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!]

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.

Prison smoking ban won’t apply to religious ceremony

Las Vegas Sun

By Cy Ryan
Friday, July 24, 2009 | 1:50 a.m.

CARSON CITY – Despite a newly imposed ban on smoking at Nevada prisons, American Indians will still be able to puff tobacco in their ceremonial pipes during their religious ceremonies.

Howard Skolnik, director of the state Department of Corrections, has told a state advisory Indian committee that the pipe smoking practice will be allowed to continue as long as there are not abuses.

Skolnik and Senior Deputy Attorney General Janet Traut expressed concern that many non-Indians would invade religious ceremonies in the sweat lodges just to get a smoke.

There’s a rumor at the prison that a single cigarette is going for $50, she said. “Inmates really value it.”

The smoking ban applies to both inmates and staff.

Regulations allow only those who have ties with Indian tribes or groups to participate in the sweat lodges ceremonies.

Concern has been expressed that some non-Indians have participated in the religious ceremonies for a long time. Skolnik told members of the Advisory Committee on the Treatment and Religious Freedom of American Indian Inmates in Nevada Correctional Facilities that he is willing to consider those individual cases.

Rocky Boice, a member of the advisory committee, said after the meeting that the prison system has been trying for several years to dissolve the sweat lodges. Boice, a sweat lodge leader who visits the various prisons in Northern Nevada to conduct ceremonies, said he feels the prison is in violation of “a lot of federal laws” involving freedom of religion.

“It’s something that we have got to keep working on,” said Boice. “We have got to keep these ceremonies going. It’s all the Native Americans have in there, the right to practice their native spirituality.”

The sweat lodge is a circular structure in the prison yard, covered with blankets or other materials. Rocks are heated on the outside by fires and then brought into the lodge and placed in the center. Water is poured on the rock to produce steam.

The Indians sing and pray and at the end of the ceremony smoke the pipe. Boice said the smoking of the pipe releases the prayers of the inmate. And these are “purification ceremonies” says Boice.

“The Native American religion is the oldest in the United States and we have to defend it,” said Boice.

Boice also complained that the raw food at these ceremonies was banned. But Skoknik told him this was done by the state Health Division. Cooked food is allowed in these ceremonies where the Indians sit around the heated rocks during the religious offerings.

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!

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

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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

Mental Illness Keeps Many on Cycle Through Jail

From: Las Vegas Sun

Illness keeps many on cycle through jail
Committing crimes gets them treatment which ends with their release

By Timothy Pratt

Sunday, July 12, 2009 | 2 a.m.
CASE STUDIES: HIGH COSTS, POOR OUTCOMES

If Nevada was willing to invest in providing more psychiatric care outside of jail, not only would it do more to help the mentally ill, it would also cost taxpayers less than arresting and incarcerating the mentally ill, experts say.

Consider the jail and medication costs for the following three mentally ill inmates — and this does not take into account the additional court costs and other bills.

Dr. Keith Courtney, chief psychiatrist at Clark County Detention Center, withheld the inmates’ names to comply with patient privacy laws.

Inmate No. 1 suffers from autism and occasional psychotic episodes. When he’s out on the street, he gets in fights, takes drugs, attempts robbery, winds up at the detention center. He has been in jail 539 days since 2006. That means taxpayers have spent about $123,000 on keeping him jailed and medicated.

Inmate No. 2 is a 20-year-old man who has spent at least 520 days behind bars, mainly for armed robberies, since coming of age two years ago. The system has spent more than $120,000 in incarceration and psychotropic medication costs, Courtney says. The young man also winds up in the hospital after suicide attempts, which costs taxpayers even more. He was raped at 15 and now hurts himself repeatedly in the same part of his body.

Inmate No. 3 is a 32-year-old woman whose 441 days behind bars cost an estimated $100,000-plus. She is a victim of severe abuse and suffers from borderline personality disorder, often attempting suicide, Courtney says. She only takes her prescribed medication when she is jailed, preferring methamphetamine when she is not. She is often arrested for prostitution, sometimes burglary.

“She’s never here long enough to get adequate care,” Courtney says. She needs a safe house, treatment for drug abuse, ongoing intensive therapy. There is no one place where she can get all that. “I fully expect her to die soon,” the doctor says with resignation.

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Here he comes again, his hands covered in heavy black mittens, his head stuffed into a net that makes him look like a beekeeper, his legs and wrists closed in shackles.

Clark County Detention Center officers dress him this way because he has been known to spit, throw punches and kick.

The inmate shuffles through a sliding door, a large officer follows and, nearby, other members of the jail staff step back, as if sensing danger. The inmate, seemingly unaware, tells the officer, “I don’t want a plane crashing into me, you know.” The detention officer nods and nudges him toward an isolation cell, where the inmate will have to remove his clothes. He will be left with what’s known as a suicide blanket, which can’t be torn apart and used as a noose.

He is not yet 20, but he has been in jail three times, for 71 days, since coming of age last year.

The detention center’s chief psychiatrist, Keith Courtney, says the young man has what’s known as reactive attachment disorder. Those who suffer from the condition have trouble relating to others. It’s often a sign of early abuse.

The inmate who was moved into the isolation room doesn’t take medication for his condition when he is on the streets, but he does take illegal drugs. Then he gets in trouble and is locked up, mostly for crimes such as burglary, attempted robbery with a deadly weapon. In jail, he throws feces, attacks the staff. So he goes to one of the isolation rooms, for inmates who are a danger to themselves or others.

On a recent morning, the 19-year-old was one of 621 inmates at the detention center — of 3,066 total — diagnosed as mentally ill and prescribed psychotropic medications. That’s one in five. On some days, the ratio is closer to one in four.

By way of comparison, the state’s Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas has space for 204 patients.

So the jail, Courtney notes, is “the largest mental health facility in Southern Nevada.”

It is also the most expensive and least effective. Providing mental health care is not the purpose of a jail, after all.

The last hope for help

Nevada has always lagged other states in numbers of public psychiatric hospitals and clinics. But private hospitals in the Las Vegas Valley began closing their psychiatric wings in the 1980s. Jails have become the last hope for help, leading to a cycle of futility.

Psychologically troubled people who commit crimes are brought to the jail, where they are held, evaluated and medicated — and eventually returned to the streets, where they either stop taking the drugs that eased their troubles in jail or lose access to those drugs. Ongoing, intensive therapy is even more scarce. Their minds unravel again, they commit new crimes, go back to jail and the cycle continues.

The word for a system like this is “crazy.”

To be sure, Nevada is not alone in experiencing this problem. Most states closed public mental hospitals in recent decades, leaving many mentally ill patients to fend for themselves. The valley had none to close when this was happening, but the same thing occurred with private hospitals. Many states, however, have taken steps to break the cycle of crime, jail, treatment and release. Nevada has not.

The county spends $4 million a year on psychiatric treatment at the jail. It costs taxpayers $142 a day to keep an inmate at the jail and $85 on average to medicate each one diagnosed as mentally ill.

The inmate in the isolation room, for example, has cost the system at least $32,000 in the past year alone, which easily could have paid for his psychiatric care outside of prison.

Other costs, such as the cost society pays for their crimes, are harder to figure.

For many of the mentally ill behind bars, the doctor says, “there is a significant connection between their mental illness and their crimes.”

Courtney says most of the inmates with mental illnesses aren’t locked up long enough to get adequate care. And there is almost nowhere to send them outside the detention center’s walls. So their conditions will likely lead them to commit more crimes and be arrested again and again.

The result: Nevada taxpayers spend untold millions on incarcerating and temporarily caring for the mentally ill, the public suffers their crimes, and the mentally ill suffer their conditions, their lives becoming one long sentence in a prison of the mind.

Courtney points out that only four members of his staff of 13 can prescribe medications, a difficult situation when they are faced with hundreds of inmates. He notes that the most severely mentally ill among the prison’s population are “some of the sickest people in the city.” They are bipolar, schizophrenic, paranoid, delusional. In the absence of adequate care, many medicate themselves on the streets with drugs such as methamphetamine, or cocaine.

A rare case of success

Down a series of halls, in an auditorium-sized open room, some inmates shuffle around the 74 cots lined in rows. Others sit at a table playing cards or pop in and out of an adjacent room with a basketball hoop. About 20 of the 74 men who sleep in this unit are on psychotropic medications.

Down more halls, around more corners, another unit has separate cells with doors, a sign that the inmates housed there have more severe mental illnesses. A young, bearded inmate stands outside his cell, hand outstretched. He is in jail because, in a psychotic rage, he attacked a member of his family with a knife. “I thought people were trying to kill me,” he explains, slumping into a chair, his hands held together.

The soft-spoken inmate’s case appears to be the rare example of a mentally ill person’s life taking a turn for the better inside the system. Courtney has landed him one of the few spots in the Eighth District’s Mental Health Court, a program to substitute treatment for incarceration. The road that led to the mental health court, however, is typical of the path many have taken, slipping in and out of treatment, in and out of drugs, increasingly violent. Now barely out of his teens, the inmate took LSD when he was 17 and began hearing voices shortly afterward. He wound up at Monte Vista, a private psychiatric hospital, where he was an inpatient for a week and an outpatient for a month. But the medication that doctors prescribed knocked him out. He stopped taking it. He took cocaine instead. The voices got worse. He went back to a psychiatrist. But after one visit, he was at home and the voices started up again.

“I thought that what I was thinking was real,” he says calmly. Now, after a year behind bars, he says, “I didn’t get help until I got here.” The doctors at the jail worked through two prescriptions until they found a third medication that finally helped stabilize his mind.

And just as important, Courtney worked to develop a relationship with the young man. Recently, the inmate spoke to his mother for the first time since he was arrested.

Courtney hopes that when the young man gets out of jail, he gets into a Salvation Army-run program that includes group therapy. He has plans to attend college.

The inmate says he is certain of one thing. “I’m going to have to take medication for the rest of my life. If I don’t, it all comes slowly back.”

He says he wishes it was easier for people like him to get help, to know when something is really wrong.

Courtney says his case is an example of “when the system works right, when someone who’s mentally ill can be diverted to care in the community. But in my mind, he’s the minority.” Especially, he notes, because the Mental Health Court only has 75 slots.

A need for prevention

Metro Police Lt. Frank Reagan works at the detention center and serves as chairman of a coalition of mental health professionals that recently regrouped after several years of not meeting. At the beginning of its first meeting last month, Reagan urged the coalition to seek solutions to the large number of mentally ill inmates.

Reagan adds that public mental health care — the only choice for most inmates when they’re released because they lack health insurance — is often placed on the chopping block when states suffer budget crises — and based on what he sees at the jail, that’s a major mistake.

“We need to have preventive care, to maintain the mentally ill population as stable when they’re out of custody,” he says.

Stuart J. Ghertner, outpatient services agency director at Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services, says the state agency’s budget has been cut 15 percent this year. He points out that there tends to be two broad categories of people who wind up in jail instead of in treatment, and neither can find adequate care in the state system or the community at large.

One group usually has less severe conditions, such as depression, is often homeless and winds up arrested for such misdemeanors as trespassing or urinating in public.

Courtney had just seen a 70-year-old homeless man on the morning the Sun was allowed into the jail. The elderly man repeatedly gets arrested for such petty crimes and has nowhere to get treatment once he is released.

Ghertner’s other group winds up in the same unit as the inmate who attacked a member of his family, or in one of the isolation rooms. They suffer more severe mental illnesses and commit more severe crimes. Of course, the notion is a moving target, and the same person can belong to each group at different times.

But the point is the same, Ghertner says: The Las Vegas Valley doesn’t have enough hospital beds for the mentally ill, and the outpatient system is imperfect at best. Of the 8,000 outpatient clients the state sees at its four clinics, about 15 percent are homeless, he says.

“They lose contact with what care and services are available. These folks don’t always make appointments.” Then they “get in trouble on the streets” and wind up back in jail.

The more severely mentally ill with histories of violence also lack options. Many of them are also addicted to drugs or alcohol, “co-occurring disorders.” The state recently contracted with a private firm to open the first facility for treating the two problems together, but it has only 10 slots.

Rosanna Esposito, interim executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, an Arlington, Va.-based nonprofit organization, said one key way Nevada lags most of the nation is that it has yet to pass a law that would allow family or doctors to petition a special court to mandate outpatient treatment for mentally ill people with a history of avoiding treatment. The idea is to have a way to force people into treatment before they commit crimes or hurt themselves or others. Variations on this have become law in 43 states, and those laws have helped get people off the justice system treadmill and into clinics.

Many states passed their laws at least a decade ago, so Nevada “is far behind the curve,” Esposito says.

Lesley R. Dickson, past president and current treasurer of the Nevada Psychiatric Association, points to another ignominy: Nevada has 6.2 psychiatrists per 100,000 people, a rate that places the state 46th in the nation, the governor’s task force on health noted earlier this year.

So the state starts at a disadvantage because “we have nowhere near enough care,” Dickson says.

Whether it is through funding more hospitals, clinics or psychiatrists, making better use of existing services, or passing laws that mandate care, a consensus is building that communities must seek alternatives to incarcerating the mentally ill. The June issue of Psychiatric Services magazine focused on the issue and concluded, “jailing is failing people with mental illness.”

Ghertner belongs to the same local coalition as Reagan, but he is skeptical about the group having enough clout to effect the necessary budgetary or legislative change in Nevada.

“The movers and shakers need to get organized … and sit down and do some long-range planning,” he says.

Esposito is sharper-edged. “We know that treatment works,” she says. “It’s only because of a lack of will and due to bad policy that the treatment isn’t available.”