Closure of Nevada State Prison gaining traction

By Geoff Dornan 

Feb 16, 2011

 Nevada Appeal

Support for the plan to shut down Nevada State Prison appeared to gain some traction among lawmakers touring the historic institution Tuesday.

“I’m leaning toward it’s a logical decision,” said Assembly Judiciary Chairman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, following the two-hour tour of the historic prison on Fifth Street.

The previous director of corrections Howard Skolnik tried twice to shut down the prison, the state’s oldest and most labor intensive institution. Lawmakers including Horne and Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, objected not only to the loss of nearly 200 jobs in the Carson City area but to what they argued was an ill-

conceived and vague plan with estimated savings that seemed to change with every presentation.

Skolnik’s replacement Greg Cox, however, said he has much firmer numbers and a more detailed plan. His estimate is closing the prison would save $16.1 million over the biennium, primarily in salaries and benefits to the correctional workers who now staff the prison.

Cox said while the prison takes almost 200 employees to operate and manages more than 700 inmates, the new, vacant units at High Desert Prison in Southern Nevada would require only 59 officers to handle 672 inmates.

He said if lawmakers act soon and give him until Oct. 31 to shutter the prison, he can dramatically reduce the number of layoffs to as few as 30.

“The numbers do make a little more sense than last time,” said Horne. “There’s a better plan in place to absorb the inmates.”

Gene Columbus representing the correctional workers said the union still opposes that move because, with one less medium security institution, the system would “lose flexibility, the ability to manage inmates.” He said that increases the chances of inmates who shouldn’t be housed in close proximity being able to get to each other and cause problems for other inmates and staff.

Several other members of the Judiciary Committee said they too support the plan including Republicans Richard McArthur of Las Vegas, Ira Hansen of Reno and Kelly Kite of Douglas County.

“I can’t argue with the facts they gave us when we’ve got a new prison with empty beds,” said Kite.

Hansen said he agrees with closing it: “We’re in such a financial mess that every penny needs to be accounted for.”

He suggested the state might recoup some money from the institution by turning the oldest parts of it, built in the 1800s, into a museum.

Read the rest here.


LEGISLATURE 2011: Bill: Juveniles can’t face life without parole unless the crime is murder

Nevada Appeal, Feb 12, 2011

Legislation introduced in the Assembly Friday would prohibit sentencing a juvenile offender to life without parole unless the crime was homicide.

Existing law already prohibits the death sentence for a juvenile who commits a crime before age 18.

The reason for the legislation, according to the legislative counsel, is a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling life without parole unconstitutional for juvenile offenders.

In addition, the bill applies retroactively to any current Nevada inmates who were sentenced to life in prison without parole for crimes committed before age 18.

The maximum sentence for a juvenile offender would be life with the possibility of parole.

Assembly Bill 134 was referred to the Judiciary Committee.

In addition, the Judiciary Committee introduced Assembly Bill 136, which allows criminals serving time for class B felonies to apply good time credits to reduce their minimum sentences. Inmates convicted of lesser felonies can already have their minimum sentences reduced by good time credits but that has been denied in the case of more serious and, particularly, violent crimes. Study committees made the recommendation noting that some B felonies aren’t crimes of violence.

The change would help relieve prison crowding by getting some of those inmates out of prison earlier.

Henderson Doubling Its Jail Space

From: Fox5 Vegas, Feb 9, 2011

City Plans To House Other Jurisdictions’ Detainees

HENDERSON, Nev. — After a year of construction, the city of Henderson revealed its expansion of the city jail Wednesday.
“We’ve recognized this need for over four years and have been working with the city to secure funding and get this project moving,” Henderson Police Chief Jutta Chambers said.
The $29 million expansion nearly doubled capacity, adding 250 beds to the 293 already in use. Renovations also included more space in employee areas and a central control room.
Read the rest here….

Nevada out of drug needed for executions

Taken over from LV Sun.
The Associated Press
Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011

Nevada officials are asking for access to the federal supply of one of three drugs necessary for a lethal injection.

The state doesn’t have sodium thiopental in stock and the state’s distributor is out after Hospira Inc. stopped manufacturing the drug, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Hospira decided to end production after trying to move the manufacturing to Italy. Italian officials objected because the drug is used in executions, the company said in a statement.

Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto joined 11 other attorney generals in asking U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for federal help in finding other sources of the drug, which could include sharing the federal supply.

“Many jurisdictions shortly will be unable to perform executions in cases where appeals have been exhausted and governors have signed death warrants,” the letter said.

Currently, 82 inmates are housed on death row at the state prison in Ely.

Michael Pescetta, an assistant federal public defender, said no executions are imminent unless someone were to end their appeals.

Of the 11 people executed in Nevada since 1976, 10 were executed after voluntarily dropping their appeals.
Kevin Ingram, spokesman for the Nevada Department of Corrections, said the guidelines for lethal injection executions are being reviewed and could be changed. Nothing is official, however.

Read the rest here.

Updates on the ESP Bookdrive

As many of you know from the last Nevada Prisoners´ Newsletter, there is a major book drive in progress to help turn the E.S.P. Library into a Real Library! I cannot thank everybody enough for what they´ve been able to contribute so far! This is turning out to be a major event: people from all over the world have been donating all kinds of good educational and radical books! And there´s still much more to come!

So far, from what I know, this is what´s been going on with the Book Drive:
Our good companyera in The Netherlands has donated:
1)       Websters Pocket Dictionary
2)       The Prophet, by Khalil Gibran (hardback)
3)       Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy
4)       Hinduism, by K. Sen
5)       The Rebellion of the Hanged, by B. Traven
6)       Teach Yourself Esperanto
7)       Dutch-English mini Dictionary
8)       The Autobiography of Malcolm X
9)       Introducing Psychology
10)   The Elements of Sufism
11)   Arundhati Roy: The God of Small Things
And I´m sure she´ll be sending more in the near future.
Someone in Ohio has donated 28 college text books!
They are:
1)       The complete home taxidermy
2)       The United States brief ed.
3)       Fluid Mechanics X2
4)       Harbrace College Handbook
5)       Performance Management
6)       Successful Manager´s Handbook
7)       Theory of Vibration &. Applications
8)       Different Equations – Modern Intro
9)       Dimensioning and Tolerancing
10)   Plane Trigonometry
11)   Chemical Principles in the Laboratory
12)   Solutions manual for Engineer in Training
13)   Engineer in Training Manual
14)   Calcius
15)   Fundamentals of Physics
16)   General Chemistry
17)   Numerical Mathematics and Computing
18)   Engineering Graphics Fundamentals
19)   Mathematical Methods
20)   Vector Mechanics for Engineering
21)   Essentials of Engineering Economics
22)   Introduction to Physical System Dynamics
23)   Thermodynamics
24)   Calcius and Analytic Geometry
25)   Statistical Quality Control Handbook AT&T
26)   Contemporary Economics
27)   Mechanical Engineering
28)   Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering 
29) (the typist missed one)
A friend of mine in NC (Durham) has donated these 4 books:
1) Man walks into a room, by Nicole Krauss
2) Great House, by Nicole Krauss
3) The Duel and other stories, by Anton Chekhov
4) The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss
We have some more college text books coming from someone in PA, don´t know what they are yet. A volunteer organisation in Pittsburgh called Book´Em has donated a box of books to the E.S.P. Library, but we don´t know the names of the books they´ve sent. A friend of mine in Reno is going to donate a few books, one of those is “Days of war, nights of love” by Crimeth, Inc.
My comrade in S. Chicago, Anthony Rayson, is going to be donating some of his books, straight from his attic! My comrade in Austin, TX, who works with Inside Books Project will definitely be donating some books. Bound Together Books in San Francisco has donated 8 books. (I do not know the titles).
I´ve contacted: DC Prisons Book Project, Books thru Bars NYC, MD, and sent them all a copy of the ESP Book Drive flyer asking them to donate books, I´ve gotten books from each of these places in the past, so I´m sure they´ll help again. A friend of mine here in Ely State Prison has his lady in L.A. contacting different activists and organizations, trying to get a book drive going in L.A. for our library. So that´s going to be huge!
Another friend of mine here in ESP his lady in Reno is in contact with Truckee Meadows Community College, the Reno Public Library, and the Literacy Project, all who are going to be donating books to our library! So that´s huge!
I have a friend in Oakland who is supposed to be donating a box of books to our library. I know one of those books is “Ojiba Warrior” by Dennis Banks. This is actually one of my favourite books, it´s about how the A.I.M. (American Indian Movement) got started, it´s very good!
I personally donated 5 of my own books, they are:
1) Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy, by John Watson
2) Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, by Charles MacKay
3) Herbal Magick: a Witch´s Guide to Herbal Enchantments, Folklore, and Divinations, by Gerina Durwich
4) The Depression Book: Depression as an Opportunity for Growth
5) Prisoners Diabetes Handbook: a Guide to Managing Diabetes – for Prisoners by Prisoners (Southern Poverty Law Center).
Also a place in Chapel Hill, NC called Internationalist Prison Books Collective is donating books to us, and a place in Wisconsin called Samizdat Socialist Prisoners Project is donating books to our library. I don´t know what books yet!
The E.S.P. Book Drive flyer is posted on: Craig´s List, Twitter, Facebook,,, Infoshop, Las Vegas Indymedia, facebook and many other sites, calling on people to donate books! So we will definitely be getting tons of books sent in. The E.S.P. Library will soon be the best prison library in the nation! This is a major event and will definitely provide prisoners here with unlimited educational opportunities. Those who want to use this time to learn, grow and elevate themselves on higher levels of knowledge and consciousness will now have the opportunity to do just that! Remember only a piece of shit destroys or steals these library books, so don´t be a piece of shit, let everybody get a chance to read these books, because this cause is for everybody!
These are just some of the books from some of the people and places that I know of for sure. But I also know that various prisoners here at ESP have called on their friends and families to donate books. This book drive is still going until Ms Thiel says she doesn´t have room for any more books! 
Then we will take the flyers down off all the sites and let everybody know it´s over. But this is something we should try to do every 5 years or so, keep that in mind. Also just so everybody knows, the library here at ESP will accept hardbacks, paperbacks, new, used or old books. The only books they won´t accept are spiral bound books. The more hardbacks the better, because they will last longer in this library considering the fact that they´re harder to steal and harder to damage, so call on your people to send as many hardbacks as they can! We want educational books, non-fiction, radical books, political books, biographies and good fiction novels. Our mission is to turn the ESP Library into a real library!
Also, one more thing before I close this. There is someone in Chicago who works for the Midwest Books for Prisoners bookstore, and he says that there´s a library in Chicago that throws library books away by the dumpster-full! The good thing is he has access to all of those books! The bad news is he has no money to ship them to us! We need those books! Those books belon gin our library. I´ve tried to get a stamp drive going on my unit, but only one person besides myself was willing to donate any stamps. Most dudes want to read those books, but they don´t want to pitch in to help get these books sent in, it´s a damn shame! But together, me and the other comrade on my tier have pitched in $25 instamps to send to the guy in Chicago so he can ship as many library books to our library as he can. I´m calling on all those who read this, all those who care, to send whatever extra stamps you have to:
Chris, Chicago ABC
1321 N. Milwaukee Ave,
P.M.B. 460
Chicago, IL 60622
Be sure to let him know that those stamps are specifically for the ESP Book Drive in NV, so he can ship as many library books as he can to the ESP Library on behalf of the book drive. Chris is my comrade and he can be trusted. It´s important that we help out so that we can all take advantage of this opportunity! Sitting here on perpetual lockdown aint no joke, but we can turn a bad situation into an opportunity for growth and progression, I know everybody ain´t gonna be on that, but for the ones who are, I´m asking you to do what you can to help out.
Also, anybody who has any other updates in regards to this book drive, we would all be happy to hear about whatever news you have about what books are being sent in, etc. Feel free to write in to NPN and give us your updates, to be published in the next newsletter (NPN, Box 20494, Phoenix, AZ 85036).
Thanks for your participation and support!

PS books can be sent in to:
White Pine County School District
Mountain High School
Attention: Ms. Thiel / E.S.P. Library Donations
1135 Avenue C
Ely, Nevada 89301

Solidarity and Respects,
Anarchist Black Cross, Nevada Prison Chapter

Retaliation against a prisoner who is vocal about prison conditions inside Nevada prisons, even though he only has 70 days left until release

James K. Wardell, NDOC #92924 has since summer 2010 voiced his concerns to Nevada Prison Watch, a community weblog, about the unhygienic sanitary conditions, the state of the food served, and inmates who were attacked by staff inside High Desert State Prison. 
The warden has tried to silence the voice of Mr Wardell by locking him up for 10 days, naked, with the lights on 24/7, in a separate part of the prison, without his glasses or anything, in the summer of 2010.
When this torture did not help in silencing Mr Wardell, the administration gave him more days until his release after nearly 30 years, pushing his release date back to later in 2011. The warden also kept Mr Wardell on administrative segregation, and did not want him “on his yard”, yet warden Baca prevented Mr Wardell from being transferred to another prison to serve the last days of his long sentence.
When he challenged this decision in court and won (January 2011), his cell was raided and legal documents were taken.
Then, around January 22nd, he was served with “charges”, apparently old, never before served charges but served late, against the rules, without stating a reason why they were served so late (contrary to the rules), and ignoring Mr Wardell´s right to remain silent and to a not guilty plea, contrary to NDOC´s rules.
Nevada Prison Watch suspects that these actions are retaliation because Mr Wardell spoke critically on this weblog about the state of the prison and its management.
Now, Mr Wardell has to fight these false charges while preparing for release, and in uncertainty of his release date. Mr Wardell should now be working on getting housing and a job, yet NDOC has done everything in its power, including illegal actions, to prevent Mr Wardell from being released, just for speaking out against dirty showers, cold food, inmates under attack and having whole units on lockdown with no programs or anything to help prisoners better themselves.
What can you do?
Please write to the new director of Nevada Department of Corrections, Mr Greg Cox, and ask him politely yet determinedly to welcome his response or intervention into correcting these outright displays of abuse and failure of the prison officials in not following their own procedures, and the harassment of this prisoner in order to chill his First Amendment Rights at H.D.S.P.
Address to write to:

Nevada Department of Corrections
Director´s Office
Mr Greg Cox
P.O. Box 7011
Carson City, Nevada  89702
Offender Management Division
Nevada Department of Corrections
P.O. Box 7011
Carson City, Nevada 89702

Also, anyone who is able to assist Mr Wardell legally with these matters can contact him at:
James Wardell #92924
P.O. Box 650,
Iindian Springs, NV 89070

Thank you so much for your help and support!
For James Wardell,
Friends of James Wardell