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.

….

Read the rest here…

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.

Nolan Klein: an innocent man who died of an untreated medical condition inside Nevada´s prison system

From the January 12 2010 Meeting of the Board of Prison Commissioners:

Tonya Brown stated she had a private autopsy performed on Mr. Klein and passed out the updated death certificate to the Board. She stated had he been properly treated, he would still be alive today and the State of Nevada will now be charged with a wrongful death suit.

Ms. Brown stated an innocent man died for a crime he didn’t commit. She stated if the Pardons Board had granted a pardon for Mr. Klein he would be alive today and said his medical condition went untreated. Ms. Brown stated inmates are coming into the prison system and leaving with a death sentence because they were not being treated properly. She submitted the Death Certificate for the record. See Exhibit C.

For more information about Nolan Klein and his case, please visit JusticeforNolanKlein.com

From Arizona Prison Watch: Protest on 12-18 at AZ DOC


This comes from our Allies at Arizona Prison Watch, who do a good job in creating consciousness in the Prison Industrial Complex. They also supply a creative and clear voice to protest the killing of AZ inmate Marcia Powell in an outdoor cage, on May 20th, 2009.

Protest on 12-18 at AZ DOC by SWOP and others. Open Letter from the Sex Workers Outreach Project and allies to Charles L. Ryan, Director of the Arizona DOC

When: Friday December 18th, 2009 NOON

Where: AZ Department of Corrections
1601 West Jefferson St.
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Sex Workers and allies are coming together in front of the AZ Department of Corrections on December 18th, as part of International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers, an annual event to call attention to violence committed against sex workers all over the globe. Marcia Powell was a prisoner of the State of Arizona who collapsed and died from heatstroke last May after being locked in an outdoor cage and ignored for four hours in 107 degree heat.

What: Protest Rally: Marcia Powell’s death, AZ Department of Corrections.

You are invited to join us in Tucson, Arizona on December 17, 2009 (performance art/public installation and a candelight vigil) and in Phoenix, Arizona on December 18, 2009 (protest rally on the steps of the Arizona Department of Corrections).

Bring red umbrellas, to stand in solidarity! Signs are welcome.

Sex Worker Rights are Human Rights!

——————–

Open Letter from the Sex Workers Outreach Project and allies to Charles L. Ryan, Director of the Arizona Department of Corrections. Posted and delivered December 11, 2009.
­
December 17th is International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. This event was created by Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP-USA), a national social justice network dedicated to the fundamental human rights of sex workers, focusing on ending violence and stigma through education and advocacy.
In 2009, sex workers from around the globe met gruesome deaths and endured unspeakable violence. Some died at the hands of a solitary perpetrator; others were victims of serial “prostitute killers.” While some of these horrific stories received international media attention (Boston, Grand Rapids, Albuquerque, Tijuana, Hong Kong, Moscow, Great Britain, Cape Town, New Zealand), other cases received little more than a perfunctory investigation. Many cases remain unsolved, sometimes forever.

Today we are here for Marcia Powell, who was incarcerated for solicitation of oral sex and sentenced to over two years in prison – despite being found so mentally impaired at the time of sentencing that she had just been appointed a legal guardian. On May 19, 2009, after informing prison staff that she was suicidal, Marcia was placed in an uncovered outdoor cage at Arizona’s Perryville prison for women, where she would presumably be “observed” until she was transferred to a more appropriate location. Reportedly, that’s what they did with women who caused problems there: they put them in a cage and “waited them out”. The same cages were used for “recreation” and as waiting rooms for those needing medical attention: the prisons filled up so cages were erected in the yards to add more space. Putting someone in there was routine; women were left in there all the time beyond policy, so no one thought much about Marcia complaining – except the other prisoners. Four hours later – after her pleas for water were ignored or mocked by guard after guard – she was found, collapsed, in 107-degree heat, and died on May 20th in the custody of the Arizona Department of Corrections.

Marcia was the victim of dual forms of injustice, as a sex worker and as a prisoner. Sex Workers Outreach Project and other organizations are fundamentally opposed to criminalization of sex work. The prohibition of this work results in selective prosecution that puts some of the most vulnerable in our society at the mercy of a system that robs them of their basic respect and dignity. For decades efforts to curb sex work have not only failed to reduce incidences of prostitution, but they have corrupted our justice system resulting in selective enforcement, racial profiling and inhumane treatment of those who don’t have the financial resources to fight back. Violence against sex workers is epidemic and rarely taken seriously. The criminalization of prostitution legitimizes this abuse so that sex workers are the targets of violent crime with little recourse. Marcia was referred to – after her death – as a “biological serial killer” in an employee blog (The Lumley Vampire). That suggests that her degraded social status as a “criminalized” sex worker had a considerable effect on the way she was treated at the hands of ADC staff the day she was left to die. It also raises the question of her abuse being the result of bias against her for a disability she may have also had.

Women prisoners are also the victims of an unjust system, facing extreme medical neglect, sexual harassment and abuse. The women’s prison population in the United States has grown 800% in the past three decades, twice the rate of the male prison population. 2/3 of women in prison were incarcerated for non-violent offenses. (Institute on Women and Criminal Justice). As the death of Marcia Powell in the care of the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) shows, prison sentences can include the most extreme form of neglect and abuse.

We are here for Marcia and other prisoners, and sex workers, as we call for respect for human rights. As a result of an internal investigation, 16 people were disciplined. An investigation is currently underway to determine whether or not criminal charges should be filed in her death.

“It’s not enough to change a few people and policies. There is a culture embedded in the ADC that is pervasive throughout the prison system that reflects a disregard for the fundamental human rights of prisoners. There are exceptions to that, and the prisoners know who they are,” says Peggy Plews of Arizona Prison Watch.

No critical analysis of the institutional culture that contributed to this abuse has been made public, but that analysis is essential to ending state violence.

In response to the death of Marcia Powell while in the custody of the Arizona Department of Corrections, we expect the following:

1. The Arizona Department of Corrections has an influential role in shaping policy. We ask that leadership be provided by the ADC in exploring models of restorative justice and addressing strategies such as criminal code and sentencing reform, early release programs for low-risk prisoners, community support through harm reduction, and re-entry programs to stop the revolving door syndrome that traps so many people.

2. An analysis of violence against sex workers (both inside and outside the Arizona prison system) should be conducted and a plan should be developed for reducing violence against sex workers in Arizona.

– An analysis of violence against sex workers (including male and transgendered workers) should include victimization while in state custody, police brutality, and domestic and occupational violence.

– Efforts to reform the prisons must go deeper than investigations into individual responsibility for Marcia’s Powell’s death. An analysis of how the culture of the correctional system employees/officers contributes to violence against prisoners is crucial.

3. A community-organized process for oversight in the prisons should be recognized which includes the voices of prisoners and their families.

4. Grievance policies should be reviewed and strengthened.

5. Cages should never be used to hold prisoners or to address overcrowding, which is the current practice. Overcrowding must be addressed through reducing incarceration and recidivism rates.

6. Allocate sufficient resources to address the special needs of prisoners with psychiatric and physical disabilities, including education about complications of medications.

7. May 20th should be observed each year in memory of Marcia Powell and other prisoners who died in state custody. On that day ADC should prepare a report addressed to prisoners, families and community-based oversight groups on human rights violations that have occurred over the past year and actions ADC has taken in response. The report should also include the Department’s plan for the upcoming year to improve respect for human rights.

Sex workers around the United States are shocked to see this criminalization result in a death sentence for a prostitution crime. This is one of many cases in which we observe conditions that are abusive, degrading and dangerous ranging from rape and other violence, to extreme medical neglect. These conditions violate the human rights of all persons deprived of their liberty to be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and to be free from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The UN Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) should be applied to all individuals.

In the wealthiest country in the world, where taxpayers spend billions on the prison system, it is horrific that this justice system has led to a death sentence for someone arrested for prostitution. It’s been over 60 years since the UN Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) has been adopted. The Arizona Department of Corrections has been woefully negligent, in following the human rights protocol, which Eleanor Roosevelt, along with so many others, have developed. In less than a decade we’ve almost doubled the amount spent on our prisons in Arizona, and the Arizona Department of Corrections fails even the most basic requirement, to keep prisoners safe.

We ask that the Arizona Department of Corrections look at the 30 articles in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and review the treatment of individuals in the prison system in the light of these principles. Every ADC employee/correctional officer should have training in human and prisoners’ rights principles and practices. ADC should provide leadership that demonstrates a respect for human rights.

We look forward to the day when prisons are no longer used to address our most pressing social problems. As social justice activists we challenge the discrimination that leads to criminalization and incarcerations. We promote human rights for all, as well as specific law reform. Recently enacted by the Arizona legislature, felony charges should be rescinded for prostitutioni charges. Although the ADC does not have jurisdiction over many aspects of these injustices, ADC does have great deal of influence in many of these matters and ADC is also directly responsible for how prisoners are treated within this system. Sex Worker Outreach Project, in tandem with Arizona Prison Watch and Friends of Marcia Powell expects that the ADC establish real justice in the death of Marcia Powell.

Sincerely,

Tara Sawyer
Board Chair
Sex Workers Outreach Project

Peggy Plews
Arizona Prison Watch
Friends of Marcia Powell

Penelope Saunders
Best Practices Policy Project

Carol Leigh
BAYSWAN

Investigation ordered into inmate death

From: Nevada Appeal:

Monday, December 7, 2009

Prison officials are investigating the death of an inmate at Northern Nevada Correctional Center over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Director of Corrections Howard Skolnik said inmate Jamie Kline’s death while he was in the prison Regional Medical Center is under investigation.

Skolnik said Kline habitually refused to take his psychotropic medicines which meant the medical staff had to make him take them.

“We had an individual who we have repeatedly had to give forced meds,” Skolnik said. “Apparently the last time we forced his meds, he died.”

He said the preliminary autopsy showed no bruising on the inmate’s body. He said a full autopsy including chemical testing will be conducted to determine the cause of death along with an investigation of the circumstances that led to his death.

Kline, 45, was serving a maximum 15 year sentence for a burglary and grand larceny conviction. He arrived at the prison in May 2007.

Note: what would an investigation done by the prison officials themselves be worth?