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Swing state Democrats reduced criminal penalties, weakened parole laws ahead of attack on Las Vegas judge

Democrats in the swing state of Nevada pushed through legislation aimed at reducing the state’s prison population that reduced criminal penalties and weakened parole laws long before last week’s attack on a Las Vegas judge by a man with an extensive criminal history.

In 2019, the Democrat-led Nevada legislature passed AB 236, which reduced penalties for domestic violence offenders, made it harder to classify individuals as “habitual offenders” and weakened parole laws. 

Although the bill passed with some bipartisan support, Democrats have since sought to block efforts by Republicans, led by Gov. Joe Lombardo, to reverse some of the changes resulting from the bill.

Some of those changes would likely have applied to 30-year-old Deobra Redden, who launched himself at Clark County District Judge Mary Kay Holthus at a sentencing hearing during which she denied his attorney’s request Redden be sentenced to probation in an attempted battery case.

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According to KLAS, Las Vegas’ local CBS affiliate, Redden was previously released in November after pleading guilty to attempted battery with substantial bodily harm. Additionally, his extensive arrest history dating back more than a decade includes three felony convictions and nine misdemeanor convictions.

His felony convictions include attempted theft in 2015, battery with substantial bodily harm in 2018 and battery constituting violence in 2021. 

His misdemeanor convictions include assault causing bodily injury to a family member in 2012, three domestic battery convictions in 2013, attempted theft in 2014, more battery charges in 2016 and 2018, another domestic battery charge in 2021 and a destruction of property charge last year.

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Redden was sentenced to 45 days in jail for the 2012 conviction. He was sentenced to anger management classes and two months in jail and ordered to pay a fine for the 2013 convictions. 

He was sentenced to probation for the 2014 conviction, which he violated on multiple occasions before entering a court mental health program, and probation again in 2018, before a judge honorably discharged him in 2020 and 2021.

In the 2021 conviction, Redden was sentenced to 12 to 30 months in prison but was granted parole in 2022.

Redden was also charged with attempted home invasion and destroying the property of another person in 2021 and pleaded guilty last year but was released by Holthus without having to pay bail.

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He was sentenced by Holthus last February to a year of probation, which he violated in October and was ordered to serve 106 days in jail.

“By passing laws like AB 236, Nevada Democrats put the interests of criminals ahead of protecting Nevada families and officials,” said John Burke, spokesperson of Better Nevada PAC, a group with close ties to Lombardo that has been sharply critical of Democrats blocking attempts to change the law.

“By opening the door to reduced penalties for domestic violence, easing parole laws for offenders and changing the definition for ‘habitual offenders,’ Democrats have made it harder to keep individuals like the man who attacked Judge Holthus behind bars. We can’t trust them to keep us safe,” Burke added.

As a massive criminal justice reform bill, AB 236 changed the definition of a “habitual defender” from someone convicted twice to someone convicted five times, something that would likely affect Redden’s journey through the Nevada justice system.

According to the bill, parole and probation violations qualify as “technical violations” and are considered less serious. It also authorizes judges to suspend domestic violence offenders’ sentences after they meet mandatory minimum confinement periods with the stipulation they undergo substance abuse and domestic violence counseling programs.

 

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