The Progressive


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For Immediate Release

Will Mathews, ACLU, (212) 549-2582 or

ACLU Agrees To Settle Lawsuit Charging Inadequate Medical Care At Nevada's Ely State Prison

Agreement Includes Provisions For Independent Monitoring And Increased Access To Doctors


The American Civil Liberties Union and the
ACLU of Nevada late yesterday filed in federal court a proposed
agreement between a class of over 1,000 prisoners at Ely State Prison
and top state prison and governmental officials that would settle a 2008
lawsuit charging that a pervasive pattern of grossly inadequate medical
care at the prison created a substantial risk of serious medical harm
for every prisoner in the facility.

The agreement, if approved by the
U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, would result in an
independent medical expert being appointed to monitor the prison's
health care system and submit regular reports evaluating prison
officials' compliance with specified medical requirements in the
agreement. As part of the agreement, prison officials have agreed to
build a better system of ensuring that necessary medications are
provided to prisoners in a timely manner, develop health care treatment
plans for any prisoners suffering from a chronic illness requiring
ongoing medical care and provide prisoners with access to qualified
medical staff seven days a week for any routine or emergency medical

"Nevada officials deserve credit for
being willing to address medical care at Ely proactively," said Amy
Fettig, staff attorney with the ACLU National Prison Project. "Rather
than spend years and years in costly litigation, both parties decided to
sit down to collaborate on a solution. The result is vastly improved
medical conditions for the prisoners at Ely."

Additionally, prison officials have
agreed to institute daily rounds by a nurse to pick up any medical
request forms - ensuring that all prisoners have a confidential means of
requesting medical care - and provide access to a registered nurse or
higher level practitioner within 48 hours of a prisoner requesting
medical attention.

"The reforms that prison officials
have agreed to will go a long way toward fixing a very broken system,"
said Lee Rowland, staff attorney with the ACLU of Nevada. "We brought
this lawsuit in response to widespread evidence of unconstitutional
medical conditions for Ely prisoners, and we are pleased that working
collaboratively with the Attorney General's office and the Department of
Corrections has led to the resolution of some of the most pressing
issues at Ely."

The lawsuit contains three named
plaintiffs, including 38-year-old David Riker, who alleged at the time
the lawsuit was filed that despite his rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis,
he had never received prescribed medications and X-rays ordered by an
outside physician and was told by Ely medical staff that treating
chronic pain is against the policy of the prison.

Lawyers on the case include Fettig,
Rowland, Maggie McLetchie of the ACLU of Nevada and Steve Hanlon of
Holland & Knight, LLC.

Information about the ACLU's efforts
to improve medical conditions at the Ely State Prison, including a copy
of today's settlement agreement, is available online at:

Additional information about the ACLU
of Nevada is available online at:

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

(212) 549-2666