Visiting at HDSP is changing as of Jan. 7th but NDOC is not communicative about it nor practical

I was in prison and you came
to visit me (Matthew 25:36) 

We have gathered that after January 7th, visiting at High Desert State Prison will be on a first come first serve basis, instead of by appointment.

There is still no information on the NDOC website about this important change for all who have loved ones inside HDSP.

We all know how important, if not vital, it is to allow visits to prisoners. It even makes a job for a c.o. easier if the prisoners are less tense because they have had a visit with a loved one. It makes re-entry much easier, and thus it reduces future recidive.

To install a “first come first serve” visiting rule creates a lot of problems, for example if you come from far away (and most visitors do, in Nevada), it is not acceptable that you can not visit because there is a large cue before you (as is often the case at HDSP, even if you are on time).

Also, where do the visitors wait? How do they know who was first? Do they queue up with their cars? How much time is eaten from the visits because the prisoners do not know they have a visit or who have to be collected at the moment the visitor is allowed in? In many states this has been practice and it goes well, but they have personell in place who deal with getting visitors processed quickly and they do not turn away people as long as they come between certain times, unless it is a very busy day like Mothers’ Day.

It may sound better, to no longer have appointments, but visits on a “first come first serve”-basis is unfair and not practical in the way there is no clear announcement or anything for the future visitors who have to plan their journeys well ahead (for instance by having to book a plane). NDOC, a professional, taxfunded governmental organization, should advertise and communicate these important changes from those who finance their prisons (the public) much clearer and more professionally.

This is not the only visiting issue that NDOC should address. Not a few people have been refused a visit or more, even many more, without the possibility to have a video visit instead.

NDOC should give open information to every visitor on their website as well as to all visitors who come now, and over the telephone.

Families Trek From SoCal to Pelican Bay In Hopes of Seeing Loved Ones Held in Solitary Confinement

From: Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity
Dec 7th 2012

Press Contact:  Azadeh Zohrabi
Cell:  310.612.9706

Interviews and photos available by request

San Francisco – A group of family members of prisoners in Pelican Bay State Prison’s Security Housing Units (SHUs) have organized a charter bus to offer free rides for other family members to visit their loved ones at Pelican Bay. The trip is being organized by California Families Against Solitary Confinement (CFASC) in an effort to support families who have been unable to make the long trip to Pelican Bay due to financial restraints. The trip will begin in Los Angeles leaving at 3:00 a.m. on Friday, December 7th, and will stop briefly in San Francisco to pick up other families. They will return from Pelican Bay on Sunday, December 9th, after the last visits around 3:00 p.m.

The bus is full, and taking 55 family members including children to Pelican Bay. Organizers plan to reunite families before the winter holidays. It takes roughly 16 hours to drive from Los Angeles to Pelican Bay. “The long distance and costs associated with travel make it incredibly difficult for family members to visit their loved ones who are locked up at Pelican Bay. The state says our family members that we love are the ‘worst of the worst’, which not only gives the state power to lock them in cages in horrible conditions, but empowers the state to make visiting with those they love – and those who love them – almost impossible,” said Dolores Canales, whose son is in Pelican Bay’s SHU.  “We organized this trip without expectations, and found so much motivation and interest among family members that we have to drive a full car along with the chartered bus, and there’s not space for some people at all.”

As a result of the difficulties involved in visiting family imprisoned in Pelican Bay, many of the family members on this shared bus ride are visiting their loved ones for the first time, some after 10 or more years of separation.  “CFASC is creating this amazing opportunity for me. My brother was taken away from us years ago, and since he’s been at Pelican Bay, I haven’t been able to afford to visit much. His isolation has totally devastated our family. This is an incredible experience that I’m hoping can be repeated in the future,” says Marie Levin, whose brother lives in Pelican Bay’s SHU and is one of the plaintiffs named in the lawsuit filed with the Center for Constitutional Rights which alleges that the use of solitary confinement in California violates due process and amounts to torture. He was also among the first prisoners to call for hunger strikes in July, 2011.

Prisoners in Pelican Bay began a hunger strike last year to protest the conditions of extreme isolation in the SHUs. One of the demands that they issued to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation included expanded visiting privileges. The prisoners housed in SHU’s across the state are only allowed to visit with their families for one to two hours behind glass each weekend if the family can afford the time and expense of the three day trip. Many of these prisoners have not felt another human’s touch in decades.

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Visiting in a Louisiana Correctional Facility as Defined By Them

The visiting terms at Elayn Hunt Correctional Center are spelled out quite clearly on their website. If you have no computer at home, I guess you’re just plumb out of luck unless you call the facility.

When an offender first arrives at Hunts, they are placed in reception.(HRDC) For the first thirty days, they are not allowed visitors. Their website states: “If an offender’s stay at HRDC (the reception center) exceeds thirty (30) days, it is possible for the offender to request and receive special visits if approval of the Administration is secured. Such visits are generally allowed with certain members of the immediate family i.e. parents, legal spouse, sibling, grandparent or child of the offender.” http://www.corrections.state.la.us/ehcc/services/offender/VisitInfo.htm

My husband was transferred to Elayn Hunt Correctional Facility on December 28, 2009 from a private facility in north Louisiana. He was placed in HRDC. According to my calendar, and I do know basic math, his thirty days are up. Yet, he is still in HRDC because every facility in Louisiana is filled to overcrowding and Hunts has no place to put him in general population. Keep in mind that he is in for a technical parole violation. He is not in for a new offense.

As per the guidelines at Hunts, he filled out a form requesting a special visit with me, his wife. He even called me to make sure he had all the information filled out correctly. He did write to me and advise me to call before I made the drive, but it’s been my experience in calling these facilities that one person can tell you one thing on the phone, yet when you arrive, you are told something else. I opted to take the chance.

When I arrived at Hunts, my visit with my husband was denied. I was flabbergasted. I politely inquired as to why the visit had been denied. I was told they could not verify my relationship to my husband. What? I am his emergency contact on his paperwork. We have the same address. We have the same last name. I provided identification in the form of a Louisiana driver’s license. We are legally married. I have the marriage license to prove it. I’ve been visiting him since his parole revocation.

So, they won’t give him a visiting form for him to send to me to fill out. A special visit was denied. He has been in HRDC for over thirty days. For some reason he hasn’t called me to talk to me about this. I know my husband. He WILL call home. I suspect they have denied him phone privileges and I have no clue why. What next?

Anonymous

Visiting and writing

This was written in 2005 for the FFUP Newsletter. SInce the internet host will cease to exist soon, we re-publish this here.

by D.

After giving this some thought, I have decided that my primary concern is not only the closure of the inhumane concentration camp and implement of racial/ethnic cleansing, but it is also – even while it still may operate – to have a system of real checks and balances. Right now, there is only a sham of such a recourse in the form of exhaustive remedies and CCE and ICRS. And these are only available for the inmate. I have never heard of an inmate, who has utilized these remedies, to have actually won his case. Even though he may have every evidence, and even court orders, he usually (always that I have known) loses.

But, it is the free citizen, like myself; the visitor, the correspondent, that has no recourse – unless you have the time and money to hire a lawyer to file a civil suit.

My experience with WSPF has been one in which they have taken sentences out of context and portions of visits and made them into something (a conflict with the Administrative Code, and worse, their own special little rules and regulations) that was completely made up on their part. For instance, most recently they took a sentence out of one of my letters to an inmate, where I said I would send in to a pen pal service for him. In his letters to this pen pal service, this inmate always (always) put in the responding letter that he was in prison. In some form or another, he mentioned that he was incarcerated. I would send in his letter and the $6.00 that it cost to find a pen pal. Unknown to me, he had also written this service and mentioned that he would like to place an ad for himself. They (WSPF) says that he had planned to place an ad without telling them he was in prison and that constituted fraud. WSPF decided that, because I was paying for and sending ‘his’ letter to answer other ads, that I must also be part of the attempt to conceal that he was in prison in the ad that he planned to put in. As a result, they charged me with fraud, and demoted him from level 4 to level 1 or 2. (I’m not sure which). Although I had all the proof, they would not even consider that I was not involved or had knowledge of any wrong doing, or infringement of codes.

As a matter of fact, I was so distraught that my personal rights and freedoms could be so maligned, I also wrote legislators, the Governor Doyle, newspapers, etc. And no one responded. And I see this kind of power and control over ordinary citizens all the time. No agency should have that much control. There should be a recourse for families and incarcerated both.

The idea of the level system is a total sham. Many have gone through the levels and been dropped for nothing. And at the same time, many have been transferred out – for no apparent reason – without ever completing the level 4.

Court orders, protecting the inmates and their properties (legal and personal) have no protection within the walls of WSPF. They are able to confiscate, destroy, deface at will. And no one will put an end to this. Even though it has been decided that those in charge of such institutions need to obey their own laws to show that it is important to follow rules and regulations, it rarely happens. I have heard again and again the break down of court ordered protections. There needs to be someone – a real someone, not the imagined ‘monitor’ – that steps in and makes this ‘giant’ of small people with a little power, follow their own rules and the laws of this country. All the time, not just when someone is watching.