The Rev. Jesse Jackson arrived unannounced to tour the Southern Nevada Women’s Correctional Facility in North Las Vegas yesterday, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. “The public has a right to know what’s happening here,” he said. Jackson and state Assemblyman Harvey Munford took what Jackson called a “tear-jerking” tour of the facility that was prompted by letters from inmates about the conditions inside. Munford said he had received many complaints about the lack of medical attention at the prison. In one case an inmate with a history of aggressive breast cancer said she hadn’t seen a specialist. Another woman reportedly gave birth inside the prison without adequate medical supervision.
A prison official asserted that inmates get better medical care than most of the public. In March, about two-thirds of inmates at the women’s prison saw a doctor, most within a day of requesting an appointment. The prison had 440 inmates in 2004. It now holds 608. A new wing that will hold 300 additional prisoners should be open in January, but the prison will still be overcrowded. The Nevada American Civil Liberties Union is attempting to interview inmates at the women’s prison who have had acute or chronic medical problems, among other issues, to determine the extent of the problems at the prison.