Nevada Receives low Marks in Inmate Rehabilitation While Denying Human Rights

Nevada Receives low Marks in Inmate Rehabilitation While Denying Human Rights


A Public Slate Exclusive

This is the first in a short series of articles which will expose Nevada’s discriminatory and failed prison system. The focus will be on its autonomous parole board which ignores the decisions of both judge and jury. This will be controversial, because society places a stigma on certain crimes which raise the emotions of the public, ultimately denying the human rights of a singular group. But when the facts are disclosed, there will be undeniable proof that change is mandatory.

The information in this document is provided by Mercedes Maharis, MA, MS, MA. She is the former Director of NV CURE, a lifetime member of CURE, Washington, and a member of the Nevada League of Women Voters. Ms. Maharis has devoted years of her life to end an injustice which exists in our legal system, and is long overdue regarding discussion and revision.

When two words are put together describing criminal behavior, the first reaction by the general public is outrage. These words are ‘sex offender.’ The mere mention of the term conjures pictures of small children suffering sexual abuse from an adult male. This response is expected, but not accurate.

The truth is that sex offenders come in ‘all shapes and sizes,’ and their crimes are not by choice but because of brain malfunction. This is not to suggest that we pity them; physical and mental damage at the hands of another human being is a horrible offense; so is placing them in the regular prison population with no opportunity for rehabilitation and psychiatric evaluation or treatment.

Far too many sex offenders in Nevada State Prisons are incarcerated indefinitely, and the key to their expected freedom is virtually thrown away.

This first edition reveals an overall picture of injustice and inhumane exclusion of a specific group of individuals. In a nation which claims to offer freedom and justice for all, a practice of selective exception decides the fate of the few by denying them equal treatment under the law. Constitutional violations occur all too frequently, as the rights of these selected inmates are denied by the power of the parole board, which is influenced by the many and their own personal beliefs. The board refuses to uphold the decision by judges and juries by repeatedly extending sentences of low risk sex offenders beyond their release dates.

The parole board is all too frequently in violation of improper procedures:

Only two commissioners are present during hearings.

Inadequate records result in inaccurate representation of the parole applicant.

Sex offenders are regularly moved from facility to facility, denying them the opportunity to attend classes required by the board to obtain parole.

Sex offenders are not allowed to face their accusers at the hearings. Prisoners are removed from the room when victims and their families testify.

Subsequent articles will contain factual figures revealing the cost to Nevada’s taxpayers and the horrific number of deaths directly related to failed policies of indefinite incarceration and the lack of rehabilitation efforts. Thanks to the efforts of Ms. Maharis, the Public Slate will offer evidence regarding the practices of other states which choose to treat sex offenders in a more reasonable and intelligent manor.

These reports became necessary because of the lack of transparency by Nevada’s parole board. Ms. Maharis’ frustration directed her to the venue which is most powerful in the creation of policy, and the undoing of wrongful inaction; public opinion.

My intent is to not only inform the reader of ongoing injustice, but also communicate one woman’s passion to right a wrong, without any personal gain.

Our Constitution guarantees equal treatment under the law. When that basic human right is violated, the public needs to know.
By James Turnage for the Public Slate

Photo Courtesy of Jason Jones

Flickr License


  1. Another problem with the term “sex offender” is the broad umbrella that covers a wide variety of offenses. I have worn the label “sex offender” nearly my entire adult life, and I am not the image that comes to my own mind when I hear that term. The “brain malfunction” mentioned as being applied to all offenders is not true though: someone who streaks in college, sexts, or commits statutory rape (without force or coercion) do not share the same mentality as a violent predator or serial pedophile, yet the law groups them together. Certainly, as a society, we know there’s a difference between someone convicted of manslaughter and a serial killer: the end result may be the same, but the mindset is totally different.
    I can speak for no one but myself, but while the stereotype is once an offender always a potential offender is insane. I’m more likely to win the lottery than ever reoffend :not because the state wants to publicly hold me out as a threat or because of what would happen to me in prison if I did, but because I don’t have the urges or ‘brain defect’ presumed. If you can believe there’s a profound difference between a dumb old boy and a dirty old man, I will never give you a reason to regret it. I’d LITERALLY bet my life on it! Somehow however, capital punishment for sex offenses is cruel and unusual punishment, but it’s not cruel and unusual to constantly pass bills of attainder that make my family and children suffer for my shame by continuing to change the rules and regulations year after year?
    I’m not going to reoffend, anything that the public perceives as a ‘right’ to be informed only provides them with enough to be able to extrapolate ideas that only make them more ignorant. No one fears sex offenders more than I : I share the disgust everyone feels, but also have to fear what legislative backlash is going to come in the wake of the crime: More of the gestapo tactic of punishing an entire group for the actions of another individual.
    Sex offender laws are foolish as a matter of policy, but voting against them is just stupid politics. I expect politicians to pass these laws; they can’t not! What disappoints me is that people remain with the false beliefs that sex offenders have a high rate of recidivism when the opposite is true. I’m more disappointed with judges who don’t have a problem with this and uphold these laws as constitutional. I’m even disappointed in the lawyers who try to fight these laws with cases of middle-aged offenders with multiple victims–these cases are the reason these precedents get set although the overall evidence does not validate the verdicts.

    No one I know saw the movie ‘Old School ‘ and got sick to their stomach over ‘that pedophile Luke Wilson not getting put in prison for 20 years to get gang raped and beaten before getting out to a society where he can’t find a job or housing and not being allowed to use any safety net like homeless shelters. In reality, though, these laws would do just that. Until the face of ‘sex offenders’ moves from boogeyman to Romeo, sexter, or teenager, the myths, stereotypes, and blanket legislation will continue…even by those who falsely believe they’re helping by pushing the narrative that it’s a brain defect. People make mistakes, and they pay for those mistakes. If your mistake happens to be sexual in nature, you pay for your mistake retroactively with every passing legislative session because the Supreme Court says that registration and residency restrictions are not punishment. Of course they’re punishment, that’s why they’re so popular! People confuse doing something “to offenders” with doing something “for children.” No money for prevention education or victim services, just millions of dollars throwing hay on a needlestack because if we don’t presume all of them guilty, the victims will suffer all over again.
    Not all victims fit the stereotype either and there are some teenage girls who could fill a page of the registry by themselves: they are not victimized the same way as a child molested or raped by force for years, but one political party wants to push victimhood and criticize saying “legitimate rape,” while the other party wants to punish criminals in perpetuity. Therein lies the danger: sex offender legislation is a Trojan horse to the Bill of Rights as it sets dangerous precedents rooted in myth instead of science, but the people can’t wheel it into the polis fast enough. In time, the danger may be known, but by then it may be too late to stop the destruction of the republic. I may be among the first, but I won’t be the last