The American Civil Liberties Union filed a class-action suit against Nevada officials yesterday alleging that they had failed to rectify “a pervasive pattern of grossly inadequate medical care” at the state’s maximum-security prison in Ely, reports the Los Angeles Times. “These deprivations are so extreme that they subject all the men confined there to constant significant risk of serious injury, medical harm [and] premature death,” the suit charges. In December, a Times investigation based on records and interviews described how prisoners at Ely had been denied care for heart problems, diabetes, and other serious medical conditions.
Amy Fettig of the ACLU’s National Prison Project said the lawsuit was necessary because “the state just hasn’t shown a sense of urgency in addressing the crisis at Ely. They assured us that they were going to carry out far-reaching reforms to address the problems  but that was months ago, and they’ve made only half-hearted gestures to fix their broken system.” Greg Smith, a spokesman for the state corrections department, said officials had been attempting to respond to ACLU concerns and were blindsided by the suit. Margaret Winter of the ACLU National Prison Project said:”The level of medical care provided at Ely is as horrific as any we have ever seen at any of the prison systems that we track across the country.”