John Witherow’s grievance on prisoners with HIV being housed separately (AR610)

THis is a grievance filed in 2007, by John Witherow (now Director of Nevada-Cure) about discrimination against him and persons infected with HIV, His text is posted below.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B07-M217YPaXUm9OOHVKc2pGWTdwYjNsUzZkeGVFYVZjWVEw/view?usp=sharing

Nevada Department of Corrections
Informal Grievance
By: John Witherow, #29313
Nevada State Prison, unit 11c11
Date: 1-6-2007
Lognr: GR 2007-4-655

Grievant’s Statement:
The NDOC unconstitutionally discriminates against me and persons infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

AR610, HIV Status & A.I.D. Syndrome (8/25/03), discriminates against persons infected with the HIV by requiring that person to live in a cell only with another person infected with HIV.

AR 610.01.1.4.2.4, pg. 4. The regulation contains no provisions allowing a person infected with HIV to live in a cell with a person not infected with HIV when the non-infected person is aware of the HOV-status of the other person and those persons voluntarily request/consent to live together in the same cell. That is housing discrimination.

There is no legitimate or reasonable penological purpose of goal served by requiring a person infected with HIV to live only with another person infected with HIV. HIV is transmitted from one person to another by the same methods Hepatitis C is transmitted from person to person.
Both are potentially harmful viral infections.

The NDOC does not have a regulation requiring persons infected with hepatitis C to live in a cell with only another person infected with hepatitis C and, in fact, regularly assigns persons infected with hepatitis C to live in the same cell as a person not infected with hepatitis C, without advising the non-infected person of the hepatitis C-status of the infected person and without obtaining te consent of the non-infected person. This reflects the discrimination of the NDOC against persons infeced with HIV, as opposed to persns with hepatitis C, and the unequal treatment provided by the NDOC in the handling of various viral infections transmitted by the same methods. The same procedures should be followed in both cases.

There is no legitimate reason for refusing to permit an HIV-infected person from living with a non-HIV-infected person in the same cell when both persons are aware of the methods of transmission of the virus and have requested/consented to live together in the same cell. This would also apply to other viral infections. Knowledge of the infection and the methods of transmission are essential to an informed decision by non-infected and infected persons to live in the same cell.

Based upon the foregoing, I respectfully request that AR 610 be immediately revised to eliminate the housing discrimination and the unequal treatment of harmful viral infections. Those revisions should address all of the matters referenced herein and provide for an educational program for all prisoners on these and other viral infections and their methods of transmission.

I further request any and all declaratory, injunctive and monetary relief which may be available to remedy any and all unlawful discrimination or unequal treatment which may have been perpetrated against me by the NDOC in my housing assignments or requests for housing assignments during my confinement by the NDOC.

I am willing to discuss the required revisions to AR 610 to eliminate the discrimination and unequal treatment referenced herein and to provide constructive imput on the revisions required.
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Is Poor Medical Care Killing Nevada’s Prison Inmates?

This comes from Nevada Public Radio, and was transmitted on tuesday 7/7/15. John Witherow, director of Nevada-Cure, is one of the people who were interviewed.

knpr

Is Poor Medical Care Killing Nevada’s Prison Inmates?

prison.jpg

jail cell

The number of inmate deaths at Nevada prisons is raising questions.
In Nevada’s state prisons, four inmates die every month, on average.
But in May and June of this year, 12 inmates died. And in the last year, the number who died in Nevada prisons is just under 50.
That compares to an average of 31 deaths per year in Nevada prisons from 2001 to 2012, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Nevada’s prisons aren’t places we hear much about. Media access is severely restricted. Family members don’t always want to talk about a brother or father in prison. And, frankly, many Nevadans don’t care – out of sight, out of mind.
But some states, such as Ohio, are being sued for substandard prison medical care. And it’s no secret that many Nevada inmates die from medical conditions.
Between 2001 and 2012, 80 percent of 379 prison deaths were due to medical problems.
John Witherow knows firsthand how difficult it is to get medical care in Nevada prisons. He spent 26 years in prisons across the state, after being convicted of attempted robbery in Reno. His sentence included a habitual criminal enhancement, which adds years to the sentence of people who have been convicted of another crime.
“Getting medical care within the NDOC is an extremely difficult job,” Witherow told KNPR’s State of Nevada, “The few instances I had with the medical department were terrible.”

Read the rest here.

Interview: Living History: Lessons from “Tough-on-Crime” Failure in America

Federally-funded study shows states’ combined prison costs are up 400 per cent since the 1970s

By: CBC (Canada) The Canadian Press, May 11, 2014

John Witherow tried robbing a jewelry store — and walked away with a treasure-trove of insights into the American justice system.

His star-crossed participation in a stickup attempt in Reno, Nev., earned him 26 years in prison in an era of drastic change in U.S. justice policy, from the rise of the tough-on-crime approach to its more recent fall from favour.

Witherow shared his story during a conference in Washington, where there is bipartisan momentum behind a number of justice reforms designed to reduce prison costs and increase rehabilitation of inmates.

His initial plan, back then, was to tie down a jewelry store owner while one of his accomplices brandished a sawed-off shotgun. As it turned out, the store owner had a gun, too, and the plan went off the rails.

Witherow was eventually tracked down and sent to the slammer. Because of his seven prior convictions, mainly for robberies, he received an especially long sentence for attempted robbery with use of a weapon.


Longer sentences, services chopped.

This was in 1984.

When he arrived in the Nevada prison system, he recalls, prisoners were able to get out early for good behaviour, and some of his fellow inmates were getting college degrees. Witherow himself managed to turn his life around when he got paralegal training.

But he says things changed pretty quickly.

“It was just the start of the maybe-we-should-get-tough-on-crime era,” said Witherow, whose jailhouse training has helped him request pardons, push for better health care, and fight for sentencing reform as head of the Nevada chapter of Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants, where he’s been involved since his 2010 release.

“It was all about tough on crime but nobody thought, ‘How we gonna pay for it?”‘

Read the rest here.

The Need for an Independent Ombudsman in Nevada

On May 1st 2014, NV-CURE President John Witherow will be presenting information to the Advisory Committee on the Administration of Justice (ACAJ) on the need for an independent ombudsman in Nevada. 

You can watch and/or listen online. Here is the link: http://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/Calendar/A/

When the meeting is taking place, the link to audio/video will be live and all you have to do is click it on.