Bill Prohibiting Shackling Inmates During Childbirth Unanimously Passes Both Houses

Fri, 05/13/2011
ACLU Nevada

Assembly Bill 408, which prohibits the use of restraints on Nevada female prisoners during labor, delivery, or childbirth recuperation unless the prisoner is a “serious and immediate threat of harm” to herself or others, or a “substantial flight risk,” has now passed both houses of the Nevada legislature.

The bill unanimously passed the Nevada State Senate, 21-0, on Wednesday, May 11, 2011, after having unanimously passed the Nevada State Assembly, 42-0, on April 25. The bill is expected to be signed by Gov. Brian Sandoval during the week of May 16, 2011.

“This is a tremendous step forward for the Nevada Department of Corrections and all residents, especially the women, of Nevada,” said Dane S. Claussen, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada. “But we also still have a lot of work to do with Nevada’s prisons.”

The ACLU of Nevada, in its lobbying during the 2011 legislature, made AB408 a high priority. ACLU staff members testified on the bill, met with legislators individually, and monitored it closely through committee hearings and votes.

In Mothers Behind Bars, a 2010 study by the Rebecca Project for Human Rights at the National Women’s Law Center, Nevada was given a composite grade of “F+” for its treatment of women prisoners. This included a “D” for shackling policies, an “F” for prenatal care, and an “F” for family-based treatment as an alternative to incarceration. Nevada also was given an “F” for prison nurseries. On shackling in particular, Nevada was cited by the Mothers Behind Bars study for lacking a statute prohibiting restraints, the Department of Corrections not having a policy limiting use of restraints, and having no consequences for individuals or institutions when use of restraints was unjustified.

The ACLU of Nevada released a report earlier this year, Not Fit for Human Consumption or Habitation: Nevada’s Prisons in Crisis, documenting instances of shackled pregnant prisoners. The report also documented problems in prisons’ food handling areas and staffs, problems with food itself, unsanitary medical services areas, lack of supplies to keep common areas and individual cells clean, severely inadequate dental care, severely inadequate medical care, severely inadequate mental health care, inadequate exercise opportunities, and inadequate accommodations for disabled inmates. The report charged NDOC with violating its own rules, state law, and international human rights law, and also made numerous recommendations, including that Nevada adopt a law preventing the shackling of pregnant inmates.

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.” 

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.” 

Nevada gets F in treatment of pregnant inmates

SANDRA CHEREB • Associated Press Writer • October 21, 2010

Reno Gazette Journal

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) – The state received a failing grade for its treatment of inmate mothers and pregnant women in a new report issued Thursday, but a spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Corrections took exception to the findings, and the report itself suggested at least some of the criticism was based not on state practices but the lack of a written policy.

The 50-state survey released by the National Women’s Law Center and the Rebecca Project for Human Rights analyzed state and federal prison policies on three criteria: prenatal care, use of shackles, and alternatives to incarceration for pregnant women and mothers with young children. Nevada received an overall grade of F and was among 21 states to receive a grade of D or lower.

Only one state, Pennsylvania, received an A.

Nevada received a failing grade for prenatal care and lack of family-based treatment programs for nonviolent inmates who are mothers, and a D for use of restraints on pregnant women.

“Too many women in prison fail to receive adequate prenatal care, are shackled during childbirth and don’t have the option of family based drug treatment programs that would allow them to be with their children,” Jill C. Morrison, senior counsel with the National Women’s Law Center and co-author of the study, said in a written statement.

“It’s shameful that so many states fail to have laws and policies to protect this vulnerable population of unseen and largely forgotten women,” she said.

Suzanne Pardee, spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Corrections, said prenatal care is provided as soon as an inmate’s pregnancy becomes known.

Nevada currently has 916 female inmates. There were 24 pregnant inmates in 2009, and 25 so far this year, she said.

Read more here.