ORIGINAL DRAFT OF GUTTED NEVADA LAW WOULD HAVE LIMITED YOUTH SOLITARY (2017)
Senate Bill 402 (final version) introduced by Senator Pat Spearman, provides some restrictions on solitary confinement in Nevada. Unfortunately, the bill was amended before being passed to exclude any protections for youth. The original version of the bill as introduced prohibited facilities from using solitary confinement to punish youth, and permit solitary only when the child presents a serious and immediate threat of harm to self, others, or to the security of the facility and all less-restrictive options have been exhausted. The initial version of SB 402 prohibited youth “with serious mental illness or other significant mental impairments” from being put in solitary confinement at all. The original bill also required regular reporting by all correctional facilities on the inmates who are held in isolation.
ACLU OF NEVADA & SOLITARY WATCH RELEASE REPORT ON SOLITARY (Feb. 2017)
The ACLU of Nevada, in conjunction with Solitary Watch and the Nevada Disability Advocacy and Law Center released a new report entitled “Unlocking Solitary Confinement,” which compiled first-hand accounts of 281 inmates who experienced isolation during their confinement. The report was spurred by the failure of Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) to comply with a 2013 law that required officials to study the use of solitary confinement. Because the NDOC claimed that lack of data capacity prevented it from reporting on the practice, the authors set out to interview 700 incarcerated people who had experienced solitary confinement in Nevada. Almost 300 of these individuals participated in a survey process, sharing important information. The authors found that the average length of isolation was more than 2.5 years, often just as a retaliatory or disciplinary measure. Among the common complaints, inmates mentioned infrequent and substandard medical and health care, harassment and abuse by officers, and acute physical and mental distress. Some individuals reported that they were rarely removed from their cell for recreation. The report recommended that Nevada track use of solitary confinement in its facilities, improve conditions, cease long-term isolation by limiting solitary confinement to a maximum of 15 days, and institute bans on isolation for those with mental disabilities. Nevada has been selected to collaborate with the Vera Institute of Justice’s Safe Alternatives to Segregation Project to reduce solitary confinement.