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.

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.

NDOC: Forty Five (45) Prisoner Deaths in One (1) Year

On Tuesday, July 7 at 9 am. NV-CURE President John Witherow will be interviewed on Nevada Public Radio 88.9 FM on this subject. 

This comes from our Informational Bulletin nr 12, 2015:

Forty five people have died in custody in Nevada’s prison facilities since August, 2014. Four committed suicide.

One was shot by a prison guard. One died of cardiovascular disease and the rest are either deaths caused, according to NDOC, by “medical condition”, unknown”, “natural”, or “prolonged illness”. We want to know the causes of death and whether any of these deaths are attributable to the Hepatitis C virus.

This information was provided to NV-CURE by an NPR Senior Producer Joe Schoenmann and former Correctional Officer Mark Clarke, whom we thank for their time and efforts regarding this matter.  We hope that further investigation will reveal the facts regarding each of these
deaths.

Not one noted death is from hepatitis C, even though we know that the prevalence of that disease is much higher than in the population at large and we know that NDOC gives very little treatment for this very treatable disease. Allegedly, many of these deaths are “under investigation”, and NV-CURE finally has volunteers willing to keep track of each death, order the coroner’s report, which is a matter of public record, if necessary, and log the deaths on a spreadsheet, making sure that the media, legislators and the US DOJ are made aware of the high number of deaths due to disease. It is estimated that 12-35% of prisoners nationwide are infected with the Hep C virus. We will never know exactly how many prisoners are infected with the disease, until we have testing, which the Nevada legislature and the NDOC refuse to provide.

NDOC claims that they are investigating the potential of providing hospice care, but we have seen no action yet on that claim.

On Tuesday, July 7 at 9 am. NV-CURE President John Witherow will be interviewed on Nevada Public Radio 88.9 FM on this subject. A recording of the program will be posted on our website, Nevaacure.org.  Thank you for your attention to this problem.