America’s 10 Worst Prisons: Ely State Prison makes it to the Dishonorable Mentions (top 17)

America’s 10 Worst Prisons: Dishonorable Mentions
7 runners-up, from a “gladiator school” to America’s largest death row.

By James Ridgeway and Jean Casella
Wed May. 15, 2013, in:  Mother Jones Magazine

#1: ADX (federal supermax)
#2: Allan B. Polunsky Unit (Texas)
#3: Tent City Jail (Phoenix)
#4: Orleans Parish (Louisiana)
#5: LA County Jail (Los Angeles)
#6: Pelican Bay (California)
#7: Julia Tutwiler (Alabama)
#8: Reeves Country Detention Complex (Texas)
#9: Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility (Mississippi)
#10: Rikers Island (New York City)

Read the complete introduction to our 10 Worst Prisons project.
Last of 11 parts.

Serving time in prison is not supposed to be pleasant. Nor, however, is it supposed to include being raped by fellow prisoners or staff, beaten by guards for the slightest provocation, driven mad by long-term solitary confinement, or killed off by medical neglect. These are the fates of thousands of prisoners every year—men, women, and children housed in lockups that give Gitmo and Abu Ghraib a run for their money.

While there’s plenty of blame to go around, and while not all of the facilities described in this series have all of the problems we explore, some stand out as particularly bad actors. These dishonorable mentions make up the final installment of our 11-part series, a subjective ranking based on three years of research, correspondence with prisoners, and interviews with reform advocates concerning the penal facilities with the grimmest claims to infamy.

Attica Correctional Facility (Attica, New York): More than four decades after its famous uprising, New York’s worst state prison still lives up to its brutal history. According to the Correctional Association of New York, which has a legislative mandate to track prison conditions, Attica is plagued by staff-on-prisoner violence, intimidation, and sexual abuse.

Communications Management Units (Marion, Illinois, and Terre Haute, Indiana): These two federal prisons-within-prisons, whose populations are more than two-thirds Muslim, were opened secretly by the Bureau of Prisons during the Bush administration, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is challenging the facilities in a federal lawsuit. “The Bureau claims that CMUs are designed to hold dangerous terrorists and other high-risk inmates, requiring heightened monitoring of their external and internal communications,” notes a lawsuit fact sheet. “Many prisoners, however, are sent to these isolation units for their constitutionally protected religious beliefs, unpopular political views, or in retaliation for challenging poor treatment or other rights violations in the federal prison system.” (Also see: Pelican Bay.)

Ely State Prison (Ely, Nevada): A “shocking and callous disregard for human life” is how an auditor described medical care at Ely, which houses the state’s death row along with other maximum security prisoners (PDF). The audit, which found that one prisoner was allowed to rot to death from gangrene, formed the basis of a 2008 class-action lawsuit brought by the ACLU’s National Prison Project. The suit was settled in 2010, but by 2012 the prison still was not in full compliance.

Idaho Correctional Center (Kuna, Idaho): Run by Corrections Corporation of America, the world’s largest private prison company, ICC has been dubbed a “gladiator school” for its epidemic of gang violence. According to a lawsuit filed in 2010 by the ACLU of Idaho (PDF), the violence is not only condoned but actively promoted by the staff. The suit was settled, but last November, the ACLU said CCA appeared to be violating the agreement, which called for increased staffing and training, reporting of assaults to the local sheriff’s office, and disciplinary measures for staffers who didn’t take steps to stop or prevent assaults.

San Quentin State Prison (Marin County, California): This decrepit prison, which sits on a $2 billion piece of bayside real estate, is home to America’s largest death row. As of late-April, there were 711 men and 20 women condemned to die at San Quentin—you can find the latest stats here (PDF); the figure is constantly changing, despite a state moratorium on executions, because prisoners frequently die of illness or old age. Some even commit suicide rather than remain in solitary limbo.

Louisiana State Penitentiary (Angola, Louisiana): At America’s largest prison, those who embrace warden Burl Cain’s pet program of “moral rehabilitation” through Christianity are afforded privileges while sinners languish in institutional hell. A former slave plantation, the prison lends its name to the so-called Angola 3, two of whom have been held in solitary for 40 years, largely for their perceived political beliefs. (In March, Louisiana’s attorney general declared, bafflingly, that the men had “never been in solitary confinement.”)

The federal pen at Lewisburg.
United States Penitentiary (Lewisburg, Pennsylvania): In this overcrowded supermax, the target of multiple lawsuits, prisoners are locked down for 23 to 24 hours a day in the company of a cellmate. One lawsuit alleges that prison officials deliberately pair people with their enemies, and that this practice has led to at least two deaths. The suit also claims that prisoners have been strapped to their bunks with four-point restraints if they resist their cell assignments.

Research for this project was supported by a grant from the Investigative Fund and The Nation Institute, as well as a Soros Justice Media Fellowship from the Open Society Foundations. Additional reporting by Beth Broyles, Valeria Monfrini, Katie Rose Quandt, and Sal Rodriguez.
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Audit finds prison doctors paid for hours not worked

From: Las Vegas Sun
Dec 12th 2012, By Cy Ryan

CARSON CITY — Doctors hired by Nevada’s prison system may have been paid $1.9 million for hours they didn’t work, an audit found.

The audit found that full-time physicians, who are employed to work four ten-hour shifts a week, put in an average of only 5.3 hours per day. Part-time doctors work two ten-hour days.

“We estimate the annualized unsupported payments for full time doctors and part time doctors for fiscal year 2012 were approximately $1.9 million,” said the report by the Division of Internal Audits in the state Department of Administration.

The 23 physicians at the seven state prisons are paid an hourly rate ranging from $64 to $82.
An audit several years ago found that physicians hired in the state mental health system failed to put in the hours they were paid for, prompting officials to tighten controls.

The prison audit included physicians, dentists and psychiatrists.

The audit says physicians, as exempt employees, are not required to work the full ten-hour daily shift, but standard practice in Nevada is they put in “something equivalent to a 40 hour work week or more.”

Read the rest here: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2012/dec/12/audit-finds-prison-doctors-paid-hours-not-worked/

In Loving Memory: Randal N. Wiideman

We received these sympathetic obituaries from a friend of Randal N. Wiideman, who sadly passed away on October 23rd 2011 in Ely State Prison:

Stranded on Death Row

I first and foremost open with Revolutionary Greetings, all my utmost Bigtime Bulletproof Respect in Solidarity and, A true venomously warrior salute! With all due Respect to the Row and the stretched out: keep your head held high above water and never allow anyone to robb you cut off your peace. Trapped in the shadows of the murderous, through the valley of mischievous darkness and, from my grave to yours, welcome to death row.

On October 19th, 2011, a dear friend Randal N. Wiideman exclaimed to me that he was not feeling very well. The following morning on the 20th he pleaded and requested to be seen, along with the evening pill call to no prevail. Both times the nurse told him to fill out and send in a medical request kite, of which he had already done so previously and, again at that time. A repetitious occurrence of events took place on the 21st, with the same reference to submitting a medical kite, of which by this time he had compelled 3, with no response. In the afternoon of the same day Randal pressed the alert button and asked the officer to call medical and demanded to be seen. When the officer came on the tier several hours later, he told Mr Wiideman that medical did not even respond to him. So Randal once again commenced another medical kite and again advised the nurse at pill call of his diminishing condition, who continuously only insisted on putting in a med. Kite. The following day on the 22nd, it wasn’t till a nurse came through handing out nailclippers that the same officer who called the previous day, told the nurse out of concern of Randal’s deteriorating condition. The nurse took one glance at him and 15 minutes later, they were taking him out of here in a wheelchair to the infirmary. On the 23rd during morning pill call I asked the nurse how he was doing and he said: “He’s doing real good and just resting.” At 11:00 AM count time, the officer counting stopped at my grave and said he passed away an hour ago.

If responded to accordingly, I know his inevitable “[m]urder” could have been prevented. Today is 2-9-12 and , 3-4 weeks ago another inmate passed away in the infirmary… don’t know who or how but, I’m certain we all know who’s behind it. I myself obtain serious medical deficiencies and, due to several lawsuits, I can’t get a nurse to flip me off… let alone acquire any adequate medical care, treatment or education. The list is long of all the human beings who have lost their lives in the hands of the injurious, malignant, ideological, hipocricy that we call Ely State Prison.

During, before and after the Riker case settlement, I have continuously written Amy Fettig who was the head counsel from the A.C.L.U. on that case. Though the plaintiffs received no money, Amy Fettig received a #325,000.00 check from that case. Now all the responses from the ACLU refer to the Riker case and avoid answering the letters addressing serious issues no matter how critical they are. Part of the settlement stipulation was that the appointed monitor give a 3 week notice prior to any visit… to give the NDOC 3 weeks to set the stage for that dog and pony show.
So, who’s on death row? If you are a warrior trapped in Ely State Prison and your eyes read upon these words… you better hope not to get sick on the watch of the bloody hands of E.S.P.!
How many more of us have to die? God bless the dead, as I tip the rose and close how I opened.
For any words or encouragement, support or leads to legal assistance, feel free to hit me up… and I’ll catch you on the rebound.
2-9-12

Stay Lethal!
Triple Six

Amadeo J. Sanchez, #64781
E.S.P.
P.O. Box 1989
Ely, NV 89301

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Blessing in Disguise
7-9-49 – 10-23-11

Randal N. Wiideman #22306, Rest in Peace, was the Grandson of the late great Charles “Lucky” Luciano, who was inevitably taken from us on October 23, 2011.

He was, is and has been nothing but an uttermost, divinely blessing to me and, upon many others who have had the honor and opportunity to cross paths and rub shoulders with him. He had a really big heart of gold, a beautiful spirit and was very knowledgeable, with the energy and drive that would make you believe that he was truly half machine. I’ve never met or encountered anyone my whole life who was as surgical and lethal as he was with legal work. Making the impossible a handreach away, giving hope to the hopeless, the world to the havenots, while being detrimental to the N.D.O.C. and court system.

He was colorblind to race and would help anyone without judging them. Some of us “convicts” would look down on one, for some of the people he helped. He looked past the dramacydal ignorance and only saw, helping another human being in need of his help. Breaking through barriers and walls of diversity in a cumulative way as he did, is so very rare, especially in this diminishing multicultural environment where hate is harvested all year around.

I’ve seen him get a handful of life sentences reversed and thrown out, cut time off of other people’s sentences as well as commence tons of lawsuits. He loved, ate, drank and breathed law and, though many of us resist in the physical form to strive to bring change to the struggle of darkness we all endure. He was very much on the same page, except… he was doing it with a pen, a torch to bring light to our path and, with the only language this system understands. Randal: you are very much appreciated and will be missed, loved and in our hearts, thoughts and prayers. From the cradle to the grave you will never be forgotten, Rest In Peace and sleep with the Angels.

“Triple Six”
Public Enemy #1

—————————–

In Loving Memory
Of
Randal N. Wiideman
God saw you were getting tired
And a cure was not to be, he put
His arms around you and whispered
“Come with me.” With tearful eyes we
Watched you fade away,
Although we loved you dearly we could not
Make you stay. A golden heart
Stopped beating, hard working hands
At rest, God broke our hearts to
Prove to us He only takes the best.
It’s lonesome here without you
We miss you more each day, Life doesn’t seem
The same since you went away.
When days are sad and lonely and
Everything goes wrong, we seem to
Hear you whisper, “Cheer up and carry on.”
Each time we see your picture
You seem to smile and say “don’t cry
I am in God’s hands, we’ll meet
Again some day!”
Triple Six
Public Enemy #1