Another Death in Nevada’s graveyard: Ely State Prison

From a letter sent to us:
Rumor has it there was another death at Ely State Prison, on the date of August 17th, 2012. Allegedly, someone had choked their cellie to death. This supposedly took place in Unit 8, on the workers’ side this time. It remains to be seen if the wardens will completely close Unit 8 down, permanently. There was just a death in Unit 8, earlier this year, in march, on the non-workers side, which resulted in that wing of Unit 8 being locked down permanently.

Any time something like this happens at Ely State Prison, all of the prisoners are punished, whether they had something to do with it or not. This is called “Group Punishment,” and it really serves no significant purpose, other than to mete out more repression to the prisoners. It obviously does not stop more deaths from occurring.

Back in 2004, when someone allegedly got killed while on tier time in Unit 7, the warden locked Unit 7 down for good.

Back in 2005, when a prisoner allegedly threw jalapenyo juice in his cellie’s eyes and allegedly stumped him out to the point of hospitalization, the jalapenyos were taken away from the prisoners.

Back in 2002, when prisoners allegedly came out on tier time with chili cans tied up inside their laundry bags and allegedly whacked other prisoners over the head with the chili cans, in an alleged gang fight, that was the end of all canned foods. Now the prisoners buy all of their food in packages.

Back in 2006, when a prisoner allegedly used a metal rod from the inside of a typewriter (see  the exposé of Douglas Potter here), all the typewriters were taken away from all of the prisoners.

In some ways this makes sense, but at the same time, realistically speaking, this does not prevent prisoners from finding other things to use as weapons, or from finding more creative ways to attack, harm or kill, and as we have seen a couple times at E.S.P. now: when prisoners have no weapons they will use their tax hands to kill.

So, in all these cases (and believe me, there’s more), we see more acts of group punishment, but we don’t see how these acts of group punishment are stopping deaths from happening. How many times has someone killed their cellie at E.S.P.?  And out of all the times this has happened, when has the Administration ever said, “We are going to stop letting you have cellies!”? Never. In fact, most of the deaths that happen at Ely State Prison happen in the cells, by their cell mates, allegedly.

So wouldn’t it make sense to forbid the prisoners to be in a cell with other prisoners? Yes, of course it would make sense, but it is highly unlikely that this would ever happen, because the Administration needs to cell prisoners up with other prisoners, or else they would have no other place to put them. So Administration does what they need to do, to serve their interests, at the cost of other prisoners’ lives, and to shift the blame from themselves, they keep finding ways to take it out on all of the other prisoners that had no involvement, meanwhile, year after year, more prisoners die.

I can see why Ely State Prison is labeled “The Graveyard,” there are so many deaths there. It is a locked down, maximum security prison, all but half of one unit – the workers unit – which is on one side of Unit 8, incidentally the same place this recent death occurred. After perusing the article son Nevada Prison Watch’s website, seeing all of the atrocities that occur at ESP, and especially after reading Douglas Potter’s candidly written exposé, it definitely seems that the caseworkers have a role to play in many of these deaths, as they are the ones who approve of these bedmoves to occur, and choose who goes in what cell and with whom, but instead of taking any accountability themselves, they find ways to shift the blame on others. Well, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time, and I’m not buying it.
          The alleged author of this alleged report, allegedly chooses to remain anonymous. August 19th, 2012

See for references in this article the following posts:

See also:

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Authorities investigate inmate death at Ely prison

From: SF Chronicle: Aug 17th 2012
ELY, Nev. (AP) — A Nevada inmate is dead following an undisclosed incident at Ely State Prison.
The Department of Corrections has identified the inmate as 49-year-old Clayton Wrencher. The incident happened early Friday.
Wrencher was convicted in 2010 of murder in Clark County and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Officials say the death is being investigated by the White Pine County sheriff’s office and the state Inspector General‘s Office.
Department of Corrections spokesman Brian Connett says further details are being withheld pending the outcome of the investigations.



Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Authorities-investigate-inmate-death-at-Ely-prison-3796508.php#ixzz24C1uY0bi

From Nevada-Cure: Informational Bulletin nr 1

Received from Nevada-Cure, it is on the website here. Please print and distribute widely to those you know in Nevada prisons!

Here you find a copy of the NV-CURE Informational Bulletin (IB) Newsletter – No. 1 – that will be sent to prisoners on our mailing list this month.
You may want to print copies to send to prisoners that may not be on our mailing list and you may want to e-mail to any persons that may have an interest in the NV prison system.
We need to bring the problems with the NV prison and parole systems to as many people as possible. 
Good people should not tolerate the things that are going on behind barbed wire fenses in Nevada.
NV-CURE
(Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants)
540 E. St. Louis Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89104

702.347.1731

nevadacure@gmail.com
nevadacure.org

Informational Bulletin Newsletter (1) June 2012

NV-CURE is a non-profit corporation.  Our mission is to educate people on the issues and problems associated with the prison and parole systems through factual information to provoke intelligent and reasonable debate and discussion of those issues and problems.  Our goal is to find intelligent solutions to issues and problems and cause constructive change to the prison and parole systems.  We want humane and rehabilitative treatment for all prisoners and we want justice and fairness for all people regardless of their race, national origin, religious preferences, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or the nature of previous criminal conduct. 

We need your help, and the help of your family, friends and associates, to accomplish our mission and achieve our goal. Join us in the struggle to bring justice and fairness to all in the criminal justice system.

We hold meetings on the last Wednesday of every month at 6:30 PM in our Las Vegas Office.  All people are welcome to attend in person or through our telephonic conference line. (Call for Details).

NV-CURE Membership

NV-CURE Membership for prisoners ($2.00), basic ($10.00), family ($20.00) and sustaining ($50.00) is ANNUAL. Each person needs to keep track of their membership date and make a renewal membership donation yearly. This will save us having to write you to remind your yearly membership is due. 

NV-CURE Lifetime Membership is $100.00 and only needs to be paid once.

NV-CURE Members may assist the organization by contributing money and/or volunteering to perform tasks to assist NV-CURE in achieving its mission and goal.  All NV-CURE Members are expected to assist other NV-CURE Members in resolving issues and problems confronting them, to recruit more members to our cause and to assist others in furtherance of our mission and goals. NV-CURE Members are expected to actively participate in the struggle for justice and fairness for all. Struggle in Solidarity.

NV-CURE Mail

NV-CURE has a mailing address listed above.  All mail to NV-CURE, or any NV-CURE Directors or Officers, should be sent to the address listed above.  All mail to NV-CURE is scanned into our files and disseminated for response.  Responses will be provided within 30 days or as soon as possible.

NV-CURE Telephone Calls
NV-CURE has a telephone number listed above.  All calls to NV-CURE must be prepaid.  We do not have the funds necessary for us to accept collect calls.  Please do not make collect calls to us.  Thank you.

NV-CURE Prisoner Members

NV-CURE Prisoner Members are encouraged to help accomplish our mission.  Work together, help each other, help other prisoners and encourage other prisoners, and their family and friends, to join us in the struggle to make constructive changes to the prison and parole systems.  We need your help in building solidarity among all prisoners to make constructive changes and to bring justice and fairness to all.  We will accomplish more working together than struggling individually.

NV-CURE Prisoner Members need to organize as many prisoners as possible at each institution into a cohesive and united front to effectuate constructive change.  DO NOT VIOLATE ANY PRISON RULES.  Gather information regarding staff abuse, conditions of confinement, staff misconduct and other problems that need to be addressed.  Provide that information  – IN AFFIDAVIT FORMAT – to NV-CURE for our use in any manner deemed appropriate.  NV-CURE will compile that information, organize it into an articulate format and provide that information to persons responsible for investigating the problems addressed and to persons responsible for the adopting of laws, policies and procedures governing and controlling those matters and for correcting those problems.  We all need to work together to make NV-CURE a viable vehicle through which all our voices and complaints heard in an intelligent and reasonable changes made to the criminal just-us system.

NV-CURE Prisoner Members at each institution may elect a member at each institution to lead the struggle for change.  Each elected leader should be in weekly telephone communication through pre-paid calls to designated NV-CURE Community Representative. Only through coordinated and organized joint action may we effectuate the changes required for humane conditions of confinement and justice and fairness for all.

Legal Assistance

NV-CURE is NOT a legal assistance organization.  We are not lawyers and we do not provide legal advice.  We have lawyers and paralegals as members involved with us in the struggle and on our Board of Directors.  Those persons are acting as individuals in our struggle and pursue their professions separately from NV-CURE activities.  Please do not contact them for legal assistance or advice unless you have the money to pay for their services up front, or you have survived summary judgment in a civil action.  As much as they would like to help, they require financial resources for their survival in the community.  Please do not write them personally for help unless you are able to pay for their services.  Thank you.

Staff Abuse of Prisoners

As many of you are aware, for the past nine (9) months NV-CURE has been gathering information regarding staff abuse of prisoners.  We have received a great deal of information on the subject. (as well as on other problems) and we have reported those matters to NDOC Director COX and various other non-profit legal assistance organizations, legislators, NV Advisory Committee on the Administration of Justice (ACAJ) and the media.  
Director COX has assured us that each matter we reported to him as been referred to the Inspector General’s Office for investigation. (NDOC staff investigating claims against NDOC staff). We have received reports from our Prisoner Members that staff abuse of prisoners has diminished during the past five (5) months.  We hope that we have helped to reduce this problem.

If you have information regarding continued staff abuse of prisoners, in any form, please report that abuse to us in affidavit format.  We will continue to gather and correlate information on that subject.  We want all staff abuse of prisoners to STOP and we need your help to do that.

Documents

Please do not send us documents you want returned or copied.  Only send us copies of documents we may retain in our files.  We have attempted to copy and return documents, but the task was overwhelming and the costs overburdening.  We will no longer return or copy documents.  Send us only copies of documents we may retain.  Thank you.

Retaliation

NDOC Director COX has assured NV-CURE that there will be no retaliatory action taken against prisoners that report staff abuse or misconduct.  We have taken him at his word.  Unfortunately, we have received reports that prisoners who have reported staff abuse and misconduct have been retaliated against.  We want information on each instance of staff retaliation against prisoners for exercising their 1st Amendment right to expose staff abuse and misconduct.  We suggest reading the 9th Circuit decision in Rhodes v. Robinson, 408 F.3d 559 (9th Cir. 2005), to insure your retaliation complaints meet the five (5) point requirement for stating a retaliation claim.  We will report retaliation claims to Director COX and other appropriate officials  and attempt to make NDOC staff aware of the fact that reporting staff misconduct, filing grievances and filing lawsuits are authorized, encouraged, legitimate and reasonable forms of 1st amendment activities and are the intelligent and reasonable alternative to violent protest. If staff want to avoid being reported, staff should not engage in abusive or retaliatory misconduct. It is in all of our best interests to resolve complaints through appropriate channels.

Report each instance of staff retaliatory action to NV-CURE and pursue your claim through the grievance and, if necessary, the judicial process.

Please be aware that NDOC staff have been known to engage in devious and underhanded retaliatory misconduct.  NDOC staff have labeled prisoners as “informant”, “child molester” and other “undesirable” persons, regardless of the truth of the matter, to retaliate against prisoners that have reported them, or their fellow employees’ misconduct with the intent of causing those prisoner harm from other prisoners. Do not fall into their retaliatory games of deception.  NDOC staff are not your friends and reporting their misconduct does not make you a “snitch”.  Report staff misconduct and make NDOC staff follow the law and the policies and procedures governing their conduct.

Please provide NV-CURE with information regarding each and every instance of NDOC staff misconduct and we will report the misconduct to appropriate authorities.

False and Inaccurate Information in NDOC Files and Records

NV-CURE has received credible information indicating that in 2007 the NDOC had a computer “glitch” problem that result in various false and inaccurate information regarding past criminal history, good time and custody status being inserted into various prisoner files. It appears in some instances the NDOC removes the false information only to have it re-appear at a later date. An audit has been requested by the ACAJ and will be presented in the 2013 Legislative session.

NV-CURE has a Community Member interested in gathering information on this subject.  Should any prisoner have a problem with false and/or inaccurate information being contained in their NDOC file, appropriate action should be taken to correct the problem.  Document the false or inaccurate information (request a screen printout from your caseworker), request the information be removed and/or corrected, pursue a grievance if necessary and report each incident in affidavit format, with supporting documentation, to NV-CURE. Our Community Member will use information in attempt to resolve problems existing in NDOC files.

Hep C and HIV Issues

We have received information indicating that prisoners are being denied testing and treatment for Hep C and adequate HIV medications. Please provide any information in affidavit form regarding denial of treatment for HEP C and HIV to NV-CURE. The news media may be interested in this situation.

Medical and Mental Health Issues

NV-CURE is aware that, in spite of the settlement reached in Riker v. Gibbons (ACLU litigation against Ely State Prison for denial of medical care), medical care at ESP and several other NDOC facilities is far below a constitutional level of care. We have received letters complaining of prisoners being denied medical care for broken bones, hepatitis c, cancer, diabetes and other issues. Please provide information in affidavit form to NV-CURE, and file grievances. While it is difficult for prisoners to prevail in a medical case against the state, it has been done. Recently, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided in favor of prisoner John Snow in a medical case and remanded his case back to district court for further proceedings.  It would be informative to read the Snow v. McDaniel, 681 F.3d 978 (9th Cir. 2012), decision to understand deliberate indifference to serious medical needs, which is the standard necessary to prevail in litigation against the state on this issue.

NV-CURE is in contact with the ACLU National Prison Project attorney that has an interest in the medical care and treatment being provided to Nevada prisoners.

Additionally, it has come to the attention of NV-CURE that mentally ill prisoners are being harassed and abused by NDOC staff. This is unacceptable. Please report any incidences of this type to NV-CURE in affidavit format. Our respect and thanks to those already speaking up in defense of the mentally ill in Nevada’s prisons!

Please provide information regarding medical and mental health issues in affidavit form to NV-CURE.

Clothing, Food, Personal Hygiene and Water Issues

Please provide information in affidavit form to NV-CURE regarding inadequate clothing, food, water and personal hygiene items issues within the NDOC.  We have received information that there are problems in these areas that need to be addressed.  One of our Prisoner Members is handling issues relating to inadequate food and we will channel the information on that subject to him.  In the event any other Prisoner Member is interested in handling the information provided concerning the other issues, please make that fact known to us.  We need your help to make changes to each of these problems.

NV-CURE Informational Bulletin Newsletters

A new NV-CURE member in the community has an interest in preparing NV-CURE Informational Bulletin Newsletters.  We welcome him to the struggle for change.  We intend to begin publishing this newsletter on a quarterly basis and provide you with news and information beneficial for use in the struggle for change.  Any suggestions for matters to be included in this newsletter would be appreciated.

National CURE Board of Directors Meeting

National CURE Board of Directors is meeting in Washington, D.C., in the end of August and early September of 2012.  Our President, who is on the National CURE Board of Directors, will be attending that meeting and representing the interests of NV prisoners.  In our next newsletter, we will report of his activities. Please provide any suggestions for topics of discussion for International and National CURE. 

Thank you for being a member of NV-CURE and for joining NV-CURE in the struggle for justice and fairness for all.

Financial Resources – Donations

NV-CURE requires financial resources to accomplish our mission and goals.  We currently have extremely limited financial resources.  We need your help, and the help of your family and friends.  Please contribute to our cause and induce other to contribute.  Donations may be sent to the NV-CURE office and made through paypal on our website. The more financial resources we have available, the more we can do.  Without financial resources, we cannot accomplish our mission or goals.  Help.  Thank you.

Affidavit Format for Providing Information

The following is the format that should be followed in providing information regarding the above referenced matters to NV-CURE.  Please use it.

AFFIDAVIT OF (NAME OF AFFIANT)

(Nature of Complaint, i.e., Medical treatment, Use of excessive Force, etc)

State of Nevada                  )

                                           : §

County of (Name of County)

            I, (Name of Affiant), hereby declare and state as follows:

            1.  I am a prisoner confined at (name of institution) and I am making this Affidavit for the use of NV-CURE in any manner NV-CURE deems appropriate.

            2.  I am above 18 years of age, I am competent to testify regarding the matters set forth herein and the matters set forth herein are stated based on my own personal knowledge and observations.

            3.  (Use as many numbered paragraphs as necessary to described the events you witnessed.  Be sure to include names, dates, times, places of the events and all relevant facts.

            4. Further, Affiant sayeth naught.

            Pursuant to the provisions of 28 USC §1746, I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing statements are true and correct.  Executed on this ____ day of _(Month)_, 2012, in the County of (Name of County) in the State of Nevada.

                                                                       _____________________________

                                                                       (Name and Address)

NV-CURE Meetings With NDOC Director COX

NV-CURE is scheduled to meet with NDOC Director COX quarterly on issues of concern related to the prison system. We are also in communication with other organizations, legislators and media regarding those issues.  We are advocates of your concerns and will do our best to address your issues in the community.

Nevada State Bar Notice

Please note that Veronica Melton is no longer answering prisoner mail for the State Bar Association and is no longer able to send the Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook to prisoners.  Sorry. A new person has been assigned to answer prisoner mail. Contact the Center for Constitutional Rights,  Attn: Jailhouse Lawyers handbook, 666 Broadway, 7th Fl., N.Y., N.Y. 10012, for a copy.

Problems Obtaining Identification Documents

Anyone having problems obtaining identification (Birth Certificate, Social Security Card, etc.) necessary for use when released to the community should provide an Affidavit on that subject.

STRUGGLE IN SOLIDARITY

The cruelest tyranny is practiced
Behind the shield of law and order

AFSC Releases “Survivors Manual” By and For Prisoners in Solitary Confinement

From: SolitaryWatch, July 31st, 2012
by Jean Casella and James Ridgeway

The American Friends Service Committee has put out a new edition of the vital publication Survivors Manual: Surviving in Solitary — A Manual Written By and For People Living in Control Units. The volume is a collection of letters, stories, poetry, and practical advice on surviving solitary confinement in prisons. AFSC released the following announcement last week:

Solitary confinement, characterized by 23-hour a day lockout with minimal exercise and lack of human contact, affects an estimated 100,000 prisoners in federal and state prisons in almost every state. Thus the need for “Survivors Manual,” which was first issued in 1998, is even more vital.

In this powerful collection of voices from solitary, people currently or formerly held in isolation vividly describe their conditions and their daily lives. They also write about how they struggle to keep mind, body, and soul together in an environment that is designed to break them down. Many also analyze the political, economic, and social forces that shape their torturous situation. The collection also includes some stunning artwork and poetry.

A PDF of the manual is available online at the following link:

http://www.afsc.org/document/survivors-manual-surviving-solitary

Copies can also be purchased for $3 each at the following site:

http://www.quakerbooks.org/survivors_manual.php

[thanks to FFIP for alerting us!]