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