America’s 10 Worst Prisons: Ely State Prison makes it to the Dishonorable Mentions (top 17)

America’s 10 Worst Prisons: Dishonorable Mentions
7 runners-up, from a “gladiator school” to America’s largest death row.

By James Ridgeway and Jean Casella
Wed May. 15, 2013, in:  Mother Jones Magazine

#1: ADX (federal supermax)
#2: Allan B. Polunsky Unit (Texas)
#3: Tent City Jail (Phoenix)
#4: Orleans Parish (Louisiana)
#5: LA County Jail (Los Angeles)
#6: Pelican Bay (California)
#7: Julia Tutwiler (Alabama)
#8: Reeves Country Detention Complex (Texas)
#9: Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility (Mississippi)
#10: Rikers Island (New York City)

Read the complete introduction to our 10 Worst Prisons project.
Last of 11 parts.

Serving time in prison is not supposed to be pleasant. Nor, however, is it supposed to include being raped by fellow prisoners or staff, beaten by guards for the slightest provocation, driven mad by long-term solitary confinement, or killed off by medical neglect. These are the fates of thousands of prisoners every year—men, women, and children housed in lockups that give Gitmo and Abu Ghraib a run for their money.

While there’s plenty of blame to go around, and while not all of the facilities described in this series have all of the problems we explore, some stand out as particularly bad actors. These dishonorable mentions make up the final installment of our 11-part series, a subjective ranking based on three years of research, correspondence with prisoners, and interviews with reform advocates concerning the penal facilities with the grimmest claims to infamy.

Attica Correctional Facility (Attica, New York): More than four decades after its famous uprising, New York’s worst state prison still lives up to its brutal history. According to the Correctional Association of New York, which has a legislative mandate to track prison conditions, Attica is plagued by staff-on-prisoner violence, intimidation, and sexual abuse.

Communications Management Units (Marion, Illinois, and Terre Haute, Indiana): These two federal prisons-within-prisons, whose populations are more than two-thirds Muslim, were opened secretly by the Bureau of Prisons during the Bush administration, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is challenging the facilities in a federal lawsuit. “The Bureau claims that CMUs are designed to hold dangerous terrorists and other high-risk inmates, requiring heightened monitoring of their external and internal communications,” notes a lawsuit fact sheet. “Many prisoners, however, are sent to these isolation units for their constitutionally protected religious beliefs, unpopular political views, or in retaliation for challenging poor treatment or other rights violations in the federal prison system.” (Also see: Pelican Bay.)

Ely State Prison (Ely, Nevada): A “shocking and callous disregard for human life” is how an auditor described medical care at Ely, which houses the state’s death row along with other maximum security prisoners (PDF). The audit, which found that one prisoner was allowed to rot to death from gangrene, formed the basis of a 2008 class-action lawsuit brought by the ACLU’s National Prison Project. The suit was settled in 2010, but by 2012 the prison still was not in full compliance.

Idaho Correctional Center (Kuna, Idaho): Run by Corrections Corporation of America, the world’s largest private prison company, ICC has been dubbed a “gladiator school” for its epidemic of gang violence. According to a lawsuit filed in 2010 by the ACLU of Idaho (PDF), the violence is not only condoned but actively promoted by the staff. The suit was settled, but last November, the ACLU said CCA appeared to be violating the agreement, which called for increased staffing and training, reporting of assaults to the local sheriff’s office, and disciplinary measures for staffers who didn’t take steps to stop or prevent assaults.

San Quentin State Prison (Marin County, California): This decrepit prison, which sits on a $2 billion piece of bayside real estate, is home to America’s largest death row. As of late-April, there were 711 men and 20 women condemned to die at San Quentin—you can find the latest stats here (PDF); the figure is constantly changing, despite a state moratorium on executions, because prisoners frequently die of illness or old age. Some even commit suicide rather than remain in solitary limbo.

Louisiana State Penitentiary (Angola, Louisiana): At America’s largest prison, those who embrace warden Burl Cain’s pet program of “moral rehabilitation” through Christianity are afforded privileges while sinners languish in institutional hell. A former slave plantation, the prison lends its name to the so-called Angola 3, two of whom have been held in solitary for 40 years, largely for their perceived political beliefs. (In March, Louisiana’s attorney general declared, bafflingly, that the men had “never been in solitary confinement.”)

The federal pen at Lewisburg.
United States Penitentiary (Lewisburg, Pennsylvania): In this overcrowded supermax, the target of multiple lawsuits, prisoners are locked down for 23 to 24 hours a day in the company of a cellmate. One lawsuit alleges that prison officials deliberately pair people with their enemies, and that this practice has led to at least two deaths. The suit also claims that prisoners have been strapped to their bunks with four-point restraints if they resist their cell assignments.

Research for this project was supported by a grant from the Investigative Fund and The Nation Institute, as well as a Soros Justice Media Fellowship from the Open Society Foundations. Additional reporting by Beth Broyles, Valeria Monfrini, Katie Rose Quandt, and Sal Rodriguez.
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Prisoner at Ely Denied Surgery – Now Barely Able to Walk

ACLU NV:

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.
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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.

ACLU Agrees To Settle Lawsuit Charging Inadequate Medical Care At Ely State Prison


ACLUNV

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Nevada late yesterday filed in federal court a proposed agreement between a class of over 1,000 prisoners at Ely State Prison and top state prison and governmental officials that would settle a 2008 lawsuit charging that a pervasive pattern of grossly inadequate medical care at the prison created a substantial risk of serious medical harm for every prisoner in the facility.

The agreement, if approved by the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, would result in an independent medical expert being appointed to monitor the prison’s health care system and submit regular reports evaluating prison officials’ compliance with specified medical requirements in the agreement. As part of the agreement, prison officials have agreed to build a better system of ensuring that necessary medications are provided to prisoners in a timely manner, develop health care treatment plans for any prisoners suffering from a chronic illness requiring ongoing medical care and provide prisoners with access to qualified medical staff seven days a week for any routine or emergency medical ailments.

“Nevada officials deserve credit for being willing to address medical care at Ely proactively,” said Amy Fettig, staff attorney with the ACLU National Prison Project. “Rather than spend years and years in costly litigation, both parties decided to sit down to collaborate on a solution. The result is vastly improved medical conditions for the prisoners at Ely.”

Additionally, prison officials have agreed to institute daily rounds by a nurse to pick up any medical request forms – ensuring that all prisoners have a confidential means of requesting medical care – and provide access to a registered nurse or higher level practitioner within 48 hours of a prisoner requesting medical attention.
“The reforms that prison officials have agreed to will go a long way toward fixing a very broken system,” said Lee Rowland, staff attorney with the ACLU of Nevada. “We brought this lawsuit in response to widespread evidence of unconstitutional medical conditions for Ely prisoners, and we are pleased that working collaboratively with the Attorney General’s office and the Department of Corrections has led to the resolution of some of the most pressing issues at Ely.”

The lawsuit contains three named plaintiffs, including 38-year-old David Riker, who alleged at the time the lawsuit was filed that despite his rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis, he had never received prescribed medications and X-rays ordered by an outside physician and was told by Ely medical staff that treating chronic pain is against the policy of the prison.

Lawyers on the case include Fettig, Rowland, Maggie McLetchie of the ACLU of Nevada and Steve Hanlon of Holland & Knight, LLC.

Information about the ACLU’s efforts to improve medical conditions at the Ely State Prison, including a copy of today’s settlement agreement, is available online at: www.aclu.org/ely


The settlement can be opened here (PDF).

LA Times: Court settlement would upgrade Nevada prison’s medical care

The ACLU negotiates a deal that includes better staffing and monitoring of treatment that one doctor called ‘shocking and callous.’

By Ashley Powers, Los Angeles Times
July 16, 2010
Reporting from Las Vegas —

A Nevada prison’s medical care — once described as displaying a “shocking and callous disregard for human life” — would be upgraded and monitored under a proposed court settlement filed Thursday.

An independent monitor would ensure that the remote maximum-security prison, which houses Nevada’s death row inmates, was dispensing medication and treatment in a timely manner, creating treatment plans for chronically ill inmates and had qualified medical staff available at all times, according to the proposal.

The monitor would inspect the 1,100-inmate Ely State Prison at least four times over two years. Should medical care fall short, the duration of his oversight could be extended, the proposal said.

The agreement, which still requires the approval of federal Judge Larry R. Hicks, was crafted by the ACLU, which represented Ely inmates, and state officials.

The ACLU cited a 2007 report by an Idaho doctor who, after reviewing the medical records of 35 inmates, said the Ely prison’s healthcare system amounted to “the most shocking and callous disregard for human life and human suffering that I have ever encountered.”

At the time, the men’s prison had no staff doctor; the previous one had been a gynecologist. A nurse was fired after complaining about shoddy treatment, which she said led to one inmate dying of gangrene.

Under the proposed agreement, cash-strapped Nevada would also pay $325,000 in attorney fees and any costs of improving the prison’s healthcare.

Lee Rowland of the ACLU said the plan resulted from “extensive cooperation” with the state. Partly based on National Commission on Correctional Health Care standards, it could help patch what she described as a “very broken system.” State officials declined to comment.

… read more:
The Los Angeles Times

Settlement in the works on Nevada prison suit

So, what about helping prisoners get medical care? We hope this is not another cover up or lost chance to get at least medical reforms to Nevada prisons.

Associated Press, via Review Journal

April 21, 2010

The state of Nevada and American Civil Liberties Union are trying to finalize an agreement to settle a class action lawsuit over medical care for inmates at the maximum security prison in Ely.

An agenda released Wednesday shows the state Board of Examiners will be asked next week to approve $325,000 in fees for the ACLU in the 2008 case thas was certified as a class action by a federal judge last year.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in Reno asked for a court-ordered monitor to oversee medical care for about 1,000 inmates at the prison.

A lawyer for the attorney general’s office says an independent monitor is not part of the propose settlement, other details won’t be released until fees are approved.

Another link to this.

If You Are a Prisoner at Ely State Prison, a Class Action Lawsuit May Affect Your Rights

This was posted on Make the Walls Transparent, June 9, 2009 and received by them as an email from the ACLU.

NOTE TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF INMATES AT ELY STATE PRISON: If you have a loved on inside Ely State Prison, please print this article and send it in to them. This notice should be placed in in the law library, infirmary, and each housing area of Ely State Prison, Ely, Nevada, for the duration of this action. Ely State Prison is a locked down prison where inmates are not allowed go to the law library, or permitted to walk around on the housing units freely. When they are allowed out of their cells it’s only to go to the yard or shower; they are handcuffed and escorted and it is not likely guards are going to allow them to stop and read the postings. If they are in the infirmary, it may not be posted where they can see it. With this in mind, it is very important that every inmate housed inside Ely State Prison knows about this class action lawsuit. If you have any questions please feel free to contact Amy Fettig, National Prison Project of the ACLU, 915 15th Street, NW — 7th Floor, Washington, DC 20005.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEVADA

Riker v. Gibbons, Civil Action No. 3:08-CV-00115-LRH-RAM.
If you are a prisoner at Ely State Prison, a class action
lawsuit may affect your rights.
The Federal Court authorized this notice.

* Prisoners have sued prison officials and other state officials in federal court, alleging inadequate medical care at Ely State Prison (ESP) in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

* The Federal Court has allowed the lawsuit to proceed as a class action on behalf of “All prisoners who are now, or in the future will be, in the custody of the Nevada Department of Corrections at Ely State Prison in Ely, Nevada.” If you are a prisoner at Ely State Prison, you are a member of this class.

* The Federal Court has not decided whether or not prison officials and other state officials (“the Defendants”) have done anything to violate the rights of the prisoners (“the Plaintiffs”) to adequate medical care. The Plaintiffs’ lawyers must prove their claims against the Defendants at a trial. The United States District Court for the District of Nevada is overseeing this class action.

* The lawsuit is known as Riker v. Gibbons, Civil Action No. 3:08-CV-00115-LRH-RAM.

1. What is this lawsuit about?

This lawsuit claims that the Defendants are violating the constitutional rights of prisoners at
ESP by failing to provide prisoners with access to care for their serious medical needs.

2. What are the Plaintiffs asking for?

The Plaintiffs in this case have asked only for injunctive relief, not for money damages.
Injunctive relief means that if Plaintiffs win the lawsuit, the Court will order the Defendants
to provide access to care for prisoners’ serious medical needs. This class action does not
seek money damages.

3. Am I part of this Class?

All prisoners who are currently incarcerated at ESP are members of the class and any
prisoner who is transferred to ESP in the future will also be part of the class. You are a
member of the class only while you are incarcerated at Ely. If you are transferred out of ESP
or released from ESP, you will no longer be a member of the class.

4. Do I have to participate in this lawsuit?

No. Unless you are a named plaintiff, you are not required to participate in this lawsuit in
any way. Note that if you do not participate in the lawsuit, but you are still a prisoner at ESP,
any changes in medical care ordered by the Court will still apply to you.

5. Do I have a lawyer in this case?

The Court has appointed the National Prison Project of the ACLU, the ACLU of Nevada, and
the law firm of Holland & Knight LLP to represent all class members in this case. These
lawyers are called “Class Counsel.” You will not owe class counsel any money for their
services in this case.

If you want to communicate with Class Counsel about this case, you may write to them at the
following address:
Amy Fettig
National Prison Project of the ACLU
915 15th Street, NW — 7th Floor
Washington, DC 20005

6. Should I get my own lawyer?

You do not need to hire your own lawyer to be part of this class action lawsuit for injunctive
relief because Class Counsel is working on your behalf. If you want your own lawyer, you
can have a lawyer enter an appearance in this case on your behalf. You will likely have to
pay that lawyer, however.

Class Counsel cannot represent you in any damages case. If you want to sue Defendants for damages, you cannot do so in this Class Action lawsuit. If you wish to bring a damages case you will need to first follow the rules of the Nevada Department of Corrections for
exhausting administrative remedies.

This Notice will be posted in the law library, infirmary, and each housing
area for the duration of this action, by order of the
United States District Court.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
ORDER FROM THE COURT ON THE POSTING OF THE INFORMATION

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEVADA

3:08-CV-00115-LRH-RAM

DAVID RIKER et al., Plaintiffs,

v.

JAMES GIBBONS et al., Defendants

STIPULATED CLASS NOTICE AND ORDER

Pursuant to the Court’s Order, dated March 31, 2009 [Dkt. #40], the parties submit the attached stipulated class notice to be posted in the law library, infirmary, and each housing area of Ely State Prison, Ely, Nevada, for the duration of this action. See Attachment A.

Dated: April 30, 2009

Respectfully Submitted,
ORDER

IT IS SO ORDERED:

DATED this 5th day of May, 2009

___________________________________
HON. LARRY R. HICKS
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Emailed to MTWT by Amy Fettig of the National Prison Project of the ACLU in Washington, DC.

Article printed from Make The Walls Transparent: http://makethewallstransparent.org

URL to article: http://makethewallstransparent.org/2009/06/if-you-are-a-prisoner-at-ely-state-prison-a-class-action-lawsuit-may-affect-your-rights/

Las Vegas Sun: Inmates’ lawsuit could mean trouble for Corrections Department

From: Las Vegas Sun

PRISONS:
Inmates’ lawsuit could mean trouble for Corrections Department
Medical case could expose flaws in system
By Abigail Goldman

Thu, Apr 16, 2009 (2 a.m.)

Inmates at Ely State Prison have won the right to pursue a class action lawsuit against the Nevada Corrections Department, and prison officials should be very worried.

Not just because the suit — which alleges medical care for Ely inmates is so bad it’s deadly — casts a bad light on corrections. And not because the inmates could win big settlements from the state — they aren’t even asking for money.

The real reason prison officials should be concerned about the class action lawsuit is this: The Ely case is about more than the Ely prison. This case is actually about a systemic failing of the entire Corrections Department. If the Ely suit succeeds, the first domino falls.

The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada in March of last year, argues that Ely inmates are grossly deprived of basic medical care. The key here, the reason the case has implications for the entire state prison system, is that the inmates’ medical problems are partly because necessary prescription medications not being distributed regularly, if at all.

Now take a step back: Nevada’s prison pharmacy is a centralized operation, run out of a hub in Las Vegas. If there are problems with prescriptions in Ely, the logic goes, there are problems everywhere. It’s not the prison, it’s the system.

Now take another step back: A 2006 state audit of prison medical services revealed “significant weaknesses” in pharmacy operations, including a central pharmacy that sometimes took more than four weeks to dispense medication. This audit lays a nice foundation for someone to argue issues at Ely are a small part of a larger, long-standing problem.

U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks, who certified the class action lawsuit on March 31, allowed the ACLU to represent not just the roughly 1,000 prisoners currently incarcerated at Ely, but any future inmates sent to the maximum security facility. Five inmates are named in the lawsuit, but the door is open for an unforeseeable number.

The state attorney general’s office represents the prison system and fought against the class action status. It had good reason to do so. If the ACLU was forced to represent each inmate separately, the cases could be bogged down with painstaking examination of individual medical treatment histories, burying the central but general issue: prison health care in Nevada.

Grouping inmates in one case, packing a complaint with numerous, horrifying stories of negligent care, forces the court to focus on the overarching issue. This is another reason state prison officials should be concerned about the Ely case: By granting class action status, the federal judge acknowledges this isn’t about a few guys griping, but, as he wrote in his ruling, about an “inadequate medical system.”

Moreover, a class action case allows the ACLU to circumvent laws designed to thwart inmate lawsuits. The federal Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995, enacted to limit the number of frivolous lawsuits filed by jailhouse attorneys, made it harder for inmates to sue prisons. As a result, Nevada inmates have to complete a complicated formal grievance process before they can file a lawsuit against the state. The five men named in the Ely suit went through this process and were legally allowed to lawyer up. Now that the judge has certified the class action status, however, the ACLU is allowed to work backward, finding and representing inmates who didn’t jump through the necessary hoops — maybe because they were too sick to stand it.

And if new cases come to light, examples of inmates worse off than those named in the Ely suit, that’s something for all of us to worry about.

Class action OK’d for Ely prison lawsuit

With thanks to Nevada Prisoner Voice

Apr. 01, 2009
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal

Class action OK’d for Ely prison lawsuit

Inmates claim inadequate medical care at facility constitutes cruel, unusual punishment

By SANDRA CHEREB
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
RENO — A federal judge in Nevada on Tuesday certified class action status for a lawsuit filed by inmates who claim inadequate medical care at Ely State Prison constitutes cruel and unusual punishment and civil rights violations.

In his 14-page order, U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks appointed attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union to represent “all prisoners who are now, or in the future will be, in the custody of the Nevada Department of Corrections” at the state’s maximum security prison.

The ACLU filed suit against the prison in March 2008 on behalf of several inmates.

It alleges that deprivation of medical care is so extreme that all inmates are subjected to “constant significant risk of serious injury, medical harm, premature death, and the needless infliction of great physical pain and suffering.”

The ACLU seeks a court-ordered monitor to oversee care at the prison on grounds that the Corrections Department has not provided adequate medical care to the 1,000 inmates, including those on death row.

“The ACLU of Nevada is heartened by the order, which indicates that the federal court is taking allegations of substandard medical care at Ely State Prison very seriously,” ACLU attorney Lee Rowland said in a statement.

The class action certification, Rowland said, “will permit us to look into the conditions at Ely State Prison in a thorough and thoughtful manner and get the best evidence before the federal court.”

The suit names as defendants members of Nevada’s Prison Board — Gov. Jim Gibbons, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Secretary of State Ross Miller. Also named are Howard Skolnik, Department of Corrections director; Robert Bannister, corrections medical director; and E.K. McDaniel, the warden at Ely.

Skolnik said Tuesday he had not seen the latest filing and had no comment.

State officials have earlier defended medical practices at Ely, saying they met constitutional standards.

“The operations of an infirmary in a prison are different than working in a hospital,” Skolnik said previously.

Hicks’ ruling comes a week after he refused to dismiss a separate lawsuit alleging prison and medical staff deliberately withheld medical treatment from the former manager of the 1950s Coasters music group, leading to his slow and painful death from gangrene while on death row in Nevada.

That suit, filed by the family of Patrick Cavanaugh, seeks unspecified general, special and punitive damages. Cavanaugh, a diabetic, died in 2006 at age 60.

In Dec. 2007, the ACLU released a report written by Dr. William Noel claiming a pattern of “gross medical abuse” at the prison.

Noel said he reviewed the medical records of 35 Ely inmates, including Cavanaugh. In his report, he described treatment as “the most shocking and callous disregard for human life and human suffering, that I have ever encountered in the medical profession in my 35 years of practice.”

See also: Ely Times.

ACLU Lawsuit Charges Grossly Inadequate Medical Care At State Prison In Nevada

This is a press release on the ACLU website of 3rd June 2008, about the report made by Dr Noel about the medical neglect at Ely State Prison. Up to today, in January of 2009, nothing has been done by the Nevada Department of Corrections to stop medical abuse (including withholding vital medication for prisoners). This is widely considered cruel, inhumane and totally unnecessary extra punishment.

The original article, including podcasts of victims and the ACLU can be viewed here.

In December of 2007, Dr. William Noel, a medical expert retained by the American Civil Liberties Union to investigate medical conditions inside the Ely State Prison in Ely, Nevada — a small town located at the junction of State Routes 50, 93 and 6 in Eastern Nevada — released a report that exposed galling inadequacies in the level of medical care provided to the 1,000 inmates — including more than 60 Death Row Prisoners — incarcerated there.

Noel was retained after the ACLU’s Washington, D.C.-based National Prison Project and the ACLU affiliate in Nevada received dozens of complaints from prisoners charging that both acute and chronic illnesses were not being cared for, that prescription medications were not being handed out and that many prisoners were forced to endure undue pain and suffering — even to the point of being left on the brink of death — as a result of callous disregard on the part of prison officials.

What Noel discovered and detailed in his report was nothing less than shocking. Margaret Winter, Associate Director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project — which tracks prison systems across the country — said the conditions at Ely “are as horrific as any we have ever seen.”

In his report, Noel wrote that medical care at ESP shows “the most shocking and callous disregard for human life and human suffering that I have ever encountered in the medical profession in my 35 years of practice.” According to the report, which was sent to Nevada Department of Corrections Director Howard Skolnik last December, there is a horrific pattern of neglect, misguided health care policies, and little accountability for frequently under-qualified staff. Noel also noted numerous instances where important medical records were missing from prisoners’ medical files. Finally, Noel and the ACLU have raised serious concerns about prisoners who died and were cremated before autopsies were completed and their families notified.

In the wake of the report, lawyers from the National Prison Project leaped into action, pushing hard for corrections officials and officials from Nevada’s state government to begin implementing desperately needed reforms aimed at ensuring that the prisoners at Ely were no longer denied their constitutional right to basic medical care. The ACLU’s pleadings fell on deaf ears. So on Thursday, March 6, 2008, the National Prison Project and the ACLU filed a lawsuit against Skolnik and other top corrections and governmental officials.

A copy of that lawsuit, along with numerous other resources — including a podcast with an ACLU lawyer from the Capital Punishment Project who draws a direct connection between Ely’s substandard medical conditions and the fact that a higher percentage of Nevada’s Death Row inmates volunteer for execution than anywhere else in the country — can be found on this site. It is all part of the ACLU’s ongoing litigation and advocacy aimed at protecting the rights of all Americans.