, I'm not the guy who's going to tell you that gaming and tourism create a poor quality of life. I'm the guy who's going to discuss the contribution made by the gaming industry and the tourism industry as a driver in this economy.
As you probably know, over 35 million people visit Las Vegas every year. 2004 projections are on track to hit 37 million this year. Visitor volume climbed steadily, from around 29 million in 1996 to a high of 35.8 million in 2000. Obviously the terrorist attacks on America in 2001 dropped us back by about a million visitors per year, but we have obviously recovered since that time.
Visitor spending last year amounted to $32.8 billion sent in the local economy. Gross gaming revenue accounts for around $7.8 billion. There are more than 130,000 hotel rooms in this city, with approximately 8,000 more currently under construction at major towers in the Bellagio, Caesars Palace, and with Wynn Las Vegas. In addition, as many as 20,000 more rooms may come on line in the next five to seven years, as the destination continues to grow and as we see a proliferation of the newest niche category here, which is condo hotels and time shares.
Occupancy rate, how many people actually sleep in those rooms, now is closer to 85 percent annually, slightly down from a high of 90.4 percent as recent as 1996. Free and independent travelers account for the lion's share of 37 million visitors, but 5.6 million visitors come exclusively for a business meeting or a convention. This number is also on the rise as we build more facilities like the Convention and Visitors Center downtown, the Sands Expo, Mandalay Convention Center, and MGM Convention Center. LVCA calculates that $6.5 billion in economic impact is derived from convention business alone.
Nevada, of course, has a current unemployment rate below the national average. Keith will attest to this, I'm sure, but I think it's about 4 percent. Well over 200,000 people in this community are employed by the gaming industry. Roughly one quarter of the eligible workforce. That's direct employment within the industry.
Additionally economists estimate that for every 10 people directly employed by gaming, 7 additional jobs are created elsewhere in the state's economy. Of the 15 largest employers in the region, I think 11 are gaming properties or gaming companies. The State Department of Employment Training and Rehabilitation reported last month, however, that leisure and hospitality, the category that includes gaming, reflects a 7200 over year job gain, while professional and business services reports 9100 new jobs, and construction reports 11,900 new jobs in that same period. So other sectors of the local economy are growing, faster even than gaming, although percentages would be different.
Gaming industry's share of total employment actually is declining from 27 percent to something lower, like 24 percent, by the end of the last century. I think we can see there that while gaming continues to be the lion's share, economic diversification is changing the face of employment in our community. Of course that's a good thing, if for no other reason than the proliferation of gaming in this country and the world, which we must as a community acknowledge as an inevitable driver of competition that threatens to weaken the power of our gaming-based economy. Let me give you some more numbers. Currently, 443 commercial casinos are operating in 11 states. In addition, Indian tribes operate casinos in 28 states. Some form of gaming exists in 48 states. All except Utah and Hawaii. That's every American in the continental United States (the lower 48, as we used to say when I was a kid) now has a gaming operation within 200 miles of his or her home. They don't need to come to Las Vegas any more to gamble.
During the most recent legislative session, 24 states considered legalization or expansion of gaming. A number of states had ballot measures at the election earlier this week. And while many of those efforts have been thwarted in the near term by the rise of moral values in the nation's political conscience, states and local jurisdictions continue to turn to gaming taxes as a means of addressing budget issues. The latest data that I've seen shows an emerging threat in Las Vegas' top 10 markets: California, Texas, New York, Illinois, Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Washington and Missouri. All of those states, from which we derive most of our visitors, are either expanding local gaming offerings, or they border with a state, or in the case of Texas, a country that is doing so. Moreover, if the international market, which accounts for I think about 5 million visitors, were counted as a state on this list of key markets, it would fall in number 9. The vast majority of our international customers come of from, of course, Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom, all areas where the expansion of gaming is under serious consideration.
It's this competition we think that drove the debate over taxes in Nevada in the 2003 legislative session. The argument went like this: Assuming Nevada needs additional tax revenue, it should draw that revenue from a more diverse tax base, because gaming may not always be the proverbial golden goose. As a point of fact, while gaming accounts for one quarter of the workforce, it pays more than half the state's taxes. Numerous studies, not just the one leading to the 2003 endless debate, have concluded that Nevada's tax structure is unbalanced and dangerously dependent on two fluctuating tax sources, gaming and sales tax.
A rapid or even gradual decline in gaming tax revenue would cripple the state. And if every American has other gaming operations, we must ask ourselves how long it will be before that competitive landscape begins to change things here at home. The legislature grappled with that paradigm as it went through the tax debate, settled on a tax package different than the one originally proposed, but the crux of the debate still was we need other taxes besides sales and gaming tax, because of this increased threat of competition.
Gaming, of course, has responded to the increased competition in its own way. Earlier this year, two so-called megamergers were announced, consolidating the four largest players in the industry into two for competitive advantage in this marketplace, and more importantly in the new national emerging marketplace. We could no doubt devote an entire forum to discussing those gaming mergers, but let me briefly touch upon the employment aspect and why I see benefits, where critics might see threats. To do that, let me speak about MGM Mirage, a company for whom R&R does no advertising and which does not belong to the Nevada Resort Association, so they don't pay my salary. Perhaps that will give a little distance to my perspective, optimistic though it will be.
MGM Mirage will, assuming the merger proceeds as contemplated and without property divestiture, account for nearly 50 percent of the local market. They own that many properties here in town. That means they will also control a sizable portion of the employment base within the industry. The company has pledged itself to a no blackballing policy between properties, and historically has an exemplary employee benefits package, including competitive wages, comprehensive medical, vision and dental care, as well as life insurance, something the gaming industry is often criticized for not having -- MGM Mirage does have -- retirement savings plans, tuition reimbursement, family scholarship programs and college savings programs for employees and their family, a strong commitment to diversity in its hiring, in its management, and in customer service practice. And workplace language learning. Obviously the English language learning population associated with the tourism industry creates related issues in schools and elsewhere and employment outside that industry if those workers choose to leave the service sector in the economy. So as MGM Mirage moves into its position as a dominant employer in town, I think its management philosophy and commitment to quality of life bodes well. The company is a good example of what gaming can do right.
Clearly from my perspective, the tourism industry as a whole remains the economic engine that drives our local economy. It is worth protecting, and it certainly needs protecting in a changing competitive landscape. That is not to say that the continued growth of tourism, the population that it brings with it, and some of the concerns I know you'll be discussing all day, will not come along with it. It is not to say that has no adverse impact on our quality of life. Any responsible person who works in this industry recognizes a shared duty to continue to create good jobs, to pay a fair share of its taxes, to protect our workforce and our communities in other ways. We may not always agree on the means, as the assemblywoman in the back of the room can tell you we do not, but we absolutely concur on the end, and that is quality of life in Southern Nevada. Thank you for your time. (Applause)
MR. SCHWER: Thank you for the kind invitation to be here. I'm Keith Schwer, UNLV faculty. I am not here financed by the gaming industry or any other industry. I'm here as a pointy-headed academic to talk about the issues of community involvement, quality of life, and really the question of economic development, diversification, the economic dimension of our community.
Well, a few comments I want to make here that I put down on paper to keep myself organized and on schedule. I'd like to begin by noting that this week, Nevadans exercised their franchise, doing so in record numbers. The heading of this conference is community involvement, so from this perspective, we can applaud the increased civic participation that we've seen. We believe that civic participation is positively and significantly related to a community's quality of life. Still, before we become enamored with this improvement, some have raised questions about the level of voter understanding on a number of local ballot issues. (Laughter)
I note from personal experience, my daughter Amanda called with a long series of questions, questions that caused me to think and rethink and ponder what these ballot questions were all about. One cannot help but wonder about the level of understanding on a number of questions. But after all is said and done, with half the population having lived in Southern Nevada eleven-and-a-half years or less, community involvement is occurring, perhaps not at the level and rate that we might wish, but it is occurring. Looking beyond the Silver State, looking historically, one might conclude that community involvement, at least as expressed through public activities, is a mixed record. Why is it so? Some look at questions of community involvement narrowly from involvement with the public point of view. Even to the extent perhaps of only looking how public money is spent on things that we might believe is important. We've heard discussion about that.
Others will cast a wider net. They might also note that nonprofit activities are important in the community, and from this perspective, we might also note that Southern Nevada falls behind some national averages, giving reason for further concern for community involvement. But there are also those who place primary reliance on the individual and the family to provide most of the important provisions for the quality of life, looking to the community to provide less. Surely in the West, where historically people were scattered in small numbers across vast spaces, there is a culture of self-reliance. Those seeking to follow the history point of view on this will find that history's a poor teacher for us. Nevada is an urban state, with urban issues, with urban problems. Nevada is simultaneously one of the most urban states and one of the most rural states. In terms of percent of the population living in urban areas, 86 percent of the state is in Washoe and Clark County. We're an urban state. If you look at persons per square mile, we're a rural state, and indeed in the rural areas, they're very thinly populated. That has significant implications for us as a state. Noting that community involvement and the quality of life means different things to different people, I would note here that this assembly we have here in this room is not representative of our state. In the first place, there are more women than men. This is an interesting point, for Nevada is one of the few states in which there are more men than women in the state.
Nevada's an unusual state from many perspectives, but let me jump ahead and note that Las Vegas is very different today than when I arrived, 19 years ago. Indeed, we need to bear in mind that with rapid growth, quality of life is changing rapidly. Quality of life has, however, improved for those who no longer travel to Southern California for medical specialists, though I will note that a number of governors had medical problems for which they still went to California.
I would also note that quality of life has declined if you look at the time it takes to go from Point A to Point B. I often note that on my first day at UNLV I had a meeting downtown. It took me 15 minutes, easily, to get there. Today, I allow at least 45 minutes to go downtown. So the quality of my life has declined. But, thousands of people each month vote with their feet. They willingly come to Las Vegas, believing that the quality of life is better here than where they're coming from. I mean, otherwise, why would they be coming? They are making rational decisions about quality of life.
I would also identify the empirical research that has been done that suggests that larger cities have a better quality of life. So as we've grown, we've been able to provide things for people that otherwise they would not have. But it's a mixed record. In particular, I noted earlier that when I first came here, it took me 15 minutes to get downtown. My quality of life has not improved, because of that measure. But overall, people continue to come, because they believe the quality of life in Southern Nevada is better.
In survey research that we have done, it's very clear that those people that are moving here from Southern California will tell you, you don't have a pollution problem, and you don't have a traffic problem. Okay? Things are much better in Southern Nevada than they are in Southern California. We have to keep in mind that it is perspective of people coming here, how they view the world, and how we view ourselves. People move to Las Vegas because they find a better mix of economics and amenities than they found in other places.
I want to talk a little bit about the economic dimension. Nevada is the state with more ghost towns than any other state. The state's history has been grappling with the issue of economic development. Half the population's been here eleven-and-a-half years. They do not know the history of the state of Nevada. Indeed, Nevada by a significant percent, has fewer natives than any other state. It is half the percentage of the next lowest state, which is Alaska. So we have over 2 million people here, most of which do not know the history, the geography, or the culture of the state. They are new residents, new residents not only from other parts of the United States, but from other nations. Today, jobs and amenity options are good and favorable for Southern Nevada. In short, without business and industry, without tourism and travel, Las Vegas would be little more than another Kelso, California, or Caliente, Nevada.
Having said that, let me turn to another very important point. There are no natural comparative advantages for Southern Nevada. Indeed, the gaming industry has argued extensively that we should be going to other states like other businesses. We have no ties that will keep them here. We have no other comparative advantages to fall back on. That is to say, if we were in Kansas, we could grow wheat. The creosote bush, a native crop for Southern Nevada, we don't have any economic uses for it. We haven't found them yet, though I understand there's some plants out here that may drive to a screeching halt growth and development, but we have a very limited environment with which to work from. This is the environment that we live in. Now that's not to say that we don't have significant advantages. Let me note one significant advantage that people tell us about. You don't have to shovel snow. (Laughter). Okay? The sun shines. Let me tell you, I'm a westerner. I grew up in the West. I have lived in cold climates. I have lived where it was cloudy. I much prefer to live where the sun shines.
As the community evolves, we'll face the choice of accepting the will of the people, placing faith in the free and open expression of opinion to address issues, or we will become advocates of change. I will leave it to you to wrestle with whether you believe in the ballot, or you wish to storm the barricades. But I do think that you will agree with me that a community must look at the quality of its life and must assess that quality of life on a regular basis. The first step in assessing the quality of life is knowing where we are. Thus, monitoring economic amenities and weighing quality of life are important, and I would suggest that we need to do it in a transparent fashion. We need better measures of where we are at.
I want to take just a couple of minutes and talk about some of the basic data and information that we have. I will share with you two publications that we do in the Center for Business and Economic Research that are very useful compendiums of information on economics and the amenities of our community. The first of which I will point to is the Las Vegas perspective. This is a publication that you can buy from the Nevada Development Authority or the, as sold at the "Review-Journal." We do an annual community survey of demographic information and also of questions reflecting people's preferences, attitudes and opinions on quality of the community. This has been done since 1980. I have directed 19 of these surveys. It is very unusual that a community would so aggressively pursue the gathering of information. I would also note that the business community pays for this. It is important, and so they're willing to step up.
The second document I want to talk about is something called Kids Count. And again, the Center for Business and Economic Research publishes this annual compendium that monitors the status of children in our community. One measure of the quality of life is how well we do with children. I will tell you that on this issue, the Nevada State Legislature has not given us one cent. This is paid for by a national foundation that believes that children are important, and therefore they give us a grant each year to do this book. I will tell you that in other states, they have stepped forward to support this effort, but Nevada hasn't. Why is this important? Well, it tells us each year where we stand on key indicators. It is a compendium of very detailed information about our state. This volume, along with its national volume, put out by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, of which we are part of, does a state-by-state profile.
You've heard some of the indicators. I will note that there are two indicators of importance for us to look at. And that's the teen birth rate, and the high school dropout rate. These are the two indicators that in a statistical sense we are below the national average. Interesting enough, on some of the other indicators we do very well. Nevada is not a poor state. And I've come back to the point that families step forward with good incomes. That's the reason they're coming here, household incomes above the national average. That bodes well for children, living in households where the income is above average. That means their diet, their health, all those things that are critically important, we do better than the national average. On teen issues, these two teen issues, we do not. And there, indeed, is where we should be focusing our attention. We should be working on teen issues.
Now we've had earlier discussion about the third grade, et cetera. We do very well on those indicators, K through 6. It's really the teen issues we do poorly on. Indeed, the debate is whether or not we should put more money at the lower grades to solve the problems, or put the money in later. Those that advocate putting the money in earlier believe that if you, as noted, that if you put in money earlier, you're going to be better off. The problem is, we have so many people moving in, that they're coming, teens are moving in, and so we have to address those issues.
I will tell you that on the key indicators, we had more that were improving on. On the high school dropout rate, there are a lot of issues out there of why it is what it is, but we continue to say, thank God for Arizona, because we're 49th rather than 50th. In survey research that we have done, in terms of Hispanics moving in, we believe that one-fourth of the parents have a sixth grade education or less. You have significant difficulty if you have parents with low level of education, the preparation of their children.
Again this book you can find it at our website, or you can get a copy from us. That's Kids Count, and that will tell you a lot about how well we're doing in the state of Nevada. We talked about social indicators. We have done a significant amount of work on those issues beyond the key ones that we've identified earlier. The issue then is to take that information and to move forward in policy.
In conclusion, Southern Nevada continues to adjust to rapid change and will continue to adjust to rapid change. Favorable conditions have resulted in growth and travel and tourism, and that has resulted in people being better off. Whether you're an advocate or not, there is still need to stay abreast of the community, its economic change, the amenities and become involved in our community. Community involvement to improve the quality of life for our children and grandchildren. Thank you. (Applause)
PROFESSOR ROTHMAN: Anybody has any questions, brief questions, I'd like to keep this part to technical matters basically, and then we'll engage in -- I hope we'll have enough time to engage in a broader discussion at the end. Anything for either speaker in terms of clarification or technical matters, materials they've covered? Going once. Going twice. All right, we'll move on to the next presentation.
Second presentation will be housing, homelessness and urban growth, Leroy Pelton and Craig Walton.
PROFESSOR PELTON: As with any social problem, the count of how many individuals involved are involved in that problem depends upon the definition that you employ and the methodology that you use. And given the various permutations between one particular definition and another particular methodology, as well as a very wide range of definitions and methodologies, it's easy to say that the counts vary over a very wide range, and no wonder, then, that we can talk about the construction of social problems, as many sociologist do.
Specifically with regard to the homeless problem in Southern Nevada, and in regard to the recent homeless study, this count conducted by Dr. Fred Preston this year. There are such variables as the time of the month that the count is taken. If you count toward the end of the month, you might get a higher count, especially of homeless people out in the street than you would at the beginning of the month. You face the matter of homeless people living in motels, who might be paying for the hotel rooms with their own money, by themselves or through some government subsidy. There's the problem of the hidden, unsheltered homeless people, who you might not be able to get to count and that you might not observe out there, and then there's the method used for counting doubled up individuals and families.
Now, I don't mean this as any criticism, none at all, of Fred Preston's study. I think he did the best possible job that could be done in counting the homeless in Southern Nevada, but I am saying that there is a problem in looking at any social problem -- child abuse/neglect is one I'm familiar with -- in terms of the definitions you employ, the methodology that you use, and therefore we're able to refer to a construction of a social problem just on those factors alone.
But Dr. Preston's study did show that in April of this year, the adjusted unsheltered count -- and he had used an estimation model to adjust the number of unsheltered homeless -- and he came out with 4,149 homeless people, 2,387 homeless people living in shelters on that particular night that the count was taken, or a number given by the Clark County School District, 1,341 individuals who would double up that night, doubled up families. And so there was a grand total of 7,877 homeless people that's estimated are in Clark County at this time.
So that's one construction of a social problem, and the estimates that come out of it that could range widely. But there is another kind of construction of the homeless problem that we should be far more concerned about, and that is the subclassification of homeless people into veterans, mentally ill, physically handicapped, substance abusers, et cetera, et cetera. If the aim is counting or estimating the number who fall into these categories, and again the definitional, the methodological problems referred to before would still apply here, but if we were counting or estimating these numbers in order to estimate the amount of funding and type of services that are needed for each subgroup, then we were aiming to provide these services, and I would have no objection. But what I'm about to say can be considered a counterpoint to the approach to social issues inherent in the manner in which this forum today is framed. Namely, that the gathering of social statistics might lead to their appropriate use, that of actually addressing the social issues in a life-affirming manner. My concern is that requests for numbers and groupings often belie a lack of will on the part of many government officials, even many helping professionals, and much of the public, to help homeless people in the first place. Rather, the purpose is to divide and conquer the homeless by declaring some portion of the homeless to be homeless due to their own fault, namely the able-bodied, so-called able-bodied among the homeless, and therefore deserving of their fate. And then we use this as an excuse or a justification of why we're not serving the homeless in general. So let me give an example of this.
The government appointed a task force a couple of years ago here in Las Vegas and declared the existence of three types of homeless clients. They said there's the have-nots, there's the can-nots, and then there's the will-nots. Thus, according to this classification, the worthy ought to be distinguished from the unworthy. Yet despite the task force's pious categorical distinctions, the various government entities in Southern Nevada had little intention to adequately address the needs of the have-nots and can-nots, any more than the will-nots, and although we have traditionally proclaimed veterans to be especially deserving, those veterans living in the streets are scorned no less than other homeless people. They are denied even the beds and the heated shelter and hot showers provided to convicted criminals in prison. Much less that homeless would be provided any housing.
I just completed writing a new book called Frames of Justice: Implications for Social Policy. And in that book I contend that there are three major frames reflected in all contemporary social policies, or at least one of three major frames drives each of our social policies. The first frame I call group justice. Some would see an oxymoron in that, but that's the idea of addressing groups. And the second frame is individual deserts, which is really the most popular frame of justice that we seem to use in order to generate our social policies. And the third I called life affirmation, or the principle of life affirmation.
An example of the group frame is Mayor Goodman's characterization of street homeless as rapists, robbers and murderers. I am not talking about the mentally ill, but the others, Goodman would say, just as some racists would say, well, some of my best friends are black. But this is the stereotyping of the homeless. Particularly he was talking about the homeless people on the streets in Las Vegas. And yet when he makes a distinction of the mentally ill, the needs of the mentally ill are not even being properly addressed. But even concepts of desert, which are themselves often applied to groups, as Mayor Goodman has, even concepts of desert serve as excuses not to have to house the homeless. I have already alluded to this.
Indeed, the desert frame paves the way for condemnation, speculation, neglect, and inaction. It opens the door to the rationalization and justification of callous public and official disregard for human life. In accordance with the principle of life affirmation, on the other hand, the minimal housing of the homeless would be regarded as an entitlement. Human life would be valued unconditionally, and the community, through government as its instrument and representative, would recognize and protect the dignity and sanctity of human life without condition, without exception, and without exclusion of any individual.
So, in conclusion, I say it really gets down to ethics, not numbers and divisions. Thank you. (Applause)
MR. WALTON: I'm glad to have been invited to come. I want to thank Dmitri Shalin and Dean Morgan and the sponsors, Maureen Berkheiser, and Hal for helping, moderating, as well as cleanup batter. It's a creative idea to put this together. What I wanted to contribute, want to talk about is Robert Putnum’s and others' idea of social capital. I want to talk about what that means. I think it pulls a whole lot of the various speakers' data, statistics together into something live and much more powerful, morally speaking.
I want to begin quickly by parsing a few recent newspaper reports I've been tearing out from the two newspapers for about seven or eight years, various stories. You've seen them all, about how Nevada's 50th in this, 49th in that, and so forth, and you know, each one of them is a bit of a blow. Oh my God, we've taken another hit. But I've been saving these stories to go over them and read them and try to see if I could figure out any patterns. I've got a set of 29 of them, just in the past two years, and the last five years it's about 60 of these stories.
Here's a little sample. October 19th, in The Sun: "State Gets Low Marks in Study on Welfare.” “ Nevada's among the worst in reducing the number of people on welfare since the 1996 welfare reform. A Kato Institute study gave Nevada a D, 37th out of 50. The caseload is decreasing since September 11th, 2001, but relatively and proportionally, it's still poor by national standards." People come here expecting good paying jobs, but the jobs they often get do not pay well, so they become our working poor. Many of them ask not for public assistance for themselves, but they ask for child care, and they can't get it.”
Second, The Sun, 20th of September of this year, " Nevada's Crime Rate up in 2003 Nearly 9 Percent over 2002." I won't go into the detail. On the 20th, same day, "Study rates women's health low for the state." "In a study covering 1999 through 2002 in all 50 states, the Center for Disease Control, Women's Health and Mortality Chartbook found Nevada to be the fourth worst in women's binge drinking, and second worst in suicide for women and very high in the percentage of women who smoke."
Fourth, June 25th story, "Lost Money in Child Services Found." "A federal oversight investigation found Nevada had failed to bill Medicare for over $3 million to which it was entitled." And that ship has sailed. But the State Division of Child and Family Services could have billed it, didn't, and if it straightens out its procedures, then in the future it could bill for 2 1/2 million more in this upcoming period. The Nevada Deputy Administrator says this financial trouble is due, quote, “to lack of trained staff, lack of policies and procedures and poor oversight.”
June 11th, " Nevada Last in Volunteers." " Nevada's 51 on a list of 50 states, plus D.C. in volunteerism, says the Points of Light Foundation, with a 22 percent rate of volunteerism. Utah's number 1 with 48.6. Also, the United Way's State of Caring Index shows Nevada is the worst in the United States in volunteering and in giving to charity. Nevada has one volunteer center per one million people. By sharp contrast, Utah has six centers per one million people. These centers link volunteers with the needs for volunteers."
Fifth story, June 22nd, "Las Vegas Valley Not Rated Highly for Children." This one -- you all read, I suppose, a report by the Population Connection in Washington gives Las Vegas a C-plus in its annual kid-friendly cities study -- adds that though this sounds bad, it was worse. The Las Vegas population boom continues to fall out on children -- that's their phrase -- as seen in teen pregnancy, kids without health insurance, births to teens, violent crime, fourth in eighth grade education results. Poor. It adds it's hard for kids to avoid the culture of sex.
One more, the United Blood Services, the national average for blood donors is 12 to 20 percent locally. In Las Vegas, 2 percent.
The last one, second-to-last, May 5th, " Nevada has high percentage of uninsured workers." Texas has the highest percent of workers without health insurance, but the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation says Nevada is one of the worst. This translates to a lack of preventative care and worse health for these Nevadans. The existing assumptions about our health care system hold that workers get health care through their employers, but the shift of many workers from manufacturing to lower paid service sector jobs and from bigger employers to smaller businesses means that this assumption is increasingly out of date.
And the last one, just April 28th, "The State of Nevada is Failing Children." 46 federal officials from U.S. Children's Bureau spent a week here and concluded that the state does very poorly caring for abused and neglected children. The 1997 legislature closed the Nevada Children's Home in favor of foster care. Now, under this plan, children lack legal protection. There are long waits for foster homes and a backlog of parental rights cases. Also, the system varies radically from one family to the next.
That's a small sample. These and many other stories, including many reported this morning, illustrate what Rob Putnum and others are calling social capital. The term refers to connections among individuals, social networks, and norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from those networks. It calls attention to the fact that civic virtue is most powerful when it is embedded in a dense network of reciprocal social relations. In 1916, L. J. Hanifan, writing about rural schools in West Virginia, coined this phrase. Using it to mean, quote, "Those tangible substances that count for the most in the daily lives of people, mainly goodwill, friendship, fellowship, sympathy, and social intercourse. As social capital accumulates in a community, its members then may bear a social potentiality sufficient to the substantial improvement of living conditions in the whole community. The community as a whole will benefit by the cooperation of all its parts, while the individual will find in his associations the advantage of help, sympathy, and the fellowship of his neighbors," unquote. Hanifan's quoted in Putnum's book, Bowling Alone. That's the title of the book I'm referring to here.
When social capital is high, the private good is that individuals do better in their health, their sanity, their pursuit of their own interests and their longevity, and they will do worse in all those ways if the community is low in social capital. The public good of high social capital is that social connections sustain standards of practice and reciprocity. Reciprocity can be specific, or it can be general, benefitting everyone sooner or later. So that one need not be too concerned about immediate payback.
Quote, "A society characterized by generalized reciprocity is more efficient than a distrustful society," unquote. Because where there is a high generalized reciprocity, we do not have to make certain that every act will earn a quick positive response. We can work with less hesitation and moral bookkeeping as to whether or not we are getting back our share. On the larger scale, when economic and political dealing is embedded in dense networks of social interaction, incentives for opportunism and malfeasance are reduced.
I'd like to elaborate on all of these. Putnum realizes that not all social capital is positive. Timothy McVeigh succeeded in bombing the Oklahoma City federal building because of ties of reciprocity within a group. Our concern must be to investigate how to develop an official social capital, building mutual support, cooperation, trust, and institutional effectiveness, while differentiating these from the negative types of social capital which we see in sectarianism, ethnocentrism and corruption. As many of you know, Putnum and his colleagues locate about 80 different kinds of social capital, from bowling leagues to sales of get well cards, from political involvement to having folks over for a barbecue, from church socials to athletic clubs, charitable giving to volunteering. What struck Putnum so powerfully was that almost all of the charting of activities in these various kinds of connections and networks show the same trend, increasing in quantity and quality from the depths of the depression, until the early 1970s, and then declining every year since then, until at present the social capital of the United States is about where it was in the Great Depression. Americans are more isolated, less interactive, less trusting. We need more time to go it alone, for lack of supporting networks of reciprocity, than any time in the past 70 years.
Last week the newspaper carried a story that nationwide there's a shortage of as many as 500,000 election workers, because these have been elderly civic-minded volunteers. Those people are dying. They're not being replaced by others saying I want to do that kind of thing. Just one example.
Putnum is not arguing that our history is one of civic decline. In fact, we have had periods of increasing social capital, as at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, and again as mentioned in the '50s and '60s, up into the early '70s. So what accounts for these declines, and these revivals of social capital? After presenting his findings, which chart about 70 years of this story, he looks at such modern changes as the introduction of the telephone, the television, computer, overwork, urban sprawl, welfare policies, the rise of women's rights, the struggle against racism, the growth of mobility, and of divorce. Some of these factors turn out to play little role in the decline of social capital. Others may prove to need attention if we are to turn things around.
But why is this important? It's not just the presence or absence of the good feeling that one belongs to a community of people with whom normal interaction is dependable and fruitful. What Putnum calls the social capital index also correlates very positively with how well schools work, how neighborhoods work, how the economy works, and people's physical and mental health or illnesses develop. In addition, people who trust others are all-around good citizens, and those more engaged in community life are more trusting and trustworthy.
Conversely, the civically disengaged believe themselves to be surrounded by miscreants and feel less constrained to be honest themselves. Between 1960 and '98, the percentages of adults and teenagers who say other people can be trusted declined from 56 to 34 for adults, and to 25 percent for teenagers. Employment in policing and employment in law enforcement and the justice system moved from a low in 1900, to its highest rate in the late 1990s. Lawyering and formal contractual agreements have been on the rise. So we're relying more increasingly on formal institutions and the law, rather than social capital.
I'm out of time, so I think I would only add that some students and I have looked on the question of are there social capital positives that have not been looked at by anybody? Are there kinds of growing, of reaching out to create ways of being with each other, sharing and cooperating that haven't been on the charts, and I think there may be a few which I discussed at the very last, and that's what that was about. Thank you. (Applause)
PROFESSOR ROTHMAN: That was truly a test of Craig's status as an ethicist, when he saw the time sign. Any quick questions for the two of these gentlemen? Yes, ma'am?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I'm wondering if there is an NGO or a government agency that works was a watchdog group relative to the quality of life, either by state or nationally?
MR. WALTON: Well, I know of some. In Cook County, there is a better government association, looks at integrity in government. But some of us are working on something like that here in Nevada. A nonprofit that would look at the whole spectrum -- I'm not aware of that. I know academics want to be able to do that. Sometimes we get together with each other so that we can try to share and do it. But as for a specific organization -- no.
PROFESSOR PELTON: It's interesting what you raise [as an issue], because I think of independent advocacy groups focused on particular issues so that we have an organization now, advocacy group for the homeless. We saw Southern Nevada Advocates for Homeless People, but it's interesting this is what there tends to be. Groups form for one issue isolated by itself, as opposed to all of it at once. It's an interesting idea.
PROFESSOR ROTHMAN: Let's do one more set of presentations, then we'll take the formal break. I see everyone's already taken the informal break. The third set will be on health care, access to mental health services, and Nevada health indicators, with Robert Shreck and Kathryn Landreth.
DR. SHRECK: Just in way of introduction, I'm Dr. Robert Shreck. I've been a family physician in Las Vegas for the last 30 years or so, not quite 30 years, I guess. Now I am Senior Medical Director at HealthInsight, the quality improvement organization for the State of Nevada. What that means is we have the contract with CMS to ensure and review Medicare in the state of Nevada and also in Utah. We also review Medicaid and other health insurance companies that we work with.
These slides basically are courtesy of Dr. Don Kwalick from the Clark County Health District. He was kind enough to send me about 150 slides, so if you have a seizure disorder, don't watch the screen. No, I'm not going to present all of them. I’ve taken out quite a few of them. These are the components of the community health assessment, basically that assessment survey that was done through the Health Department, combined with the Healthy People 2010 national surveys. And this is basically the perceived severity of the Healthy People 2010 national leading indicators, and you can see there are 10 major indicators that they surveyed, as they described them. In the blue are the ones they considered major problems, and then a moderate problem, if you will, for that indicator, and you can see the top ones there -- tobacco, obesity, alcohol. Sort of the normal players in health care that cause our problems.
This is the Clark County data. The survey done by the community shows people who feel they're in excellent health, very good health, good, fair and poor health. As you can see, the vast majority of people feel they're in good or excellent health -- 85 percent, and 15 percent feeling that they're in either poor or fair health. We can compare that with the national averages of the United States where 12.3 percent feel they are in fair or poor health. Nevada and Clark County exceed that number by several percentage points.
Looking at death and disability, we're going to see various disease processes, the first one being coronary artery disease, then we're going to look at blood pressure, cholesterol, cancer, respiratory disease, and I have cut out a lot of slides. You may have more slides in those handouts than I'm going to show, and of course you can ask questions about those later.
Coronary artery disease, you can see in relationship to death rates, we're actually better than the United States average. However, one of the slides I left in has to do with how many of those people who have had coronary events actually go and get the rehab that they should be getting. You can see the percentage is dismally low. Around 30 percent actually go to rehab after their coronary artery disease.
In blood pressure, we see that [what happens to] those who went to get checked in the last two years is very similar to what goes on nationally. Generally people are well educated about blood pressure, and they do tend to go get their blood pressure checked. Are they taking their medication? That actually is not a very good number, although it's a higher percentage than what we've seen in the last few slides, 71 percent. But there's still 30 percent of those people out there who have seen their physician and are not taking their medication properly, or not taking any medication. Those taking their medication to control high blood pressure -- you can see that's dismal also. 60 percent are not taking their medication that is prescribed.
Looking at cholesterol, again, the last bar on this slide is the goal of the Healthy People 2010. You can see that the United States is just above that goal, as is Clark County. Nevada as a whole is relatively poor at 67 percent.
Looking at cancer and death rates, initially this is overall cancer. No specific cancer disease process, but overall [trends]. You see that the rates are very similar to what goes on in the U.S., both across Clark County and Nevada. Then looking specifically at colon cancer: 43 to 45 percent of the eligible population are getting screened, so there's a great deal of people out there who are not getting their sigmoidoscopies or colonoscopies, or even doing the home blood testing or occult blood testing at the physician's office.
Prostate cancer. You can see again we're very close to what's going on nationally. We obviously would like to see that go up to a hundred percent as a goal, but that's where we are at this point in time.
On mammography, this is one of the areas where at least HealthInsight has been working diligently to improve these numbers amongst the Medicare population. You can see that only 63 percent of the eligible people have had a mammography ever, and then if you look at the circle pie chart there on the right-hand side, there's another 13 percent who haven't had their mammography in the last three years, which would be out of compliance. So that adds up to 50 percent, or maybe just a little bit more. So maybe we're under 50 percent of women who are actually getting their mammographies but who should be getting them. And Pap smears, we're doing much better obviously, 94 percent. Pie chart on the right is showing the various breakdowns in regards to that.
Looking at respiratory illnesses, again you can see this is a death rate bar chart, and you can see that the rates in Nevada and Clark County are alarmingly higher than what goes on in the nation.
This is the adolescent pregnancy rate that's revised from this study. May be a little different than what you've heard before, but actually Clark County and Nevada are both around the 44th-43d percentile, and that is the goal of the Healthy People 2010 target.
Modifiable health risk factors, and this goes back to that first slide which listed tobacco, obesity, alcohol, exercise, toxic agents and so on. You can see that, you know, lifestyle problems account for about 50 percent of it, and the pie chart on the right goes into the various lifestyle problems, obviously tobacco and diet, exercise, which is a big part of that.
Overweight prevalence. I think there's been articles that I have seen in The Review-Journal the last few years that show Nevada as the obese state. So I find these statistics rather surprising, but these are the statistics that came out, that came from Dr. Kwalick, so if you don't believe them, you have to call him.
The next chart shows childhood overweight, and Clark County is actually way below the United States, whatever the reason. I find that not only surprising but also somewhat amazing.
Primary level of physical activity. Obviously the changing job market, we sit at computers, we talk on the phone. Very few of us ever do any heavy labor or have occupations that involve heavy labor, and in this chart 13 percent do that.
Substance abuse, talking mainly about alcohol and the death rate, age-adjusted death rate related to alcohol. Alcoholic cirrhosis, all the other causes of cirrhosis, alcoholic cirrhosis by far the most prevalent. You can see where both Nevada and Clark County stand. The 14 percent [figure] is much higher than the United States average for this disease process. Binge drinking was mentioned earlier. Here are statistics: 19.5 percent and 19.8 percent in Nevada. This statistic is based on [consumption of] five or more drinks at one time during the last month. Another significant statistic in relationship to drinking is driving in the past month after having too much to drink. Again, this is a survey, people volunteering this information. It may state less than the percentages you have before you. But you can see that we're at two times the national percentage rates. Age-adjusted, drug-induced death rates are quite high compared to the national levels you see there.
And tobacco use. The 23.4 percent rate is actually a lot better than it has been. I've been in practice 30 years, and I think that rate looks pretty good to me. But if you compare it to the United States average, it's high. Clark County is a little closer to the U.S. average. Nevada in general is much higher, and then the Healthy People 2010 goal is on the right-hand side, shows you where we would like to be, if not at zero, at least at 12 percent.
Access to health care services – one of the issues that we heard fair amount about over the last several months and that I was involved with. I thought I'd present some of the data here. The top 10 states with Medicare-managed care -- this is an interesting statistic – here is the Medicare population. The non-Medicare population is approximately the same. I think it is 21 or 22 percent. In fact, that's on the next slide.
Again, the HMO. [You see] people between 18 and 64, so the HMO represents 21 percent, the uninsured is 21 percent, and the others are divided up between various types of managed care, PPO, Medicare, Medicaid, et cetera. And again, if you look at the lack of health insurance, and I think this is also in the folder that was handed out, we're well above the United States percentage of 21 percent with the U.S. at 15. And obviously we'd like to reach that zero goal.
The barriers to access in Clark County are significant. I got these statistics today. It's not included in the handout. I just wanted to show that there are 4500 or more acute [care] hospital beds in Clark County, and because of the nursing shortage, there's a certain percentage of those that are not available, that are not open for patient care. I tried to get that percentage and couldn't quite come up with an exact number. Talked with the Sunrise people, and between their three hospitals, there's probably between 50 and 70 beds that are unavailable for patients because of the nursing shortage on any given day.
The emergency department access problem has also been in the paper quite a bit, [as well as] the psychiatric patient holding problem. Again, I tried to get a better statistic on that, and was only able to get it from the Sunrise system where they have 10 to 20 beds set aside on a daily basis for psychiatric hold patients, because there's no mental facility for them to be transferred to.
This again is from the survey that Dr. Kwalick did, a community-wide survey – is time, okay? Can I go real quick? Okay.
This shows the barriers to access that prevent health care. Primary care. Pretty close to what's going on in the United States. Seventy six percent had checkups in the past year. We're well below that by about 10 percent. Children are even lower at 15 percent below the national average.
Here is statistics about the population of physicians in Nevada. And it shows that again, we were 34th back in 1980s, 44th in the country, 45th, 47th, and I believe we're still 47th. We may have slipped to 48th on that. This shows a kind of issue that was on the ballot here. We had 664 MD physicians who left, approximately 20 percent of our workforce left Nevada in the last two years. They were replaced by new physicians --
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: 20 percent, you said?
DR. SHRECK: Approximately 20 percent of physicians in Nevada left. They were replaced, so we did have a net increase, as you can see in the second bullet, 23 MDs, physicians. Only seven of those came to Clark County. And that was with an increase in population of 73,000 in the state. And then in 2003, 70 physicians, and 45 -- approximately half them -- came to Clark County, with 90,000 new people to take care of. And these are the smallest net increases reported by the Board of Medical Examiners.
And that is the point on which I want to finish. This is my advertisement [for] HealthInsight. Here is our website. We do have a lot of good information about quality of care. We also give out quality awards to the providers in your community here. And you can find out how the hospitals are doing, how nursing homes are doing, home health care agencies. We have all those, all that information through the CMS website. Thank you very much. (Applause)
MS. LANDRETH: While he's getting set up, I'm going to introduce myself quickly, and begin quickly, and not going through all my slides either. I promise. My name is Kathryn Landreth. I'm very happy to be here. I thought for a minute it was kind of odd that a law enforcement employee would be talking about mental health, and then I realized it's absolutely appropriate, because unfortunately mental health is still not considered really a part of overall wellness and health, and law enforcement tends to be the first responder when it comes to a mental health crisis. So for that reason, that is why I'm here.
I'm going to buzz through several slides because of things that were said this morning. But I'd like to start with, while he's setting up, with a quick story that is only somewhat atypical, because of the condensation of time in which this occurred. We had an adult woman move to town with her parents, her elderly parents. She had a history of bipolar disorder. Shortly after she moved here, she got in a domestic violence situation and was arrested and taken to jail. Now that's why I say it's quite typical for police officers to be the first responders for a mental health crisis. So, she goes to jail. She has an opportunity to be screened there for mental illness. Apparently she falls through the cracks. While in jail, she attempts suicide. She tries to hang herself, and is nearly successful. She goes to UMC, is revived there. There's an opportunity there for her to be screened for mental health. She falls -- not entirely -- through the cracks, because she's put on a legal 2000, and held till she can get a bed at our state mental hospital. She goes to the state mental hospital, stays there for 48 hours, apparently not diagnosed or assessed, and is released 48 hours from there.
There are two more episodes within the month where she attempts to kill herself, and there's also a period of time where she's homeless. She tries three different methods to kill herself. She's homeless. Her parents find her on the street. She's made two more trips to the emergency room, for a total of three trips to the emergency room, without a diagnosis, a trip to our state mental hospital, where she is not given the proper assessment and put back on her medication. And finally, through a stroke of luck, the parents connect with NAMI, a local advocacy organization for mental illness, and as a result of that she got into Westcare where she got an assessment from the psychiatrist and restarted on medication.
I take the time to tell you the story because it illustrates a lot of the issues that we dealt with today, and that is that mental health now is often responded to as a law enforcement issue. And it's law enforcement that has become the greatest advocate for mental health reform in this country today, as ironic as that may seem to some of you. So there's a good reason for me to be here.
Two other disclaimers I want to make you sensitive to. I'm going to speak largely about the issues in Southern Nevada. That's because the crisis here is far more pronounced than it is any place else in the state. But I do want to acknowledge the fact that our rural communities have extreme problems because of great distances that they have to go, the absence of psychiatrists, and trained mental health professionals in our rural communities, and if you have to go to a state hospital, you've got your choice of Reno or Las Vegas, and there's nothing else in the entire state.
The second issue I'm not going to spend a great teal of time on but want to acknowledge, as one of our speakers did this morning, is the particular challenge of our immigrant communities, many of whom have a lot of barriers, first of all, including other, the general social stigma against mental illness and seeking treatment, but other barriers to getting the help that is necessary. I'm not going to be able to talk about those. I do acknowledge them to be substantial issues that we have to deal with.
The final thing I'd like to say, if we're getting technology going here, is that most of what I will be talking about is what I will refer to as SMI, serious mental illness, because most of the information that I have relates to what we call the big three, in mental illness: Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression. There are other diseases as well that cause serious problems in people's lives and the quality of their lives, but those are the three big ones and the ones that probably comprise the largest percent of the consumers of mental health or people who should be consuming mental health in Nevada and elsewhere.
Okay, in the absence of technology, while [my assistant] is still working on it, I'm going to quickly say a couple of things about suicide. We've talked about it a lot this morning. There are 20 to 25 people in this valley that successfully complete suicide every single month. We rank statewide anywhere from first in the nation to third in the nation. The last few years we've been around third in the nation as far as the rate of suicide per capita. We are at all points more than two times the national average. The national average is about 10.7, I believe per hundred thousand people. Nevada tends to be between 23 and 26 per hundred thousand, so we're always more than double the national average.
In a recent year, 2002, we had 413 suicides statewide, 273 of those were in the Clark County area. Now get this. This is the number that rarely gets reported. In 2001 -- and this excludes Henderson and covers Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, and unincorporated Clark County -- there were 3,449 psychiatric calls for suicide attempts in the area. That means about 10 times a day emergency medical technicians are responding to either a psychiatric crisis or a suicide attempt. A number that looks awfully close to that is 3000 -- a number that looks awfully close to that is the number at the bottom of this slide, and that's the 3,349 overdoses or ingestions of poison, many of which would probably be suicide attempts. It's hard to tell in some of these cases. So there may be some duplication in that number, but it's still an awfully large number of people who are doing extreme things to themselves.
You can see from my number, this is a state statistic the State of Nevada uses. They estimate between 10 and 15 self-report, some percent of our population statewide self-report some level of alcohol or substance abuse. I think that's probably a very conservative number. We're going to talk more about gambling and other addictions. These are all social problems and challenges that I think factor into our mental wellness, and I'm not going to talk about those specifically, because there isn't a direct correlation between, for example, gambling addiction or domestic violence, and mental health or mental illness. But we do know that there is a big connection, and if the number is high, if the incidence is high, that's, in my opinion at least, some evidence of a higher than expected rate of mental illness in the community.
Domestic violence was mentioned this morning. We have a high rate of domestic violence here. Very often mental illness gets acted out in the form of domestic violence, and I mention this for a reason. Talk about unintended consequences, a great state legislation that requires an arrest to be made in so many domestic violence cases has had the unintended consequence of putting untreated mentally ill people in a jail setting, as opposed to a mental institution. We don't have that control at the law enforcement level, and it creates very strong challenges.
One of the numbers that really sticks out and that I'm sharing with my executive team next week is the fact that Nevada rated fourth in a recent year for women's deaths related to domestic violence, and we've seen some of that in community this year that had to do, I believe, with mental illness.
We've talked about homelessness. This really puts it in perspective and how I got involved in this particular challenge, why the criminal justice system cares so much about mental illness. A snapshot was done of our local jails -- this excludes prisons down here -- just our local jails, and we estimated in a recent year, nearly 24,000 jail bed days, meaning a person occupying a bed in a jail was seriously mentally ill, in one of those three big categories I told you about. Our jail has been overcrowded since it opened in 2003. We can hold about 2500 people at the Clark County Detention Center. We are overcrowded, and of that, nearly 20 percent -- usually in late months it's been around 500 -- 20 percent of our CCDC inmates have a diagnosis of a serious mental illness. That excludes, ironically, people on suicide watch, and it also excludes about a hundred people that are always in the queue waiting to get diagnosed or get assessed for a mental illness. I think the number is actually underreported.
How do we compare nationally? The Federal Government estimates that nationwide, about 16 percent of the jail and prison population is seriously mentally ill, so we're about 4 percent, at least --
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: One more time, Kathryn -- what was the percentage nationally?
MS. LANDRETH: Nationally it's about 16 percent, and we're at 20 percent. That's at CCDC only. I urge somebody to do a study of the Las Vegas City Jail. That is where most of our repeat offenders go. And my suspicion is you'll find if they would assess people at the city jail, that the number would probably be much higher than 20 percent. I'm guessing you'd be pushing 40, maybe even more than 45 percent, and I say that because you may recall, we identified 25 people several years ago who, among them, had amassed 8300 arrests. Now these people are mentally ill. Most of those people will go to the city jail and not Clark County Detention Center that my department operates. So I think if you go to the city jail where you see a lot of the homeless repeat offenders, you find a much higher rate of mental illness in that population.
Tell me when I need to shut up here.
PROFESSOR ROTHMAN: Couple of minutes.
MS. LANDRETH: Okay. The state of Nevada -- these are state of Nevada figures from 2002, so you have to adjust them upwards for the population increase -- estimates are that statewide, we have about 83,000 plus people with serious mental illness, about 5 percent of the population. Now I think that that is probably low. They're using a 5 percent number, because that's the number for the national average of seriously mentally ill people. I think in Nevada we might find it would be higher.
Using the same year 2002, they estimated 57,000 of those people were in Southern Nevada. If you'll note my asterisk, if you adjust that for population growth, we probably have about 82,000 down here right now, with serious mental illness. And I would point out to you that most of these people are not insured. It's very hard to get insurance coverage for people with serious mental illness, and many of these people cannot work, so they're almost all going to be in the public system.
Quickly going to the kids, because there were some questions about the children. Clark County Mental Health did a study. We used the elementary school children this year, because we thought that was the best way to get a handle on what our population of children with mental health issues would be. It mirrored the national average, which is somewhat reassuring that we were not above or any below actually the national average. About 20 percent of our kids in elementary school I believe need some kind of mental health intervention. Of that, 13.3 percent need targeted intervention, which is the lower form of group therapy and after-school activities. 6 percent of those kids need to be in a residential setting with intensive care.
If you look at this slide, you can see we still have a great problem with almost, you know, our lowest number is 70 percent of the kids in child welfare being underserved, but in the Clark County School District, we found that 83 percent of the kids were underserved. Juvenile justice, 71 percent, but look at the number of kids getting no services at all. You know the reasons for the problem. We went from deinstitutionalization, which was a very good thing, to community-based services, but we provided no funding for it. And the result has been, I will just end with the declaration of a county emergency in July of this year because of the fact that we have not provided decent hospitalization for people who are in need of mental health, hospitalization.
We have, if you look here, probably between 1/7 and 1/8 of the number of psychiatric beds that we should have for our population. We ranked 49th in the state in hospital spending among states. We have less than half of the psychiatrists. Our psychiatrists are seeing 700 patients individually. It's impossible for them to give decent treatment with 700 patients.
Here's something to supplement what Dr. Shreck said. The average patient count in emergency departments in September was 68. These are people trying to get into one of our handful of beds at the state hospital. They waited on an average of 108 hours to get into the state hospital, and as I told you, what happens when they finally get a bed free at the state hospital, they're usually in for a period of 12 to 24 hours, and they're immediately turned out, so they don't even have time to stabilize.
But here's the good news: We're doing a better job of identifying mental illness, and we do it better with law enforcement, which is a really good thing. We've had great support from the last legislature, 36 percent increase in our state budget for just the Southern Nevada mental health budget, and we have a great governor as far as mental health issues go. He's been a terrific support. We have a good formulary for medications. We're using the most advanced psychiatric drugs. We believe in least restrictive settings to the full extent possible, but we have a lot more we need to do.
One thing I'm just going to mention, we absolutely have to have -- we have to have a walk-in center here in Las Vegas. It is a shame [we don’t have it]. We are the only urban center of this size that does not have a place where people in crisis or families with a person in crisis can take their loved one to get immediate assessment and mental health aid when they need it.
If you were a diabetic, no one would tell you to come back in three months if you were about to go into a coma, but right now if you are a paranoid schizophrenic and you are hearing voices and you know you need to get your medication, the response from the State, because of the crisis, is please see us in February or March of 2005. We'll help you then. That is the truth.
Finally, we've had good times and bad times. But one of the things that always happens in the state of Nevada is when they cut budgets, they cut mental health. And we've seen this happen in 1981 and 1992. Because every time they have to cut budgets, they cut it in places where they are labor-intensive. And mental health is labor-intensive. It's extremely vulnerable to cuts, and we need to make sure it doesn't happen again as it has been happening about every 10 or so years. That's it. I'll stop. (Applause)
PROFESSOR ROTHMAN: I'm going to have to make a quick program change here, because [otherwise] we're going to lose one of our speakers. If you could hang on for one more presentation, we'll have Ben Graham's talk, because he has a scheduling conflict. Ten we'll take a break and continue from there. I'm sorry to do that. We're going to lose Ben if we don't.
MR. GRAHAM: I apologize. Generally Phil and I have a good time sparring a little bit.
MR. KOHN: I'm going to miss it.
MR. GRAHAM: I will simply say what Phil would always say in closing. If Phil says anything that you really feel I should answer if I'd had the opportunity to, I certainly would have. So remember that, Phil. Be kind.
You want to talk about a crisis. We have a serious sex offender who is mentally incompetent, and can never become competent to stand trial. He is being released today into our society because the State does not have a room for him or a bed for him. We can't commit him out to West Charleston. We've talked to the State. The State beds are all full.
This is a fellow who is going to re-offend. And he's being released today, because there's no place for him in our system. So I'm not talking about the guy that's mumbling under the bridge. I'm talking about the guy that's going to go out there and seriously sex re-offend, so watch that. They may have decided to pick that up today, because we basically put the Attorney General's Office on notice that this is the situation.
The topic we have that was assigned to Phil and me, this just to put things in perspective, I did criminal defense work for a lot of years. I got people off on jury trials that had no more business getting off than the man in the moon, but that was my job, to make sure that the State was doing an honest, correct enforcement, and recognition of a person's rights. Crime's on the rise. That's got nothing to do with the District Attorney's office. Nothing to do with Phil Kohn's Public Defender's office. Quit sending us criminals to prosecute, you know. (Laughter)
And this last election, I don't even want to go there on expenditures and what not, but can you remember the hue and cry when Bill Clinton wanted to fund midnight basketball in urban areas for young men and young people to be off the street, at least in a recreational area, and everyone threw out their arms -- what a horrible waste of money. I guess it's a lot better to spend $16-18,000 a year keeping them in prison. I'm a prosecutor. I don't want to prosecute those people. Those people are people we need, but it's too late for those. So what we're talking about, I think, a lot, is some early relief.
Listening here about this crisis in Nevada -- holy cow. It reminded me of that advertisement that showed the doctors leaving town, you know, I-15. Let's get out of here. Nevada's horrible. But also makes me think back, if any of you ever visited the Statue of Liberty, you've seen on public television the Ellis Island reports. The immigrants are coming in, your fathers, grandfathers and my great grandfathers, they were coming here to the United States because it was horrible where they were. Those people in California, New Mexico, Mexico, Guatemala, they're coming here because it's horrible where they are. We think it's horrible, because here we sit fat and sassy, but those people are here to improve themselves. Now most of them are good law-abiding citizens. I've got a dear friend, African-American lady that I worked with when I was working 95 hours a week, I was teaching at the university, and community college, working 40 hours a week in the District Attorney's office, and driving a taxicab 40 hours. I worked 94 hours a week. And Cathy got a job at the laundry in the Clark County Detention Center. She's been there now for 15 years. She said, "You get those people jobs, and they don't come back. Get them jobs and they don't come back."
Now, this is your prosecutor. There comes a time, my friend, Phil, when your client is guilty, we can prove he's guilty, we didn't violate his rights. Here's a deal we'll offer you. 96.5 percent of the time we'll offer you the deal, it's time, Phil. And Phil will a lot of times say, "Yeah, you got me, Ben." His client may say, "Look, I'm a three-time convicted person. I ain't got nothing to lose to go to trial." And you hear about speedy trial. Forget that, boys and girls. The last thing you want is a speedy trial. You hope the DA loses the file. You hope the victim dies or leaves town. You hope the witnesses and God Almighty, we don't have very many Mother Theresas and Mormon bishops or catholic priests as witnesses. We've got those people out there. We hope they leave town. And the deals get a lot better as the case gets older in many cases.
Now Phil will take issue with this, and I love him, he's a, you know, a good constitutionalist, and I'll not take a backseat from anybody on that Bill of Rights either. Like I say, I've worked both sides of the street. The advantage that Phil and I know, we get paid every two weeks. And one of the doctors here said he isn't sponsored by anybody. Malarky. He's sponsored by all of us. Is there anybody here not getting paid by somebody? We're getting paid by the taxpayers of the state of Nevada. That's you, and everybody else in this room.
Now I'm not like Dale or some of these other people that have that great cash cow in the sky in the resort association, but we're all on somebody's payroll. I'm on your payroll. Now what do we do? It says crime, race, and community relations. I don't go out and look for Afro-American defendants. I don't go out and look for fat old white guys driving a Lexus, who -- when's the last time you saw one of those stopped? I used to -- I've taught in university here since 1979 -- teach criminal law, procedure and evidence. And up until recently, I've given all essay exams. Now your school stuffed my class with 54 students. I used to give an essay exam with 25 and 30 questions. Now how on God's Earth -- I think I get what, $1,900 a semester, something like that. Maybe it's up to 2,000 maybe. How on God's Earth can I grade -- I have finally gone to Scantron, but I'm still giving three essays. We're all trying, we're all in this thing.
Anyway, crime. I don't make a criminal. I try to help. Our office tries to help. We do record sealings, 2,000 of them a year, sealing criminal records of people who have kept their nose clean and stayed out of trouble. We've supported legislation making it easier for petty-type things to go away. So on Question 13A, have you ever been, you can say no, I've never been arrested. Bullshit. But 7-Eleven, the department store, doesn't need to know that, if you've been good for a period of time. Now, Gaming Control, the professions, they're going to find out, so you better be preemptive and tell them, but that's what we work out from a community relations standpoint.
We offer drug diversion, by the hundreds that we deal with.
Mental health court. You know, early release programs from the prison. But we pound, we pound the criminal. Now we get criticized from a prosecution standpoint that we stack charges. Well, you don't put a charge on you can't prove. And here, when I leave here now, I've got a gummy worm attack or a cashew attack and I'm going to go to Smith's down here on Maryland Parkway, and I'm going to take handful of cashews out of the bulk cashew display.
Nevada has a beautiful burglary statute. Used to be you had to have a breaking and entering the dwelling house of another in the nighttime with a commit intent to commit a felony therein. That's what you used to have to have a burglary. But back then it was subject to the death penalty. Nevada no longer has to be a breaking, no longer has to be at nighttime, no longer has to have the intent to commit a felony. When I walk in that Smith's Food King intending to steal cashews, I've committed a burglary when I walk in there. When I reach in and I take the cashews, unless they're very precious cashews, they're worth more than $250, I've committed a grand larceny. So I'm going to get charged with burglary, grand larceny. On the way out some vigorous young clerk tries to stop me. I'm going to punch him in the nose, and it goes a little sideways, I'm going to have battery with substantial bodily harm.
MR. KOHN: And robbery.
MR. GRAHAM: Maybe robbery, too, because he was trying to stop me and get those cashews back. Let's say I swallowed them real quick, Phil. Anyway, all those charges are true. And we're going to say, Phil, how would your man like to plead to attempted burglary?
MR. KOHN: No. We're going to trial, Counsel.
MR. GRAHAM: You're going to trial? Well, a lot of times Phil's client would say this ain't too bad a deal, because you know, a lot depends on records and all that. So the big bugaboo is race. And this is not a comfortable thing to say in a crowd that probably by about 92 percent voted for Kerry. Few exceptions, I imagine. We don't give a darn whether you're pink or whether you're orange or whatever the heck you are. Probably will be the last thing we look at as a prosecutor is what race you are. Doesn't matter. What did you do?
Now, it so happens -- and this is a touchy area, if you're Afro-American -- you're more likely to be victimized than anybody else. And you know who's going to victimize you? Another Afro-American. Now the fact that they get caught and they get arrested and they've been caught and arrested before, they're going to get prosecuted. Not because they're black, but because they committed an offense. Now the fact that there's a larger percentage of minorities committing offenses hasn't got a darned thing to do with the DA's office or the Public Defender's office. It's got to do with what we talked about here.
The third grade -- we've got to start back. Heck, I'm 62 years old now. You got to start back, you know, with my grandkids, not with me and my generation. I have five daughters and three sons. I'm not LDS. I'm not catholic. I'm a huggy Episcopalian, like the representative from Metro, like Mary here this morning. You know, so we're just equal opportunity huggers.
Phil will take some issue with the race thing. I imagine he's going to possibly think that we seek the death penalty more on those situations, but there's a pretty good guideline that we try to use on death penalties.
Community relations. I'm here because David Rogers said go here. I'm going across the street here. I cross campus in a minute for the investiture of what, 250 new attorneys, down at Artemus Ham. We do record sealings, and if you're ever curious about that, you've got a friend who had an arrest, we can clean them up, and we do that and cooperate very, very heavily at that, and we do, like I say, the drug court diversions, the bad check diversions, all kinds of things to try to make our community better. I'd asked Phil to go first, because I'd have some fun with him.
MR. KOHN: I've learned my lesson on that.
MR. GRAHAM: No. And again, a lot of defense attorneys will take issue with me, but I think 95 percent of the time, we're all headed in the same direction. It's the 5 percent that we argue over. Now Phil's going to also tell you that sometimes they send me instead of some other people, because, you know, who's going to doubt that I don't want to help you, huh? Even though -- now and then, it's time, I tell you, time you got to put your client in prison, Phil, you got to do, and sometimes we do. Are you sworn to uphold the constitution?
MR. KOHN: You bet I am.
MR. GRAHAM: When?
MR. KOHN: Pardon me?
MR. GRAHAM: When? When you take your job?
MR. KOHN: When I take my job.
MR. GRAHAM: Most defense attorneys aren't.
MR. KOHN: My office is.
MR. GRAHAM: His office is. So you know, the Bill of Rights adopted in 1791 is something that both Phil and I, you know, applaud. And Kathryn through her work at the Metropolitan Police Department and our office, I'm sorry to leave you, but there's a guy that -- actually, he gave me my evaluation the other day. We got pay raises coming up. And the percentage he left blank, and on what percentage I get. So I better show up at the next place, because that's where I'm supposed to be, so that's why I asked Hal to let me go early, and I appreciate it.
I answer the phone. I take your messages. If you've got a question, give me a holler. I'm at the District Attorney's office, and if you need me around -- and by the way, when we knock the legislature for not doing things, we sometimes knock them as a corporate group, and not as an individual group. We have an Assemblywoman here who, for the last several sessions, introduced bills, continually, in an effort to fund education beyond what we do now, and the other powers decided that Kathy just doesn't know what she's doing, but she keeps trying, and sooner or later she may do us some good in getting those education fundings. But thank you, Hal, for allowing me to barge in here, and you guys take care. And guys is the nonsexist term, okay? Thank you. (Applause)
PROFESSOR ROTHMAN: With Phil's permission, my apologies first of all to Fred and Kate who I preempted to get Ben in here, then I'm going to have to let Phil go, so you guys will come after him, but right now I think we should just take a break, take about 10 minutes and catch our breaths and come back.
PROFESSOR ROTHMAN: Another one of the people, I'm going to call Phil Kohn up here and let him give his rebuttal in a rebuttal slot. Typically, when he goes first, he asks for 5 minutes after Ben speaks. Today he gets his whole 15.
MR. KOHN: Thank you, Professor. Ben is charming and we will talk more about that in a minute. (Laughter). But I'm not here -- and obviously Ben and I have done this before. But what I'm here to ask you is listen to those people who spoke this morning. They are smart people. Susan Klein Rothschild, Chris G, Carlos Garcia. Listen to these people.
There was a horrible debate last year in the legislature about taxes, and there are a number of people in the state who do not want to pay for social services. But I'm here to tell you, you're going to pay for it. You're either going to pay for it directly, by educating people and taking care of the mentally ill, and taking care of kids who are abused, or, I can tell you, I can predict to you as easily as the sun will rise in the east tomorrow, that abused children who do not get through junior high school will become my clients. I've been doing this for a long time, and they are going to commit crimes.
Ben's right, a lot of my clients are guilty. You will be the victim of crime, and you will pay for their incarceration. And that's where we've gone in the last 20 years in America. There are 2 million people incarcerated in prison in the United States. Between federal prison and the various states, there are 2 million people incarcerated. That is a ridiculous number. I grew up in California. I'm a product of the University of California system. I am a product of their education system. But from the time that I was in junior high school till today, there has not been one University of California campus opened. There have been 30 prisons opened. In Nevada, we opened a prison two years ago, at High Desert. That prison holds 2200 people. It is packed already. In the state of Nevada, we have 10,395 male inmates. We have 683 female inmates. Our capacity is 10,004. We are a thousand over capacity, and we just opened a state prison. Kathryn Landreth told you they just opened a new wing of the jail two years ago. It is full already. You are going to pay for these people. And let me tell you, in our state, we only pay about $20,000 per inmate per year in state prison. In California, because they have many more maximum security prisons, they pay about $46,000 per inmate per year. The State of California pays about 26,000 for each University of student. Let me tell you which is the better investment. (Laughter)
The call of the question why we're here, why Ben and I were here, is about race, and as charming as Ben is, you can see him sort of stutter when he talked about race. Because he doesn't want to get into that discussion. Because the fact of the matter is, among those 2 million inmates that we talked about, 40 percent are Afro-American nationwide. About 36 percent are white, 20 percent are Hispanic, and 4 are others. In Nevada, we're not much better. In Nevada, our state prison is about 30 percent Afro-American, 50 percent white, and about 20 percent Hispanic. But you've got to remember, our population in Nevada is about 7 percent -- if even that -- Afro-American. And when you get to the subject of death penalty -- and that's why Ben was setting me up, because we've been there before, and he says, "I don't look at race," I say to all of you -- bullshit. They do, too. And I'll tell you where they do it.
The District Attorney decides -- there's a committee and we've asked over and over again, who's on this committee, who makes this decision on who shall live and who shall die? Your regents of this university got a great deal of grief because they fired one or two people and did it behind closed doors. I don't disagree with that, but one of my best friends is a regent, but they got a great deal of grief because they made a hiring decision behind closed doors. When we asked in open court who was making this decision -- who lives and dies in Nevada -- we're told "It's none of your business." I ask you, go ask the DA who's making this decision, and I guarantee you, there will not be one African-American on that committee that decides who shall live and who shall die. And when I say bullshit to them telling me that race doesn't matter, I know, because I've talked to both DA’s. One of the decisions that goes into the process of shall we seek death or shall we not seek death is -- can we get it? And when you do that, are you saying that we're going to kill blacks over whites? No. But what we're saying is, we're not going to get it.
Let me give you a great example, and I wish Ben was here, because he will get around that answer every time, but about five years ago, in this community, there was a case, and the Defendant's name was Jeremy Strohmeyer. He was a very good looking, very wealthy white 18-year-old who murdered an 8-year-old black girl, and before he did that, he molested her. It was one of the more high profile cases we had. And when push came to shove, the District Attorney gave Jeremy a chance to save his life, which he tried to then reverse, but gave him a chance to take life without, and at that time the District Attorney said, "Everyone should have a chance to save their life."
Three months later, I went to trial with a young man named Ken Shawn Maxie. He was barely 17 years old. He was a young black man whose mom was killed when he was 6. He was a foster child. He was molested in foster care and through all that did not have a single prior arrest until the day he went in and committed a robbery. He didn't plan it, and they know he didn't plan it. There's a 25-year-old man who did plan it. He gave Ken Shawn a gun. The kid who planned it got behind the bar. The bartender grabbed him, grabbed a shotgun, and the gun went off when they were wrestling it with. This guy who planned it, his name was Levy, he starts yelling, "Shoot that mother," and finally my client did fire one shot and went right through Levy and hit the bartender and killed them both.
I was never offered a deal to save this man's life. I went to trial. I came within one vote of losing this young man to death row. He was a child of 17. Should he have done what he did? Absolutely not. Do I advocate his behavior? Of course I don't. But that was three months after Strohmeyer, and I was not offered a chance to save his life. I tell you, how many other high profile cases have there been, and there's certain aggravating circumstances that allow the death penalty to be relevant, one of which is financial gain for a crime. We are finishing a case that's made a little bit of publicity involving two people named Tabish and Murphy. They were alleged to have killed this man to get $7 million, but they're two good looking white people and they're not facing the death penalty. There's a woman named Margaret Rudin who killed her husband, and she's alleged to have done this for about $5 million. And she didn't face the death penalty. But when I get a young black kid, I guarantee you what's going to happen. And so when they tell me that race doesn't matter, I don't buy it.
We have a death row population right now of 86 people, with 89 at the beginning of the year. We've had three reversed because of prosecutorial misconduct. There are 86 people on death row. That is the highest per capita in the United States. Yes, Texas has over 400 people on death row, but we have a population of about what, 1/12th of Texas. So our 86 is the highest per capita. 40 percent of the people on death row are African-American. By a very small majority, whites are the majority on death row, but that was not true a few months ago.
Ben and I fight yearly or bi-annually over the juvenile death penalty. And I wish he was here, because I want him to answer it. I want him to tell me why he opposes my request that Chris G will put in again this year to end killing children. There are four countries in the world that, besides the United States, that insist on executing minors. They are Iran, the Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. That is not exactly who I want to make my stand with. And Ben is good. He was up here. He was charming. He is always charming. He is their lobbyist. That’s why he was here and not David Roger. And he's beat me three legislatures in a row on that, and it's in front of the Supreme Court right now, and I know that Chris G has a bill in, and it will happen again. It will pass the assembly, and I'll lose in the Senate, and I don't like it.
This DA's office is incredibly harsh on children. Ben was able to, through the legislature, get a bill passed a number of years ago that made certain crimes automatic certification. If a child at age 8 to 18 commits a certain number of crimes, murder and attempted murder among them, they're automatically charged as adults. That means an 8-year-old who kills someone can be and will be charged as an adult -- not can be -- shall be. And where are they put? They're put in Kathryn's jail. Because once they lose their status as minors, they have to be put in a County detention center. And then if we lose, they have to be put in state prison. There is no juvenile detention facility for them.
When I was first made Public Defender in April, one of the first cases I received or that I took was a kid named Rocky Mendoza. Rocky Mendoza was 15-year-old boy who was horsing around with a gun, and he accidentally killed his sister. I think a lot of you may have read about that. The District Attorney made the decision, over the Metro decision to arrest him for involuntary manslaughter, they arrested him for murder. Which meant that this 15-year-old kid, who had just killed his sister, who felt horrible, who had been out of custody for four weeks, was thrown into the jail, and all the jail could do to keep him from being abused -- because I had another one like this a few years ago, Conan Pope, who was sexually abused in jail. Now the jail's [personnel] is much more careful and they isolate them. So he's put in protective custody. He can't call his mom. His mom's looking around for four days, where is he -- the jail will not give him a phone call because he's in solitary confinement, and here's a kid who's going through the grief of killing his sister, and he is put in the detention center. And the only way I was able to get him out was by agreeing to plead him in juvenile court. And I believe that a judge should have been able to look at that case and decide, is this a case that belongs in adult court, or is this a case that belongs in the juvenile court. I'm hoping that's something that will be addressed in this legislature. I'm not saying that we don't have very, very dangerous young people who are a threat to all of us. Some judge may well determine that [such a] child should be in the adult process. But I am completely opposed to the automatic certification.
Two things about the last two speakers. Ben started talking to you about this horrible sexual predator who's going to be released today. He's our client. I worked on that case. And I worked on that case because the Clark County Detention Center called me and said, Phil, we have this young man who's 20 years old. He's got an IQ of 40. That gives him a mental age around 5 or 6, and he's in here for sexual assault. He digitally penetrated a couple of women on a bus. He didn't know what he was doing. He's a 20-year-old, he's got the hormones, but he's got the brain of a 4-year-old. And so he's put in the jail, and once he was put in the jail, he decomposed immediately. He was defecating, urinating on himself. There was nothing the jail could do. He crawled up into a ball and they're saying, we can't take care of him.
They had psychiatrists come, and we had two psychiatrists evaluate him. They had two psychiatrists evaluate him. There is no way that he would ever be competent to stand trial. And the District Attorney opposed our dismissal. We wanted the case dismissed, because that's all there is. There's dismissal, and sending to a mental institution. But it was a partnership between Metro and my office that got Sandoval out. And we're not saying that he should be out running around. We need facilities for him. But keeping this young man in jail, which was the answer of the District Attorney, is not the right answer. Not someone with an IQ of 40. There's no pill you can give him, like if he had some other mental illness, that's going to make him better. He is what he is. He needs to be in a facility, and we don't have them.
I want to close by saying that Kathryn Landreth and the two last sheriffs, Sheriff Keller and Sheriff Young, have done more to solve the mental illness crisis in Nevada than all the other people combined. I am proud to have served on the Sheriff's task force that was started in 2001. Because of the work of Kathryn Landreth and Sheriff Keller, and now Sheriff Young, we have a mental health court to deal with young men like Sandoval. That wasn't put on by my office, it wasn't put on by anyone but the Sheriff, because all these people, as Kathryn pointed out, there's such a high percentage of our clients in the jail who are mentally ill, and when we talk about partnerships, I cannot tell you how strong my feelings are for Metro and what they have done to make sure that people are treated in a more humane manner. They have done a wonderful job.
With that, if there's any questions, I will answer them. If not, I thank you for your attention. Yes, ma'am?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I have to confess that I was made terribly uncomfortable by Ben's comments. They were to me so clearly bigoted. I just couldn't believe he was in the position he's in, he had that point of view. As a concerned citizen, what do you recommend I do?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Vote.
MR. KOHN: Yeah. I didn't want to say it.
PROFESSOR ROTHMAN: Vote more often. Early and often.
MR. KOHN: I probably shouldn't say this as one department [head] about another, but I want to change the DA's office. I want them to be a more enlightened DA's office.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: How can we help you do that?
MR. KOHN: I can't do it.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: How do we help you do it?
MR. KOHN: I can't do it. I think the Democrats have to get together and get a strong candidate in 2006 and make a statement. I think David Roger has to be asked who is on this committee who decides who shall live and who shall die. Tell us about this. I am very troubled. I have tried a number of cases against David Roger. I have tried two cases of juvenile death penalties against David Roger when he and I were both trying cases, and I have been very, very frustrated with what he has done and other DAs have done in keeping Afro-Americans off of death juries. It is very rare that I have more than one Afro-American juror on a death jury. It's almost never. These guys are good at it. There's a case Batsen versus Kentucky that says thou shall not do that, but I had one case -- I had the case, this is not hearsay -- that I watched, that the way they got rid of a 24-year-old black man, he happened to be living at home, he's just back from college, and their race-neutral reason for kicking him off the jury was if he's 24 years old and he's still living at home, then obviously he can't make a decision for himself, and we don't want him on the jury. And so I want a DA's office that is aggressive. I want my Public Defender's office to be aggressive.
We didn't talk about community, because I am running out of time, but there were two studies in my office before I took it over that were highly critical of the Clark County Public Defender's office, that we were not aggressive enough, that we were two cozy with the DA's office and the judges. I worked in that office and I left it, and now I am back as the chief administrator. It is imperative to me that when I hire young deputy Public Defenders that they are aggressive and assertive and want to go to trial. And when Ben Graham says it's a good deal to take, when that young man goes in to that Albertson and takes some peanuts or cashews or whatever it is, and Ben says, okay, we can go burglary, grand larceny, robbery, and everything else, and we'll give you an attempted robbery, attempt burglary -- and he said that, those are his words, not mine. I'm not making this stuff up. You heard him. And I'm telling you, attempted burglary is a felony. So that young black man takes that felony conviction, his life as we know it is over. Because he's not going to get a good job. He's done. And so when I tell -- when I -- when I was sitting there and I said no, we're not taking that deal, I meant it.
That drove me crazy. I had a young woman when I was still trying cases, who was 24 years old, had two kids, minimum wage, goes into KMart and steals about $40 worth of kids' clothes. And they wanted an attempt burglary on this woman. She was working. She'd gotten off welfare and she was working. She shouldn't have stolen the stuff from KMart, it was wrong, but it was a petty larceny. They wanted a felony. That felony would have guaranteed that she'd be back on welfare and never have a decent job, because you can't get that off your record for 10 years.
We talked about sealing the records? Yeah, you can, after 10 years. And so what I say to Ben, I wasn't kidding there when I said, no, we're not taking that attempt burglary. I want my deputies to go in and try those cases. And we're winning them. We won in the last 10 days, we've had four felony trials, and we've won all four. That doesn't make the paper. And there have been cases like that, that should never have gone to trial, and I'm very proud of my office. Since I've become Public Defender on April 6th, we have won I think 16 jury trials. That is unheard of, in any Public Defender's office anywhere. It's not that we're that good. It's that they're trying crap. So. (Laughter, Applause).
PROFESSOR ROTHMAN: Thank you. Okay, I guess the penultimate, next to last, we're going to gambling addiction and the sex industry, with Fred Preston and Kate Hausbeck from the Sociology Department.
PROFESSOR HAUSBECK: Good afternoon, and thanks for sticking around for this. As a reward, we can now talk about sex. (Laughter). The title of our talk today is "Putting the Sin in Sin City," and the subtitle is "Mapping Commercial Sex in Nevada." It should be noted that I do have two co-authors. It didn't make it in the program. Professor Barb Brents my colleague in sociology, and Ms. Crystal Jackson, one of our very able master students in the department.
Let me start with a few opening disclaimers. First of all, in this presentation, we're going to be talking about the commercial sex industry, and we really cannot say much about how it relates to quality of life. I guess that the question of whether the sex industry improves or detracts from your quality of life depends a fair amount on who you are and what your place is in the community. We don't really have much to say beyond that with respect to quality of life, but what we can do, what we think is important to do, is to offer a kind of descriptive overview, a kind of map, if you will, of this unique commercial and cultural aspect of our community. So that's first.
The second disclaimer is that part of the reason that, as Dmitri said earlier, other states when they do these quality of life reports, they don't even address things like gambling and sex industry. And it's not because, as you heard earlier, there's no gambling in other places, and certainly not because there's no sex industry or prostitution in other places. It's either because those things aren't considered prominent pieces of the culture of the community as usually they are here. They're certainly highly visible. But it's also because no one has good data. These are kinds of things we pay very little attention to as a society and a community. There are very few funded groups who really take an interest in being able to track the details.
So I'm going to give you an overview today, and what we're giving you are a series of statistics on a series of different parts of the sex industry that are widely variable. That is, you'll see large ranges, and that's because we just don't know a lot of the time, but the statistics we have here are the best available.
Okay, so the one thing we can say for sure about the sex industry, its existence, its growth, the reason that people get into it is it's about money. Right? It's an economically driven industry that's certainly on the grow.
To contextualize the sex industry, I want to start a little bit by saying something about the larger culture that we live in in American society. The sex industry isn't just about sin city and Las Vegas, right? In lay capitalist culture, which is what characterizes American society today, there's an expansion of the service industries and relatively significant economic and cultural shifts, including things like, in the 20th century, the emergence and growth of mass production and mass culture, the expansion of leisure time and leisure expenditures, sexual revolution, the growth and expansion of feminism in the women's movement, significant technological development, all of which have led to a growing and expanding sex industry across the country and what we call the pornografication of everyday life, or porno culture. And it's really about the normalization of the sex and adult industry and the sort of use of sexually objectified bodies in everyday life. So you don't have to go to a strip club, you don't have to go to a brothel, you don't have to solicit a prostitute to come in contact with highly sexualized images all over, and this is the pornogrification that we're talking about.
Let me give you a little bit of background or framing of this porno culture. One in every four videos rented in the United States are adult pornographic videos. There are approximately 11,000 new ones produced every year. It may be more than that, many of those in neighboring California, especially San Bernardino Valley, but of course with the advent of video technology like the camera that's been taping lots of this today, lots of people make home porn now, and one of the popular places to do that are in Vegas hotel rooms. So that touches home as well. Speaking of hotels and pornography, about 40 percent of hotel rooms in this country supply porn to the people who rent those rooms on a pay basis, and that accounts for about 80 percent of hotel in-room profits. Those numbers are probably higher if we had that data for Las Vegas specifically. We don't.
This lead C. Everett Koop to say, "The appetite for pornography seems to be insatiable." This, of course, also is evident in internet growth. There's about 50 million to 2 billion, again it's a very wide range, but estimates all fall within that range -- 50 million to 2 billion per year, on over a hundred thousand adult websites on the internet. And this has largely fueled lots of the new technology that we use to access the internet. So if you use high-speed modems and broadband technology, you can thank the adult industry, because really it's been the demand for that and innovation to make profit in that arena that's really is behind development of that technology.
There are 2500 to 5,000 strip clubs strewn across the United States. Annual strip club earnings are about 500,000 to 5 million per club. Over all, the adult businesses are said to comprise, approximately again, 10 billion per year, making profits from the adult industry, larger than the NFL, the NBA and major league baseball combined, so it's fairly notable and significant, both economically and culturally.
To describe this growth and expansion, we really talk about this in terms of two different terms that we use. The first is the body industry, which refers to the sexual objectification of bodies for profiteering in nonsexual commercial enterprises. In other words, people use sex to sell everything else. Cars, jeans, perfume, hotel rooms, et cetera. So we have the body industry, but then you also have the adult sex industry, and the adult sex industry are commercial enterprises that explicitly sell sexual goods, services, products, fantasies or intimate sexual contact for profit, and these are both legal and illegal. With the pornogrification of every day life or porno culture, what we see is the body industry and adult industry, which used to be fairly distinct, are increasingly overlapping.
How about Nevada? Well, we like to call Nevada the state of sex. I don't know if that's good or bad, but really I think it's fairly descriptive. The first reason for this is that we have what we call the Nevada prostitution industry. As I'm sure you know, we're the only state that has legalized prostitution in the U.S. That's the Nevada brothel industry which we'll talk more about momentarily. We also, of course, have fairly visible and illegal prostitution in places like Clark County and Las Vegas. Vegas, of course, is known as Sin City and as such is sort of the symbolic epicenter of this national, even arguably international sex industry, and, of course, this is promoted by the tourist culture and the hotels who put out advertising campaigns and say things like, what happens here stays here. They don't really mean how much you lose gambling, right? They mean all kinds of other things, and that's well understood.
There's also this new sort of Vegas hip culture, sort of the little LA, if you will, where celebrities are here and they film TV shows, and there's a growing club culture, more and more nightclubs opening and nightclubs being racier and racier, sexier and sexier, more and more like strip clubs in and of themselves. In other words, we have a very visible and racy body industry, as evident in advertising, backs of taxicabs, billboards, et cetera, cocktail waitresses casino culture generally, and I was just saying the expansion of bars and nightclubs where they have scantily dressed, practically nude women or nude women dancing behind curtains, in cages, et cetera. Fairly dramatic change in the nature of the body industry, and again making it more like the sex industry.
So let's look at the sex industry and let's start with some legal businesses. There are all kinds of different legal businesses that fall into the sex industry here in Las Vegas. Pornography, adult content websites which are produced and sent out over the internet from here. Adult bookstores, strip clubs, outcall entertainment, swinger clubs, S & M clubs, nearby brothels, et cetera. We'll talk about a few of these.
Strip clubs, let's start there. We have about a hundred thousand dancers registered with work cards in clubs here, not all working simultaneously, but in an average year. Estimates are that at any given time, there's about 2500 women dancing in Las Vegas. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the slowest days of the weeks, so those numbers would be lower midweek. On busy weekends that number can be 3500 to 4,000. Of those dancers, approximately a third is travelers, which means they come to Las Vegas to perform, but they don't live here. The rest are, quote unquote, locals, at least local now, they've moved here. On busy weekends, three-day weekends, fight weekends, NASCAR weekends, holiday weekends, those numbers rise dramatically to somewhere around 3500 to 4,000, and about half of those that are travelers. So there's an influx of sex workers on those kinds of weekends.
The income is large and varied. At very small clubs, on slow nights, women may make little to nothing, and at bigger clubs and on big nights, they may make thousands of dollars. They act as independent contractors, and they always have to pay the house in a variety of ways for the privilege of dancing there. When we talk about -- that was women. When you talk about men, they're [making] somewhere around $100-500. Estimates are a little bit difficult [to obtain], but the numbers are significantly lower for male dancers.
Related to the Strip industry, but different, is outcall entertainment. There's -- you're all familiar with the outcall entertainers, probably through their advertisements, which are prolific. There are 110 pages in the phone book, 83 full page ads, a bunch of smaller ads. There’re probably 850 different listings in the phone books. Of course, you also see the handbills on the Strip and the newsstands at many busy intersections, right, advertising the dancers to your room. All of these ads really reflect 10 percent of the businesses. That is, there's about six major businesses that put out 90 to 95 percent of those ads. The rest are small mom and pop [operators] or independents who work on their own without an escort or an outcall entertainment service. At any given time -- the estimates are sketchy again because we just piece together partial data that's available -- approximately a 1000 to 1200 outcall dancers, not all performing at the same time, but accessible and in and out of the industry.
On any given day, estimates are, there're about 150 to 200 of them working in town. That, of course, expands to about 500 on weekends and more than that on busy weekends, the three-day weekends, the fight weekends, et cetera. Of those numbers, maybe 10 to 15 percent, maybe a little less, are men and/or transgender or transsexual performers. Prices, hmm, are widely variable. Usually for an hour's worth of service, it's about 250 to 450 that goes directly to the agency. And of that, depending on which agency you're working for, the dancer or performers get anywhere from zero, if they work strictly for tips, up to a very high estimate of $200. Our sense is that it's much lower, 0 to 50 or $75 a call, and the dancers work primarily for tips. The tips can range from $50 to literally thousands. So it's widely variable.
In terms of strip clubs, and massage parlors, just a few numbers for you. Strip clubs are grouped with nightclubs, which is sort of interesting, based on what I was talking about in terms of how nightclubs are racier and racier. There are 29 strip clubs, plus Treasures, 29, 30-ish, depending on the day, if they're open or not. About 29 pages of massage ads in the phone book, which amounts to about 231 businesses, but they're growing rapidly. It's the fastest area of growth, it seems, in the valley. The massage are not, of course -- not all -- part of the sex industry. Many of them are therapeutic massage and quite legit. The others are what is sort of lovingly called the happy ending massages, and it's hard to know which are which, which is why I give you the overall statistics here.
In the latter category, the happy ending massage parlors, there's a very large immigrant and illegal population. Again, estimates are hard to get, but some say 20 percent, some say 40 percent. In addition, we have things like adult bookstores and swingers clubs. About five swingers clubs exist currently in the valley. They sort of open and close, so it's hard to tell exactly at any given time how many we have. We also have the distinction of having apparently the country's oldest swinger's club here in the valley.
We have at least one online webcam porn site, which is then sent out all over the world from here. There may be more. We have approximately 20 adult bookstores. Again, that might be slightly higher than that. Then, of course, that doesn't count the Barnes & Nobles and Borders, which sell porn. So that brings us then to probably the best known legal aspect of the sex industry in Nevada. We're leaving Las Vegas now and spreading out to the state, and that's the Nevada brothel industry.
By Nevada state statute, prostitution is illegal in counties with populations exceeding 400,000. That leaves a lot of counties to be eligible to legalize prostitution, to have prostitution, and in fact, we now have 10 counties in the state of Nevada that have legalized and regulated prostitution. There are 36 available brothel licenses in those 10 counties, total at any given time. Approximately 28 or so are operating. They, too, sometimes open and close depending on the season, depending on whether they have prostitutes to work, depending on where they are.
There are really three tiers of brothels in the Nevada brothel system -- suburban, rural and frontier. The suburban are closest to the large metropolitan areas. These, of course, have the largest brothels, the most women working. The women who work there are the most, quote unquote, attractive because they're competing with the strip clubs and outcall entertainment industries in places like Las Vegas, Reno, Carson City, et cetera. The rural brothels are those that are in smaller towns, places likes Ely, Elko, Winnemucca, and there are the frontier brothels that literally stand alone on the side of a highway in some desolate part of Nevada where there's, someone said earlier, a lot of creosote and not much else.
And so the three different tiers of brothel look very different. They have different kinds of women, they're of different sizes, they bring in different kinds of Johns, they bring in different amounts of money, so it's hard to give you one strict set of statistics that covers the whole industry. That said, we sort of estimate that there are typically 1 to 50 prostitutes per brothel, with some very small, some much larger. At any given time, there's probably somewhere around 125 to 250 legal prostitutes working in the state of Nevada, licensed. Their ages range from 18, to in their 50s. We've had several of the 40 and 50-year-old prostitutes tell us that they make more money than the younger girls, because the older men feel more comfortable, so there's perhaps a surprising note for you all.
Where do the women come from? They never come from the town in which they work. We've never really come across that. They come from other places, mostly out of Nevada, but not exclusively. Only women are allowed to work in the Nevada brothel system, and customers are mostly male, although many brothels will allow couples, and some allow women on their own if they have a legal prostitute who's willing to service them. But [these are] primarily male customers.
By state law in Nevada, condom use is mandatory, and so are health checks. Prostitutes, before they can be allowed to work, have to undergo health testing, both Pap smears and blood tests, and those are then repeated on a weekly and monthly basis respectively. The result is that the health statistics in the state are significantly better than the statistics of, quote unquote, contagion among prostitutes in places where it's illegal, and that's one of the reasons the brothels have persisted is they say it's such a safe alternative.
Speaking of safe alternatives in the brothels, the issue of violence and safety is worth mentioning, at least briefly. In the brothels, you know, the type of prostitution is, of course, very different than working on the streets or working illegally. They're protected because they're working in a building, right, with other folks around, so they're less vulnerable. The customers are usually easily identified from their credit cards -- they usually drive up and have a car outside, so if they assault someone in the back, they can get a license plate, right? So there's some protections there.
Of course, the condom use and health checks are seen by legally working prostitutes as things that help them feel safe, and they identify that as reasons why they think that brothel prostitution is safer and less violent than other forms of illegal prostitution. They have panic buttons, and local law enforcement typically offers a fair amount of backup to the legal brothels, because they simply have good relationships with the regulators and police in the communities where they exist.
Women typically split the earnings with the brothel owner 60/40 as independent contractors, but they also, like strippers, have to pay house fees, room, board, et cetera. The brothels also bring in money for the counties that they operate in, work card fees, application fees, license fees, liquor licenses, amounting to somewhere between thousands, to hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the county and how many brothels are located there.
It's estimated that the Nevada brothel industry brings in approximately 35 to 50 million per year for the state economy. The cost of purchasing a brothel, in case you're intrigued by this, ranges from 135,000 for a very small brothel in a sort of frontier area, all the way to upwards of 5 million or so. We're not recommending it as career choice, but thought you might be interested.
Beyond this legal landscape, there's also, of course, flourishing illegal activity in the sex industry in Nevada. Street prostitution, independent prostitution, casino prostitution, child and juvenile prostitution, and even human trafficking in modern day slavery. To take just a couple of examples, illegal prostitution comes in couple of different forms, sort of lumping that into outdoor and indoor. Outdoor prostitution or street prostitution, demographically unique. You're not going typically to find it at the strip mall out in Summerlin or Henderson. You're not going to typically find it on the street in front of the major casinos on Las Vegas Boulevard. You'll find it in other parts of the city and the community.
Aside from being geographically sort of restricted, street prostitution or outdoor prostitution is usually more obviously connected to other kinds of social ills, poverty, violence and physical abuse, drug addiction, hopelessness, pimps, et cetera. Wages or earnings for outdoor prostitutes can vary from zero or $5 to maybe as much as a hundred, usually not much more than that. And these prostitutes are much more likely to be subjected to violence and criminal arrest. And so they have lots of different kinds of risks than the legal prostitutes or than illegal prostitutes working indoors.
Indoor practices. Indoor prostitution comes in a variety of forms. They can being independently working escorts, independent prostitutes who work with the help of a family member, a friend in a sort of small independent business. They work out of bars, they work out of the big casinos. They sometimes put ads in the phone book, et cetera. It's been estimated that the average age of these sorts of prostitutes is about 28. Again, take these numbers with caution, because it's hard to, of course, get that. In terms of how much they make, again it can be as little as -- very small amount, say, $5. I think it's supposed to be $50. Usually $50 is probably about as low as you go here. But you know, there's at least one woman who was given a piece of jewelry worth $248,000 after an illegal prostitution encounter with one of her Johns, so the range is wide and varied.
The typical independent prostitutes probably makes about $300 to $500 per visit. For unusual shows or features without sex, say, two girls going and performing and working independently, they're likely to make $500 to a thousand dollars per hour. All of this excludes massage parlors. Without soliciting, you're more likely to be approached by someone for prostitution services in a major casino in town than anywhere else, than in bars, strip clubs, et cetera. So that tells you a something about the relationship between the casino industry, gambling and prostitution. I don't have the official statistics for adult prostitution, although both -- a source in Metro -- those are actually coming, but they're sorting them out for me as we speak. Source in Metro says it's about 4,000 a year, and that's corroborated by the FBI.
Juvenile prostitution. You can see behind me, solicitation for prostitution from '99 to 2003, there were about 531 cases, 508 of which were for young girls. There are [also] boys out there being solicited, but at a smaller rate. The age of arrest is from 18 -- or from 11 years old, really, just one person during that time, but still it's a tragic thing to imagine, up to about 18.
When we talk about Johns, there is a John school locally, so that first offenders have a diversion program offered to them. Much of the time you could probably say more about that. But John school meets once a month, and there are usually 15 to 20 Johns per John school, so about 180 to 240 annually. There are not parallel programs, at least in the same vein, for the women.
There's human trafficking. Can't say much about that, because it's just being documented at a national level. We don't know much locally, but nationally there's about 18 to 20,000 victims of modern day slavery in the United States every year. They come from abroad. Juvenile prostitution that crosses state lines also falls into this category. We now have what's called a Nevada Working Group on Human Trafficking and Slavery which was begun just this past summer under the guidance of the U.S. Attorney's office. That's been in place for the last three or four months, so we're likely to have both better statistics and more programs in place to combat human trafficking and slavery in the months and years ahead.
In closing -- Hal will be relieved to hear -- why don't we know more? Why do I keep making these statements that we don't really know and be cautious with these numbers? Social stigma and marginalization keeps people silent. Repression, denial within the community. You know, let's face it, we derive a certain amount of our local income, our local culture from the sex industry and off the literal labors of the women who work in it. And yet, we really don't want to take it seriously in other kinds of ways, to study it, to get the data, to figure out what the problems and issues are, let alone to address them. So, I'm a bit cynical there.
Economic imperatives -- a lot of it is a cash business, and, of course, for political reasons, it's a business that we tend to say it's illegal, and we denounce it, yet we also encourage it and advertise about how great it is.
Why should we know more? Knowledge is power. Social equity and justice demands it, especially for women in the industry. And really knowing more would help the community, I think, develop a stronger and better sense of well being around this issue. So what do we need to know, very quickly? We need to know specific social culture and economic practices that affect supply and demand. We need to know details about the nature and structure of particular segments of the sex industry. We need to know details about the life experiences, situations, choices and needs of the sex workers themselves. We need to know the relationship between structural constraints and agency of the sex workers -- how much is forced, how much is choice? Are they really two different things? We need to know economic, social and cultural impact of the body and sex industry on the community and subcultures. How does it affect kids growing up in the shadow of these billboards? How does it relate to domestic violence statistics you've seen here today, to sexual abuse, pedophilia, you know, even things like eating disorders among young girls? What's the relationship between sex work and other behaviors and practices, drug use, alcohol abuse, family problems, gambling? Maybe Fred can say something else about that, and we need to have a better sense of what our policy options are. How can we do better, and what would shifting the policy lead to? Hard to know.
So our recommendations are we need research data and more insight. We need community education that promotes a demand-centered human rights approach to this very big part of our community. We need alternative sentencing programs for the women themselves. We need ways to astutely address differences among various types of sex workers and their needs and experiences. We need more health education, intervention, prevention and care. The brothels are doing some of that. The illegal industry is, of course, doing none of it. We need sexuality education for our kids, and this is controversial. So I'm glad we're going to get whisked off. What we really do, as a way to inoculate young people, arm them with the tools to think critically about that which they face in community all the time, and perhaps to begin to lead into stigma reduction. We need worker and labor practices extended to sex workers and enforced. They deserve all the same rights that regular workers would have. We need sex worker empowerment programs and programs to support current and former sex workers who are in the business or who want to get out of the business. We need a clearing house of data, resources and assistance to sex workers, customers and clients, researchers, policymakers, the legal system, et cetera. So it's a tall order but if we could do a 10th of it, we'd all be better off. Thank you very much for your time. (Applause)
PROFESSOR PRESTON: I'm Fred Preston. I see Hal just handed me a thing, my time is up. Just real quickly, I will condense this. I want to thank Professor Pelton for not being too abusive about my work with the homeless. That is an impossible task. Just very briefly on that. I was interviewed the night of this particular study. I've done this several times. Somebody, of course, stuck a microphone in my face and said, "How can you be sure that you're going to count every single homeless person in Clark County tonight?" And I said, "I can assure you that we're not going to come close to counting every single person in Clark County."
All of the work I do transition, boom. All of the work I do with gamblers and problem gamblers presents similar issues, methodological challenges. I'm here today both as a Professor of Sociology who studies problem gambling and have done so for a number of years. I'm also the Co-director of the Problem Gambling Center. Dr. Hunter is the Clinical Director, I'm a research director. We have been doing this for a number of years. It's a nonprofit. It's in many ways unique, both good and bad for Nevada. We talk about issues in Nevada. Our Board of Directors is an extraordinarily glittering outfit, but these are folks who come every month to the meetings. The board meets and spends a great deal of effort supporting us.
We're supported by the gaming industry. We're -- actually casinos and casino companies, we're supported by machine manufacturers, and perhaps unique to Nevada, Las Vegas being unique, one of our board members is a prominent attorney who also happens to be part owner of the Spearmint Rhino, and I don't know whether this is good or bad. It's simply there. But the Spearmint Rhino helps support treatment of gamblers. So I don't know quite what to make of that. You'll have to help me with that.
In any event, very quickly. I want to emphasize a couple of things. One, just like the sex industry, gambling over the years has been larded over, ladled, and saturated with moral judgment. And it's one of those areas that it's very difficult to discern what is moral, what is business, and how the reactions come about. You can look at the history of this, just in Nevada. Of course, with Nevada now being over 70 years in the current position of legalized gambling, in Nevada, when gambling was legalized for this particular go around, there was not a concern about problem gambling. Simply, there was not. As gambling has moved to other jurisdictions and continues to move to other jurisdictions, part of the legislative process is that problem gamblers have to be taken care of. And that varies from state to state, by set fees or a percentage of gross or percentage of net. It simply varies.
Nevada still -- and I'm not here complaining about that, but Nevada still, as a state, does not support the treatment of problem gamblers. And we're unique in that. We had bills before the last two legislative sessions, it was a legislative lesson to me. We were applauding -- recall this? Our bill was passed. I said okay. Our bill was passed. How cool is this? But it wasn't funded. It just kind of sat there, looking lonely, not being funded. But again, we understand that sort of thing.
Very quickly, still, on data. I've been in the position for a number of years, studying gambling in Nevada. I was also very fortunate to be directing the survey research center at UNLV for a number of years which also let me do some work that was helpful to my own studies. It was also fortuitous that when I first did the surveys on this, it was in the early 1980s, and that, as many of you can put those dates together, and that was when video poker was introduced. And if you track gambling in Nevada, and of course similarities in other jurisdictions, what you find is in the early 1980s, there was a significant gender difference between people who were playing table games and people who were playing electronic games. Now there's very little difference, and there's very little difference in the people we treat.
The other thing which I would mention, quoting my partner Dr. Hunter who was quoted 14 years ago in both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, that video poker's the crack cocaine of problem gambling. It's a pithy quote. He wishes he never said it, of course, because there're some real difficulties with that analogy. One is, of course, that most people who gamble and are addicted gamblers are not getting juiced up like they do on cocaine. In fact, they're being anesthetized, and they go to a far away different place in front of the machine.
The other thing I will mention is that problem gambling, addictive gambling does not discriminate in any way that I can discern. We've had people who are impoverished. When we did not only the enumeration but did interviews with the homeless population in 1999, there were over 50 percent of the homeless people who said that they currently gambled. And of those homeless people, 22 percent said that they had a problem with gambling. Interestingly, those people that said they had a problem with gambling, most of them said that having a problem with gambling didn't have anything to do with them being homeless, but that's a whole other matter which we don't have to pursue right now.
The other thing to be mentioned is that in terms of nondiscrimination, we just recently had come through the Problem Gambling Center, the current record holder. You can always count on Lou Gehrig's record, this record is going to be broken, but this is a guy who was a hugely successful businessman, and he lost $43 million gambling. His wife is still with him. They have a significantly different lifestyle now. We also have people who don't have any money. We have highly educated people. We have people who are not particularly educated. And it tends to reflect the population.
I'm currently about halfway through a monograph based on interviews with family members of problem gamblers. And even though I've dealt with problem gamblers for 30 years, I'll do an interview, and they say something, and I have to work extremely hard not to have my mouth drop open. You're kidding. Yikes.
Finally, in our survey work with the general population, and with problem gamblers, one of the things we've asked consistently over the years is what were the considerations for your moving to Las Vegas? And here I think we're going to see a change. I don't want to get into it, we don't have time, into how you measure problem gambling, all that sort of thing. Most of you that are interested in this know the different instruments and all of that. But our current work that is from two years ago, we estimate problem gambling population in Clark County to be 5.3 percent of those people who gamble.
Okay. Other people like Rachel Volberg, very prominent, done a number of national studies, depending on the instrument, estimates the problem gambling incidence in Nevada anywhere from 3 percent to 6 percent. So our work is always right within the same sort of estimates. But when we ask people the consideration for coming to Las Vegas -- and I think this is my final point and I think it's very important point -- for those people who said opportunity to gamble was either a very important or a somewhat important reason for them moving to Las Vegas, that was just over 20 percent of the people who had moved to Las Vegas, [who said it was] somewhat important. Whatever. But that subset of the population had an incidence of problem gambling over 35 percent.
So what I'm saying, just very briefly, if we're drawing people to Las Vegas, they say, I know, let's move to Las Vegas, what a good place to gamble. Again, if you know problem gamblers, these are many people who see this as a good way to supplement their income. I'm going to drive a bread truck, and I am going to gamble. And we're going to, like, at least triple our income. What a good idea. It doesn't work out. But here they are in Las Vegas. They wanted to gamble. They do gamble. And over a third of them become problem gamblers.
If one would project, which I'm doing in conclusion, as fewer and fewer people move to Las Vegas to gamble, they move here for other reasons, to discover something to do with creosote bushes or whatever the case may be, here they are, but gambling with its proliferation, the people who want to gamble will stay other places. So I would think our incidence of problem gambling will more and more approximate the national average. Okay. That was pretty brief. (Applause)
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Can I ask a question?
MR. KOHN: Professor, can you assure me whatever attorney it is that owns part of the Spearmint Rhino is not one of my deputies?
PROFESSOR PRESTON: That's correct. You probably know who it is.
MR. KOHN: I have an idea, but I just want to make sure it's not one of mine.
PROFESSOR ROTHMAN: Before you defame anybody, do it privately.
PROFESSOR PRESTON: I'm not going to do that. You kidding, he's on our board.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I'm just curious, in the senior population, what kind of studies you've done on gambling addiction?
PROFESSOR PRESTON: We did a study of the senior population. Senior population was operationalized as 55 and over. And we did a survey of the senior population in 2000. And I can get you a copy of that with no problem.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: That would be great. I was just wondering if the rate of addiction is higher in that age group, because kids retire, because a lot of them came here with money.
PROFESSOR PRESTON: Interestingly, in terms of addiction, that's what you call bi-modal. You have rates of addiction which go up into the early 30s, and then it tends to level off, and then it goes up again, and the rate amongst seniors is somewhat higher. And, of course, there are a number of variables that go into that. They're huge, huge stories.
Can I say one more thing in response to that? We're always touched by personal stories, and this is something that in some ways is unique to Las Vegas. We had somebody come through the Center. Her mom had moved to Las Vegas to retire. Got a nice house. Here we are. But her mom's health was failing, so daughter moved from Pennsylvania to take care of mom. Unfortunately, daughter had a gambling problem, and they lost the house, and then they lost the apartment. So part of our job, one particular day, was to call people to say, can we get these folks -- mom was an invalid at that point -- can we get some place for them to stay? It can be absolutely brutal sometimes. Thank you. (Applause)
PROFESSOR ROTHMAN: Well, I'm supposed to make some concluding comments here, and I'll try to make them as brief as possible, and then we'll, whoever of you are left who would care to have a discussion, we can certainly have a discussion.
Everybody's fleeing the podium when I start to talk, which is something I'm quite accustomed to at this stage of the game. Couple of things. First, I think what we've seen this afternoon and most of today and what has been clear for a long time and isn't often articulated in this way as Fred just demonstrated to us with great clarity is that Las Vegas is a great place if you don't have any weaknesses. And that I think is important.
The second thing we've seen over and over and over again is that we live in a state where we have private prosperity and public poverty. That is an ongoing feature of Nevada that effectively household income is above the national norm, people live well above the national norm, and our social service structure and infrastructure does not measure up to our level of household income, and I'm being generous when I say that. In almost every social service we've seen addressed here today, we are below the norms of states that are significantly less well off than we are, and that is a function of who we are as a state.
The third thing I think is pretty clear that part of us is driven by our history as a small state. Very few people [live here]. What we describe as our condition of self-reliant, but what truthfully is more than that. For a very, very long time, Nevada fancied itself as a place without institutions, apart from institutions, a place where you did not have to engage the modern world. As a result, we’ve built a very weak governmental structure you see all around you, day in and day out, that affects the delivery of state and local services on a regular basis. For the same reason, every time you turn the County Commission on on television, you see people granting variances for projects that change the nature of the development. It's the same reason why it was only after living here for almost 15 years that I first even noticed we had a state legislature. Sorry it was in the last session when they couldn't seem to make a decision. And it got to the point where I didn't care what they did, as long as they decided something before our bond rating got killed.
And so in effect we've got a situation where Nevada's traditions and Nevada's needs in the present and future no longer coincide. That our tradition of being effectively America's libertarian state, a place where your property is your property more than anywhere else, and where individuals are free to do as they please, worked just fine when there were 150,000 people here as late as 1950. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense when there are 2.4 million in the state and 1.7 million of them live in the county. What made that work was the fundamental tension that we heard described for us earlier. Nevada has both issues of demography and geography. Our demography is centralized, our geography is spread out. That doesn’t make us unique among American states by any stretch of the imagination, but when you add a weak governmental structure to it, it does make us at least aberrant in the United States.
And so the result of that is that we are faced with a situation where -- and we’ve heard people all day long make what I don't mean to sound uncharitable by calling special pleadings for their particular set of issues, whatever they are. But the most interesting thing about those is those are not pleadings that are often made in other places. Those are pleadings made in states like Arkansas and Mississippi, not states like Illinois. And the difference is that we are much more, in economic terms and increasingly in educational terms, and almost every other sense, a state more like Illinois than we are like Mississippi. Yet, our social services, our support social services at the State, County and local levels, remain that of the most backward American states.
With that, let me close and throw this open for comments, questions, thoughts. Please feel free to ask questions of any participants out here, other than me. And so, yes?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I had a question about the percentage of people in our jails. Is the transient nature of the population, the fact that people come here from other states to commit crimes, part of that, or is that just a small part of that?
MR. KOHN: I can't give you the exact numbers. I was on the podium with Howard Skolnick from the Department of Corrections, and I cannot give you the exact numbers, but I can tell you that 20 years ago, about 80 percent of our people in state prison were from other states. And it is completely the reverse right now. So that most people in our prison are people who lived in Nevada more than a couple of years. And that is a complete reversal of 20 years ago.
MS. LANDRETH: That's true for the prisons. I think it may be slightly less true for jails, but I think it's nonetheless true for the jails. We do not see a lot of [people from] out of state. And I will give you another example. For suicide, you may have remembered several years ago when our Attorney General used to say that the reason our suicide rate was so high was there were out-of-staters coming here to kill themselves. That turns out to be a very, very nominal number. Most of our criminal justice related problems are now local. [People] may have moved here, but they consider themselves to be local.
PROFESSOR ROTHMAN: Transience is a salient feature, and the backbone of almost every problem. And what transience tended to do, and I hold the City of Las Vegas proper up as an example of this, City of Las Vegas is now made up of 400,000 people. 280,000 people are the least positively affected by changes in the last 20 years. When you're see a native criminal population, that's what you're seeing it from is from the people not necessarily from the city of Las Vegas proper, but from people for whom the changes in the last 20 years have not given them the advantages. When we built this band of suburbs around the city, what we did is we butchered urban neighborhoods in the process, and that's a direct function of transience and the butchering of those neighborhoods is a contributor to the very circumstances I think you're describing.
MS. LANDRETH: I'd give just one example. Somebody in the School District says everybody who moves to Las Vegas moves as a result of a crisis. That's an overstatement, but what he's saying is that most of the kids that come into Clark County School District are in a mental health crisis when they move here, because they've been disrupted [by moving] from another home somewhere else. Their parents have probably failed a job and are moving here out of desperation, to get a low-paying job here and live in a pretty crummy place. So in that sense, yes, they're all -- they came from somewhere else, but they're ours now.
PROFESSOR ROTHMAN: We recycle people routinely from the scrap heap of economic history. That's part of Las Vegas' most basic function in post-industrial society to do that. The School District question is that I have been pressing people in the School District for a long time to do longitudinal study on kids in Las Vegas who start here in kindergarten and stay through 12th grade, and to see the degree to which they differ, if at all, from normal populations, and of course nobody's undertaken that because it's a -- at this point it's a much larger sample now than it would have been 10 years ago. It's still probably not a statistically significant sample. The fact is we do inherit other places' pathologies and we do have to deal with them and they do affect our numbers. That doesn't mean that we do a good job. It just means that's another part of the equation. Yes, ma'am?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: My question is for the doctor. Some feminists have called our society a rape culture. We seem to be in the belly of the beast of a rape culture. How do our rape statistics compare to other places, you know, since we have all these outlets, supposedly, that would cause rape to decrease. Is this true or not?
PROFESSOR HAUSBECK: I don't have them with me, so I can't give you the numbers, except to say that to the extent of my knowledge perusing the numbers, they're not significantly different [from the national figures]. And I don't say statistically significant, because they're not broadly different or notably different or higher or lower.
MR. KOHN: This is hard to say as a Public Defender, but I think we have to make people understand rape isn't a crime of sex, it's a crime of violence, and I don't think it matters what you make available. It's about violence and it's not about sex. I don't think it matters.
PROFESSOR ROTHMAN: Here's Dmitri coming up here to boot me off here.
PROFESSOR SHALIN: Well, it has been a very long and productive Friday. We've heard stories ranging from informative to touching to occasionally riveting, as far as I'm concerned. We're going to put it all together and create the first Social Health of Nevada Report. I will ask Governor Guinn to come over here -- indeed, he almost came here, but the emergency session, as you probably know, prevented him -- for the unveiling of the final report on social health of Nevada. I hope he will have something to say on the issues involved, where the legislature stands, and how his office might help.
Meanwhile, many thanks to all of you who found time on this Friday to be with us. Thanks to all the participants who are here, who presented their studies, and thanks also to College of Liberal Arts which helped to bring us together, as well as to Dean Morgan and the law school that provided us with these comfortable facilities. Thank you once again. Hope to see you a year from now. Our next forum is on the demeanor of democracy and civility in public discourse, [which will address] negative advertisement, exchanges between editors, and a few other items. I hope we'll have them here to talk with us.