After Orange Halfway Home for women

By Cassandra Marie
In: NV-CURE Informational Bulletin (IB) Nr 21 (January 2017)

Cassandra and Jamie, sisters, come from loving parents and a loving home. Jamie was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to 10-25 years in prison. That was the beginning of our experience with the prison system. We obtained approval to visit and discussed the things we could do to make a difference.  Jamie has been incarcerated for nearly 10 years now.

With 2.3 million people incarcerated in our country and a 68% recidivism rate, we came up with a concept to follow people as they left prison. Where would they go, what would they do, and who would they hang out with? I started documenting women leaving FMWCC more than 3 years ago. I called the project After Orange. I have witnessed a variety of behaviors from the women I’ve interviewed and followed. From reconnecting with friends and family, going to Hope For Prisoners, turning to prostitution, and dipping back into old behaviors. We have learned of the many problems and issues in and around the NDOC.

One of these issues is the unanswered demand for housing when women are released. On November 1st, 2016, I opened “After Orange: Halfway Home”, a nonprofit transitional home for women being released from prison. We also documented a series about the women’s journey through and after their incarceration. We had a desire to help women who are ready to change their lives, partnering with community organizations like Hope For Prisoners, LV Urban League, FIT, Larson’s Training Center, NV CURE, God Behind Bars, LV Public Defenders, The Metropolitan Police Department, Private Practicing Lawyers, Department of Parole and Probation, and The District Attorney’s office. We bring trauma healing experts into our home and we’ve cultivated a healthy daily program with a set curfew, daily house meetings, house maintenance, substance abuse meetings, spiritual avenues, and structured life mapping to help women live their absolute best lives while giving back to their community. There is accountability in our home, primarily driven by our residents keeping each other in check.

After Orange: Halfway Home is only for women who want to live their absolute best lives. Our vision of helping female ex-offenders is taking shape. My sister and I are committed to bringing positive change to the prison culture in our country. Jamie goes to the parole board this March 2017, and upon release, she will be assisting to move this project forward from the outside.

The women from After Orange Halfway Home have been volunteering for NV CURE, helping with office duties and are very happy to give back to their community. If you are a woman inmate interested in living at our home, please write a 250 word statement about your story and why you’re ready to live your absolute best life and send it to NV CURE, Attn: After Orange Halfway House, 540 E. St. Louis Ave., Las Vegas, NV 89104. We will send you an application and look forward to hearing from you. Please spread the word.

To NDOC: STOP RETALIATION against prisoner for filing grievances and lawsuits

The grievance process in prisons was ESTABLISHED TO GIVE PRISONERS A LEGITIMATE MEANS OR AIRING THEIR COMPLAINTS – as a direct result of the Attica Rebellion (1971). The Attica Rebellion occurred because prisoner had a no legitimate means of having their grievances and complaints heard by the prison administration.

NV-CURE would like to see the NDOC STOP RETALIATION against prisoner for filing grievances and lawsuits.
NV-CURE has been trying to stop this retaliation for a very long period to time.  Nothing has been done to stop it.  The retaliation has not stopped and has, in fact, increased. Something must be done.

We want the retaliation in Nevada prisons to stop and we would sincerely appreciate the Director taking action to stop it. 

Below is a letter from a prisoner at Ely State Prison (ESP) about retaliation by guards to prisoners who speak up on the conditions inside:
Retaliation is running rampant within NDOC.
7-29-2016
Because I wrote grievances and letters to the Director regarding the conditions in Unit 8 at S.D.C.C., when Assistant Warden (AW) Adams received a copy of the letters I had written to Director Dzurenga, I was put on a special trans[port] to Ely State Prison (ESP) within a week and when I arrived at ESP, I was confronted by Sgt. Manning [whom] I had sued in 2008, and [I was] verbally threatened, then he told all the officers in the area:

“This one likes to take you to court, make sure he gets special treatment,”

and when I received my property two days later, many items were missing, including such things as my CD-player, AC/DC adaptor, beard trimmers and other small items like bowls, watch, etc.

All of the appliances were on my property card and were inventoried prior to transfer, but they have now vanished.
Property officers also removed my heart- and bloodpressure medication from my property and now I have gone eleven (11) days so far without any medication even after filing an Emergency Grievance and kites to Medical.
Now let me tell you about the food that is being served here at ESP now.
Meals are now served on small styrofoam trays (very small), the portions have been cut down to maybe a quarter of regular, and now we are served only items like hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken patties every day.
Tonight’s dinner was one chicken patty, eight french fries and a bun, no desserts or anything. Lunch was two slices of bologna, four slices of bread, and two crackers period. Breakfast was one fried egg, five  tater tots, two table spoons of oatmeal and the same of fruit cocktail. This is no way nutritionally adequate compared to a 2000 calorie diet standard set by federal guidelines for dietary standards. 
I have begun the grievance process on both of these issues and fully intend to file a lawsuit regarding this and other issues like my disciplinary hearing where I was denied witnesses after I filed grievances regarding conditions,…

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.
###

Good Time Credits paralegal aid

Hope for Freedom will draft the necessary documents in cases to secure good time credits for $1500.00. If after reviewing all documents and facts, the person is not entitled to good time reductions, $750.00 will be refunded. Email hopeforfreedom at yahoo dot com if interested or call 231-313-0059.

Background:
(from our IB #16)
For years, the NDOC has misapplied AB510 to effectively block earned early release credits to the vast majority of category A and B violent or sexual offenders. But on June 24, 2015, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled this was an error. In fact, the plain and clear language of NRS 209.4465(7)(b), pre 2007, does not preclude credit application to the minimum terms for the majority of these inmates.

In its Order, the Court found that:
1) AB510 was enacted in 2007 (therefore it cannot apply to offenses pre-2007); and,
(2) each offender, between July 17, 1997 and June 30, 2007 is entitled to application of his or her stat time to his or her parole eligibility (Category A offenses that specifically
state “a minimum sentence that must be served before a person becomes eligible for parole “are not included in this ruling).
All B, C, D, E and Attempts to Commit A felonies are affected.
See Frederick VonSeydewitz v. Warden Robert LeGrand No. 66159, June 24, 2015 for complete information and ruling.

Huffington Post: Nevada: The Shooting Gallery

This is a featured story in the Huffington Post Highline, Dec. 2015, about guards using shotguns in the prisons run by NDOC, and the deadly results this practice brings with it.

AUTHOR: Dana Liebelson, ARTIST: Corey Brickley

Guards inside prisons shouldn’t have guns. That’s pretty much an accepted fact. Except in Nevada—and the results are mayhem and death.

In the solitary unit at High Desert State Prison in Nevada, the guards usually follow a simple practice: Never let two inmates out of their cells at once, because you never know what might go wrong. The prison is a massive complex less than an hour from Las Vegas, surrounded by electric fences with razor ribbon and then miles of brush and gravel. In “the hole,” as the solitary unit is known, inmates are isolated for around 23 hours a day—sometimes because they’re being punished, sometimes for their own protection. One evening last November, a 38-year-old corrections officer named Jeff Castro was supervising prisoners as they took turns in the shower cage when two inmates were released into the corridor at the same time.

Andrew Arevalo was a heavily tattooed, round-faced 24-year-old who had been convicted of stealing two paint machines. Carlos Perez, who was four years older, was serving time for hitting a man with a two-by-four and was due to get out of prison in March. Even though they both had their hands restrained behind their backs, they started trying to fight. To Steve McNeill, a prisoner who was watching from his cell, it looked pretty funny: two guys in T-shirts and boxer shorts yelling at each other, clumsily kicking at each other’s shins and then backing away. “Neither could affect an effective offensive,” McNeill recalled. “It was like some awkward and quirky dance, then ‘BOOM.’”

About 30 feet away, another officer was manning the control room—a trainee named John-Raynaldo Ramos. His job was to remotely open the cell doors from “the bubble,” the glass room overlooking the floor. The elevated booth is equipped with a 12-gauge shotgun loaded with 7 1/2-birdshot—the same tiny pellets that sport shooters use to blow apart clay pigeons and that hunters use to kill birds and rabbits. The windows of the bubble, which are reinforced with security bars, can be opened to aim a gun through. “Get on the ground,” Ramos ordered the two men.

Jackie Crawford, who served as Nevada’s director of corrections from 2000 to 2005, also pointed to the state’s historically low staffing levels. She described an instance when inmates were fighting under a gun post at High Desert, but the officer was too close to fire on them. One inmate was seriously injured and subsequently died, she said. However, she added, “You can’t control inmates just with gun towers or other uses of force. There needs to be treatment, training, education and meaningful work programs.” The warden of High Desert when Perez was shot, Dwight Neven, defended the policy emphatically in court in June 2015, testifying that it protects officers. The law, he said, allows “my officers to break up even a small altercation in the dining hall with whatever level of force is necessary.”

Read the rest here.

Nevada Department of Corrections Director Greg Cox quits

This is from the Las Vegas Review Journal, Sept 14th, 2015:

Embattled Nevada Department of Corrections Director Greg Cox resigned abruptly Monday under unknown circumstances.
Gov. Brian Sandoval said in a statement he accepted Cox’s resignation and appointed E.K. McDaniel to serve as interim director of the department, which has come under scrutiny for use-of-force issues leading to inmate injuries and one prisoner fatality.
“I would like to thank Greg for his service to our state and I appreciate his hard work serving the people of Nevada,” Sandoval said.
No reason was given for the Cox’s resignation, but John Witherow, head of the NV Cure prison reform organization, has a laundry list of problems with the way the department treats inmates.
“I don’t know why he resigned, but I suspect it was his inability to control his subordinates,” he said.
NV Cure had met with Cox to discuss retaliation against prisoners who file formal grievances against the department. Witherow said Cox told him he would not tolerate that kind of treatment.
“The retaliation did not, in fact, stop. It increased,” Witherow said.
Cox’s resignation follows months of high-profile conflicts at Nevada prisons, beginning with a fatal inmate shooting in November at High Desert State Prison, just outside of Las Vegas, that wasn’t revealed until four months later when the Review-Journal discovered the Clark County coroner’s office had ruled it a homicide.
Inmate Carlos Manuel Perez, 28, died Nov. 12, 2014. [link added by NV Cure] A second inmate, Andrew Arevalo, was injured.
More recently, seven inmates were injured in August at Warm Springs Correctional Center in Carson City when a fight broke out during dinner and guards opened fire with rubber pellets. One inmate who was not identified was flown to a Reno hospital, though details of his injuries remain undisclosed.
In July, three inmates suffered minor injuries when guards fired rounds to break up a fight at Lovelock Correctional Center. One inmate at Ely State Prison was taken to a hospital in Las Vegas in April after he was shot by a guard during a fight. Eight other inmates were injured.
Cox’s resignation came the night before he was expected to present the findings from a study on the department’s use of force at Tuesday’s Board of State Prison Commissioners in Carson City. The prison board, comprised of the governor, Attorney General Adam Laxalt and Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, requested the study at the last meeting after Perez’s death led to controversy.
On Monday, an unnamed spokesman for the department told the Review-Journal “there is no final report as of yet” in the study conducted by the Association of State Correctional Administrators.
Read the rest here.

News: Governor accepts resignation of Nevada prisons director

This comes from  KRNV-DT Reno:

CARSON CITY, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) — The director of the Nevada Department of Corrections has resigned, according to the governor’s office.

Gov. Brian Sandoval accepted the resignation of Director James “Greg” Cox on Monday, his office said in a statement. The cause for his resignation was not immediately known.

Cox was appointed as director in June 2011, according to the department’s website. He began his career in Nevada in 2003 as warden of the Southern Desert Correctional Center in 2003.

E.K. McDaniel was appointed as interim-director, effective immediately, according to the statement.

McDaniel has been with the department of corrections since he started his career in Nevada as warden of the Ely State Prison in 1993.

He was recently promoted in 2011 to deputy director of operations, the statement said.

“As we move forward, E.K. will help provide a smooth transition while we work to find new leadership for the Department,” Sandoval said in the statement.

Read the rest here.

The Las Vegas Sun has this to say about it:

“…State Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, defended Cox on Twitter following news of his departure.

“This is so sad. Cox was a real reformer stuck in an underfunded institution which refused to reform,” he wrote.

Deputy Director of Operations E.K. McDaniel will serve as the interim director, according to a news release from Sandoval’s office.

“I would like to thank Greg for his service to our state and I appreciate his hard work serving the people of Nevada,” Sandoval said in the statement. “As we move forward, E.K. will help provide a smooth transition while we work to find new leadership for the department.”

McDaniel began working as a correctional officer in Oklahoma in 1975 and eventually became the deputy warden of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary before joining NDOC as the warden of Ely State Prison in 1993, according to Sandoval’s office.

He worked there until 2011, when he became deputy director of operations, according to the statement.”


We are definitely worse off with E.K. McDaniel, and we are glad he is only an interim. Therefore let us hope that a real strong reformer will be appointed who can stand up to EK and his old-boy network likes, who have been the cause of so much pain and suffering inside, so much torture.

Times are changing, with more and more awareness about the many human rights abuses and over-incarceration in prisons around the country, and Nevada has to change too, for the better this time.

From our Facebook-page:

Director Cox resigns; E.K. McDaniel appointed interim director. McDaniel is the former warden of Ely State Prison. He is responsible for the death of Patrick Cavanaugh by gangrene because Cavanaugh’s diabetic medication was withheld.

McDaniel went to court and made himself conservator over Cavanaugh without the consent of Cavanaugh’s family.

McDaniel stood on the tier of Unit 3B at ESP and laughed after Timothy Redman allegedly hung himself after guards emptied seven or eight big cans of pepper spray directly into his cell.

McDaniel testified to the ACAJ that “THERE IS NO SOLITARY CONFINEMENT IN NEVADA.”

In the opinion of NV-CURE, this shows that McDaniel will lie to the legislature, that he can’t be trusted with the well-being of prisoners or our tax dollars, and that he must not be appointed to a permanent position as Director.

This is a huge setback to all the hard work NV-CURE has done. Please join NV-CURE and help us STOP McDaniel from receiving a permanent appointment as Director of NDOC.