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ACLU: Inmate Firefighters “Mocked” After Shoes Melted Off Their Feet

— March 29, 2023

The A.C.L.U. of Nevada claims that the female firefighters were mocked, berated, and ignored after suffering serious injuries while undertaking an assignment at Jean Conservation Camp.

A group of inmate firefighters have filed a lawsuit against Nevada corrections officials after they suffered gruesome injuries during a clean-up assignment.

According to FOX News, several of the involved prisoners said that the flames became so intense that their socks melded to their feet, leaving them burned, scarred, and—in several cases—unable to walk.

However, the firefighters were purportedly “mocked and ignored” when they reported their injuries—injuries that were later identified as second-degree burns and blisters.

The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, alleges negligent, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and multiple violations of state and federal law.

The A.C.L.U. is representing seven current and former inmates and has asked for an estimated $700,000 in damages.

Aside from financial compensation, the organization has also asked that Nevada corrections officials receive revised training and discipline, especially those employees “whose negligence and/or intentional conduct results in injury to […] people required to work while incarcerated.”

A 2009 wildfire in Yosemite National Park. Image via Wikimedia Commons/user: Salam2009. (CCA-By-4.0).

The firefighters, writes FOX News, were trained at Jean Conversation Camp, the only firefighting training facility designed for female prisoners.

While the facility is owned by the Nevada Division of Forestry, it is managed by the state Department of Corrections.

Both agencies are named as defendants in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, writes FOX News, details inmates being tasked with “[clearing] red-hot embers, churning boiling soil and ripping out tree stumps.”

When one plaintiff’s boot melted off her foot from intense heat, a Division of Forestry supervisor allegedly used duct tape to repair it, telling her that she had to continue working.

And, when another inmate began crying from pain, the same supervisor reportedly said, “You can keep crying as long as you keep working.”

None of the seven plaintiffs, most of whom received burn-related injuries, received medical treatment the same day or night.

Only two days later were the women taken to a Las Vegas-area hospital for an intensive and painful procedure, which involved “hospital staff [cutting] away all the dead skin and tissue from burns on the bottom of plaintiffs’ feet.”

Chris Peterson, the ACLU of Nevada’s legal director, stressed that even inmates have rights.

“We filed this case to make sure no one is ever treated like this again,” Peterson said. “Our clients are not disposable. These are human beings, and they have rights.”

In its lawsuit, the American Civil Liberties Union said that the state’s current inmate firefighting program is inadequate, and that Nevada must design and implement procedures to discipline negligent supervisors.


Nevada prison firefighters file lawsuit after being ‘mocked and ignored’ when telling supervisors about burns

Prisoners ‘mocked and ignored’ while suffering burns fighting fire, lawsuit says

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