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.”