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.

Monthy Meeting Agenda for November 18th

MONTHLY MEETING AGENDA
For November 18, 2015: 6:30 PM PST

Meeting Location
Conference Room
Law Office of Gallian, Welker & Beckstrom, LC
540 E. St. Louis Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89104

Tel.: 702.347.1731
Nevadacure.org

Conference Call Number and Code:
Code: 493815#
Tel:712-432-0926

The following is the Agenda for NV-CURE Monthly Meeting:

1. Identification of Members and Guests present at meeting and introduction of new members/guests.

2. Approval of Agenda.

3. Approval of Minutes of previous meeting.

4. Open comments by members and guests.

5. Issues to be discussed at meeting:

  a. CURE International Special Meeting Report (John)

  b. Fundraising Report (Rich)

  c. Hep C Case Report (Alexis)

  d. Resource Booklet Report (Chris)

  e. Newsletter Report (Greg and John)

  f. ESP Book Drive (John)

6. Suggestions and recommendations for acts to be performed before next meeting.

7. Set date, time and place for next meeting. (Next Meeting January 27, 2016)

8. Adjourn meeting.

PLEASE NOTE:

We welcome the participation of all Nevada CURE Members/Supporters and invite all to
attend any monthly NV-CURE meetings that may be scheduled. We want all members to
participate in the process.

Monthly Meeting Agenda Oct. 28, 2015

MONTHLY MEETING AGENDA
For October 28, 2015 : 6:30 PM PST
Law Office of Gallian, Welker & Beckstrom, LC
Meeting Location:
Conference Room
540 E. St. Louis Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89104
Conference Call Number and Code:
712-432-0926
Code: 493815#
The following is the Agenda for NV-CURE Monthly Meeting:
1. Identification of Members and Guests present at meeting and introduction of new members/guests.
2. Approval of Agenda.
4. Open comments by members and guests.
5. Issues to be discussed at meeting:
  a. Discussion, Nomination of Adam Tingley, Legislative Coordinator and Vote (John).
  b. Discussion, Nomination of Deanna Franck, Prison Communications Specialist and vote (John).
  c. Headquarters Bldg. (John)
  d. Report on Fundraising Activities (Rich)
  e. Report on Resources Booklet (Chris)
  f. Report on 1st Video Editing (Parole) (Craig)
  g. Report on Hep C Case Status (Alexis)
  h. Report on NDOC Medical Case by ACLU (John)
  i. Report on Newsletter / Printer Collaboration (John)
  j. Report on DC Meeting (John)
  k. Big Thanks you to ALL for NV-CURE Work (John)
6. Suggestions and recommendations for acts to be performed before next meeting.
7. Set date, time and place for next meeting. (Next Meeting November 25, 2015)
We welcome the participation of all Nevada CURE Members/Supporters and invite all to 
attend any monthly NV-CURE meetings that may be scheduled. We want all members to 
participate in the process.

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.

Our Autumn Informational Newsbulletin is out now!

You can read the latest Informational Bulletin by clicking here.

In this IB more attention for the Hepatitis C virus and (non-)treatment inside Nevada’s prisons, hygiene inside the women’s prison, the solitary confinement-survey by ACLU of Nevada, and more.

Please consider donating to Nevada-Cure towards the cost of printing and sending this to hundreds of our incarcerated members, thank you!

Join NV-CURE! It’s $10.00 per year for people in the community and $2.00 per year for prisoners. Your donations can also go toward your membership.

Front of Nevada-Cure Informational Bulletin nr 13 (2015)