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.

Deputy Director of NDOC denies solitary confinement torture at Ely State Prison – ACLU and Nevada Cure know better

Here is the video/audio recording of E.K. McDaniel, Deputy Director of NDOC stating, “We do not have solitary confinement in the Nevada Department of Corrections.” He said this during the Public meeting of the Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice (ACAJ) on 03/05/2014.

The ACLU starts the segment on solitary with a very good expert psychiatrist. This is at the very beginning of segment Xl, and it’s worth listening to.

Then McDaniel starts his manipulation of the ACAJ at 6:05:33 and almost immediately says the above quote and then launches into all the luxuries and benefits of “segregation units”. Not solitary confinement, though. We don’t have that.

http://nvleg.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?publish_id=6cf4fa0f-f784-1031-a551-f3fb1162b875

03/05/2014 Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice (2650) – Room 3137 – Mar 5th, 2014.


Ely State Prison: A Solitary Confinement Torture Dungeon in Nevada


Ely State Prison is a prison with most of its units on a permanent lockdown. Most prisoners are being kept in solitary confinement for years, which has been defined as possible torture, by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.
We received this Memorandum and Affidavit outlining the situation of the permanent lock down (solitary confinement) situation and the lack of distinction between a prisoner in General Population and a prisoner in Administrative or Disciplinary Segregation at Ely State Prison. The original is down below or here.
Please all take note and contact your representatives to change the situation for the better for everyone in Ely State Prison! Thank you.
 
To whom it may concern:
Please find accompanying this memo, a sworn, notarized Affidavit, briefly describing the horrible conditions of confinement, suffered by Nevada’s Maximum Security Prisoners, at Ely State Prison.
Please note:
The Affidavit is not an exhausted detail of the illegal conditions of confinement, at Ely State Prison, but only a brief description.
Finally note:
We, Prisoners at E.S.P., are requesting that you, your good offices, please afford us any support available to you, on our behalf. 
That we, who dare to speak out and expose the truth of Nevada’s secret solitary confinement, torture dungeons, are… in advance, profoundly grateful, and thank you, your good offices, for your leadership, strength and courage.
“The poor, voiceless prisoner class of E.S.P.”
———————————————————————-
Affidavit of Manuel Winn.
State of Nevada, County of White Pine }SS
I, Manuel Winn, being first duly sworn upon oath, deposes and swears to the following:
That I am the Affiant herein.
That I am of sound mind, good physical health, and above the age of 21 yrs old, therefore qualified to testify to all matters herein.
That I make this Affidavit in support of any motion, pleading, or document, filed by or on behalf of Manuel Winn, and or  prisoners housed at Ely State Prison.
That I make this Affidavit in opposition to any motion, pleading, or document, filed by or on behalf of the State of Nevada, Nevada Department of Corrections.
That I am an Inmate within the Nevada department of Corrections.
That I am housed at Ely State Prison, by the State of Nevada, Nevada department of Corrections.
That I have been housed at Ely State Prison since March of 2011.
That I have been classified as a General Population inmate at Ely State Prison since my arrival here on March, 2011.
That all inmates housed at Ely State Prison, who are classified as General Population Inmates are confined to our cells for a minimum of 23 hours a day, every day.
That all inmates housed at Ely State Prison, who are classified as General Population are forced to be double celled (two inmates housed in each cell).
That all inmates housed at Ely State Prison who are classified as General Population inmates, who refuse to be double celled (two inmates housed in each cell), are threatened with being housed in a segregation unit, served with a notice of disciplinary charges, sanctioned to loss of commissary, privileges, arbitrary cell searches, confiscation of personal property, loss of incoming and outgoing mail, and reduction in the amount of food received from culinary officers.
That all inmates housed at Ely State Prison, who are classified as General Population inmates, are not allowed personal access to the gym, nor the main yard, nor the legal library, nor the education building, ever.
That all inmates housed at Ely State Prison, who are classified as General Population inmates, are not allowed outside of our own cells, except for 45 minutes a day, approximately 5 days a week, for physical exercise, in a very small enclosed pin-area, by ourselves or with our cellmate only.
That there is at all times approximately one thousand (1,000) inmates housed at Ely State Prison.
That there is at all times approximately 400 (four hundred) inmates housed at Ely State Prison, classified as General Population inmates.
That there is at all times approximately 400, four hundred inmates housed at E.S.P. classified as segregation inmates, disciplinary segregation, administrative segregation, and protective custody segregation.
That inmates housed at E.S.P., who are classified as Segregation inmates are housed and exercise identically to inmates housed at E.S.P., classified as General Population inmates, except that:
a)      All Segregation inmates are housed alone in single occupancy cells,
b)      Disciplinary Segregation inmates are not allowed to order edible items from the commissary and are only allowed an orange jumpsuit for clothing.
That there is at all times, approximately 70 inmates who are classified as Workers and allowed to work at E.S.P.
That inmates housed at E.S.P., who are classified as Workers, are the ONLY inmates allowed the following privileges:
a)      Personal access to Legal Library Thursday morning 9:00 am to 10:30 am, and Thursday afternoon(s) 12:00 am to 2:15 pm only.
b)      Personal access to gym, twice a week, for approximately 2 hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon.
c)      Personal access to the main yard on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, for 2 hours in the mornings and 2 ½ hours in the afternoons.
Further Affiant says not.
Dated this 29th day of January, 2014.
Signed.