News from the local media

Detective says people victimized by attorneys should seek criminal charges

By Carri Geer Thevenot

Posted: Mar. 25, 2011 | 2:06 a.m.

A Las Vegas police detective wants members of the public to pursue criminal charges if they suspect they have been victimized by their attorneys.
“They think their only recourse is to file complaints with the Nevada State Bar,” Detective James Downing said. …….


For visitors to Ely:
From the Ely Times:

Direct air service to McCarran International to begin May 15

Yeah. Vegas, baby! Great Lakes Airlines is scrapping its daily Denver flight and replacing it with a midday turnaround flight to Las Vegas McCarran International Airport.  That change is scheduled to begin May 15, Mike Coster, Yelland Field Airport manager, told the White Pine County Board of County Commissioners.

“Las Vegas?” a pleasantly surprised WPC Commission Chairman John Lampros asked. “That’s wonderful.”

For more of this story, click on or type the URL below:

Woman aims to prove innocence of brother, who died in prison

By Carri Geer Thevenot
Posted: Mar. 21, 2011

Nolan Klein died in a Carson City prison on Sept. 20, 2009, more than two decades after a jury convicted him of armed robbery and rape.
But that hasn’t stopped his sister from seeking justice for him.

Tonja Brown has shared her story with just about anybody who will listen.
She maintains a website,, and has helped write a book, “To Prove His Innocence.”

She has staged public protests. And most recently, she has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the state of Nevada.

“Had he received proper medical care, Nolan Klein would have received a new trial, and he would have been exonerated,” the Carson City woman said . “There’s no doubt about it.”

Brown, 50, filed the federal lawsuit in October in Reno and is seeking at least $1 million in damages.

According to an amended complaint, filed in January, her brother suffered from hemochromatosis, an inherited condition that causes the body to absorb too much iron.

“As a direct result of the negligence of the Nevada Department of Corrections, Nolan Klein lost his life and died an agonizing death without treatment and proper medication,” the document alleges.
Prison officials wouldn’t comment, but their lawyers denied the allegation in an answer to the amended complaint.

Brown is represented by Reno lawyers Robert Hager and Treva Hearne. In her lawsuit, Brown alleges the DNA evidence that could have cleared her brother in the rape case “was compromised while in the custody of the Washoe County evidence room.”

“This was a case of mistaken identity,” she said.
Klein was sentenced to life in prison for robbing a Payless ShoeSource in Sparks and raping the store manager at knifepoint. The crime occurred in May 1988.

Brown said Klein was living with her family in Carson City at the time, and his girlfriend was living in Reno with the couple’s infant son.
If Brown can easily recite all the details of Klein’s criminal case, so can Washoe County District Attorney Richard Gammick, who bristled when asked about it.

“I’ve been listening to her for 23 years,” Gammick said.
He then tersely recounted the history of the case, including all of Klein’s failed appeals and requests for parole.

“There is no doubt whatsoever that he was guilty,” Gammick said.
After becoming district attorney in 1995, Gammick said, he researched all the issues Brown had raised and “told her none of them held water.”

Brown chooses to believe in a “mass conspiracy,” the district attorney said.
When asked about Brown’s claims regarding DNA evidence in the case, Gammick said investigators had no DNA evidence to test. A cigarette butt collected as evidence “was never tied to the scene,” he said.

An attempt to ask follow-up questions was greeted with a dial tone. Gammick did not respond to a message left at his office after the call was disconnected.
According to Brown’s lawsuit, Klein “was condemned to death by incarceration because of the policy and practice of the Nevada State Department of Corrections in operating its prison facility and in punishing those inmates who are successful at litigation.”

Klein attended paralegal training while incarcerated and filed several complaints against the correctional system and the city of Sparks, according to Brown’s lawsuit, which said that some of his litigation succeeded.

Brown’s lawsuit further alleges that the state “refuses to provide reasonable medical care to its inmates proven by a recent history of unnatural deaths and suffering by inmates within the Nevada prison system litigated by the American Civil Liberties Union.”

The ACLU of Nevada filed a class-action lawsuit against the state in 2008 after the organization’s doctor, William Noel, met with and studied the records of 35 inmates at Ely State Prison.

Noel called the care for inmates “the most shocking and callous disregard for human life and human suffering” he had encountered in the medical profession.
The ACLU of Nevada received $325,000 in legal fees when the case settled last year.

This month, the organization released a 68-page report titled “Not Fit For Human Consumption or Habitation: Nevada’s Prisons in Crisis.”
The report claims overcrowding and understaffing are preventing Nevada prisons from meeting the basic human needs of those they incarcerate.

Read the rest here.

Carson City probation officer charged with using position to get women to undress :: The Republic

Carson City probation officer charged with using position to get women to undress :: The Republic

Last Updated: March 19, 2011

CARSON CITY, Nev. — A probation officer has been charged with using his position and the threat of jail to get women to undress and to inappropriately touch them.

The 22-count complaint was filed Friday against Aaron Lewis by the Nevada attorney general’s office, the Nevada Appeal of Carson City and Reno Gazette-Journal reported. The 35-year-old is accused of getting women to undress and touching their private parts either under the threat of arrest or a promise to keep their violations to himself.

The Carson City Justice Court complaint charged him with misconduct of a public officer, coercion using physical force, open or gross lewdness, and oppression under color of office.

The claims stem from six alleged victims — all but one under his supervision — during incidents that occurred at their homes, the courthouse or his official vehicle.

Lewis told The Associated Press on Saturday that he couldn’t comment on the charges. He referred queries to his attorney, Larry Digesti, who did not immediately return a call.

Most of the young women were being supervised for drug convictions, and had told family about incidents that allegedly occurred between May and September, according to an arrest affidavit.

Lewis began working for the Carson City Department of Alternative Sentencing in April 2009. He previously worked for the Nevada Department of Corrections and as a Lyon County sheriff’s deputy.

Read the rest here.

Officials say inmate medical costs rising

From: NECN
March 11, 2011

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — A rash of broken jaws and an aging prison population have driven up medical costs across the Nevada prison system, state correctional officials told a panel of lawmakers Friday.

Greg Cox, acting director of the Department of Corrections, and Deputy Director Jeff Mohlenkamp told an Assembly Ways and Means and Senate Finance subcommittee that they’ve seen a spike in inmate-on-inmate violence that resulted in injuries, including broken jaws. They were unable to say how many.

The topic came up as legislators sifted through the Department of Corrections budget requests for the next two years.

Besides emergency medical care for injuries, Cox said

The system is struggling with costs for prisoners between the ages of 60 and 65. For this age group, the department estimates costs hover around $4,000 a year, a significant difference from the estimated $1,000 per year it costs for inmates 30 and under.

From 2009 to 2010, information provided by the department showed total inmate medical costs jumped from roughly $11 million to $14 million.

Don Helling, deputy director for correctional programs, said aging population costs go beyond treating illnesses or conditions and include additional burdens like those linked with dietary restrictions, a need that translates into providing special food as well as supervision to ensure the right food gets to the right inmate.

Friday’s budget discussion also addressed Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposal to shutter aging Nevada State Prison in Carson City. Cox said High Desert State Prison in Indian Springs is particularly suited to taking on the displaced prisoners because it has two buildings ready to accept new inmates and offers modern facilities that would make monitoring inmate activity easier and more effective.

Read the rest here.

Bill would create ombudsman in Nevada AG’s office to hear inmate’s complaints

By: Deb Weinstein, Associated Press, in: The Republic (Columbus, IN)
March 08, 2011

CARSON CITY, Nev. — A state Senate committee heard testimony Tuesday favoring the appointment of an ombudsman to hear complaints from prison inmates, though some questioned whether it’s affordable given Nevada’s budget crisis.

Citing class-action lawsuits and accounts of abuse within the state prison system, Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, and Rebecca Gasca from the American Civil Liberties Union spoke in favor of SB201 at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

The proposal would empower an independent ombudsman within the Nevada attorney general’s office to vet inmate complaints and determine whether they should be pursued or disregarded. It would protect prisoners from retaliation for filing complaints and require the ombudsmen to report regularly on the complaints received and reviewed.

Parks said such accountability would lift the cloud that seems to hang over the Department of Corrections concerning allegations of abusive treatments and other accusations. He noted costly lawsuits and settlements, such as a recent lawsuit over inadequate medical care at Ely State Prison that cost over $800,000.

Gasca said the ACLU supports the measure because of a history of lawsuits and what she called an overwhelming number of requests from inmates for help.

She said an ombudsman charged with ensuring proper medical and dental care could also drive down medical costs by keeping inmates healthy.

Although the concept of an ombudsman received support from Sens. Don Gustavson, R-Sparks, and Allison Copening, D-Las Vegas, questions about the budget dominated concerns from opponents.

Greg Cox, acting director of the Department of Corrections, said he opposes the bill because it would require the state to meet costly standards that would have a huge fiscal impact.

Read the rest here.

We hope it is still possible to call the legislators about passing the Bill. Or does Nevada really want to be known for its inhumane prison conditions and suffering? Is there no money for human rights?

From KTNV: ESP: Officials: Prison administrator attacked by inmate

Officials: Prison administrator attacked by inmate – KTNV ABC,Channel 13

Updated: Mar 08, 2011 5:40 AM

ELY, Nev. (AP) — A Nevada state prison official says an administrator at the maximum-security prison in Ely was attacked and critically injured in a kitchen scuffle with an inmate.

State prisons spokesman Kevin Ingram in Las Vegas told The Associated Press the attack occurred after noon Monday in a kitchen pantry.

Read the rest here.

This is a very sad and bad event. The prison is on `lockdown`, according to the article, but ESP was on lockdown already for years, except for one or two units.

Of course we do not know the whole story.

Let´s hope it will not be used as an excuse to secure more restrictions, but that it is the start of making the place much safer for workers and prisoners alike. We hope an independent investigation will tell us why this happened and what can be done to ensure safety for all, and prevent other attacks from happening by constructing a humane and safe environment for all.

Constructive programs would be one part of helping stop mounting frustration from happening. Overcrowding is another issue that needs to be stopped. Medical care needs to be given. It seems clear that the extreme restrictions at ESP are not working to prevent these tragedies from happening.
We hope for healing and better conditions for all.

Prisoner at Ely Denied Surgery – Now Barely Able to Walk


Submitted by Rahul Sharma on Thu, 03/10/2011

On March 5th, the ACLU of Nevada submitted a friend -of-the-court brief in support of John Snow, an elderly man at Ely State Prison who has been repeatedly denied hip surgery, and who, as a result, is now barely able to walk and has severely damaged kidneys.

In September of 2006, Mr. Snow saw an orthopedist retained by the Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC), who diagnosed him with severe degenerative arthritis of the hips. Four months later, at a follow-up appointment, the orthopedist wrote that Mr. Snow could “barely walk” and that “[t]here is no option here other than surgery for relief.” NDOC denied surgery at least three times, despite urgent recommendations and a finding that the medications Mr. Snow needs to manage his hip pain are toxic to his kidneys. As of this date, Mr. Snow still has not had surgery.

In January of 2008, Mr. Snow filed a lawsuit alleging, among other things, that NDOC officials had been deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. In preparations for trial, a former nurse at the prison testified that one doctor said of Mr. Snow, “This guy’s an asshole. I’m not going to treat him.” Evidence also showed that in response to one of Mr. Snow’s medical requests, a physician’s assistant wrote that he was “gonna let [Mr. Snow] suffer.” (The physician’s assistant now asserts that his response to Mr. Snow was meant to be “tongue-in-cheek.”)

The ACLU of Nevada argues in its brief that Mr. Snow’s case should be allowed to go to trial, as there is ample evidence for a jury to find that prison officials were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs.
Unfortunately, Mr. Snow’s circumstance is only a symptom of the prison crisis recently discussed in our report, Not Fit for Human Consumption or Habitation: Nevada’s Prisons in Crisis. Medical care at Ely State Prison, the same prison in Mr. Snow’s case, was also the subject of a 2008 class action lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Nevada and the ACLU’s National Prison Project. The lawsuit charged that a pattern of grossly inadequate medical care at the facility created a substantial risk of serious harm for every prisoner incarcerated there.

The ACLU of Nevada hopes Mr. Snow can find redress in the courts for the inhumane treatment he has suffered. It also hopes that NDOC and the Nevada Legislature will work to keep future cases like this from happening.

Inmate attacks nurse in second incident this week

From: Nevada Appeal
March 10, 2011

Prison officials are investigating the second case of an inmate assaulting staff this week following Tuesday’s attack on a nurse at Northern Nevada Correctional Center in Carson City.

Public Information Officer Kevin Ingram said the 67-year-old female nurse was struck in the face and neck by an inmate in the acute mental health unit. She was transported to Carson Tahoe Regional Healthcare where she was treated and released.

The inspector general’s office was conducting the investigation of the assault.

Neither the nurse’s or inmate’s name were released.

In the first attack Monday, the culinary manager at Ely State Prison was severely injured when an inmate hit him on the head with a metal steam kettle paddle. Steve Roundy was transported to the University of Utah Hospital Monday with serious head injuries.

Gene Columbus of the Nevada Correctional Association said the problem is the limited staffing.

In the case of the nurse’s assault, he said that inmate has a history of attacking staff and women.

“They were made aware of the circumstances in that particular unit and failed to act — bottom line,” said Columbus.

He said there have been other incidents recently as well, including a confrontation with more than a dozen inmates at the Lovelock prison.

“We can’t continue doing business this way,” he said.

Please call the Legislative Hotline and tell them you support SB 201 – Ombudsman for NDOC

To One and All:

Starting on Monday, please call the legislative hotline and tell them that you support SB 201. For every call received it will be distributed to the members of the Legislature and one phone call will count for 20 constituents votes.

This is the Ombudsman bill that will benefit the inmates as well as the taxpayers. It will give the inmates a voice and at the same time it will reduce the lawsuits that are being filed by inmates, thereby, saving the taxpayers money.

Here is the phone 1-800-992-0973. In the Las Vegas area. 486-2626

Thank you,
Tonja Brown


FEBRUARY 28, 2011


Referred to Committee on Judiciary

SUMMARY—Revises provisions relating
institutions. (BDR 16-827)

FISCAL NOTE: Effect on Local Government: No.
Effect on the State: Yes.

EXPLANATION – Matter in bolded italics is new; matter between brackets [omitted material] is material to be omitted.

AN ACT relating to correctional institutions; establishing an Ombudsman for Offenders to receive and process complaints by offenders and certain other persons;
establishing the powers and duties of the Ombudsman;
requiring the Ombudsman to adopt regulations relating to the processing of such complaints; requiring the Ombudsman to make certain reports to the Department of Corrections, the Legislature and the Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice; requiring the Director of the Department to adopt regulations which comply with certain standards; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.

Legislative Counsel’s Digest:
Section 7 of this bill creates the Office of the Ombudsman for Offenders within
the Office of the Attorney General.

Section 8 of this bill grants the Attorney General the power to appoint and
remove the Ombudsman for Offenders.

Section 9 of this bill sets forth the powers of the Ombudsman.

Sections 10 and 11 of this bill specify the accounting and use of money
collected by the Ombudsman.

Section 12 of this bill directs the Ombudsman to establish regulations
governing the receipt, processing and reporting of complaints from Legislators,
offenders and family members of offenders and from the Ombudsman.

Sections 13 and 17 of this bill specify the responsibilities of the Ombudsman
concerning the processing and reporting of complaints and actions taken in
response to the complaints.

Section 14 of this bill requires the Ombudsman to notify certain persons of the
Ombudsman’s decision regarding the processing of a complaint.

Section 15 of this bill makes confidential certain information relating to
complaints, reports and recommendations.

Section 16 of this bill requires the Ombudsman to prepare and submit a
biennial report for the Department of Corrections, the Legislature and the Advisory
Commission on the Administration of Justice.

Section 18 of this bill prohibits the penalizing of an offender for certain acts
relating to complaints and prohibits the hindrance of the Ombudsman in performing
the duties of office.

Section 19 of this bill provides that the authority of the Ombudsman is not
exclusive of other available remedies.
Existing law requires the Director of the Department to protect the health and
safety of the staff and offenders in the institutions and facilities of the Department.

(NRS 209.131) Section 20 of this bill requires the Director to establish regulations which comply with the standards set by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care to govern staff training in medical emergency response and reporting.

Existing law also requires the Director to establish standards for the personal
hygiene of offenders and for the medical and dental services at correctional
institutions and facilities. (NRS 209.381) Section 21 of this bill requires those
standards to comply with standards set by the National Commission on
Correctional Health Care.


Section 1. Chapter 209 of NRS is hereby amended by adding
thereto the provisions set forth as sections 2 to 19, inclusive, of this

Sec. 2. As used in sections 2 to 19, inclusive, of this act,
unless the context otherwise requires, the words and terms defined
in sections 3 to 6, inclusive, of this act have the meanings ascribed
to them in those sections.

Sec. 3. “Administrative act” includes an action, omission,
decision, recommendation, practice or other procedure of the

Sec. 4. “Complainant” means a Legislator, an offender or a family member of an offender who files a complaint as described in section 12 of this act.

Sec. 5. “Official” means the Director, a deputy director, manager, warden or employee of the Department.

Sec. 6. “Ombudsman” means the Ombudsman for Offenders.

Sec. 7. The Office of the Ombudsman for Offenders is
hereby created within the Office of the Attorney General.

Sec. 8. 1. The Attorney General shall appoint the
Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is in the unclassified service of the
State. The person appointed:
(a) Must be knowledgeable in the field of corrections; and
(b) Must be independent of the Department.
2. The Attorney General may remove the Ombudsman from
office for inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance in office.

Sec. 9. The Ombudsman may:
1. Employ such staff as is necessary to carry out the duties and functions of his or her office, in accordance with the personnel practices and procedures established within the Attorney General’s Office. The Ombudsman has sole discretion to employ and remove any member of his or her staff.
2. Purchase necessary equipment.
3. Lease or make other suitable arrangements for office space, but any lease which extends beyond the term of 1 year must be reviewed and approved by a majority of the members of the State Board of Examiners.
4. Perform such other functions and make such other arrangements as may be necessary to carry out the duties and functions of his or her office.
Sec. 10. 1. All money collected by the Ombudsman must be deposited with the State Treasurer for credit to the Account for the Ombudsman for Offenders, which is hereby created.

2. Money in the Account may be used:
(a) To defray the costs of maintaining the Office of the
Ombudsman; or
(b) For any other purpose authorized by the Legislature.
3. All claims against the Account must be paid as other
claims against the State are paid.

Sec. 11. All gifts and grants of money which the
Ombudsman is authorized to accept must be deposited with the
State Treasurer for credit to the Account for the Ombudsman for

Sec. 12. The Ombudsman shall, by regulation, establish procedures for receiving, processing and reporting complaints from a Legislator, an offender or a family member of an offender and for processing and reporting allegations personally known to the Ombudsman concerning:
1. An administrative act which is alleged to be contrary to law
or a policy of the Department; or

2. Significant issues relating to the health or safety of
offenders and other matters for which there is no effective
administrative remedy.

Sec. 13. 1. The Ombudsman shall advise a complainant to pursue all administrative remedies that are available to the complainant. The Ombudsman may request and shall receive from the Department a progress report concerning the administrative processing of a complaint. After the Department has taken administrative action on a complaint, the Ombudsman may process and report a complaint on the request of a complainant or
on his or her own initiative.

2. The Ombudsman is not required to process or report a complaint brought before the Ombudsman. A person is not entitled as a right to have his or her complaint processed or reported by the Ombudsman.

Sec. 14. After the Ombudsman receives a complaint from a Legislator, an offender or a family member of an offender as described in section 12 of this act and decides to process the complaint, the Ombudsman shall notify the complainant, the offender or offenders affected and the Department. If the
Ombudsman declines to process the complaint, the Ombudsman shall notify the complainant in writing and inform the offender or offenders affected of the reasons for the Ombudsman’s decision.

Sec. 15. 1. Correspondence between the Ombudsman and an offender is confidential and must be processed as privileged correspondence in the same manner as letters between offenders and courts, attorneys or public officials.

2. The Ombudsman shall keep confidential all matters relating to a complaint and the identities of the complainants or persons from whom information is acquired, except so far as disclosures may be necessary to enable the Ombudsman to perform the duties of the office and to support any
recommendations resulting from the processing of a complaint.

3. A report prepared and recommendations made by the Ombudsman and submitted pursuant to section 16 of this act are exempt from disclosure under chapter 239 of NRS.

Sec. 16. 1. For each regular session of the Legislature, the Ombudsman shall prepare a report on:
(a) The conduct of the Office of the Ombudsman for
(b) Complaints processed by the Ombudsman; and
(c) Findings resulting from those complaints if the
Ombudsman finds:
(1) A matter that should be considered by the Department;

(2) An administrative act that should be modified or cancelled;
(3) A statute or regulation that should be altered;
(4) An administrative act for which justification is necessary;
(5) Significant issues relating to the health or safety of offenders; or
(6) Any other significant concerns as set forth by regulation.

2. The report must be submitted not later than September 1 of each even-numbered year to the Department and the Director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau for distribution to the Legislature and the Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice.

3. Subject to section 17 of this act, the Legislature may forward all or part of a report prepared and submitted pursuant to this section to the complainant or the offender or offenders affected.

Sec. 17. 1. Before publishing a finding or recommendation that expressly or by implication criticizes a person or the Department, the Ombudsman must consult with that person or the Department.

2. When publishing a finding adverse to the Department or any person, the Ombudsman shall include in that publication a statement of reasonable length made to the Ombudsman by the Department or person in defense or mitigation of the action, if that statement is provided within a reasonable period of time as specified by regulation.

3. The Ombudsman may request to be notified by the Department, within a specified period of time, of any action taken on a recommendation.

4. The Ombudsman shall notify a complainant of actions relating to the complaint taken by the Office of the Ombudsman and the Department.

Sec. 18. 1. An offender must not be penalized in any way by an official or the Department for filing a complaint, complaining to a Legislator or cooperating with the Ombudsman in researching a complaint.
2. A person or the Department shall not:
(a) Hinder the lawful actions of the Ombudsman or employees
of the Office of the Ombudsman; or
(b) Willfully refuse to comply with lawful demands of the

Sec. 19. The authority granted the Ombudsman pursuant to sections 2 to 19, inclusive, of this act:
1. Is in addition to the authority granted under:

(a) The provisions of any other act or rule under which the remedy or right of appeal or objection is provided for a person; or (b) Any procedure provided for the inquiry into or investigation of any other matter.

2. Shall not be:
(a) Construed to limit or affect the remedy or right of appeal or
objection; or
(b) Deemed part of an exclusionary process.
Sec. 20. NRS 209.131 is hereby amended to read as follows:
209.131 The Director shall:
1. Administer the Department under the direction of the Board.
2. Supervise the administration of all institutions and facilities
of the Department.
3. Receive, retain and release, in accordance with law,
offenders sentenced to imprisonment in the state prison.

4. Be responsible for the supervision, custody, treatment, care,
security and discipline of all offenders under his or her jurisdiction.

5. Ensure that any person employed by the Department whose
primary responsibilities are:
(a) The supervision, custody, security, discipline, safety and
transportation of an offender;
(b) The security and safety of the staff; and
(c) The security and safety of an institution or facility of the
Department, is a correctional officer who has the powers of a peace officer
pursuant to subsection 1 of NRS 289.220.

6. Establish regulations with the approval of the Board and enforce all laws governing the administration of the Department and the custody, care and training of offenders.

7. Take proper measures to protect the health and safety of the staff and offenders in the institutions and facilities of the Department [.] , including, without limitation, establishing regulations, with the approval of the Board, which comply with standards set by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care to govern staff training in medical emergency response and

8. Cause to be placed from time to time in conspicuous places about each institution and facility copies of laws and regulations relating to visits and correspondence between offenders and others.

9. Provide for the holding of religious services in the institutions and facilities and make available to the offenders copies of appropriate religious materials.

Sec. 21. NRS 209.381 is hereby amended to read as follows:
209.381 1. Each offender in an institution or facility of the Department must be provided a healthful diet and appropriate, sanitary housing.

2. The Director with the approval of the Board shall establish standards which comply with standards set by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care for personal hygiene of offenders and for the medical and dental services of each institution or facility.

Report ACLU: Nevada’s Prisons in Crisis: Not fit for Human Consumption or Habitation

Well done ACLU, we are glad you did not abandon the prisoners after that lawsuit about medical care.

Via 8 News Now, on March 4th, 2011

LAS VEGAS — Inmates forced to eat meat labeled “not for human consumption” and pregnant prisoners being shackled. Those are just two of the claims made in a report by the American civil liberties union which describes Nevada’s prisons as being in crisis. The Nevada Department of Corrections is calling the allegations offensive.

The Nevada Department of Corrections disagrees with the claims made in a new report by the ACLU on Nevada’s prisons.

It says federal and state courts have determined many of these claims made by prisoners are frivolous and without merit. But the ACLU of Nevada still maintains people doing hard time in Nevada are forced to stay in crisis conditions.

Overcrowded, understaffed and under funded. That’s the way the ACLU of Nevada describes Nevada’s state prisons.

“You either need to provide them their basic need, which is going to cost money, or start reducing the prison population,” said Rebecca Paddock, author of the ACLU-NV Report.

At the William Boyd S. School of Law Thursday evening Paddock presented her paper.
Paddock reviewed laws, analyzed government audits, visited prisons, met with inmates, and read stacks of prisoner complaints. The report found inmates are locked up too long and conditions in Nevada prisons violate state, federal, and international human rights laws.

“We’re not saying that inmates are entitled to some high standard of living. What we’re talking about, basic human needs, just the bare minimum, and right now, those needs aren’t being met,” said Paddock.
Described in the report are unsanitary medical areas, dirty cells and showers.

“When I went to visit the women’s prison, they were talking about how the showers are rampant with black mold,” said Paddock.

A shocking claim found in the report inmates at all the facilities claim the label on meat served in prisons said “not for human consumption.” Also alleged was the shackling of pregnant inmates.
“The department has said that they don’t engage in the practice, but we’ve received complaints and heard anecdotal stories from women in prison that this happening, and that’s a serious concern,” said Maggie McLetchie, Legal Director, ACLU of Nevada.

They hope the state legislature changes the law to improve life behind bars.

“No one is saying that we expect prison to be the Waldorf Astoria, but under the constitution and international human rights standards, we do have to provide people with decent basic standards of living,” said McLetchie.
Among the policy recommendations made to reduce Nevada’s prison population by releasing non-violent offenders, and also oversight of the department of corrections. To read the full ACLU-NV report click here.

The Nevada Department of Corrections strongly disagreed with the report in a statement sent to 8 News Now Thursday night. “We disagree with the conclusions of this presentation and are quite skeptical as to the basis of these allegations. It appears much of the data the ACLU relies on is skewed and anecdotal which presents a distorted view of the NDOC,” said spokesperson for the Nevada department of corrections.

The statement goes on to say, “The NDOC is not committing human rights violations and it is offensive to suggest otherwise. The NDOC is continually working to provide constitutional care to over 12,000 inmates on a daily basis.”