After years of concern about the conditions at the Nye County Detention Facility in Pahrump, (commonly referred to as the Pahrump jail) the Nye County Board of Commissioners has begun the process in earnest to build a bigger and better facility. The ACLU of Nevada applauds the Nye County Board of Commissioners for taking this important step to address the many potentially unconstitutional conditions at the current facility.
On September 30, 2008, attorneys from the ACLU of Nevada paid a visit to the Pahrump jail, to investigate and document several conditions that could potentially form the basis of a legal challenge. The attorneys discovered many potentially unconstitutional conditions, such as overcrowding, lack of access to medical care, exposure to rust, mold and lack of air circulation, inadequate separation of male and female inmates, as well as a lack of access to legal materials with which to prepare for their upcoming trials.
After consulting with the ACLU’s National Prison Project, the ACLU of Nevada sent a letter to the Nye County Board of Commissioners on March 30, 2009, detailing the problems and potential legal claims surrounding the jail’s conditions.
The ACLU of Nevada’s letter was not the first time the Board had been warned about these conditions. In December 2003, the National Institute of Corrections (NIC), a division of the Bureau of Prisons, surveyed the jail and noted similar concerns with understaffing and overcrowding. A report by Kitchell CEM, one of the nation's leading program/construction managers for correctional facilities noted the same problems, and warned of increasing over-crowdedness in November, 2005.
In order to address the problems created by the jail, the Nye County Board launched the “Nye County Jail Project” which was addressed at the May 5, June 2, and July 7, 2009 Board meetings. The ACLU of Nevada is excited to learn that the Board is taking steps to build a much-needed new detention facility and hopes that the new jail will alleviate those concerns mentioned in the ACLU of Nevada’s March 2009 letter, as well as the 2005 Kitchell Report and 2003 NIC audit.
Read the ACLU of Nevada’s March 30, 2009 letter to the Nye County Board of Commissioners and the ACLU of Nevada’s July 22, 2009 letter following up on the requests made in the original letter.