From Nevada-Cure: Informational Bulletin nr 1

Received from Nevada-Cure, it is on the website here. Please print and distribute widely to those you know in Nevada prisons!

Here you find a copy of the NV-CURE Informational Bulletin (IB) Newsletter – No. 1 – that will be sent to prisoners on our mailing list this month.
You may want to print copies to send to prisoners that may not be on our mailing list and you may want to e-mail to any persons that may have an interest in the NV prison system.
We need to bring the problems with the NV prison and parole systems to as many people as possible. 
Good people should not tolerate the things that are going on behind barbed wire fenses in Nevada.
NV-CURE
(Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants)
540 E. St. Louis Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89104

702.347.1731

nevadacure@gmail.com
nevadacure.org

Informational Bulletin Newsletter (1) June 2012

NV-CURE is a non-profit corporation.  Our mission is to educate people on the issues and problems associated with the prison and parole systems through factual information to provoke intelligent and reasonable debate and discussion of those issues and problems.  Our goal is to find intelligent solutions to issues and problems and cause constructive change to the prison and parole systems.  We want humane and rehabilitative treatment for all prisoners and we want justice and fairness for all people regardless of their race, national origin, religious preferences, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or the nature of previous criminal conduct. 

We need your help, and the help of your family, friends and associates, to accomplish our mission and achieve our goal. Join us in the struggle to bring justice and fairness to all in the criminal justice system.

We hold meetings on the last Wednesday of every month at 6:30 PM in our Las Vegas Office.  All people are welcome to attend in person or through our telephonic conference line. (Call for Details).

NV-CURE Membership

NV-CURE Membership for prisoners ($2.00), basic ($10.00), family ($20.00) and sustaining ($50.00) is ANNUAL. Each person needs to keep track of their membership date and make a renewal membership donation yearly. This will save us having to write you to remind your yearly membership is due. 

NV-CURE Lifetime Membership is $100.00 and only needs to be paid once.

NV-CURE Members may assist the organization by contributing money and/or volunteering to perform tasks to assist NV-CURE in achieving its mission and goal.  All NV-CURE Members are expected to assist other NV-CURE Members in resolving issues and problems confronting them, to recruit more members to our cause and to assist others in furtherance of our mission and goals. NV-CURE Members are expected to actively participate in the struggle for justice and fairness for all. Struggle in Solidarity.

NV-CURE Mail

NV-CURE has a mailing address listed above.  All mail to NV-CURE, or any NV-CURE Directors or Officers, should be sent to the address listed above.  All mail to NV-CURE is scanned into our files and disseminated for response.  Responses will be provided within 30 days or as soon as possible.

NV-CURE Telephone Calls
NV-CURE has a telephone number listed above.  All calls to NV-CURE must be prepaid.  We do not have the funds necessary for us to accept collect calls.  Please do not make collect calls to us.  Thank you.

NV-CURE Prisoner Members

NV-CURE Prisoner Members are encouraged to help accomplish our mission.  Work together, help each other, help other prisoners and encourage other prisoners, and their family and friends, to join us in the struggle to make constructive changes to the prison and parole systems.  We need your help in building solidarity among all prisoners to make constructive changes and to bring justice and fairness to all.  We will accomplish more working together than struggling individually.

NV-CURE Prisoner Members need to organize as many prisoners as possible at each institution into a cohesive and united front to effectuate constructive change.  DO NOT VIOLATE ANY PRISON RULES.  Gather information regarding staff abuse, conditions of confinement, staff misconduct and other problems that need to be addressed.  Provide that information  – IN AFFIDAVIT FORMAT – to NV-CURE for our use in any manner deemed appropriate.  NV-CURE will compile that information, organize it into an articulate format and provide that information to persons responsible for investigating the problems addressed and to persons responsible for the adopting of laws, policies and procedures governing and controlling those matters and for correcting those problems.  We all need to work together to make NV-CURE a viable vehicle through which all our voices and complaints heard in an intelligent and reasonable changes made to the criminal just-us system.

NV-CURE Prisoner Members at each institution may elect a member at each institution to lead the struggle for change.  Each elected leader should be in weekly telephone communication through pre-paid calls to designated NV-CURE Community Representative. Only through coordinated and organized joint action may we effectuate the changes required for humane conditions of confinement and justice and fairness for all.

Legal Assistance

NV-CURE is NOT a legal assistance organization.  We are not lawyers and we do not provide legal advice.  We have lawyers and paralegals as members involved with us in the struggle and on our Board of Directors.  Those persons are acting as individuals in our struggle and pursue their professions separately from NV-CURE activities.  Please do not contact them for legal assistance or advice unless you have the money to pay for their services up front, or you have survived summary judgment in a civil action.  As much as they would like to help, they require financial resources for their survival in the community.  Please do not write them personally for help unless you are able to pay for their services.  Thank you.

Staff Abuse of Prisoners

As many of you are aware, for the past nine (9) months NV-CURE has been gathering information regarding staff abuse of prisoners.  We have received a great deal of information on the subject. (as well as on other problems) and we have reported those matters to NDOC Director COX and various other non-profit legal assistance organizations, legislators, NV Advisory Committee on the Administration of Justice (ACAJ) and the media.  
Director COX has assured us that each matter we reported to him as been referred to the Inspector General’s Office for investigation. (NDOC staff investigating claims against NDOC staff). We have received reports from our Prisoner Members that staff abuse of prisoners has diminished during the past five (5) months.  We hope that we have helped to reduce this problem.

If you have information regarding continued staff abuse of prisoners, in any form, please report that abuse to us in affidavit format.  We will continue to gather and correlate information on that subject.  We want all staff abuse of prisoners to STOP and we need your help to do that.

Documents

Please do not send us documents you want returned or copied.  Only send us copies of documents we may retain in our files.  We have attempted to copy and return documents, but the task was overwhelming and the costs overburdening.  We will no longer return or copy documents.  Send us only copies of documents we may retain.  Thank you.

Retaliation

NDOC Director COX has assured NV-CURE that there will be no retaliatory action taken against prisoners that report staff abuse or misconduct.  We have taken him at his word.  Unfortunately, we have received reports that prisoners who have reported staff abuse and misconduct have been retaliated against.  We want information on each instance of staff retaliation against prisoners for exercising their 1st Amendment right to expose staff abuse and misconduct.  We suggest reading the 9th Circuit decision in Rhodes v. Robinson, 408 F.3d 559 (9th Cir. 2005), to insure your retaliation complaints meet the five (5) point requirement for stating a retaliation claim.  We will report retaliation claims to Director COX and other appropriate officials  and attempt to make NDOC staff aware of the fact that reporting staff misconduct, filing grievances and filing lawsuits are authorized, encouraged, legitimate and reasonable forms of 1st amendment activities and are the intelligent and reasonable alternative to violent protest. If staff want to avoid being reported, staff should not engage in abusive or retaliatory misconduct. It is in all of our best interests to resolve complaints through appropriate channels.

Report each instance of staff retaliatory action to NV-CURE and pursue your claim through the grievance and, if necessary, the judicial process.

Please be aware that NDOC staff have been known to engage in devious and underhanded retaliatory misconduct.  NDOC staff have labeled prisoners as “informant”, “child molester” and other “undesirable” persons, regardless of the truth of the matter, to retaliate against prisoners that have reported them, or their fellow employees’ misconduct with the intent of causing those prisoner harm from other prisoners. Do not fall into their retaliatory games of deception.  NDOC staff are not your friends and reporting their misconduct does not make you a “snitch”.  Report staff misconduct and make NDOC staff follow the law and the policies and procedures governing their conduct.

Please provide NV-CURE with information regarding each and every instance of NDOC staff misconduct and we will report the misconduct to appropriate authorities.

False and Inaccurate Information in NDOC Files and Records

NV-CURE has received credible information indicating that in 2007 the NDOC had a computer “glitch” problem that result in various false and inaccurate information regarding past criminal history, good time and custody status being inserted into various prisoner files. It appears in some instances the NDOC removes the false information only to have it re-appear at a later date. An audit has been requested by the ACAJ and will be presented in the 2013 Legislative session.

NV-CURE has a Community Member interested in gathering information on this subject.  Should any prisoner have a problem with false and/or inaccurate information being contained in their NDOC file, appropriate action should be taken to correct the problem.  Document the false or inaccurate information (request a screen printout from your caseworker), request the information be removed and/or corrected, pursue a grievance if necessary and report each incident in affidavit format, with supporting documentation, to NV-CURE. Our Community Member will use information in attempt to resolve problems existing in NDOC files.

Hep C and HIV Issues

We have received information indicating that prisoners are being denied testing and treatment for Hep C and adequate HIV medications. Please provide any information in affidavit form regarding denial of treatment for HEP C and HIV to NV-CURE. The news media may be interested in this situation.

Medical and Mental Health Issues

NV-CURE is aware that, in spite of the settlement reached in Riker v. Gibbons (ACLU litigation against Ely State Prison for denial of medical care), medical care at ESP and several other NDOC facilities is far below a constitutional level of care. We have received letters complaining of prisoners being denied medical care for broken bones, hepatitis c, cancer, diabetes and other issues. Please provide information in affidavit form to NV-CURE, and file grievances. While it is difficult for prisoners to prevail in a medical case against the state, it has been done. Recently, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided in favor of prisoner John Snow in a medical case and remanded his case back to district court for further proceedings.  It would be informative to read the Snow v. McDaniel, 681 F.3d 978 (9th Cir. 2012), decision to understand deliberate indifference to serious medical needs, which is the standard necessary to prevail in litigation against the state on this issue.

NV-CURE is in contact with the ACLU National Prison Project attorney that has an interest in the medical care and treatment being provided to Nevada prisoners.

Additionally, it has come to the attention of NV-CURE that mentally ill prisoners are being harassed and abused by NDOC staff. This is unacceptable. Please report any incidences of this type to NV-CURE in affidavit format. Our respect and thanks to those already speaking up in defense of the mentally ill in Nevada’s prisons!

Please provide information regarding medical and mental health issues in affidavit form to NV-CURE.

Clothing, Food, Personal Hygiene and Water Issues

Please provide information in affidavit form to NV-CURE regarding inadequate clothing, food, water and personal hygiene items issues within the NDOC.  We have received information that there are problems in these areas that need to be addressed.  One of our Prisoner Members is handling issues relating to inadequate food and we will channel the information on that subject to him.  In the event any other Prisoner Member is interested in handling the information provided concerning the other issues, please make that fact known to us.  We need your help to make changes to each of these problems.

NV-CURE Informational Bulletin Newsletters

A new NV-CURE member in the community has an interest in preparing NV-CURE Informational Bulletin Newsletters.  We welcome him to the struggle for change.  We intend to begin publishing this newsletter on a quarterly basis and provide you with news and information beneficial for use in the struggle for change.  Any suggestions for matters to be included in this newsletter would be appreciated.

National CURE Board of Directors Meeting

National CURE Board of Directors is meeting in Washington, D.C., in the end of August and early September of 2012.  Our President, who is on the National CURE Board of Directors, will be attending that meeting and representing the interests of NV prisoners.  In our next newsletter, we will report of his activities. Please provide any suggestions for topics of discussion for International and National CURE. 

Thank you for being a member of NV-CURE and for joining NV-CURE in the struggle for justice and fairness for all.

Financial Resources – Donations

NV-CURE requires financial resources to accomplish our mission and goals.  We currently have extremely limited financial resources.  We need your help, and the help of your family and friends.  Please contribute to our cause and induce other to contribute.  Donations may be sent to the NV-CURE office and made through paypal on our website. The more financial resources we have available, the more we can do.  Without financial resources, we cannot accomplish our mission or goals.  Help.  Thank you.

Affidavit Format for Providing Information

The following is the format that should be followed in providing information regarding the above referenced matters to NV-CURE.  Please use it.

AFFIDAVIT OF (NAME OF AFFIANT)

(Nature of Complaint, i.e., Medical treatment, Use of excessive Force, etc)

State of Nevada                  )

                                           : §

County of (Name of County)

            I, (Name of Affiant), hereby declare and state as follows:

            1.  I am a prisoner confined at (name of institution) and I am making this Affidavit for the use of NV-CURE in any manner NV-CURE deems appropriate.

            2.  I am above 18 years of age, I am competent to testify regarding the matters set forth herein and the matters set forth herein are stated based on my own personal knowledge and observations.

            3.  (Use as many numbered paragraphs as necessary to described the events you witnessed.  Be sure to include names, dates, times, places of the events and all relevant facts.

            4. Further, Affiant sayeth naught.

            Pursuant to the provisions of 28 USC §1746, I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing statements are true and correct.  Executed on this ____ day of _(Month)_, 2012, in the County of (Name of County) in the State of Nevada.

                                                                       _____________________________

                                                                       (Name and Address)

NV-CURE Meetings With NDOC Director COX

NV-CURE is scheduled to meet with NDOC Director COX quarterly on issues of concern related to the prison system. We are also in communication with other organizations, legislators and media regarding those issues.  We are advocates of your concerns and will do our best to address your issues in the community.

Nevada State Bar Notice

Please note that Veronica Melton is no longer answering prisoner mail for the State Bar Association and is no longer able to send the Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook to prisoners.  Sorry. A new person has been assigned to answer prisoner mail. Contact the Center for Constitutional Rights,  Attn: Jailhouse Lawyers handbook, 666 Broadway, 7th Fl., N.Y., N.Y. 10012, for a copy.

Problems Obtaining Identification Documents

Anyone having problems obtaining identification (Birth Certificate, Social Security Card, etc.) necessary for use when released to the community should provide an Affidavit on that subject.

STRUGGLE IN SOLIDARITY

The cruelest tyranny is practiced
Behind the shield of law and order

AFSC Releases “Survivors Manual” By and For Prisoners in Solitary Confinement

From: SolitaryWatch, July 31st, 2012
by Jean Casella and James Ridgeway

The American Friends Service Committee has put out a new edition of the vital publication Survivors Manual: Surviving in Solitary — A Manual Written By and For People Living in Control Units. The volume is a collection of letters, stories, poetry, and practical advice on surviving solitary confinement in prisons. AFSC released the following announcement last week:

Solitary confinement, characterized by 23-hour a day lockout with minimal exercise and lack of human contact, affects an estimated 100,000 prisoners in federal and state prisons in almost every state. Thus the need for “Survivors Manual,” which was first issued in 1998, is even more vital.

In this powerful collection of voices from solitary, people currently or formerly held in isolation vividly describe their conditions and their daily lives. They also write about how they struggle to keep mind, body, and soul together in an environment that is designed to break them down. Many also analyze the political, economic, and social forces that shape their torturous situation. The collection also includes some stunning artwork and poetry.

A PDF of the manual is available online at the following link:

http://www.afsc.org/document/survivors-manual-surviving-solitary

Copies can also be purchased for $3 each at the following site:

http://www.quakerbooks.org/survivors_manual.php

[thanks to FFIP for alerting us!]

Brainwashing Techniques Used by the Oppressor

By Coyote, Coyote Calling

My greetings of solidarity and respects are extended to all comrades on both sides of the razorwire. I just wanted to take this time to reproduce this list of CIA brainwashing techniques that are being used against the imprisoned and the oppressors. This is going on in all prisons across the nation, but especially here at Ely State Prison, Nevada’s notorious maximum security lock-up. I’ve been here for over 11 years and I’ve seen all of these tactics being used against us; and so I felt compelled to make a reproduction of this list so that awareness can be raised!

Here’s a list of 25 tactics being used on us daily:

1) Physical removal of prisoners to areas sufficiently isolated to effectively break or seriously weaken close emotional ties.

2) Segregation of all natural leaders.

3) Use of cooperative prisoners as leaders.

4) Prohibition of group activities not in line with brainwashing objectives.

5) Spying on prisoners and reporting back private materials.

6) Ticking men into written statements which are then shown to others.

7) Exploitation of opportunities and informants.

8) Convincing prisoners that they can trust no one.

9) Treating those who are willing to collaborate in far more lenient ways than those who are not.

10) Punishing those who show uncooperative attitudes.

11) Systematic withholding of mail.

12) Preventing contact with anyone non-sympathetic to the method of treatment and regimen of the captive populace.

13) Disorganization of all group standards among prisoners.

14) Building a group conviction among the prisoners that they have been abandoned by and totally isolated from their social order.

15) Undermining of all emotional supports.

16) Preventing prisoners from writing home or to friends in the community regarding the conditions of their confinement.

17) Making available and permitting access to only those publications and books that contain materials which are neutral to or supportive of the desired new attitudes. While making it hard or impossible to gain access to radical, political, educational or empowering literature and books.

18) Placing individuals into new and ambiguous situations for which the standards are kept deliberately unclear and then putting pressure on him to conform to what is desired in order to win favour and a reprieve from the pressure.

19) Placing individuals whose willpower has been severely weakened, or eroded, into a living situation with several others who are more advanced in their thought-reform, whose job is to further undermine the individual emotional supports.

20) Using techniques of character invalidation, i.e. humiliations, revilement, shouting, to induce feelings of guilt, fear and suggestibility; coupled with sleeplessness and exacting prison regimen and periodic interrogational interviews.

21) Meeting all insincere attempts to comply with cellmates’ pressures with renewed hostility.

22) Rewarding of submission and subservience to the attitudes encompassing the brainwashing objective with a lifting of pressure and acceptance as a human being.

23) Providing social and emotional supports which reinforce the new attitudes.

24) Divide and conquer techniques to quell riots and disruptions. When one prisoner is acting out or causing disruption on the tier over an injustice being done to him, guards will go to other inmates’ door laughing, joking, slandering and defacing the character of the disruptive inmate, trying to turn the other prisoners against him. Those who go along with this and take the bait by laughing and joking with the guards, are in turn ostracized and looked down upon by the other prisoners.

25) Using food as a control method, “doggy treat” tactics”. “If you comply we will give you extra food that we would otherwise throw away.” Those who are extremely non-compliant, or who write grievances, might not get fed at all.

Those are just 25 of the brainwashing techniques being used on us daily. There are more though. But now that we know what is being done to us, it is up to us to figure out ways to defend ourselves against these tactics. The best weapon for anyone to have is knowledge. Knowledge of yourself, knowledge of your enemy, knowledge of your surroundings, knowledge of your culture, your history, knowledge of your purpose in life. Knowledge is a weapon. Arm yourself with knowledge.

My love goes out to all of those who keep the fire of resistance burning in their hearts! Peace.

Solidarity and Respects,

Coyote
January 25th, 2010
ABC Nevada Prison Chapter
Ely State Prison

Another Nevada prisoner death at Ely State Prison

From Nevada Prisoner Voice:

ANOTHER NEVADA PRISONER DEATH AT ELY STATE PRISON?

Ricky Vell Masters, Age 50 and 8 Months
Born 12/10/58 Died 08/12/2009
RIP

Location: The Infirmary
Cause of Death: Pending
Manner of Death: Pending

Did Mr. Masters repeatedly request help for days before he died?

NOTE: In our opinion, families need to ask their loved ones in prison to provide them instructions in case of their deaths, whether it is by NDOC or any prison system neglect, or by their own hands.

If Nevada Department of Corrections’ (NDOC) cremation is not desired, loved ones need to notify wardens and the director’s office, in writing, that they don’t want NDOC cremation, that loved ones will make their own arrangements.

It has been reported that NDOC officials have allowed prisoner remains to be cremated prior to notifying loved ones.

Take positive action to create control today. Create a paper trail for lawsuit purposes, in the tragic event that this may happen to someone you love.

Some public comments, made at the Meeting of the Board of Prison Commissioners, July 14, 2009

For the Record

Meeting of the Board of Prison Commissioners

July 14, 2009

To the Members of the Prison Commission and the Public,

Since last meeting, April 14th, nothing has changed that I have noticed: inmates in Ely State Prison are still not being treated properly for serious medical problems, the prison is still on lockdown except for 2 units, some inmates are kept illegally on a ‘High Risk Potential’ even though there are no apparent reasons to keep them on this inhuman status (keeping an inmate on a leash while he has to walk through the visiting room to the restroom during a visit, sounds a lot like what we saw on pictures in the media of Abu Ghraib).

There also are no programs, no steps, to step down from one level to the next.

Inmates are not able to make telephone calls according to the rules, because telephones are not brought to the inmates when they need to make a call to their relatives.

Cleaning material is scarcely handed out if at all. There are far too many strip-searches, even though it is even noted in the media that it is some employees who bring in illegal drugs, not inmates. Strip-searches are inhumane and the ones who have to check up become dehumanized too by doing them so often. People, whether inside or out, have to be able to retain their dignity.

Also, I hear that very recently, order forms were taken out of catalogues of a bookseller, by those employed in ESP in unit 3, so that the inmates are discouraged to (or can not even) order any books to read. This is unnecessary and it only produces a dangerous level of lethargy and disturbance of minds.

Also, mentally ill patients are being housed in this maximum security prison, whereas it is not meant to be a mental hospital. This brings along high levels of noise and disturbance for those patients (who need treatment) as well as those next door who try to make something of their lives, even if they are locked up. See also the article in Las Vegas Sun recently, July 12 (http://lasvegassun.com/news/2009/jul/12/illness-keeps-many-cycle-through-jail/).

There needs to be a change of mentality in society, in Nevada, within the Department of Corrections, from only cutting costs without any alternative and improvement to making society better and by doing this, preventing crime and cutting cost by not having to house so many people for years on end with no goal, no medical care, no redemption, no growth, no forgiveness, no love.

Is this a message for ‘soft-hearts’? I think it takes guts to want to change and engage in supporting children so that they grow up becoming balanced adults, in stead of greedy, corrupt, selfish people who will believe that crime (doing bad) pays and that being greedy is good. It takes courage to really invest in rehabilitating people who have made wrong decisions, who have succumbed to becoming addicted to hard-drugs. It is not only stupid to be so-called “tough on crime” by not wanting to see what this system results in, it will cost society ultimately too much in money and dangerous situations (most inmates will one day be released!) to lock people up with no alternative and to not want to see they are people, with needs just like you and me. We who pay for the prison system, you and me (I too pay tax over there, as well as those who are incarcerated pay tax), we want oversight over what is happening to our money; and we whose parents, children, husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, siblings are locked up: we want to know that even though they are locked up, they are at the same time looked after and offered chances for growth and rehabilitation.

The amount of lawsuits against the warden of ESP is growing, and do we really want our money to go to these lawsuits, if a better warden would be found, who listens and acts when it matters, and who is not a frightening dictator under whose management diabetics rot to death? Surely Nevada can do much better than this!

*************************************************************************************************************

*************************************************************************************************************

TO: NEVADA STATE BOARD OF PRISON COMMISSIONERS
FROM: MERCEDES MAHARIS MA MS MA
RE: DEATHS AND UNACCEPTABLE PRISON CONDITIONS

DATE: 14 July 2009

Good Day.

Requested prisoner deaths from May of 2007 to the present have failed to arrive, but here is a partial list only from Carson County, for your information:

Anthony Weber 05/02/07

Richard Adams 05/10/07

Michael Kisling 05/19/07

Warren Staden 06/06/07

Anthony Melchor 06/08/07

Pioquinto Herrera 06/27/07

Virgil Stephens 07/06/07

Virgil Perry 07/29/07

Maynard Humphrey 08/09/07

Mark Miller 08/15/07

Ronald Royston 09/03/07

Michael Wallace 09/03/07

Robert Boswell 11/25/07

Dale Burroughs 12/19/07

Edwin Chartier 12/20/07

James Bey 02/13/08

Jack Leafdale 03/06/08

Lawrence Booker 03/10/08

Luther Hayslip 03/21/08

Armondo Claro-Garcia 03/26/08

Johnnie McGraw 05/18/08

John Stafford 05/27/08

Darren Enlow 05/29/08

Thomas Smith 05/31/08

Hermenegildo Escalara-Barragan 06/02/08

John Dillon 06/04/08

Sylvester Azbill 06/08/08

Bobby Boswell 06/12/08

Felipe Azanon 06/21/08

David St. Pierre 07/07/08

Thomas Zanetti 08/22/08

Pinkus Ralzin 08/29/08

Jose Obregon 09/23/08

William Barney 10/15/08

Donald Tanner 11/04/08

Sever Marga 12/05/08

Raymond Price 12/06/08

Michael Bowman 12/25/08

Though I was polite in my inquiry, the director of nursing hung up in my ear, after telling me to go to your office, AG Cortez Masto. But, to date I have received no answer to my inquiries for NDOC death data and other requests. Why is your staff unable to find my letters and answer them? Is NDOC also losing death data, or not recording it? Your public information staff member told me she would call me back regarding my inquiries, but, she has not.

For your direct information, here are copies of my certified letters to you, AG Masto:

11 May 2009

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto

Office of the Attorney General
100 North Carson Street
Carson City, Nevada 89701-4717

Dear Attorney General Cortez Masto,

I met you at the 21 Feb 2009 meeting of the League of Women Voters of Las Vegas Valley where you spoke on “The Role of the Board of Prison Commissioners.” I’m the lady from Arizona who came a long way to hear you. Remember that we spoke both before and after the meeting?

I shared with you that new leadership was needed for the prisons. You told me that I might like to attend the commissioners’ meeting in April because Mr. Miller was going to bring that up.

Well, I need your help. I spoke at the 14 April meeting, you may remember, and made a written submission for the record, what I see as a pattern of failure, abuse and ways to stop lawsuits.

20 April 2009 I emailed a request for a “DVD and/or audio” of the Nevada State Board of Prison Commissioners’ meeting of 14 April 2009 to Secretary of State Ross Miller’s office assistant, Sally.

I received no email reply. 30 April 2009 I called Mr. Miller’s office. Ms. Sally Lincoln told me that Mr. Miller had sent you my request. She said that he had concerns about fulfilling my request because of family privacy rights that concerned him. But, this was a public meeting.

Ms. Lincoln told me that they had no projected date as to when you would have a decision on whether or not my request could be fulfilled.

Will you please have Mr. Miller’s office send immediately (advise me of costs if there are costs):

a copy of the DVD recording of the meeting (containing both pictures and audio); plus,
a copy of the submissions made to the prison board; and
the sign in list.
I wish that you had given some hope to us at the meeting, a comforting word or two. We want prisoners to succeed. Please do so in the future? We need fully accredited to professional standards… in all areas.

In closing, can you please send what happened during the disturbance in High Desert State Prison 13 April 2009 that Mr. Skolnik talked about at the14th board meeting? Please include photos of both prisoners and guards who were injured, if they were? I sincerely hope all are in good health now.

And my second certified letter:

And:

19 June 2009

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto

Office of the Attorney General
100 North Carson Street
Carson City, Nevada 89701-4717

Dear Attorney General Cortez Masto,

Three requests for information, please, from the NDOC? If these is a charge for copying, please advise

1. Please send the updated death list information for NDOC prisoners for who have expired while inside NDOC: 20 May 2009 to the present; (NDOC Nursing Director ref’d me to your office);

2. Please send what happened during the disturbance in High Desert State Prison 13 April 2009 that Mr. Skolnik talked about at the14 April board meeting including photos of both prisoners and guards who were injured, if they were? I sincerely hope all are in good health now; and

3. Please send a record of use of force inside NDOC facilities for the past five years, with photos;

4. Please send breakdown of those in solitary confinement, Ad Seg or Dis Seg, as I believe NDOC

officials refer to it, by time and race since 01 January 2007. Years ago NDOC officials did not keep this information. I hope they do now since it is important to understand how officials are administrating Nevada prisons in this regard.

Please answer my inquiries as soon as possible?

Why were staff members unable to prevent this recent tragic death at High Desert State Prison?

Bryan Tyler Nowell, Age 45
Administrative Segregation/Disciplinary Segregation Unit (The HOLE: Solitary Confinement)
Born 05/17/64
Died 03 June 2009
Suicide: Asphyxia by Hanging

Solitary confinement, as I submitted to you in my comments 14 April 2009, the Dr. Stuart Grassian report referenced, causes damage to human beings and in this case, death. We must stop this inhumane process today. Please give the order to Director Skolnik, Governor Gibbons, AG Cortez Masto, Mr. Miller… today, that solitary confinement stops now.

How many suicides have happened since May 2007 in Nevada prisons?

How are first line responders on duty in Nevada prisons educated to recognize those who are mentally unstable and may be thinking of taking their lives?

Are corrections officers advised about who is taking psychotropic drugs? Shouldn’t they know this in order to prevent suicide and other violence?

What is the budget for first responder education?

For a person to die in solitary confinement, or be allegedly gassed approximately 20 times and have a guard break a finger in a food slot at Ely State Prison recently, per a new Ely lawsuit in US District Court, is unacceptable and socially reprehensible. Prisoners are people.

Why are NDOC officials denied a prisoner with a rare liver disease medical care at High Desert, Mr. Miller? Will you please visit him to see for yourself? Will he die before release? Don’t you want to see his refused medical grievances? His life is at stake.

Why are NDOC officials shuttling the Ely HIV prisoner, whom guards there and at NSP have beaten, stabbed and shot during his Nevada incarceration, for treatment to High Desert, even though there are no specialists there to help him? Does this not further stress this prisoner to the point that he, too, will die young? Please move this prisoner to NNCC where he belongs.

We want to see education for officers and staff in violence prevention in Nevada prisons.

Where does the prison food coming from? What is the daily cost now? Why are we receiving reports of Nevada prisons serving expired food and that it is dwindling in serving sizes? How many calories are our prisoners getting daily? Where are the dieticians to supervise food service? Is it true that Nevada prisoner requests for Kosher food are not being honored?

What about those prison buses that the Department of Transportation has no responsibility to check for safety during prisoner transports? Who manufacturers those buses? Who inspects them and how often? How do prisoners get out alive if there is an accident? Are they coached on what to do in case of an accident to be able to get out safely? Why don’t prisoners get to see out? Are bus drivers licensed commercially? How many buses are there?

Is it true that NDOC officials allow senior corrections officers to recruit informants, snitches in prison terms, from the prison population, putting even more stress on prisoners. Do they order corrections officers to put prisoners on the train to Ely without due process? How much retaliation takes place against those who refuse? To what extent is retaliation taking place?

Why do Nevada prison mailrooms refuse to deliver books to prisoners, approved books that arrive? What happens to books undelivered to prisons? Why do corrections officers read magazines that families and loved ones pay for and reportedly keep them from the prisoners for weeks? Why don’t mailroom officials follow mail AR’s? Why do you allow punishment to all Ely prisoners by making them use tiny ink well fillers to write their letters with? To stop them from writing to loved ones and filing lawsuits?

Are you being loyal to the law by allowing unaccredited standards, operations and policies to continue inside Nevada prisons?

Why don’t Nevada prisoners in solitary confinement get daily fresh air and exercise, as is their right? Why do corrections officers take prisoners out at midnight, interrupting the sleep cycle?

Why do you allow Ely lockdown for years and years and years to continue? Please stop this today. You have the power. You can do it.

What are the guidelines for putting people into solitary confinement, ad seg, dis seg, to use your euphemisms?

Where are the felony charges against Nevada prisoners who are in solitary for extended periods?

Please produce the records of how long prison officials are keeping Nevada prisoners in solitary confinement.

Why don’t Nevada prisoners go to jail for assaults? Why don’t Nevada corrections officers go to jail for assaults?

How are the perpetrators of rape charged? Do they go to court? Or, do NDOC officials punish them by extending sentences without due process?

What are the NDOC regulations for time limits, if any, placed on people going into solitary?

Where are, and what are, the administrative regulations for the amount of time that officials can put prisoners in solitary confinement?

How much money is in the budget for corrections officers’ educations about recognition of mental health problems that prisoners may be suffering?

Here are excerpts of a letter from a prisoners’ family member that we received 13 July 2009:

…” I have suffered 13 years under the duress and frustration of the corrupt Nevada Prison System, Judicial system period. This is the “Country of Nevada”. Good Ole boys for sure and Ely guards are barbarians! P.up trucks drinking in the hills, cruel, I have seen the bleeding wounds on my husband’s ankles from having the shackles set to wear they rub and rub and break open old scabs from the week before, one guard will hike them up and tighten them another will just let them shift all around, I mean come on, walk from port to visit belly chain hands behind back cuffed shackles like he,s the incredible hulk and an escort officer, sometimes two, give me a break!

Ooooh are those guards tough, gag me, disgusting display of over the top unnecessary pain for the prisoner and extreme drama to increase the all ready distorted sense of importance these guards have!

No wonder they have such domestic violence problems!

…we do not trust anyone in connection with law they are all crooked corrupt tools of the higher echelon of our corrupt legal system.

As I stated I have suffered 13 years as has my husband I am ready to take a stand no matter what this lousy system needs to be torn down from the top down.”

What response do you advise us to give to this free person who is suffering daily because of operations and policies at Ely State Prison?

Please, take the high road in eliminating unacceptable Nevada prison conditions starting today. Implement a platform of rehabilitation and hope.

Please replace ineffective NDOC leadership with professional administration.

Please implement oversight in Nevada prisons today==before more violence erupts and the death toll for Nevada prisoners continues to escalate.

Yours truly,

Mercedes Maharis MA MS MA

Atrocity


By Coyote Sheff
(Taken from: Make the Walls Transparent)
It is 3:07 a.m. as I sit here in this cold silence of another imprisoned November night, I can hear the echoes of the ghetto life ringing clearly in my head; the gunshots, the sirens, the dogs barking the helicopters. It has been years since I’ve been in the ghetto, but the memories are still with me. Living in the ghetto, to me, is like what I’d imagined it had been to be in the war in Vietnam, the sounds, the constant violence, the despair.

The cold silence is broken by the screams of a crazy Indian on the top tier and my “ghetto day dream” fades away. I tune in to the screams and the noise. There is a psych patient upstairs on the other end of the tier. He’s an Indian dude named Pacheco. He is always yelling out racial profanities like “Fuck all Niggers!” and other stupid shit like that.

Tonight he has a new mantra. I can’t make out his words though, but he keeps repeating it over and over again. It seems that he has succeeded in frustrating a couple cats up there in his area, because I can hear their angry responses. One of the cats comes to the door and tells Pacheco to shut the fuck up, so Pacheco repeats his mantra louder and then I hear another cat yell from the back of his cell, “I’m gonna smash your face in if I see ya!”

Pacheco is an old Indian with long grayish hair and I can tell by the nature of his speech that he is missing his teeth. Maybe that’s why he’s so bitter, who knows. His whole purpose, his whole intent is to make everyone around him miserable and unfortunately he does a good job at it. He’s a “terrorist”, using psychological warfare and mental torture as MO Modus operandi: In here we refer to people like that as “a piece of shit.” They like to terrorize everybody around them for no apparent reason other than the fact that misery loves company, I guess.

Pacheco was my neighbor once, five years ago on another unit back here in the hole. For no reason other than to disturb me, he’d bang on my wall and bang on the desk all day long and he’d yell over me when I was trying to talk to one of my comrades over the tier just to prevent me communicating with others. That’s something a hater would do.

I got fed up with his shit and one day I unattached the cable cord from my TV and stripped the cable cord completely so there was nothing left inside of it and I turned it into like a little hose and when Pacheco was sleeping I’d run the hose over to the front of his cell and I’d piss in the hose and I’d continue to do it all throughout the night. Every time I had to take a piss and it would create a good-sized puddle inside his cell and when he’d walk up to grab his breakfast tray, he’d step in a big puddle of piss! He would terrorize me, keep me from sleeping, keep me from socializing and communicating with others and he’d stress me out, making me angry and unable to think clearly, so this was all I had, this was all I could do to get back at him.

The cold part about it was that he had the choice of either getting down on the floor and cleaning up MY piss, or leaving it there and smelling it all day and all night, so it was a lose-lose situation for him. I pissed in his cell every night, for a whole week straight and then these guards hurried up and moved him to another unit. The officers didn’t know it was my piss, though, they thought he was pissing on his own floor. Oh well.

These aren’t the types of stories people are used to reading about prison, I’m sure. But I keep it real and tell it how it really is in here. These are the atrocities of life in a maximum-security prison. This is just a glimpse of the inhumanity, the suffering, and the torture. It’s just a small example of how we are reduced to such lows, such drastic measures just to try to keep a piece of our peace of mind. It is very sad, this solitary life of madness. How can one get out of here and expect to live a normal or at least a decent life after this? How can one go from living like an animal to living as a free person in society?

This is a sad, lonely, disgusting profane existence here in this world, behind these cold stone walls and chain link fences and people need to understand this they need to know what really goes on in these maximum security prisons, where surviving perpetual lockdown has become a way of life.

I write about these things so people can understand, because we need support from people on the outs. We need to be provided the tools that will help us adjust after being in prison, living like this, to becoming free and trying to live and maintain in society. Most of the people who are in prison already had it bad before they came to prison, they have it bad while in prison, and then they have to go out and try to make it good with strikes against them? How does that work? It was bad before, it’s bad now and it’s still going to be bad after they get out, so how is prison solving crime? How is prison helping society? We are caught in a system that was not designed to care about us; we are caught up in a system that was not designed to help us. This system has no mercy for the poor. It’s an atrocity.

So when I say that I’m greeting you from a graveyard, I think you know what I mean. We are traumatized by all of this, from the ghettos to these prisons; it’s a miserable existence. We need to come together and find ways to rise above this.

Coyote

Ely State Prison
November 2, 2008

No change


This letter or essay was taken over from Nevada Prisoner Voice:

The news of the legislators failing to arrest corruption in Nevada prison is not surprising. And I doubt they will until their hands are forced. Either by public outcry, or something else. Were they to start drug testing for guards (inmates are regularly tested) half would quit before the ink dried.

I believe you may have misunderstood some things I wrote you last. Trust I know more than most we can’t do anything without you on the outside. I say the future of prison and judicial reform lies with the convicts themselves, because there are so few of you out there who care.

Society views us as permanent outcasts. There is no interest in us redeeming or educating ourselves. Indeed the state officials, fear mongers they are, say to society that we will only misuse our knowledge, if allowed to educate ourselves to our natural impulses. The reality is that it is they who are afraid. That if we educate ourselves on the truth, we will tear down these walls, put an end to this mad house of misery and pain.

As technologically advanced as we are, we are not an enlightened society. We are a society filled with anger and hatred, built on insecurities.

Nothing happening now is new. England’s penal history gives us a clear view of where we are headed. Poor people desperate to feed their families getting their hands chopped off for stealing a loaf of bread. Today, instead of chopping off our heads, because that wouldn’t be profitable, they’re handing out life sentences like it’s nothing. And the more laws we create the more corrupt we become. Our job, our obligation, those of us who know and can see the truth, is to help people realize no matter how much time in prison you give a person, if the conditions do not change, if the convict remains uneducated, unskilled and unloved, his/her return to crime/prison is inevitable.

The only real solution to crime is judicial/prison reform and early prevention. Putting an end to the disparities in the education system. The quality education and programs available to children in affluent communities, and the lack there of in poor communities. A new curriculum to install pride and self worth based on good deeds rather than materialism, and appreciation for all peoples, encouraging leadership and innovation. Right now many young people, especially of color, can’t relate to what’s happening in the schools, which in reality is only giving them enough to be good workers for rich people. We have billions of dollars to bail out these fat cat corporations, and billions more to manufacture these bullshit wars/nation building. Then we have money to create more (relevant) programs for young people in the hood.

Fix this broken juvenile/foster care system. Give grants to community organizers, and more job training. These are the types of things that will cut down on crime free health care for our citizens, free education.

Being uneducated does not equal ignorance or lack of comprehension. Level of education does not determine a person’s worth. I know many men in these pens who have no education, but they are hungry to learn.

The question is who will teach them. It hurts my heart to see so many young people taught so many lies. That their worth in this world relies on the material. How to prey on each other rather than embrace each other. That our women are bitches, undeserving of respect or love. It hurts to know I am a citizen of the richest nation on earth. Living next to one of the poorest, an example of man’s cruelty to man. The people of Haiti are suffering horribly, and we do nothing. I noticed there were some new comments with the piece about the gang trial. Some of those comments are very telling to the ignorance and deep-seated hatred so many people carry inside. They need someone to blame, someone to feel better than. This is the psychosis of a capitalist society. Which is really an expression of man’s insecurities. Why would one man want more than he needs to live and provide for his family. Why do people create items of luxury that serve no purpose other than to scream out, “I have more than you, I am better than you.” The machine spits out misinformation, and by the insecurities of man, his ignorance, he is manipulated.

Ely State prison — a.k.a. — “the cemetery,” is the worst prison in Nevada. There is no regular every day pissing on the guards. The convicts here do not condone such vile acts. On the rare occasions when it does happen, more than not it’s an act of desperation. Locked behind these doors 24/7 the guards feel free to disrespect and dehumanize these men. Just in the time I’ve been in the unit I’ve lost all contact with my daughter because the guards are too lazy to pass out the phone. And if you complain, well, you don’t get the phone or anything else. I could write you a laundry list of all the games and psychological bullshit these guards do every day, that we must deal with.

For those ignorant enough to say well that’s what you deserve for breaking the law, well, I’m in prison for something I didn’t do. But that’s irrelevant. My response is this: just as we are men, we are human beings. When you treat human beings like animals, in time they will begin to act as such. And what happens to the sadistic boy who teases the tiger in its cage. Pokes it with his stick, throws rocks and firecrackers. To the boy it’s only a game. But when the tiger leaps the walls of its cage, then we all learn it’s not a game. People must realize these are human beings were talking about. Most of them will get out of prison one day. And when that day comes, who do you want to see, the man or the tiger. So the people should be concerned what’s happening in these prisons, how these men (human beings) are being treated. Prison is their punishment, not death by 1000 cuts, or medical neglect, or to be driven to insanity.

Imagine the madness it takes for a man to handle his own feces, to collect his own urine, and to mix this vile concoction together and throw it on somebody. Imagine the desperation. Again, this does not happen often. And if we were not locked in the cells 24/7, it would not happen at all. The older convicts wouldn’t allow it. But when it does happen, just like any other act of violence against prison staff, 99.9% of the time it is “not” unprovoked.

Corruption among the guards. Many of them who participate in gang activities or show sympathies toward white racist groups like the skinheads, etc. They were not somehow brainwashed or recruited. They came into the job with that. And they don’t smuggle in drugs out of fear or coercion. They do it out of greed! A house and nice car aren’t enough. They want a bigger house, nicer car, the latest high-powered rifle to hunt and kill defenseless animals for sport. They talk about it every day, what animals they killed, their guns, the latest thing to dress up their trucks. In the worst economy in our lifetime these guards have good paying, secure jobs. But all they do is complain all day and sit on their asses. I’ve never seen people get so much for so little and complain about it. Not that there are no decent people working in these prisons. But they are often manipulated by the us versus them argument. When they do tell the truth or speak out on behalf of the inmates, they end up either fired or ostracized.

Marritte Funches 37050
P. O. Box 1989
Ely, NV. 89301

P. S.
Peace is not the absence of trouble.