Another report of a beating of a handcuffed prisoner at Ely State Prison

Received by mail, June 2010

Dated and mailed 5-18-10
To all concerned parties

On 1-15-10 while incarcerated at Ely State Prison, I was assaulted while handcuffed by two Senior correctional officers (S.c.o. D. and S.c.o. S.) under the Watch of a ranked officer by the name of Lieutenant M. This is no surprise to me. The fact that both these S.c.o. weigh collectively 600 plus pound attacking me like vicious animals is no surprise to me. What is a surprise to me is that a lieutenant would disregard my safety and stand by and watch as I´m slammed for no reason, head first into the wall, my face busted and he does not intervene. I´m then slammed to the floor by both these 6ft plus 300 plus pounds individuals and repeatedly punched in the face by one while the other sits on my back with his hand holding my neck to the cold floor.

Now I probably should have seen this coming, because when the lieutenant approached my door and ordered for me and my cellmate to turn around so we could be cuffed up. I ask him before cuffing up. ´Where´s the camera?´ This arrogant lieutenant made a gesture pointing at his eyes and told me his eyes were the camera.

Not wanting to give those officers the opportunity to try and justify opening the door and beating me worse then they did when I had the handcuffs on, I complied and turned around and was cuffed up, which is when the beating took place. How IS THIS? How can these people continue to carry on with no regard for our lives and keep getting away with it?

PLEASE help me understand. Is this what they are hired for? To try and beat us into submission causing us to receive stitches, endure pain, all the while charging us hundreds of dollars for getting less than average at best of treatment for the injuries they inflict on us.

PLEASE SOMEBODY, ANYBODY: HELP! The life that you could help save might be that of one of your loved ones.

PS You know, there´s always a twist to a story. Well here´s the twist to mine. The lieutenant whom I speak of, who stood by and let those officers beat me while I was in handcuffs, is the same one who allowed officers to go in and beat inmates in Unit 4 of this same prison on January 31st, 2010. And the officer who was stabbed (S.c.o. S.) is the same one who just two weeks prior to this January 31st 2010 incident was one of the ones who the lieutenant stood by and watched and allowed to slam my face into the wall and repeatedly punch me in my face while my head was held down by another officer. Coincidence? NOT HARDLY. IMAGINE THAT!

Legal assistance needed if possible.

Damien Dennis
P.O. Box 1989
Ely, NV 89301


Board temporarily halts Nevada State Prison closure

June 23, 2010
By David McGrath Schwartz

CARSON CITY — A divided Board of State Prison Commissioners temporarily stopped the closure of Nevada State Prison in Carson City on Wednesday, even after the director painted a grim picture of the state’s correction system and said he needed staff and inmates transferred to other facilities.

Gov. Jim Gibbons said he would still give the department authority to transfer prisoners out of the facility for security reasons.

This prompted Secretary of State Ross Miller to warn against an end-run around the board and told the governor not to “act like a petulant 15-year-old.”

Miller and Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said they wanted to see the detailed plan on how the 700-bed prison would be closed. The board will meet again July 13. Miller and Masto told Corrections Director Howard Skolnik they should have been brought in to make the policy decision to close the prison.

It’s unclear how Gibbons will react. Gibbons has maintained that the director of the Department of Corrections answers to the governor, and not to the board.

Gibbons said if it was a matter of safety, prisoners would be transferred out. “I’m not going to stand by and let the security of the officers and community be put in danger,” he said.

Gibbons, who makes up the third member of the board, voted against the delay. He also questioned how much authority the board has over the Department of Corrections. “We’re looking at our legal options,” he said after the meeting.

Skolnik said directors and governors have unilaterally made decisions to close prisons in the past.
A deputy attorney general said statute gives the board authority over the state prison system.

Skolnik described a prison system that is already at 85 percent of what an audit said should be minimum staffing. He said violent incidents have gone up nearly 50 percent. As the system closes gyms and programs for inmates to save money, violent incidents would continue to increase. “As you take things away, prisoners have less to lose,” Skolnik said.

The latest stress on the system are furloughs set to begin July 1. The Department of Corrections has, until now, been exempt from unpaid days off because of safety concerns.

Skolnik said existing problems will be exacerbated unless he has the ability to move staff and inmates at Nevada State Prison to other, more secure facilities.

In the past week and a half, about 200 prisoners have been removed from Nevada State Prison.

Skolnik said he could institute the furloughs, but he’ll have to use additional overtime money.

Gibbons agreed to come back in the interim with a detailed plan for the closure. But, he said, “I’m still going to ask Director Skolnik to do what’s necessary to ensure the safety of the staff and community.”

Miller recognized the giant loophole that could provide.

“Whether or not there’s a gray area, and whether or not there’s an opportunity to play political games with that or act like a petulant 15-year-old is up in the air,” Miller said.

Miller also had a tense exchange with Skolnik when Miller suggested that the plan to close the prison was “secret.” Skolnik said they would not be publicly releasing details about inmate movements or staffing that could affect security, but he said he would provide the information to the Prison Commissioners.

Read more here:
Las Vegas Sun

We can win as one, using our intelligence

Received via mail

To those who are reading this I am a person confined physically, who is also trying to maintain my sanity in such a corrupt prison system in the state of Nevada. So I have chosen to speak out for every human being that´s enduring the same struggle I´m enduring. No matter what your in life is, whether it´s Left or Right behind these walls, we “all” walk the same, we all are of the same kind, we all are Brothers of the same struggles.

This letter is not to be viewed as a rewrite of history, but to bring about a better future/change. We here in Nevada State Prisons and Correctional Centers, like so many other prisons around the globe learn within ourselves as brothers of a never ending struggle, seek not to cause violence, we are trying hard not to go through such methods and remain brothers of a strong struggle, because we recognize the Administration/Institution motive towards causing destruction. The Administration / Institution is abusing the disciplinary system, that is designed for the safety and security of inmates´ rights and policies. The Administration / Institution abusing it in a way to quiet any questions we may have against the aggressive behaviour not only the correctional officers, but also the administration are participants.

We of the struggle truly believe that the administration is actively placing regulations that are designed to inflame conflict. Not only the tensions between inmates has started to rise, but also the relation between inmates and correctional officers are at an all time low.

Another death in custody

Now let´s direct our attention to the medical administration and their personnel. Yet another fellow Brother of the struggle has been subjected to poor medical treatment and neglect and as an end result claimed him of his life, due to poor judgement and negligence by medical personnel here at Northern Nevada Correctional Center (NNCC). The Brother who lost his life in this struggle is Robert E. Brown aka Brother Muteem. Robert E. Brown was found deceased May 1, 2010, at 1:47 PM in his cell at Northern Nevada Correctional Center in Unit 7A, the Hole to us inmates. A place known for the lost and forgotten.

No Love List

The Administration has extended their power, by denying us the right to purchase hygiene, food, clothes and appliances, while serving disciplinary time. Just recently a new AR which is AR733, AKA the “No Love List”, or “Nothing Coming List” was imposed, but each week it´s constantly being revamped by the prison administration. Just recently we were made aware of that we could no longer purchase certain hygiene items, which to many of us condemned individuals are a necessity, such as soap, lotion, shampoo & conditioner, baby oil and hair grease. Their reason for such actions is the safety of the correctional officers. For years those hygiene items have been sold, and there has not been a report of a correctional officer getting attacked with those items.

Nothing Coming List

Their next astonishment they acted on are the food: we are not allowed to purchase food or coffee. So how about our safety as Human Beings? A lot of us have health related issues such as Diabetes and other health problems that require food at a certain time of day or night, wouldn´t that be a threat to our safety? The list goes on, and on about the savage treatment we are receiving from the administration behind these walls, and there´s no valid explanation of why the prison administration are placing such regulations on us. That is why us people of many inmates must come together as a body of one and approach this fight and win this fight not with our fists, but with our intelligence: as long as there´s a fight that sheds blood, the struggle will continue to be a never-ending struggle. Put down the brooms and knives, etc, and go head on with our intelligence. We could be able to see light at the end of the cave. No matter what your walk in life was, no matter what your skin complexion is, we must realize that we are all as one behind these walls!

To all my readers out there, I am a brother of a never ending struggle, I am a brother who is tired of struggling, so let´s get it together, “Brothers.”

In Solidarity,
Marrio Moreland

Lovelock Correctional Center
1200 Prison Rd,
Lovelock, NV 89419

Write our Brother please! He will reply to all… thank you

Video: Nevada State Prison: rundown & outdated or effective?

My News4, June 18, 2010


See also here:

Secretary of State Ross Miller has called for an emergency meeting of the Board of Prison Commissioners next Wednesday to prevent Gov. Jim Gibbons from shutting down Nevada State Prison.

“Thus far the plan to close NSP has been justified with absolutely no documentation showing it a sound plan,” he said. “I think it’s fiscally irresponsible and is going to jeopardize public safety.”

The prison commissioners, Miller said, have the authority to block the governor’s executive order under the constitutional provisions giving that panel the power to oversee operation of the prison system. That board consists of the governor, Miller and Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, who has backed Miller on the issue in the past.

“There has been nothing presented at a board of prisons meeting in support of closing NSP,” said Miller.

When the latest move to shut down the 100-plus year old prison on 5th Street was announced Thursday, Director of Corrections Howard Skolnik said he has legal counsel’s support that where inmates are housed is his decision, not the Legislature’s or the prison commission’s.

He said the officers at NSP are needed to fill staffing gaps at other area prisons once mandatory day-a-month furloughs begin in July.

Lynn Hettrick, deputy chief of staff to Gibbons, backed Skolnik on that point: “We believe he has the right to run the prison system the way he needs to.”

Miller said closing NSP has also been rejected more than once by the Nevada Legislature.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford and Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera, both D-Las Vegas, issued a statement objecting to “the sudden closure of this prison without a plan for transferring and housing the prisoners.” They said the closure doesn’t make sense, especially when there is a chance the system will run out of inmate beds even with NSP open.

The old prison holds up to 700 inmates, and Skolnik said Thursday his plan is to shut it down over the course of the next few months, moving inmates to other institutions and moving the prison’s staff to Northern Nevada Correctional Center, Warm Springs — both in Carson City — or Lovelock.

He said those staff positions are crucial to inmate and staff safety since furloughs will further stretch an already dangerously thin staffing ratio. Without moving those positions, he said, he doesn’t believe his officers can safely take the furloughs.

Union officials — who have pushed legislative Democrats to block the closure plan for more than two years — also protested. Gene Columbus of the Nevada Corrections Association charged that the governor’s order was a surprise attack which would jeopardize the governor’s responsibility to protect the public. Ron Bratsch of the northern branch of the correctional officers association said lawmakers voted not to close it and that they and the prison commission have the final say, not the prison director.

Miller said historically, the prison commissioners have given the director discretion to run the prison but that closing an entire prison is unprecedented.

Skolnik said that’s not the case, that directors have three times shut down Southern Desert Correctional Center and that he shut Silver Springs Conservation Camp — all without legislative or commission permission and with no challenges to that authority.

Miller and Gibbons have been butting heads for several years over the commission’s role in prison system management. Gibbons contends the commission is “a policy board,” with no role in the department’s budget.

Read more here..

Mass Incarceration in Nevada Is a Failed Strategy/SB398

This was read out at the April 2010 Meeting of the Board of Prison Commissioners:

Nevada Prison Commissioners Meeting, April 20, 2010

Dahn Shaulis, Ph.D.

Mass Incarceration in Nevada Is a Failed Strategy/SB398

My name is Dahn Shaulis. I am an instructor at the College of Southern Nevada, a former Nevada correctional employee, and an attender of the Las Vegas Friends Worship Group—the Quakers.

My purpose for being here again is to discuss Nevada’s justice options for the future. In discussing these options, we need to examine where we are and were we have come from in terms of justice and prisons. When I speak of justice it’s about a justice much broader than many people perceive.

The State of Nevada is in crisis, socially, economically, and spiritually. Unemployment in Nevada has been in the double digits for months and has approached 14%. For people of color and the working-class, their struggles for opportunities, including decent and humane housing, education, employment and justice have taken longer. Nevada’s unemployment rate for African Americans is estimated at 20%, but that does not even include discouraged workers and those part-time workers who are seeking full-time work. Unemployment rates for Latinos are not much better and I suspect rates for indigenous peoples are also above the average.

As I mentioned at the January 2010 Prison Board meeting, Nevada has heavily invested in a Prison-Industrial Complex (PIC) for more than four decades. Prison expansion began in the mid-1960s and has continued into the 21st century. Since the 1970s, the State has also chosen to mass incarcerate youth, giving NDOC more potential recruits for prison. Even as index crime rates began to drop in this State in the early 1980s, Nevada continued on the path of mass incarceration. Conditions were so deplorable in Elko that the youth facility required federal oversight. Nevada has also chosen to jail and imprison many women, rather than find alternatives to incarceration or to remedy the situation by understanding the etiology of crime.

Tough on crime legislation has been tough on society, as Nevada leaders chose for decades to disregard human needs: underfunding education, mental health treatment, drug treatment, and decent affordable housing. The State chose to increase sentence structures and to punish probation and parole violators, at the expense of long-term social and economic costs. Prisons in Nevada were supposedly constructed to save rural economies, but they also provided low-wage convict labor–reminiscent of the racist South after the Civil War. Prisons may bring work for some, but the work is often inhumane—it bleeds into all those who are near it.

From the 1980s to the present, Nevada followed the most dysfunctional aspects of the California prison system, and built Golden Gulags, facilities that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to construct, staff, and maintain. Limited efforts were made to rehabilitate prisoners despite increasing knowledge about what works in correctional treatment. Recent attempts to privatize prisons and prison services at Summit View, the women’s prison in Southern Nevada, and the medical services at Ely State Prison (ESP) have been huge failures—yet Governor Gibbons continues to push for more privatization.

In 2007, Governor Gibbons proposed $1.7 billion in new prison construction to include a new death chamber—because he saw no other alternatives. Only a budget crisis and unforeseen drops in crime prevented the Governor and Director Howard Skolnik from continuing this mass incarceration master plan.

So here’s the picture in 2010. According to the US Census, Nevada ranks 2nd in prison spending per capita and 48th in education spending. The State has chosen a path of mass incarceration and a system that promotes violence and ignorance rather than a path of education and innovation. In April 2010, Nevada has been labeled as the most place dangerous state in the US. But this is a pyrrhic defeat for the Nevada prison system, which profits from crime and the fear of crime.

Prisons today function inadequately as drug treatment and mental health facilities, as “the new asylums.” They also serve inadequately as high schools, work houses, and as high-cost warehousing of throw-away people. Nevada’s prisons, frankly, serve as graduate schools and network hubs for organized interstate crime and White Supremacist hate groups.

Little effort is made to help prepare prisoners for work and independent living after they leave the facilities. One of Governor Gibbon’s recent strategies to cut the budget included closing Casa Grande, the state’s transition facility; Mr. Skolnik did not protest the plan to cut Casa Grande. This plan to close Casa Grande should be understood in the context that the Nevada Department of Corrections wins when it receives “repeat customers.” NDOC is an agency that grows in proportion to its failures.

When I publicly made statements two years ago, that NDOC officials were morally corrupt, and reported my experiences in the Justice Policy Journal, prison officials told the media I was fabricating information. They refused to comment on the record, however, because they knew I was telling the truth about prison conditions and the state of justice in Nevada. As a payback perhaps, Mr. Skolnik denied me access into NDOC facilities to teach college courses or to volunteer.

As UNLV criminal justice Professor Randall Shelden will tell you, our prison system is a failed system. Mass incarceration is a drain on society and it’s a dysfunctional strategy to improve public safety. In terms of economic opportunity costs, money spent on prisons means less resources for education, drug treatment, mental health care, and community redevelopment.

So what are our options?

Privatizing prisons does not work. They are not even an adequate short-term fix. No other civilized nations use this failed strategy of punitive justice to this extreme. Our only reasonable option is to think long-term and to think holistically. We need to recognize that resources are limited and that there are opportunity costs. Even US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Reagan appointee, questioned this approach as early as 2004.

One of the most obvious short-term solutions would be to pass Senate Bill (SB) 398. This program would divert hundreds of nonviolent offenders from prison and into treatment. The SAGE Commission has estimated a savings of $280 million over a 5-year period—savings that could be used to invest in people rather than in concrete shrines to man’s ignorance and greed.

The ideal situation would be to take the savings from this diversion program to reinvest in communities hardest hit by mass incarceration, “million-dollar blocks,” to be spent on prevention and reentry. Good Pre-K programs, for example, reduce crime in the long run. The Rand Corporation and others have ideas of what programs would be most effective.

I would like to have your support today and am asking that you promise to promote SB 398 immediately–with the courage to promote it publicly. I would also ask you to encourage educators and working-class communities to support this bill.

In my January 2010 statement to the Board I explained several sources to safely plan for the downsizing of prisons—and for long-term community investment that reduces crime. These sources include legitimate authorities: Michael Jacobson and the Justice Center of the Council of State Governments. We also need to train and retrain workers so they don’t have to resort to prison work, as I did, for a decent paycheck. In the long-term, we need to mature as a State, divest ourselves from prisons and sources of crime such as casino gambling, while investing in the People.

Nolan’s Law: please endorse this new law for more fairness

Tonja Brown, who has been a champion in fighting for the rights of her innocent brother Nolan Klein, who died last year in prison of illness that could have been treated, and before the state exonerated him, has proposed a new law:

NOLAN’S LAW would be once a defendant is arrested and then charged the law enforcement agency MUST provide to the defense a copy of the evidence at the same time they provide the District Attorney with the evidence.

Here is a letter endorsing Nolan’s Law, written by Gerry Spence, a well known attorney in Nevada:

June 12, 2010


Dear Members of the Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice:

My name is Gerry Spence. I am an attorney who has spent a lifetime fighting for the rights of ordinary citizens. I am in support of Ms. Tonja Brown’s proposed recommendation of NOLAN’S LAW.

NOLAN’S LAW would be instrumental in protecting the rights of any of us who become accused of crimes. NOLAN’S LAW would provide that once a defendant is arrested and charged the law enforcement agency MUST provide the accused with a copy of all exculpatory evidence in the possession of the prosecution at the time of the arrest and that after the arrest copies of any additional exculpatory evidence that is provided the prosecution be simultaneously provided the accused.

We have witnessed in the last decade the release of countless innocent citizens whose precious lives were wasted in horrible prisons because an over zealous prosecutor chose not to turn over exculpatory evidence as is required by law.

The failure to turn over exculpatory evidence not only convicts innocent persons, but it is the reason that rapists and murderers are released to walk among us. Prosecutors withhold evidence which requires the court to reverse convictions and has resulted in the release of person who should have remained behind bars.

When a prosecutor doesn’t do their job, we all lose. Either an innocent person loses his constitutional protection or a rapist or murderer walks free. Support NOLAN’S LAW and protect all of us, and our families from the strategies of ambitious prosecutors who want to convict at any price.

Gerry Spence

Yesterday, the Dunbar Report on My4 showed an item about Nolan’s Law. The item is about 7 minutes into the program, shown in the first Dunbar Report, Noon on June 16th, 2010.

APNewsBreak: Former Idaho prison heads transferred to new federal prison in Pahrump, Nevada

From: Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho — A private prison company being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union amid allegations of extreme violence at an Idaho lockup has shuffled Idaho’s ousted warden and assistant warden to top posts at federal prisons in Kansas and Nevada.

Phillip Valdez, the former warden at the 2,104-bed Idaho Correctional Center near Boise, has been named assistant warden at the Leavenworth Detention Center, a prison CCA runs for the U.S. Marshals Service in Leavenworth, Kan.

The company didn’t have any open warden positions, so Valdez opted to take the assistant warden spot at the 1,033-bed Kansas prison rather than leave the company, said Corrections Corporation of America spokesman Steve Owens.

ICC’s former assistant warden, Dan Prado, has been named assistant warden at the new Nevada Southern Detention Center, a 1,072-bed facility currently being built at Pahrump, Nev., for the Office of Federal Detention Trustee, an agency under the U.S. Department of Justice.

Neither Valdez nor Prado could be reached by The Associated Press.

CCA announced that Valdez and Prado would no longer be leading the Idaho prison after the $155 million lawsuit was filed earlier this year.

The ACLU and inmates at the prison are asking for class-action status, contending the prison is so violent that it’s been dubbed “gladiator school” by prisoners and that guards expose inmates to beatings from other prisoners as a management tool. The lawsuit also contends CCA has denied adequate medical care to injured inmates as a way to reduce the appearance of injuries.

Read more here

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.