One image of Nevada comes to mind: a picturesque state with lush green forests, beautiful lakes, and excellent fishing. In reality, Nevada is home to more than 60 prisons, many of which house people for whom there is no clear purpose other than serving as punishment for their peers. It’s an often-reassessing place—and like any great experiment, the results are mixed.
There should be ways to change this attitude and ensure that inmates who serve time spend it doing something useful—not serving in a cell with no running water and no T.V. heaps of books waiting for them at night.
What makes a prison worse in Nevada?
Nevada is known for its harsh punishments. Nevada is the only state in the U.S. where inmates have no right to parole. So what makes a prison worse?
Here are some things that make prisons worse:
- Inmates housed in solitary confinement units are more likely to commit suicide.
- Solitary confinement units are considered torture chambers and should never be used.
- Prisoners placed in special housing units (SHU) are less likely to receive proper medical attention. SHUs are considered the worst places to be held in prison.
- There is a higher rate of violence among prisoners who are black than those who are white. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, black men account for 37% of homicides in America, yet they represent only 13% of the population.
- The number of mentally ill people in prison is increasing. There are currently over 1 million mentally ill people behind bars in the United States. Mental illness is often treated with medication, but many prisons don't provide adequate mental healthcare.
- Prison overcrowding is a problem. As of 2015, nearly half a million inmates were in American prisons. Overcrowding causes problems like food safety and sanitation issues.
- Prison guards use excessive force against inmates. Guards are supposed to protect inmates, but if they feel threatened, they may attack them.
- Prison staff does not have enough training to work in prisons. Many correctional officers have little to no training in dealing with mentally ill people.
- Many prisons lack necessities like beds, showers, and toilets. These basic amenities help keep inmates healthier and safer.
- Prisoner abuse is rampant. Many prisons allow inmates to be beaten and abused without any consequences. Prison guards even sometimes encourage inmate abuse.
- Prison food is terrible. Correctional inmates are 6.4 times more likely than average to contract a food-related illness, finds the latest analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Here’s a list of the worst prisons in the state of Nevada:
Following is the list of the Worst Prisons in the State of Nevada:
Ely State Prison
Ely State Prison (Ely, Nevada) is located in Ely, Nevada. Ely is a small town on the shores of Lake Tahoe. It’s about 20 miles east of Carson City. It was built in 1876. It is a medium security state prison with a capacity of 1183 inmates. Inmates at Ely were sentenced for murder, rape, robbery, burglary, drug, and sex offenses. Inmates have been sent here for over 50 years, including convicted murderers, rapists, robbers, and child molesters.
Ely State Prison is known for its extremely cold weather conditions. In winter, temperatures drop down to -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Prisoners must wear coats, gloves, scarves, hats, boots, and sometimes snow pants when the temperature drops below freezing.
Every year, the warden sends out a memo asking the guards to provide extra blankets, towels, toiletries, toothbrushes, soap, deodorant, and shampoo for the inmates. However, many of these items never make it to the cells. Guards do not want to spend time delivering the supplies to the inmates because they know that if they don't deliver them immediately, they won't get delivered again until the next week.
Moreover, many of the inmates at Ely are mentally ill. If they try to commit suicide, they are put into solitary confinement.
High Desert State Prison
The state of Nevada is known for its high desert climate and beautiful scenery. However, the environment has degraded over time due to illegal drug use and distribution. One of the prisons located in the state is High Desert State Prison (HDSP). HDSP is a maximum security facility that houses approximately 1,600 inmates.
The conditions at HDSP are deplorable. Inmates live under extreme temperatures and harsh weather conditions. No air conditioning units are installed in the cells, making it impossible for inmates to keep cool during summer. As a result, many inmates have taken to wearing heavy coats and sweaters indoors, further exacerbating the problem.
Another issue is overcrowding; the prison population has increased by almost 30% since 2010. This overcrowding affects the quality of care the inmates receive. Not only are they housed near each other, but there isn't enough space for medical staff to perform routine examinations. Because of these problems, the Federal Bureau of Prisons classifies the conditions at HDSP as substandard.
Lovelock Correctional Center
LCC is known as the "worst prison in Nevada," according to several reports of prisoners who have been incarcerated at the prison.
In 2010 the Federal Bureau of Prisons listed LCC among its prisons where staff sexual abuse had occurred.
In 2013 LCC received a record number of inmates. Even though the population is now down to almost 2,000, the center continues to operate above capacity, with over 300 percent of beds vacant. Even though the average price of construction materials has dropped, the total cost of building has increased, driving up the per-inmate costs. The prison doesn't use any electricity from renewable sources, only heating water and cooling buildings.
Prisoners at the prison work long hours under dangerous and unsanitary conditions making minimum wage. Many of them are forced to rely on government assistance just to survive. The conditions at the prison have been called "a humanitarian crisis."
Southern Desert Correctional Center
The Southern Desert Correctional Center is located in Las Vegas, Nevada. It houses male inmates who have committed serious crimes. It was built in 1993 and is operated by the Nevada Department of Corrections. While the average cost of running a prison is about $90 per day, SDCC costs about $200 per inmate per day.
SDCC has a high rate of recidivism among its population. Inmates who leave the facility are likely to return. The center's rate of escape is higher than those of other prisons. As of May 2011, it held 1,962 inmates. Most of them were convicted of violent crimes, including murder, rape, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, arson, aggravated assault, sexual assault, domestic violence, and drug possession.
Warm Springs Correctional Center
Warm Springs Correctional Center (WSC) is located in North Las Vegas, NV. WSC receives inmates convicted of crimes ranging from murder to drug offenses. The prison was built in 1988 and currently houses approximately 2,500 male and female inmates.
The facility is overcrowded and understaffed. As of June 2016, the staffing ratio was 1 officer to 37 prisoners.
Moreover, there are no mental health facilities on site. Instead, inmates have access to mental health treatment off-site. However, the quality of these treatments varies greatly, and they often do not meet the standards set forth by the American Psychiatric Association.
There are two main security levels at WSC: maximum security and close custody. Maximum security inmates are housed in a single tier of cells. In close custody, inmates are kept in individual cells. Both housing types are restrictive due to the lack of natural light and the possibility of violence. However, there are no showers in either type of housing. Instead, inmates use buckets to wash. There is no laundry service. Instead, clothes are cleaned weekly and then returned to the inmates.
In addition, the prison lacks necessities, including running water, toilets, and beds.
Florence McClure Women's Correctional Center (previously Southern Nevada Women's Correctional Facility)
Florence McClure Women's Correctional Facility was built as a women's workhouse at the end of the 19th century. In 1903, it was converted to a state penitentiary for men. By the early 20th century, it had become one of the largest prisons in the United States, housing over 1,000 inmates.
In 1929, the prison was closed due to overcrowding and moved to a different location. After being moved, the facility was renamed Florence McClure Women's Institute for Girls. In 1968, the facility was reopened as a correctional center for women.
The prison has been described as a "hellhole." As of 2017, the maximum security unit of the prison houses approximately 700 female prisoners. There are currently only about 300 cells inside the entire prison. Conditions have been described as harsh, dirty, and dangerous.
A 2014 report conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice found that the conditions at
Florence McClure was some of the worst among Nevada's prisons. Inmates had no access to air conditioning in their cells, and the heating system did not function properly. The report stated,
"It was difficult to get hot water for showers and laundry; it took days to receive medications."
Due to these issues, many prisoners were forced to sleep in cold rooms without blankets or bedding.
Since July 2017, the Nevada Department of Corrections has overseen the prison. However, the department states they do not plan to close the facility soon.
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