Officials investigate inmate death at Ely State Prison

How many more people must die alone, unexplained, without medical care, after very long time inside Nevada’s prisons?

Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, by Ana Ley, Las Vegas Sun

State corrections officials are investigating the death of an Ely State Prison inmate who was found unconscious inside his cell earlier this week.

Paul Skinner, 53, was discovered by prison staff on Tuesday. Medical personnel unsuccessfully tried to revive Skinner until paramedics rushed him to the William Bee Ririe Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

….

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Corrections department flouts new law requiring autopsies for inmates who die in custody

 In: Las Vegas Sun, Dec. 16, 2013
By: Ana Ley

Another inmate at Northern Nevada prison dies

Four deaths in one month, in a medical facility… It is high time Nevada’s people and chosen representatives demands oversight and an independent Ombudsman for its NDOC-run prisons!

From: LV Sun, Oct 26, 2013:

Another inmate from the Northern Nevada Regional Correctional Center has died, marking the prison’s fourth death this month.

Joseph Oxford-McArthur, 31, was found unconscious in his cell Monday and was taken to Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center, where he died four days later. Oxford-McArthur had been behind prison bars since July, serving a one- to three-year sentence for domestic battery. His case originated in Churchill County.

Officials with the Nevada Department of Corrections said no other details about Churchill’s death were available Saturday.

Read the rest here

Two prisoners die in state prisons after being found in cells

From: KSNV MyNews

LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) — Nov 17th 2012

Two prisoners have died over the past two days after being found unresponsive in their state prison cells.

Nevada Department of Corrections officials said in a news release today that John Biasi, 55, was found dead in his single cell at High Desert State Prison about 4 p.m. Friday.

Biasi was serving 10 to 25 years for second-degree murder and a consecutive term of 5 to 15 years for use of a deadly weapon. He was convicted in Clark County and had been in state custody since November 2011.

NDOC said today that Winston Kelly, 38, was found unresponsive in his single cell during the 11 a.m. head count at Ely State Prison. He was taken to William Bee Ririe Hospital in Ely and was pronounced dead at 12:12 p.m. He was convicted of first-degree murder, robbery and use of a deadly weapon in Elko County

Officials said both deaths are being investigated and no other information is available.

Another Death in Nevada’s graveyard: Ely State Prison

From a letter sent to us:
Rumor has it there was another death at Ely State Prison, on the date of August 17th, 2012. Allegedly, someone had choked their cellie to death. This supposedly took place in Unit 8, on the workers’ side this time. It remains to be seen if the wardens will completely close Unit 8 down, permanently. There was just a death in Unit 8, earlier this year, in march, on the non-workers side, which resulted in that wing of Unit 8 being locked down permanently.

Any time something like this happens at Ely State Prison, all of the prisoners are punished, whether they had something to do with it or not. This is called “Group Punishment,” and it really serves no significant purpose, other than to mete out more repression to the prisoners. It obviously does not stop more deaths from occurring.

Back in 2004, when someone allegedly got killed while on tier time in Unit 7, the warden locked Unit 7 down for good.

Back in 2005, when a prisoner allegedly threw jalapenyo juice in his cellie’s eyes and allegedly stumped him out to the point of hospitalization, the jalapenyos were taken away from the prisoners.

Back in 2002, when prisoners allegedly came out on tier time with chili cans tied up inside their laundry bags and allegedly whacked other prisoners over the head with the chili cans, in an alleged gang fight, that was the end of all canned foods. Now the prisoners buy all of their food in packages.

Back in 2006, when a prisoner allegedly used a metal rod from the inside of a typewriter (see  the exposé of Douglas Potter here), all the typewriters were taken away from all of the prisoners.

In some ways this makes sense, but at the same time, realistically speaking, this does not prevent prisoners from finding other things to use as weapons, or from finding more creative ways to attack, harm or kill, and as we have seen a couple times at E.S.P. now: when prisoners have no weapons they will use their tax hands to kill.

So, in all these cases (and believe me, there’s more), we see more acts of group punishment, but we don’t see how these acts of group punishment are stopping deaths from happening. How many times has someone killed their cellie at E.S.P.?  And out of all the times this has happened, when has the Administration ever said, “We are going to stop letting you have cellies!”? Never. In fact, most of the deaths that happen at Ely State Prison happen in the cells, by their cell mates, allegedly.

So wouldn’t it make sense to forbid the prisoners to be in a cell with other prisoners? Yes, of course it would make sense, but it is highly unlikely that this would ever happen, because the Administration needs to cell prisoners up with other prisoners, or else they would have no other place to put them. So Administration does what they need to do, to serve their interests, at the cost of other prisoners’ lives, and to shift the blame from themselves, they keep finding ways to take it out on all of the other prisoners that had no involvement, meanwhile, year after year, more prisoners die.

I can see why Ely State Prison is labeled “The Graveyard,” there are so many deaths there. It is a locked down, maximum security prison, all but half of one unit – the workers unit – which is on one side of Unit 8, incidentally the same place this recent death occurred. After perusing the article son Nevada Prison Watch’s website, seeing all of the atrocities that occur at ESP, and especially after reading Douglas Potter’s candidly written exposé, it definitely seems that the caseworkers have a role to play in many of these deaths, as they are the ones who approve of these bedmoves to occur, and choose who goes in what cell and with whom, but instead of taking any accountability themselves, they find ways to shift the blame on others. Well, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time, and I’m not buying it.
          The alleged author of this alleged report, allegedly chooses to remain anonymous. August 19th, 2012

See for references in this article the following posts:

See also:

Prisoner at Ely State Prison killed

Sad news: on March 22nd 2012 an imprisoned man died, allegedly stabbed to death, at Ely State Prison. May he find rest. It is very sad that violence is continuing inside this prison.

We recently received this short observation:

On March 22, someone was killed on unit 8, a black man named “Brass”. Supposedly he was stabbed to death. The prison has been locked down since Tuesday. Maybe tomorrow or Monday it will come off lockdown, but nobody knows for sure. Here is what I’ve heard: The Unit 8 Senior at the time saw Brass on the tier clutching his chest/heart and thought he was having a heart attack, so he locked the tier down and made everyone go back into their cells, not knowing that the inmate actually got stabbed. So whoever did it was able to get rid of the weapon and clean up all evidence, etc. and basically got away clean. Nobody knows who did it, all they know is that this man Brass is dead.

Here is the AP newsitem in the Las Vegas Sun:

Ely State Prison inmate found dead with stab wound

The Associated Press

Friday, March 23, 2012

Officials are investigating the death of a 31-year-old Ely State Prison inmate who was found dead with apparent stab wounds at the foot of prison stairs.

The news that Ronnie Danelle Brass was found by staff at about 3:15 p.m. Thursday and pronounced dead by a doctor shocked his lawyer, Jonell Thomas, who said he had an appeal pending before the Nevada Supreme Court.

“I’m just stunned,” Thomas said. “I was hopeful we were going to get a new trial for him.”

Brass and his younger brother, Jermaine Brass, were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole following the January 2009 shooting death of their brother-in-law, Ernest Mitchell.

Mitchell had accused the brothers of stealing vehicle tires and rims from his house. Mitchell’s wife, Katrina Brass, witnessed the shooting and testified against her brothers at trial.

Ronnie Brass was convicted in Clark County on April 28, 2010, of first degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, first degree kidnapping and conspiracy to commit kidnapping.

Thomas said she had hoped the court would hear oral arguments on her contention that Ronnie Brass had an IQ of just 58, and was an accessory in the slaying, not the killer.

Read the rest here.

The Haunting Death of Adam Montoya

This is devastating...

this is why letters from prisoners and family members are so important to take seriously

By Sharon Woods Harris
Pekin Daily Times

PEKIN, Ill. –

A former inmate of the Federal Correctional Institute-Pekin alleges in letters to his mother that inmate Adam Montoya begged for medication while in excruciating pain for several days prior to his death on Nov. 13.

Randy Rader was transferred to a California medium-security prison shortly after the death of Montoya, 36, of Albuquerque, N.M., with no explanation for the transfer. He later learned the transfer was for disciplinary reasons, though he claims he did nothing wrong except push the issue about Montoya’s death.
Rader is not alone. Former Pekin prison inmate Jae Eads is now in a Pennsylvania prison. He too believes he was transferred because of his knowledge of what happened at the prison with Montoya, he said.

On Nov. 14, 2009, Rader wrote to his mother, Debbie Rader, in Michigan. He told his mother, “Look, something really bad happened here on 11-13-09. I’m going to give you this name (and prison ID) number. I want you to get Brandon to Google it or whatever on (the) computer for references to this guy’s last name. Try to find his people.”

Montoya arrived at FCI-Pekin on Oct. 26 to serve a 27-month sentence for counterfeiting-related offenses. His scheduled release date was April 18, 2011. Previously he had been incarcerated in a Texas jail, where, according to his father, Juan Montoya, he received all of his medications.

Rader tells his mother that Montoya was his roommate in the “yard” prior to Montoya’s death.

“(Montoya) had only been here for a month or so. (He) just got locked up (for the) first time. He was 37 years old. He was a good guy in for a white-collar crime — stole money from some firm or other embezzlement,” said Rader. “He had a medical condition when he came — a tumor in his head.

“He begged them people to do something for him — over and over. They took him to medical a few days after he begged them so much. He went for about five minutes, maybe 10. He just got worse for the next six days. He pressed the panic button — begged them, told everyone to do something. Mom, he died between 10 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. on Nov. 12 and Nov. 13 sitting up on his bed. I don’t want to go into all of the details, but I would like to tell his people what I know.”

Tazewell County Coroner Dennis Conover said Montoya was bruised in a continuous band around his waist. He said it looked as if Montoya had been beaten, but once the autopsy was completed it was easy to see the bruising was from the internal bleeding.

A Tazewell County coroner’s autopsy report for Montoya revealed that internal bleeding was due to, or a consequence of, a rupture of the spleen. The ruptured spleen was due to or a consequence of B-Cell non-Hodgkins Lymphoma — a cancer of the lymphatic system.

The autopsy showed that 754 milliliters, or 25.49 ounces, of blood had leaked from the spleen into the abdominal cavity. Tumors were noted on the kidney and spleen, and Montoya had multiple enlarged lymph nodes.

Part of autopsy protocol is a toxicology screen. Despite Montoya’s many health issues, the only drug in his system was regular Tylenol, which had not been taken immediately prior to his death because it was found in his urine. There were no prescription pain medications or condition-related drugs in his system, according to the autopsy report.

Montoya’s father, Juan Montoya, said immediately after the death that his son was on medications while at a Texas jail prior to being sent to an Oklahoma prison before being assigned his final destination at the Pekin prison.

Federal Correctional Institution-Pekin Public Information Officer Jay Henderson said Wednesday that he could not answer questions about inmate transfers or inmate health issues, even for Montoya, who is now dead.

Henderson said there have been no changes to protocol for medicine disbursement at the prison because, “There was nothing wrong with the protocol (the prison officials) were using at the time.”

Henderson also said he does not know of any investigation into Montoya’s death. Previously, after the autopsy, Henderson had said there was no need for one because, according to Henderson, the autopsy report labeled the death accidental.
Conover said there is nowhere on the autopsy report that says accidental death. Patients with diseases such as Montoya’s are typically on medication of some kind, said Conover.

Conover has issued protocols to all departments with first responders that in the event of a death the body is not to be moved until the coroner arrives on scene. The prison, he said, ignored those protocols after Montoya died.

Prison personnel, said Conover, ordered paramedics to remove the body from the cell even after the paramedics said they could not. An IV line was started and the body was moved to the outside of the prison gate. Paramedics then called OSF Saint Francis Medical Center and were told to take the body to Pekin Hospital, where Montoya was pronounced dead immediately.

Read the rest here.