Words for the upcoming Meeting of the Board of Prison Commissioners

Received by email:

To: sosmail@sos.nv.gov

My comments for the public Meeting of the Board of Prison Commissioners, on October 13th, 2009

To the Board of Prison Commissioners and everyone attending the meeting and beyond,

I would like the Board and everyone to know that the situation of Medical Care in Nevada´s prisons is still a big issue, and there has been no change in this situation since I became involved with this human rights crisis a year ago.

The situation consists amongst others of:

Inadequate training of staff and medical staff to help prisoners who have medical issues. There are still many mentally ill prisoners being held on lockdown together with other prisoners, and they should be cared for elsewhere with proper doctors (psychiatrists). The situation now gets worse too for those who do not (yet) suffer.

There seems to be no doctor at Ely State Prison, or no qualified doctor. A prison with so many men locked down needs a permanent medical staff including two or three doctors, well trained for prison medical issues. There also needs to be access to specialist care for diabetics, urological care, etc. If that is not possible, the prisoners needing this care should be placed where the care is at hand.

The situation in the prison system in the USA and Nevada is that the sentences are so long, that prisoners will get medical complaints sooner or later. Withholding medical care comes down to torture, or “cruel and unusual punishment.” So either the medical care system should be improved or the sentences should be reduced. In The Netherlands, prisoners are allowed to choose their own outside doctor at their own cost if the prison´s medical doctor is inadequate.

That a warden who is head of a prison when a prisoner died of lack of medical care (he had received no insulin for a very long time, even though he was an insulin-dependent diabetic patient) can still be in function, and is not suspended pending an investigation, tells us much about the corrupt-ic cover-ups and goings-on in the Nevada prison system.

Another point I want to make is that the lack of any intellectual stimulus makes prisoners passive and inadequately prepared for their eventual release into society. Please make the Library available to every prisoner, by stimulating them to make a visit every week. Pass out books to prisoners if you want the prison remain on lockdown. Pass out newspapers. Make school, also post-GED school an issue in the prisons. Keep a good Law Library. How are prisoners going to get a job if they lack all capacities for social abilities and intellectual capacities?

Be fair with the rules: parole dates should be kept. One prisoner complained to me that he had been over the parole date´s time for many months. Another has very low security level points but still is being kept on administrative segregation because of things that happened more than 5 years ago. Please keep that prisoner on the actual (Medium) security level he has “earned” and not on High Risk Potential! How can a prisoner earn any good time otherwise, if you do not keep to your own rules?

Communication with the outside world: If a prisoner is allowed one phonecall a week, the staff should hand him the phone, or let him out of his cell to a phonebooth in the prison. Now, weeks go by without contact with a friend or child of the prisoner, making the whole situation inhuman and dangerous, because a person who cannot communicate with loved ones, will become a danger to him or herself and others. Reality will point this out.

Thank you for giving me and others the opportunity to speak my and our concerns for our friends and loved ones in prison. They are still human beings just like you and me. Although I am in Nevada, I am at the moment visiting my friend in prison. If the meeting had been tomorrow, I could have met you all and spoken these words myself. I trust the words will reach your hearts and that you may do the noble work of making things better in the Nevada prison system.

– More medical staff, better trained, more oversight
– Keep to your own rules, have oversight installed for rules-keeping.
– Have better oversight and system installed for communication of prisoners with loved ones
– Keep the prisoner´s brains trained by allowing access to library, law library, more reading material, no more in advance having to have a book-title accepted by staff, and inviting a Books to Prisoners program for Nevada prisoners.

Yours sincerely,