Visiting at HDSP is changing as of Jan. 7th but NDOC is not communicative about it nor practical

I was in prison and you came
to visit me (Matthew 25:36) 

We have gathered that after January 7th, visiting at High Desert State Prison will be on a first come first serve basis, instead of by appointment.

There is still no information on the NDOC website about this important change for all who have loved ones inside HDSP.

We all know how important, if not vital, it is to allow visits to prisoners. It even makes a job for a c.o. easier if the prisoners are less tense because they have had a visit with a loved one. It makes re-entry much easier, and thus it reduces future recidive.

To install a “first come first serve” visiting rule creates a lot of problems, for example if you come from far away (and most visitors do, in Nevada), it is not acceptable that you can not visit because there is a large cue before you (as is often the case at HDSP, even if you are on time).

Also, where do the visitors wait? How do they know who was first? Do they queue up with their cars? How much time is eaten from the visits because the prisoners do not know they have a visit or who have to be collected at the moment the visitor is allowed in? In many states this has been practice and it goes well, but they have personell in place who deal with getting visitors processed quickly and they do not turn away people as long as they come between certain times, unless it is a very busy day like Mothers’ Day.

It may sound better, to no longer have appointments, but visits on a “first come first serve”-basis is unfair and not practical in the way there is no clear announcement or anything for the future visitors who have to plan their journeys well ahead (for instance by having to book a plane). NDOC, a professional, taxfunded governmental organization, should advertise and communicate these important changes from those who finance their prisons (the public) much clearer and more professionally.

This is not the only visiting issue that NDOC should address. Not a few people have been refused a visit or more, even many more, without the possibility to have a video visit instead.

NDOC should give open information to every visitor on their website as well as to all visitors who come now, and over the telephone.

Two prisoners die in state prisons after being found in cells

From: KSNV MyNews

LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) — Nov 17th 2012

Two prisoners have died over the past two days after being found unresponsive in their state prison cells.

Nevada Department of Corrections officials said in a news release today that John Biasi, 55, was found dead in his single cell at High Desert State Prison about 4 p.m. Friday.

Biasi was serving 10 to 25 years for second-degree murder and a consecutive term of 5 to 15 years for use of a deadly weapon. He was convicted in Clark County and had been in state custody since November 2011.

NDOC said today that Winston Kelly, 38, was found unresponsive in his single cell during the 11 a.m. head count at Ely State Prison. He was taken to William Bee Ririe Hospital in Ely and was pronounced dead at 12:12 p.m. He was convicted of first-degree murder, robbery and use of a deadly weapon in Elko County

Officials said both deaths are being investigated and no other information is available.

Letter from a Nevada prisoner dated Oct 11th, 2011

From: Nevada Cure:

The original of this letter is at the archives of Nevada-Cure. It was sent to Director Gregg Cox alongside a letter asking the Director to act in order to stop the abuses and excessive use of power at ESP and HDSP and wherever prisoners are vulnerable and on lockdown.

Thank you for writing me back. I received your letter on August 30, but am only now getting a chance to answer it. I have been going through so much in here for about a month because these so-called correctional officers have been denying me my meals and not only me but a couple of other inmates as well, and that senior c.o. in the bubble name Jesse Cox has been throwing away my fellow prisoners’ mail retaliating against us because of grievances and anything that we do or say. So me and several other prisoners had to do what we did to get the warden’s attention.

It’s obvious they don’t understand nonviolent protest because every time we get together and write a grievance these c.o. continue to do what they want to do “illegally” so we have to do what we have to do in a violent way to get these people to understand us. We are not animals, we are human beings that are locked down 23 hours a day in a maximum security prison in the middle of nowhere, a lot of us don’t have any family to help us (I know I don’t) and it’s hard to get people to hear our voice because the “C.O.” throw away our phone kites.

Just a few weeks ago I was removed from 4A to 4B after talking to the “caseworker” about what was going on and its like they don’t even care because after I told the caseworker what happened and why I was acting the way I was acting, they moved me to the other side (4B) with a bunch of really really mentally ill people who scream and bang on their door all day. Not only that, when they moved me into the cell, it was not clean at all. My water was turned off, my toilet was turned off and the guy who was in there before me left feces and urine in the toilet and I couldn’t flush the toilet because the co turned it off. I asked if they can turn it on so that I can flush it and the only answer I get is whistles and “chain chain chain, chain the fool” song that the c.o. sings to me just to provoke me. It keeps going and going.

That same day they refused to give me my dinner. I did nothing during chow time and they passed right by my door without even looking at me. So I flooded my room, tired of all the foul treatment, the cruel and unusual punishment, my lonely life without any help and everything else. Pencil in my hand I tell the Sgt. to go get the Cert team, come in my room and get me, I’m not cuffing up. You come in here and I’ll stab all of you. That day I was ready to die or get beat down by seven officers but it didn’t happen. They kept me in there all night until about 10 am the next morning. I was able to calm down and the warden came to talk to me. I told what happened. She acts like she cares but I know she doesn’t care at all. So I cuff up, get on my knees so that they can put the shackles on my ankles. The c.o. made a slick comment and I turned around to look him in the eyes and tell him to shut up and boom! I’m knocked to the ground with a closed fist by the officer. This isn’t the first time, so it didn’t shock me. One of the officers named Coleman that also had fun assaulting me while yelling, Stop resisting! Thrust his two fingers to the side of my neck going for my pressure point. I laughed at him because he wasn’t doing a good job at what he was doing, my body was supposed t shut down when he did that even though I was on the ground already, but it didn’t. The AWO was there, he seen what happened, why it happened, but he didn’t see it all (I wonder why?)

Well, I’m sorry for taking up your time with all this and not responding to your last letter. I will respond to your last letter, but let me tell you more. After that happened with the officers I was sent to the infirmary with no shirt, no socks, no shoes, put in a cell naked with a suicide blanket until I was seen by “mental health”. I was seen and cleared to go back to the hole. I was doing alright until one morning I was up ready to go outside so that I can get some fresh air and run a couple laps, a c.o. that did not like me told me that I couldn’t go to yard so I captured the food flap so that the Sgt. could come talk to me, he did and he said it was all a misunderstanding and I could have my yard time if only I would comply with their orders. I did. I got my recreation time and came back to my cell without any incident at all.

So I’m sitting in my cell reading a book by Chairman Mao Tse-Tung and here comes the mental health lady telling me she’s taking my yard and my phone. I didn’t care about the phone because I didn’t have anyone to call anyway and still don’t. So I ask how long are you going to take my yard time and she said, “As long as I want to.” I told her she couldn’t do that because I didn’t do anything and she walked away, so I flooded my room to get the sgt. or warden’s attention but to no avail. The C.E.R.T team comes and tells me they are going to clean out my cell and search it. They did and they also took me to another cell and strapped me down to a bed naked in a camera room and while they were strapping me down I told the CERT officer that I can finally look him in the eyes. He pulled my hair, pulled it so hard that my head lifted and turned my head the other way, pushed it down on the bed. A week later I got strapped down again for talking to another prisoner down the way from where I was and then they moved me to another cell and refused to let me shower and have a towel. So I flooded again. Nothing happened that night. The next morning mental health lady comes to my door and tells me that they are going to be taking my mattress every morning from 6 am to 6 pm. I told her no, you’re not. They took it from me and I slept on the cold dirty nasty stinking bug infested floor all night. They did not give it back to me at all. I was cold, without clothes, just a suicide blanket, naked sleeping on the floor. Did I write a grievance? No. Why? Because all I’m going to get is grievance denied, grievance denied, and grievance denied. I tell you this because nobody else listens to me at all. I hope that you understand the life I live in prison.

Well, as you probably already know, I will not be able to get a job here at Ely because of all the things I’ve been doing (It’s not my fault). They’re violating my rights; they’ve been doing it for the longest now. But there’s nothing I can do because I don’t have any help in here or out there. I hope that you can help me or get the IG or AG to talk to me because if this continues I don’t think I’m going to make it out of prison, and in my mind I don’t even think that I am going to get out of prison and I’m not even a lifer.

Now, on the lawsuit that I want to file is for something that happened down in High Desert. I did not want to shower in my room because it was dirty so the officer took me to the other shower up front in the infirmary to the shower. I started yelling and screaming, that’s all, and the officer opened the shower gate, snatched me out and slammed me on my face, punched me in the left side of my face, then my nose, causing it to bleed and then he put a pillow case over my head. I couldn’t see or breathe and I was down after that. I was scared, terrified and paranoid because of the cruel and unusual punishment and the excessive force that was used on me. (Like always). If you would like for me to send you a copy of my notice of charges I will do that because the c.o. even says that he hit me in the face and put a pillowcase over my head. It says that in my write up that he wrote (which I know is enough for a law suit).

Well, thank you for your time…

Officials moving to shutter Nevada State Prison

From: Nevada Appeal
By GEOFF DORNAN, July 20, 2011

Prison officials are moving ahead with plans to close down the historic Nevada State Prison on Fifth Street.

Since May, when the Legislature voted to shut NSP down, Director of Corrections Greg Cox has been slowly moving inmates and staff to other institutions as space became available. He said about 130 close-custody and special-needs inmates have already been moved out of NSP to institutions including Warm Springs and Northern Nevada Correctional Center, both in Carson City.

The most dangerous were moved to Ely State Prison, Nevada’s maximum-security institution.

Some special-needs inmates were moved to Lovelock Correctional Center, 70 miles northeast of Reno along Interstate 80.

High Desert Correctional Center in southern Nevada, the state’s newest prison, will get nearly all of the more than 500 remaining inmates. That institution has two new and vacant units with enough capacity to hold those inmates.

Cox said the closure is being handled in a four-phase process designed to “limit the impact on staff and the community.”

“The Legislature’s intent and the department’s goal is to complete the closure in a safe, secure and efficient manner and to do this with as few staff layoffs as possible,” he said.

More than 200 corrections employees were assigned to NSP.

Cox told lawmakers in May that if they gave him time, he could greatly reduce the number of layoffs the closure would cause.

At the suggestion of state Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, the Legislature delayed the governor’s plan to close NSP by Oct. 31 back to March 31. Cox said that should reduce the projected 107 layoffs to 30 or less.

The department has already been able to close two units at NSP, which allowed it to move some staff to other area institutions where there are vacancies, including Lovelock.

Over the next few months, additional units will be closed as inmates are transferred out.

Cox told the Board of Examiners earlier this year that nearly all correctional staff willing to transfer would be able to keep a job. He has also said he expects some retirements among veteran officers who don’t want to leave the Carson City area.

The closure is driven by the fact that the antiquated design of NSP — parts of which are more than 100 years old — requires nearly twice as many correctional staff to operate as the state’s newest prison, High Desert in southern Nevada. Because of that difference, Cox testified during the legislative session, it costs $23,615 a year to keep inmates there, compared to just $14,061 at High Desert.

Read the rest here.

Retaliation against a prisoner who is vocal about prison conditions inside Nevada prisons, even though he only has 70 days left until release

James K. Wardell, NDOC #92924 has since summer 2010 voiced his concerns to Nevada Prison Watch, a community weblog, about the unhygienic sanitary conditions, the state of the food served, and inmates who were attacked by staff inside High Desert State Prison. 
The warden has tried to silence the voice of Mr Wardell by locking him up for 10 days, naked, with the lights on 24/7, in a separate part of the prison, without his glasses or anything, in the summer of 2010.
When this torture did not help in silencing Mr Wardell, the administration gave him more days until his release after nearly 30 years, pushing his release date back to later in 2011. The warden also kept Mr Wardell on administrative segregation, and did not want him “on his yard”, yet warden Baca prevented Mr Wardell from being transferred to another prison to serve the last days of his long sentence.
When he challenged this decision in court and won (January 2011), his cell was raided and legal documents were taken.
Then, around January 22nd, he was served with “charges”, apparently old, never before served charges but served late, against the rules, without stating a reason why they were served so late (contrary to the rules), and ignoring Mr Wardell´s right to remain silent and to a not guilty plea, contrary to NDOC´s rules.
Nevada Prison Watch suspects that these actions are retaliation because Mr Wardell spoke critically on this weblog about the state of the prison and its management.
Now, Mr Wardell has to fight these false charges while preparing for release, and in uncertainty of his release date. Mr Wardell should now be working on getting housing and a job, yet NDOC has done everything in its power, including illegal actions, to prevent Mr Wardell from being released, just for speaking out against dirty showers, cold food, inmates under attack and having whole units on lockdown with no programs or anything to help prisoners better themselves.
What can you do?
Please write to the new director of Nevada Department of Corrections, Mr Greg Cox, and ask him politely yet determinedly to welcome his response or intervention into correcting these outright displays of abuse and failure of the prison officials in not following their own procedures, and the harassment of this prisoner in order to chill his First Amendment Rights at H.D.S.P.
Address to write to:

Nevada Department of Corrections
Director´s Office
Mr Greg Cox
P.O. Box 7011
Carson City, Nevada  89702
Offender Management Division
Nevada Department of Corrections
P.O. Box 7011
Carson City, Nevada 89702

Also, anyone who is able to assist Mr Wardell legally with these matters can contact him at:
James Wardell #92924
P.O. Box 650,
Iindian Springs, NV 89070

Thank you so much for your help and support!
For James Wardell,
Friends of James Wardell

Retaliation again: punishing those who litigate for better conditions inside the prisons (HDSP)

James Wardell in High Desert State Prison is a regular contributor to this blog, and we at NPW would call him a supporter of social ethics, decency and humanity.
These are characteristics that are not often appreciated by those who keep people chained.

Here is another sorrowful episode of the hatred created by an overcrowded and hateful, badly managed prison:

January 6th 2011

I have been in the shower in hand-cuffs. The C.E.R.T. team (those in black uniforms) were in my cell for over an hour trying to find papers, and anything I guess to use against me.

They took my radio, one full box of my legal stuff and my head phones.

Officer Oliver of CERT told me his boss (warden Baca) told him to come tear up my house, find me something.

Then they moved me to unit 3-D-#34. They took all my pens, paper, my legal box, all kinds of stuff to mess with me, I´m sure the issue over my statutory time also rattled his cage. So now they will try to take more days from me to force me to stay longer, I´m sure.

The investigator was here at 5:30 AM to look at what I wrote about the dirty showers (black mold). Maybe they messed with me because of that visit of the Inspector?

Under perjury of NRS 208.165 I hereby declare my statement is true and correct. And that I´m still being retaliated against by warden Baca over being vocal of prison conditions.
Dated this 6th day of January 2011, signed: James Wardell.

H.D.S.P. Update

On Wednesday 12/15/2010, officer Mingo while working Unit 3-B, got into a verbal argument with an inmate housed in 3-B-#27 named Timothy Sanders #1035382. She then went and got a spray bottle that contained bleach and sprayed this inmate in the face and eyes to try to attack him.
The inmate had to be treated by medical staff. Lt Bruce Strand had a camera brought down, and some staff were observed laughing over the incident. Several prisoners wrote Affidavits to their witnessing this assault by officer Mingo.
Inmate killed in Level 4
On 12-16-2010, the yard was closed for an Inmate to Inmate killing in the new Level 4 housing area in Unit 7.
The Hispanic prisoner killed his celly, we´re not sure why, but the prisoner who killed his celly has a history of assaults and mental issues that the prison clearly has failed to address.
How many more people have to die, or be assaulted by staff before someone in our society will take notice of the Nevada Prison System´s failure to provide a proper structure in its facilities?
The wardens who run these prisons need to be held accountable for their lack of leadership and the abuses they allow to flourish under their reign.
This was sent with authorization for reprint by
James Gator Wardell
H.D.S.P., 12/17/2010
Received by mail on Dec 28th, 2010

HDSP: Staff assault by out-of-control C.E.R.T. officer

Received by mail Dec 22nd 2010
On 12/10/2010, a female Critical Emergency Response Team (C.E.R:T.) officer by the name of Ms Mahon, slammed an inmate into the wall in the staff office in unit 3A/B, then took the inmate´s handcuffs off in order to challenge him further to a confrontation.
A back-up officer (name unknown at this time) pulled his coat off and drew back his fist in a posture to get ready to assault the un-handcuffed prisoner. Officer Mahon pushed the inmate again, yelling and cursing further trying to provoke a fight.
This is not Procedure or Protocol to deal with these types of situations. The inmate was re-cuffed and returned to cell 3-B-#28. At least 25 cells were able to view this incident and a lot of these inmates drafted Affidavits to what they saw.
On the night of 12/12/2010 at or about 9:00 PM, this same officer (C.E.R.T.) Ms Mahon, along with other regular correctional officers, dragged a beaten inmate into unit 3-B and this C.E.R.T. officer started punching and striking this inmate and yelling at him while he was in restraints. There was no camera or recording device to confirm this.
But the inmates on the bottom tier witnessed these actions that took place in cell 3-B-#11, and Affidavits were drafted over the incident.
It is clear that this officer is out of control, and the abuse of authority is clearly addictive to this person in her current placement.
These are the sort of situations we the inmate population have to deal with every time we´re confronted by, when we´re cuffed up, or forced to endure, from these likes or dislikes. We know they will just further assault us or gas us at their leisure and we don´t have much recourse.
We need to have our elected officials, congress men and women made aware, and the Governor´s office contacted over situations such as this.
Whoever will listen, there has to be news agencies out there, radio stations, someone that will voice the issues.
Thank you,
James K. Wardell
13th of December 2010 
Note by NPW: We received an affidavit from Mr Wardell about this report asking for publication.

LV Sun: Inmate killed in fight at Nevada prison (HDSP)

From the Las Vegas Sun

Friday, Dec. 17, 2010 | 4:35 p.m.

Authorities announced Friday they were investigating a slaying at High Desert State Prison.
An inmate at the prison was killed at 7:30 p.m. Thursday night during a fight with another inmate, Nevada Department of Corrections officials said.

The name of the victim is being withheld pending notification of family. The prison is located at 22010 Coldcreek Road in unincorporated Clark County near Indian Springs.

The Department of Public Safety is leading the investigation and the Department of Corrections is assisting.
Officials said the cause of death is yet to be determined.


Comment received:
Dahn Shaulis said:

The murder of the prisoner at HDSP last week gives NDOC another rationale to make HDSP the max. While the murder may appear to be a security failure, and it was, it is also a victory for higher-level state officials.

As I previously mentioned to Nevada Prison Watch, officials for years have had a plan to make HDSP the max prison (to include a new death chamber). The idea actually precedes Howard Skolnik’s administration. I was in a meeting at HDSP when Interim Director Glen Whorton briefly discussed the plan.

The recession is the only thing that delayed some of the plans for “prison city”, the center of the prison-industrial complex in Nevada.

Will HDSP be the new ESP? Another Nevada prison on permanent lockdown?

It seems like those trying to manage the High Desert State Prison in Indian Springs are getting their way in turning it into another locked down prison. They use racial tensions and riots as an excuse to do what they always wanted to do, and turn it into a permanently locked down prison. They never wanted to change anything for the better for those locked up with no incentives, no programs, no reform, nothing to look forward to, mere eternal boredness. Those in charge, paid for by us all, never did want to correct these men. They did not want to reform these men. They did not call upon their bosses to make it possible that men never return to prison. And if they did, we did not hear it. We received the following to illustrate this:

As a former NDOC caseworker at HDSP and ESP, I can tell you there has been a plan for many years to make part of HDSP a maximum security prison (along with a Condemned Men’s Unit and new Death Chamber). Much of the plan precedes the current NDOC Director Howard Skolnik. I was in a meeting several years ago at HDSP when Glen Whorton discussed this idea. The plans are now part of the public record although Director Skolnik would deny that these plans are still in play.

If Ely State Prison becomes privatized (a possibility with Governor Sandoval elected), the plans to make HDSP the max could still be implemented as a cost savings measure.

The latest “uprisings” give NDOC officials the rationalization to increase security levels in preparation for the transition to maximum security. Remember that Warden Neven was the Associate Warden of Operations before taking the warden’s position at HDSP so he will use many of the same techniques used at Ely.

Dahn Shaulis

This comment sent to NPW by Mr Shaulis is illustrated by the following update written on 19 November 2010, by Mr James Wardell who is incarcerated in High Desert State Prison:

“They have now instituted a Level 4 Status Per Memo from warden Dwight Neven.

All of the men in units 5 A/B and 5 C/D were moved to units 7 A/B and 7 C/D, that is now the level 4 quad. Unit 8 A/B and 8 C/D will also become level 4 as the influx of peopel fill up the beds.

That quad was closed down last year due to staff shortage. But it has been reopened now because of all the racial tensions.

Warden Neven is trying to turn H.D.S.P. into another Ely, at least that´s what all the guards are saying.”