Article received on May 3rd 2010
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Greetings families and friends of those incarcerated within the NDOC, as well as to those who may not have loved ones residing in the NDOC but are prison advocates and/or concerned citizens. I am an inmate that has been imprisoned at Ely State Prison for the past 10 years. Throughout this tenure, I have experienced and witnessed the demise of education, programs, inmate health, humanity, and integrity. Unfortunately inmates’ morale has abated as well, while the prison guards´ sadist acts have risen.
ESP is operating as a de facto (illegitimate but in effect) Super Max facility. ESP was not designed to be double celled nor to operate as a super max, but for the past six years it has been and only has one worker unit. Inmates have become so accustomed to this lockdown living that most don’t exit their call for shower or yard time. Now, during the Spring and Summer (warmer seasons) more inmates go to the outside miniature recreation yard but because only one cell per hour is allowed on this yard, not everyone can receive yard time daily during day light hours. We have no indoor out of the cell free time, meaning that during rain, snow and the freezing Ely weather you can either go outside or remain in your cell for 24 hours. I’m not on my soap box about prison living, per se (for there is another time for that) but I am bringing to your attention the repercussions of this 23/1 indefinite lockdown.
These Gestapo tactics have broken inmates down to debrief (lying about others and/or becoming prison informants which are used up by administration and discarded like a piece of gum after losing it’s flavor), they lose their social communication skills, develop paranoia, OCD, severe depression, lack of discipline, become obnoxious and lose touch with reality. These are the people (American citizens) who will be coming back to your communities.
What is the Nevada Department of Corrections correcting? Yes, ESP provides high school education via correspondence materials being delivered to an inmate’s cell where he does the assignments (if he can) but there is no classroom atmosphere and no teacher support. How much better would it be for inmates to get up in the morning, go to class, ask and discuss the assignments so to show an understanding and develop confidence? That sounds like a start to correction. ESP provides no post high school education; hence, if you already have a diploma you receive no education whatsoever. Inmates that are fortunate enough to pursue and obtain a college education and degree with their personal funds (via outside correspondence schools) receive no good time credits (as outlined per NRS 209.4465) nor recognition from the parole board. Instead they are considered a “non-programmer”. Inmates have no incentive to be good since good behavior is not lifting the lock down. Those inmates being rewarded are lying on other inmates.
Do Nevada tax payers know that they are paying a correctional officer’s salary of roughly $18/hour and up, to prepare and pass out food trays, sweep/mop the floor and clean the units? A job an inmate would do for free. ESP has been locked down for years but claims they need more staff. Did you know that more inmates have been killed and/or died since the lockdown AND more inmates have been assaulted by staff? I, a person of common intelligence, would believe that the objective to locking down a prison is to quell the problems, not to cause more. How much is enough?
You have probably read in the newspapers and/or know that the states have become dependent on prisons to provide employment and revenue to the counties and state. In addition to this, prisons contract other businesses to supply materials or provide services which turn a profit. Once prisons started turning a profit it became a business. A business solely exists to make money. I pay $16.90 to make a collect call to California for 15 minutes, 34 cents for a Top Ramen, $275 for a flat 13” screen TV, $6.80 for an 8oz bag of Keefe coffee and the list goes on. The state doesn’t provide inmates with deodorant, thermals, beanie, or gloves if they have money on their account. The inmate has to buy everything on canteen. Indigent inmates are not provided these items period. Those familiar with Ely know about the freezing weather months on end.
Correctional officers prepare the inmate trays on the unit failing to distribute adequate food proportions. 90% of our fruit is canned (we receive an occasional orange or an apple) and 75% of it is rotten! The most disturbing issue here is inmates giving up and accepting all of this. Guys are starting to take psychotropic medication and lay down in fear of losing their TV, canteen and phone privileges. I know you want your loved ones to not get into trouble and you worry for their safety. When a majority of these guys get released they are only going to want to lay around on the couch all day because that is all they know. What we need is your support. Inmates need to be encouraged to learn their prisoners rights, demand more educational programs, vocational training, fresh fruits and vegetables, affordable telephone rates and canteen, mental health and drug addiction resources, desegregating of inmates, better training of staff, programs to assist inmates upon release to name just a few.
You can help by contacting and/or petitioning to the Governor, Department of Corrections, Prison Commission and State Representatives. Inmates must do their part by filing grievances and stopping the knit-picking amongst themselves-that administration orchestrated in the first place. Please do not allow your loved ones morale to evaporate. Not only are they oppressed in prison but inmates´ families give up on them too and that is what the prison wants since it is designed to keep us from the public. DO NOT ALLOW THIS TO TAKE PLACE. Encourage your family and friends to keep in touch so that inmates can build and maintain relationships with their children, parents and spouses. Love is unconditional and your outside support is needed.
The recidivism rate is out of control and it is because of the failing prison system. America has the largest prison population in the world so it is evident that what they have been doing is not working. You pay taxes and are an American citizen, thus, you have the power to be heard and can bring about change. Let us on this inside and you on the outside unite our forces… for together we can achieve anything we set out to do!! Educate, support, and unite.
If you have coments about this article, you can email: firstname.lastname@example.org