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.

A Rubber Band and a Paperclip

We received this from Nevada-Cure:

By Gilbert Paliotta

I’ll start from where things went bad for me…. In 1998, Ely State Prison Administration housed me in a cell with a known “Gang Enforcer” (that’s how he was listed in their files) who was recently transferred to this prison from another one due to his numerous assaults and batteries on other inmates. A week before they housed me with this guy, he had been released from the “hole” (punitive segregation) for cracking open the head of his last cellmate with a metal hotpot and ripping his eyeball out of its socket.

Administration moved me in the cell with this guy; and, to save you from the gory details, a fight ensued and he lost his life.

Did I mention that he was over six feet tall and a solid two hundred pounds and that I am only five nine and one seventy? That up until 1998 I was labeled as a “ model inmate” (nothing to brag about but it’s better than being labeled a “Gang Enforcer”)? That ESP administration had prior knowledge revealed by the sheriff’s office that this guy was ordered to “hit” (kill) his last cellmate and yet they continued to cell me up with this guy?

I was found guilty of murdering my cellmate even though it was clearly self-defense. In my prison disciplinary hearing I remained silent because I was facing criminal charges by the State of Nevada, but the disciplinary committee simply found me “guilty” without allowing me to defend against allegations, sentenced me to the maximum penalty in punitive segregation and illegally placed me on “high risk potential” (HRP) status, the most extreme and restrictive status an inmate can possibly be placed on, even worse than death row, not an accusation but a proven fact.

The warden at the time (McDaniel) left me on the HRP status until 2005, long after my punitive segregation sentence had expired, ignoring my repeated attempts to be taken off said status and sent back to the general population. He stated he would not take me off HRP status until he considered me “no longer a threat to staff and inmates”.

In 2005, Warden McDaniels finally removed me from HRP status but did not send me back to the general population. He told me to give him six months. It’s now 2012 and I’m still not back in general population.

They keep me on “administrative segregation” under the guise of “safety security” reasons, which is a contradiction or the warden would not have taken me off HRP in 2005.

During this time I filed a Civil Rights complaint (or rather I tried to) regarding the prison holding me hostage all of these years in segregation, it was dismissed. Had I had some help, that would not have happened. I had them dead to rights on that lawsuit.

Since they continue to keep me segregated when they have released other inmates who have been found guilty of murder of another inmate back to general population, I am beginning the steps of filing another separate complaint. This one will be from the date my prior lawsuit was dismissed.

And it gets worse…Physical abuse as retaliation

Administration didn’t like that I filed a lawsuit against them. In 2008, the guards assaulted me while I was handcuffed and had leg restraints on. Two days later, they assaulted me again while I was handcuffed and restrained. Of course, they twisted it up saying it was the other way around but how does a person attack two guards while he’s in full restraints?

In 2009-10 I was engaged to be married and was receiving visits every three months from my fiancée’ who traveled all the way from England.

Again, administration disrupted my life as I knew it. That lawsuit! After one of my visits with my (now) ex-fiancee, they said they found a pair of panties on prison grounds and that she gave them to me. This is major. I was strip searched three times before and after visits by five different guards and at no time was a pair of panties or any contraband for that matter ever found in my possession or on my person. During my disciplinary hearing (they charged me with possession of contraband’ for these alleged panties I allegedly received from my fiancée). I requested numerous witnesses, who all told me that they would testify on my behalf, and the video surveillance from the visiting room on the date of my fiancée’s visit to be introduced as evidence. The sergeant and lieutenant who handled this disciplinary hearing flat out refused to call any of the witnesses (all of whom were ESP staff) and refused to introduce the video surveillance.

They found me guilty of “possession of contraband”, sentenced me to a year punitive segregation and took my visiting privileges for one year.

I now have a civil action pending in federal court that is at the summary judgment phase.

In the process I lost my fiancée because she’s terrified to come back, thinking next time they will do something else worse to her.

My family members are hesitant to visit me for those same reasons.

Allow me to back pedal in time.

Eleven days after my last visit with my ex-fiancée (Michele), a pair of panties was again found on prison grounds!! The sergeant sent guards to my cell, strip-searched me and tore my cell apart, breaking items of my property in the process.

Get this, I was nowhere near where the pair of panties was found nor was I even outside. In fact, I had not even gone outside my cell since they lied about the first pair!

All of this is documented in the lawsuit and can be proven.

Also, during my disciplinary hearing (which is recorded) the lieutenant even stated, “No one is accusing you of being in possession of contraband.” He still found me guilty.

I’m waiting to see what the repercussions are going to be for filing this lawsuit I have now in federal court.

Maybe I just don’t care no more. After losing my fiancée I silently pray someone puts me out of my misery because I am in the process of writing a separate civil action in state court challenging the prison administrations lack of institutional protection of the laws in regards to religious practices: not allowing inmates to freely practice their religion.

I’ve been through the riots; I’ve fought administration both physically and on paper. It is impossible to do this alone. All I have is a rubber band and a paper clip.

I read these so-called prisoner support groups articles about how they fight for us, stand with us , etc. I find that to be carrots on a stick. To be honest, I don’t think they even exist. What “help” or “support” have they given to us? Nobody I know has benefited from their services.

I am not accusing you of anything, I don’t know you.

It’s just that I’m so fed up with of this. Losing someone you genuinely love because of the actions of someone else is crushing.

Have you lost a loved one or had an engagement called off? I sincerely hope that you haven’t nor ever have to experience that, but, if you have, multiply that by a dozen, topped off with the loss of seeing your family members as well.

Michele and I overcame major obstacles, living in different countries, me in prison, us being different nationalities and personalities among other things. Now imagine all of that being destroyed because ESP administration wanted to destroy the last bit of happiness I had in life.

I try to better myself each everyday both mentally and physically by reading everything I possibly can and maintaining a workout routine. I share whatever knowledge I have with anyone that asks but I’m limited. I cannot reach beyond these prison walls without support.

No one thinks they will ever be in such a position as I am in, but if it can happen to me, if can happen to someone you love. Please support prisoners in their fight for justice and fairness.

Gilbert Paliotta #46244
ESP
P.O. Box 1989,
Ely, NV 89301

News from the prisoners

News in from the desks and mailbags of Nevada Prisoner Voice:

22 JUNE 2009
I’M THINKING WHAT I’M DOING IS WORKING
(NOTE: transcribed as written…)

“Guess what, these clowns tried to break my right wrist. I’m thinking what I’m doing is working. If I haven’t already told you, I’m telling you now my case, that rape case was dismissed. But N.D.O.C. has written me up and I was found guilty. I only got 60-days hole time. But I still think things are going to change for the better. You think I need to study english. Maybe your right, I’ll cheeck up on that.

After I mail off a… report on how N.D.O.C’s officials break the law criminally here… then, I pretty much did what I could do. Malm please excuss my pinmentship, the pens they give us now are just the inserts. Well malm my rist is starting to hurt, so I’ll go ahead and let you go for now.”

22 JUNE 09

PRAY I LIVE TO GET OUT
(NOTE: transcribed as written…)

“Daily its the retaliation — punishment and interference by way of my religious kosher diet meals — open — outdated products inadequate and it goes on with the Ely State Prison officials.

For example, today 06/14/09 my breakfast hot-?-? Denied my Kosher juice package again, denied my Kosher milk. I have not had any real milk inside my body since September 25, 2005. Ely State Prison is the only Nevada prison with powdered milk that is an FDA violator, no label, no ingredients, the boxes not match the packs – packs not match the box.

My lunch meal main course open, I had to refuse it daily, give peanut butter — jelly with peanuts for lunch. They failure to rotate it daily. Over nine months eggs seven days a week 4 breakfast, peanut butter jelly, peanuts today for lunch good until 7/20/09. My ? bagel good until 6/22/09.

Dinner given a Passover meal they claim not to have 4/16/09. My dinner ? bagel outdated 04/06/09. Cho chip cookies outdated 06/03/09. Daily my dietary laws is interfer with under Lev. II: its my food — mail — medical — dental — personal — legal calls showers –

intentionally surrounded by mental health inmates that shall not be inside the same units 1, 2, 3, 4 with us non-mental illness. E. K. McDaniel – medical – mental health staffing use these mental illness inmates for another punitive measures here at ESP big time.

Day — night and day beating — yelling not shower and it goes on will force unwanted minutes into inmates but not enforce showers AR 705. Inmate grooming AR 701 crazy huh!?

I am (between) abnormal acting no shower taking inmates.

Anyway I just take it one day at a time. Pray I live to get out this dump home to my family friends Thank you for listen again.

Then it’s all my personal — legal and religious stolen/taken by Ely State Prison officials there retaliation -n- punishment individual racial discrimination and it goes on… did you know we is denied to use a broom, mop and disinfect for our cells/ESP? But now death row can use these cleaning supplies.”

22 JUNE 09

WHAT HAPPENED TO GROUNDS BEAUTIFICATION AT SOUTHERN DESERT CORRECTIONAL CENTER, INDIAN SPRINGS, NEVADA…?

“… One of the nicer guards who left… told me that he knew things were getting worse. There was another officer … and he too commented on the terrible conditions.

The outside play area is now a shambles and dismantled and there are no areas where the kids can amuse themselves any longer and no flowers or plants… Inmates are no longer allowed to go out there, not even with their visitors, as was the custom in the past.”

18 JUNE 09

SOUTHERN DESERT CORRECTIONAL CENTER, INDIAN SPRINGS, NEVADA… GRADUATION… THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY

“There are some radical changes at SDCC and while I enjoyed my visit with my son and also my grandkids who I took up to see him, it became very obvious that the inmates were having a more difficult time.

A new head guard took over and all the other guards, with the exception of one female guard, apparently quit en masse as they refused to work for this man who they did not like or respect. So it was a new staff there when I arrived and one of the new guards did not want to let me in because he said my written notarized letter from the mother of my grandkids was out of date.

I replied it was good for all time and in their file but he told me that from then on a new notarized letter allowing me or their granddad to take the kids (still minors) had to be received at SDCC every 60 days – in other words, such letters were only good for 2 months. He allowed me in with the kids because my visit had been approved prior to their new rule!! How kind!

Then when we got in we saw this new stiff upper lip type sargeant major who stood with arms akimbo and checked all around the room that all was in order. He walked around the room, sometimes from table to table, never cracked a smile and announced in a loud and unpleasant voice that new rules had been printed and we must all pick one up before we leave. He later on handed some out.

Nothing of the letter authorizing me to bring minors to visit their dad was mentioned in these rules (that these expired every 60 days and had to be renewed). My son was not sure if they were even approved by NDOC… (NOTE: the renewal of notarizations has reportedly since been dropped, thank goodness.)

On another note, my son and other inmates were not happy when they needed to use the toilet facilities as there were always 5 guards to watch them as they did their business! Talk about lack of any type of privacy. Some of the men, incl. my son, avoided having to use the facilities due to this invasive situation. Again, the routine is more strict, clothing is more strictly enforced, and there were no happy campers!

The one event that went well was the Graduation Ceremony…

The formal part of the Graduation Ceremonies at SDCC were held from 9 to 10 AM, on Tues. June 2, 2009. My son and 2 other inmates received their Assoc. Deg’s. from the College of Southern NV (CSN), as well as the Braille Certificate for Math Translation (he was the only one) and he and a number of others received the literature transription Braille certificates.

The graduating procession was led by several recipients of the Assoc. Degrees from CSN, followed by the High School graduates, all in cap and gown. Those receiving Braille Certification and other various Certificates were already seated in the nicely arranged visiting Room for this occasion.

Speeches were given by dignitaries including the Warden, teachers and other staff members. An hour of mingling with those in attendance at the ceremony took place from 10 until 11 AM and refreshments were served in the form of either chocolate or white cake and juice and enjoyed by staff, graduates, speakers and visitors alike. The event was very well organized. Refreshements were served and it was quite informal after all the speeches and well organized and I was able to sit beside my son for this special day and talk to him.

There were quite a few High School diplomas and certificates for other studies handed out. (My son) lead the procession into the visiting room so of course I was very proud of him. All his teachers seemed so as well and came over to speak to us (his dad and my sister were there also).

We did get a couple of photos taken of the occasion and one of the Braille teachers brought her camera and took some more so I guess we will get that one too soon.

Well, that is the news out of SDCC…”