NEVADA – Nevada officials have agreed to pay $340,000 to eight current and formerly incarcerated people who alleged that the state mistreated them and delayed medical treatment while working for a state prisoner firefighting program.
The settlement — approved Tuesday by a state panel composed of the governor, attorney general and secretary of state — also established new safety protocols and training programs for participants of the firefighting program, which is a partnership between the Nevada Division of Forestry (NDF) and the Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC). These firefighters receive just $24 daily (which some state officials have compared to enslavement and forced labor) and can earn a sentence reduction of up to 45 days depending on the time worked.
“Defendants were deliberately indifferent to the Plaintiffs’ health or safety while the Plaintiffs performed physical labor[,] endangered their health and caused undue pain and suffering,” said the lawsuit filed in March in the 8th Judicial District Court.
Under the settlement approved Wednesday, NDF and NDOC agreed to the following policy changes:
- NDF supervisors will receive expanded training on identification of inmate injuries, treating in-field injuries, equipment standards and supervision of incarcerated people.
- Incarcerated firefighters will receive expanded training on equipment standards, injury treatment, the applications of the NDOC grievance policy and the applicability of certain Nevada laws on negligence and misconduct.
- NDF officials will more regularly look for potential injuries and hydration and nutrition needs.
- NDF will adopt and follow the National Fire Protection Association’s regulations governing the inspection, maintenance and repair of firefighting protective equipment.
- NDF policies will explicitly state that if a firefighter’s boot is damaged in the field, they are allowed to stop working.
- NDOC will allow incarcerated firefighters to anonymously submit concerns at a drop box.
- NDOC will forbid incarcerated firefighters from being transferred to a higher security facility for reporting a work-related injury.
- As part of the settlement terms, the eight plaintiffs will receive amounts ranging from around $24,000 to $48,000. Remaining money will be distributed to the plaintiff’s counsel.
“The damages are meaningful for our clients to ensure that they are made whole,” Peterson from the ACLU said. “But at the same time, it’s the other standards being put into place that we think are particularly important.”
Credits: Nevada Independent
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