Report Finds Underfunding, Overcrowding Leads to Violations

LAS VEGAS, NV - The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada on March 3, 2011, is releasing a report detailing how inadequate funding for prisons, and locking up too many citizens for too long, has resulted in prison conditions that violate the Nevada Department of Corrections’ own policies, as well as state, federal, and international human rights law.

The report, “Not Fit for Human Consumption or Habitation: Nevada’s Prisons in Crisis” by former ACLU of Nevada Prisoner Rights Fellow Rebecca Paddock, will be presented at a panel discussion at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, March 3, at the Moot Courtroom/Auditorium, Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada—Las Vegas. The event is free and open to the public.

Panelists discussing the report will be: Phil Kohn, Clark County Public Defender; Fatma Marouf, Associate Professor, Boyd Law School; Maggie McLetchie, Legal Director, ACLU of Nevada; and Laurie Rielly-Johnson, an advocate for inmates.

Paddock’s report explains how, as a result of overcrowding, understaffing, and underfunding, Nevada is increasingly failing to meet even the most basic human needs of inmates in the state’s eight prisons. The report details problems with prison food in a sanitary manner; inmates not being given proper supplies to keep cells, showers, toilets and common areas clean; medical areas not being properly sanitized; inadequate medical, mental health, and dental care; inadequate exercise opportunities; inadequately nutritious food; lack of accommodations for disable inmates; shackling of pregnant inmates; and more. In each area, the report ties these problems to NDOC policies, Nevada statutes, Eighth Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution, and/or international human rights law.

The report makes several policy recommendations: Nevada must reduce its prison population; the state should expand community-based treatment and implement programs known as “intermediate sanctions”: Nevada should reclassify many of its Category B felonies to lesser crimes; Nevada needs to adequately fund prisons to bring them into line with laws and standards; external oversight of NDOC should be established; and Nevada statutes must take relevant international, as well as U.S., law into consideration.

The report is available at: