Nevada Department of Corrections Director Greg Cox quits

This is from the Las Vegas Review Journal, Sept 14th, 2015:
By Wesley Juhl and Sandra Chereb

Embattled Nevada Department of Corrections Director Greg Cox resigned abruptly Monday under unknown circumstances.

Gov. Brian Sandoval said in a statement he accepted Cox’s resignation and appointed E.K. McDaniel to serve as interim director of the department, which has come under scrutiny for use-of-force issues leading to inmate injuries and one prisoner fatality.

“I would like to thank Greg for his service to our state and I appreciate his hard work serving the people of Nevada,” Sandoval said.

No reason was given for the Cox’s resignation, but John Witherow, head of the NV Cure prison reform organization, has a laundry list of problems with the way the department treats inmates.

“I don’t know why he resigned, but I suspect it was his inability to control his subordinates,” he said.

NV Cure had met with Cox to discuss retaliation against prisoners who file formal grievances against the department. Witherow said Cox told him he would not tolerate that kind of treatment.

“The retaliation did not, in fact, stop. It increased,” Witherow said.

Cox’s resignation follows months of high-profile conflicts at Nevada prisons, beginning with a fatal inmate shooting in November at High Desert State Prison, just outside of Las Vegas, that wasn’t revealed until four months later when the Review-Journal discovered the Clark County coroner’s office had ruled it a homicide.

Inmate Carlos Manuel Perez, 28, died Nov. 12, 2014. [link added by NV Cure] A second inmate, Andrew Arevalo, was injured.

More recently, seven inmates were injured in August at Warm Springs Correctional Center in Carson City when a fight broke out during dinner and guards opened fire with rubber pellets. One inmate who was not identified was flown to a Reno hospital, though details of his injuries remain undisclosed.

In July, three inmates suffered minor injuries when guards fired rounds to break up a fight at Lovelock Correctional Center. One inmate at Ely State Prison was taken to a hospital in Las Vegas in April after he was shot by a guard during a fight. Eight other inmates were injured.

Cox’s resignation came the night before he was expected to present the findings from a study on the department’s use of force at Tuesday’s Board of State Prison Commissioners in Carson City. The prison board, comprised of the governor, Attorney General Adam Laxalt and Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, requested the study at the last meeting after Perez’s death led to controversy.

On Monday, an unnamed spokesman for the department told the Review-Journal “there is no final report as of yet” in the study conducted by the Association of State Correctional Administrators.

Read the rest here.

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More shootings revealed at Nevada prison where handcuffed inmate killed

This comes from The Guardian (US)

April 15, 2015

One prisoner lost an eye and six inmates were wounded by shotgun blasts in two separate incidents at High Desert state prison, according to court papers.

More unreported shootings are coming come to light after the disclosure that a guard shot a handcuffed inmate to death at a Nevada prison where guns were fired more than 200 times in a recent five-year period.

Six inmates were wounded by shotgun blasts from a guard breaking up a breakfast scuffle in January 2012 at High Desert state prison outside Las Vegas, according to federal lawsuits filed on behalf of three wounded inmates. A state lawsuit was filed on behalf of a fourth wounded inmate.

Six months later, inmate Dario Olivas was blinded in one eye when a guard fired a shotgun to stop two other inmates fighting in the dinner hall, according to documents filed by attorney Cal Potter in US district court in Las Vegas.

The Nevada department of corrections deputy chief, Brian Connett, said by email on Tuesday that he was out of the state and unable to respond to questions about state and federal lawsuits reviewed by the Associated Press. Department officials have routinely declined to comment about litigation and investigations.

The revelations come with the Nevada prisons chief, Greg Cox, due to testify on Wednesday on budget questions before state lawmakers in Carson City.

Democratic assemblywoman Maggie Carlton said the Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, should become more involved in investigating reports of prison inmate deaths and injuries.

“When something goes wrong like this, it’s the governor’s responsibility,” Carlton said.

Democratic state senator Richard “Tick” Segerblom said he is troubled by the prison shootings. Nevada department of corrections data obtained by Segerblom shows guards fired 215 gunshots at the prison from 2007-11.

“The shooting of a handcuffed inmate obviously raises red flags,” Segerblom said. “These are serious cases that need to be looked at. It could be systematic [sic] of the overall lack of resources we spend on prisons.”

Sandoval has left investigations of the 12 November killing of inmate Carlos Manuel Perez Jr, 28, and wounding of inmate Andrew Jay Arevalo, 24, to local, county and state authorities. That shooting was not disclosed until a coroner’s report in March.

Potter, who represents Perez’s family in a federal wrongful death and excessive force lawsuit, alleges that guards created a “gladiator-like scenario” to let the two inmates fight in a shower hallway where prisoners are supposed to be kept apart.

The fight ended when a corrections officer trainee fired one warning shot and three live shotgun blasts down the hallway, according to an incident report that identifies the trainee only by his last name. The trainee reported that Perez and Arevalo ignored his verbal commands to stop fighting.

“It’s a system out of control that doesn’t appear to be accountable to anyone,” Potter said. “This calls out for some kind of accountability. I would hope the governor and attorney general would step forward and start answering questions.”

Read the rest here.