A group of incarcerated firefighters in Nevada have filed a lawsuit alleging they were subjected to negligent and cruel treatment after suffering from second-degree burns and blisters while working on a fire clean-up assignment. The suit, filed by the ACLU of Nevada, seeks at least $700,000 in damages and accuses the state of violating constitutional bans on cruel and unusual punishment.
The seven plaintiffs were reportedly mocked and ignored when they informed their supervisors of their injuries, with some being left unable to walk, stand, or shower without assistance for several days. The firefighters were trained at Jean Conservation Camp, which is supervised by state corrections employees and is the only training facility for incarcerated women owned by the Nevada Division of Forestry.
The lawsuit alleges that the firefighters were tasked with cleaning out “red-hot embers, churning burning soil and ripping out tree stumps” during a wildfire clean-up assignment in April 2021. Despite the severity of the heat, the lawsuit claims that state employees did not act on complaints and did not provide adequate medical treatment to the plaintiffs.
The defendants in the case include the Nevada Division of Forestry and Department of Corrections, as well as several forestry employees who were on-site. While officials have declined to comment on the case, the ACLU is requesting a trial by jury and several changes to training and policy for incarcerated firefighters. The organization is also calling for disciplinary action for state employees whose negligence or intentional conduct causes injury to incarcerated workers.