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.

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.

Another Nevada Prisoner Death at High Desert State Prison

Taken over from Nevada Prisoner Voice:

WILLIAM J. BROOKS, Age 51 and Five Months
Born 2/13/58 Died 7/22/2009

Can a Nevada prison sentence become a death sentence? Yes, we think it can.

Did Mr. Brooks lie gasping on the yard without rapid officer response or medical assistance?

Did prison officials take Mr. Brooks, reported as diabetic, to the hospital or did he die in the infirmary?

No telephone response at High Desert State Prison… Nevada State Highway Patrol Trooper also called HDSP, but also got no response

7:18 PM 29 July 2009…
Confirmation or denial of this report as soon as contact can be made with prisons officials… Efforts were made to confirm Mr. Brooks’ death through Nevada prison officials 30 July 2009 AM… to no avail.

But, at 10:23 AM this morning, 30 July 2009, the Clark County Coroner’s Office confirmed Mr. Brooks’ death. Nevada prisoners have shorter average life spans than those of free citizens in the USA, based upon current information that we are compiling.

News from the prisoners

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

22 JUNE 2009
(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

(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


“… 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


“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…”