Mistrial declared in ‘Nevada 9’ case

From: LVRJ
Posted by John L. Smith
Wednesday, Apr. 07, 2010 at 12:36 PM

A mistrial in U.S. District Court has been declared in the civil rights case in which former state corrections officers accuse Nevada prison officials of harassment and creating a hostile workplace.

Federal Judge Philip Pro on Wednesday sent both sides back to work and scolded them for attempting to introduce exhibits into evidence at the last moment. Pro told them to prepare to return to his court fully prepared for trial in a few weeks. The judge reminded both parties in the clearest terms that “trial by ambush” is frowned upon by the court.

A hearing in the matter is set for 9 a.m. May 5.

The plaintiffs allege prison officials began a campaign of harassment after the employees promoted their union ideals on the job.

Read more here: LVRJ

http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/smith/Mistrial_declared_in_Nevada_9_case.html

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Mistrial declared in ‘Nevada 9’ case

From: LVRJ
Posted by John L. Smith
Wednesday, Apr. 07, 2010 at 12:36 PM

A mistrial in U.S. District Court has been declared in the civil rights case in which former state corrections officers accuse Nevada prison officials of harassment and creating a hostile workplace.

Federal Judge Philip Pro on Wednesday sent both sides back to work and scolded them for attempting to introduce exhibits into evidence at the last moment. Pro told them to prepare to return to his court fully prepared for trial in a few weeks. The judge reminded both parties in the clearest terms that “trial by ambush” is frowned upon by the court.

A hearing in the matter is set for 9 a.m. May 5.

The plaintiffs allege prison officials began a campaign of harassment after the employees promoted their union ideals on the job.

Read more here: LVRJ

http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/smith/Mistrial_declared_in_Nevada_9_case.html

Article: Prisons chief claims abuse of sick leave

Article in Las Vegas Sun about the Prison Commissioners Meeting last 13th of October 2009:

Prisons chief claims abuse of sick leave
He says more guards call in on holiday weekends, leaving staffs short
By Cy Ryan

Friday, Oct. 16, 2009 | 2 a.m.

Carson City — The head of the state prison system is accusing correctional officers of abusing their sick leave, further complicating staffing problems at Nevada’s lockups.

State Prison System Director Howard Skolnik said guards are calling in sick in greater numbers on holiday weekends. State employees are to use sick leave only when they are ill.

Skolnik cited for the Prison Board the number of correctional officers who called in sick during recent holiday weekends:

• On the Memorial Day weekend officers took 369 hours of sick leave the day before holiday, 62 hours on Memorial Day and 800 hours the day after the holiday.

• Officers took 397 hours of sick time the day before Presidents Day, 63 sick hours on the holiday and 883 hours the day after.

• Officers took 126 hours of sick leave on July 3, 285 hours on July 4 and 424 hours on July 5.

Skolnik said the prison system is staffed at 85 percent and the extra absences make operating the prisons difficult.

“We have staff abuse and it’s not fair to all staff,” he told the board.

Skolnik said he is developing a regulation to address the absences and will present it at the next board meeting.

Some prison employees criticized the proposed regulations.

Daniel Shoup, an officer at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center, said there may be a problem with certain individuals misusing sick leave, but said they should be dealt with individually instead of the entire staff having to deal with new regulations. He called the regulation a “slap in the face” to the staff.

“You’re breaking down morale on the staff,” Shoup said. “It cannot get much lower.”

•••

Skolnik also told the Prison Board he has taken steps to cut expenses so prison correctional officers aren’t required to take monthly furloughs.

The 2009 Legislature ordered the one-day-a-month furloughs for state workers in an attempt to save money. The state Board of Examiners has given the prison an exception until November. To avoid furloughs the system must come up with another way to save $315,000 a month.

To cut costs, Skolnik said he has reduced overtime so far this fiscal year from $258,000 to $30,000. He has closed units 10 and 12 at the High Desert State Prison in Southern Nevada, and he has instituted a “rolling lockdown”— unannounced, periodic lockdowns to handle the shortage of officers — at another prison.

Skolnik said he is considering cancelling the extra 5 percent pay given to officers at prisons in Ely and Lovelock. Also being considered is charging rent to inmates for use of gyms.

Forcing officers to take a one-day furlough jeopardizes the safety of the staff and inmates, he said.

•••

Tonya Brown showed up at the meeting of the state Board of Prison Commissioners on Tuesday carrying a container with the ashes of her brother, Nolan Klein, a former state prison inmate who died Sept. 21.

Klein was convicted of a 1988 sexual assault and robbery in Sparks. But Brown has long maintained the innocence of her brother and is continuing a court battle to prove it.

She accused the prison system of denying the rights of inmates to practice their religion and she asked the prison board to release Klein’s personal property, which must be held for 40 days after death, according to Nevada law.

She joined with others who advocated creation of an oversight committee for every prison.

The board did not take any action.

URL: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2009/oct/16/prisons-chief-claims-abuse-sick-leave/#comments

Correctional officer arrested in Pahrump armed robberies

Oct. 08, 2009
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal

Correctional officer arrested in Pahrump armed robberies

By HENRY BREAN
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

Police in Nye County have arrested a Nevada corrections officer in connection with a pair of armed robberies at a Pahrump convenience store.

Pahrump resident Vincent Matthew Czechorosky, 24, was taken into custody by the Nye County sheriff’s office early Wednesday morning after a car chase that ended with a deputy firing shots at the suspect’s vehicle.

Nye County Sheriff Tony DeMeo said deputies found Czechorosky’s Department of Corrections badge in the vehicle along with a handgun and money from the most recent robbery.

Corrections spokeswoman Suzanne Pardee confirmed on Thursday that Czechorosky worked at High Desert State Prison in Indian Springs, where he was in his third year with the department.

“That’s ‘was,’” Pardee said. “Let’s just say he’s been terminated as of yesterday.”

Read more here

Correctional officer arrested in Pahrump armed robberies

Oct. 08, 2009
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal

Correctional officer arrested in Pahrump armed robberies

By HENRY BREAN
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

Police in Nye County have arrested a Nevada corrections officer in connection with a pair of armed robberies at a Pahrump convenience store.

Pahrump resident Vincent Matthew Czechorosky, 24, was taken into custody by the Nye County sheriff’s office early Wednesday morning after a car chase that ended with a deputy firing shots at the suspect’s vehicle.

Nye County Sheriff Tony DeMeo said deputies found Czechorosky’s Department of Corrections badge in the vehicle along with a handgun and money from the most recent robbery.

Corrections spokeswoman Suzanne Pardee confirmed on Thursday that Czechorosky worked at High Desert State Prison in Indian Springs, where he was in his third year with the department.

“That’s ‘was,’” Pardee said. “Let’s just say he’s been terminated as of yesterday.”

Read more here

Article: Furloughs concern state prisons chief

Sep. 09, 2009
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal

Lack of correctional officers on duty could prove to be risky, Skolnik says

By ED VOGEL
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL CAPITAL BUREAU

CARSON CITY — In light of a prison riot in California, the Nevada corrections director said Tuesday that he wants to avoid any furloughs by correctional officers in Nevada.

“We consider it a public safety risk,” Corrections Director Howard Skolnik said during a state Board of Examiners meeting.

Like other state employees, correctional officers are supposed to take one unpaid furlough day per month as part of a cost saving measure implemented by the Legislature. That is equivalent to a 4.6 percent cut in pay.

The Board of Examiners gave Skolnik enough money in July to avoid furloughs through September but asked him to come up with a furlough plan after that date.

Skolnik said he has developed a furlough plan but would rather not implement it.

He spoke about the Aug. 9 riot at the California Institution for Men in Chino. About 250 inmates were injured in the 4-hour riot, and 55 needed hospitalization.

At the time of the Chino riot, 15 percent of the correctional officers there were on furloughs, according to Skolnik.

He doubts the riot would have been prevented if they had been working but it might have been better controlled.

State Budget Director Andrew Clinger said it would cost $8.5 million between now and June 30, 2011, to cover costs of paying correctional officers rather than requiring them to take furloughs.

The Legislature, according to Clinger, set aside $4 million to give pay to all state employees who were considered essential and could not take furloughs.

Clinger said he will schedule another Board of Examiners meeting later this month to discuss Skolnik’s concern about furloughing correctional officers.

The board consists of Gov. Jim Gibbons, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Secretary of State Ross Miller.

Rather than furloughing employees, Gibbons had proposed they take a 6 percent cut in pay. They would have continued to work the same number of hours under the governor’s plan.