by Brandon Summers | August 7, 2022
The Clark County Commission is adamant about clearing the streets of indigent/homeless people. First, they tried to let law enforcement deal with it by turning pedestrian bridges into crosswalks (that failed, thankfully). Now, they’re leaving it up to judges to decide the fate of folks convicted of a crime. On August 2, 2022 the County Commission voted unanimously to pass an ordinance that could allow a judge to ban anyone from the strip if they are convicted of a crime. The county code was originally worded to address crimes related to prostitution and drug activity, but it was amended to include all crimes. Order-out sentences are routine at the Community Impact Court— usually terms of 30 to 90 days. Defendants of misdemeanor crimes can opt-in to the program; and in exchange for staying away from The Strip (or at least out of contact with law enforcement in that area), the citation will be dismissed. The problem with this strategy is that defendants are essentially pleading guilty at first and then later having that conviction reversed into a dismissal. Why plead guilty when you’re not?
With this new ordinance, the discretion of how long someone is to stay clear of the Strip is left up to the judge. I can definitely see abuse of these expanded powers with judges sentencing unhoused individuals away from the resort corridor for long periods of time; and ultimately, these same individuals can do jail time if they violate the terms. I envision most of the dirt being done away from the public eye at the Community Impact Court, where members of the public are not permitted to observe court proceedings.
The ACLU of Nevada said this ordinance could disproportionately hurt street performers and homeless people. They are correct and it would be in their best interest to avoid pleading guilty to convictions.
Brandon Summers is a Las Vegas native, violinist, street performer, and advocate for spontaneous, unlicensed performance in public spaces. Summers has been busking for over ten years and has performed for Ciroc, Hudson Jeans, Netflix, JBL-Harman and many more. He is a graduate of Fort Valley State University where he majored in mathematics and holds BA in liberal studies.