I blogged earlier about the unimaginable power the Nevada Department of Corrections has to increase prison time, to punish inmates beyond a judge’s sentence, and I wanted to give a bit more detail.
First, let me start by saying that I never thought I would be in the position to be writing such a blog, or about any such subject matter – because I simply had no idea that things like this went on. All three of my siblings have been incarcerated at one time or another, mainly for drug-related crimes, but I had no idea how serious and severe the miscarriage of justice is – and it is ongoing.
Tonight, I talked to my sweetheart. He has been under an extreme amount of stress lately because of a turn of events at the prison. If you’ll recall from my earlier blog, he and several other inmates are being punished for having graduated high school; inmates cannot attend Vocational Education if they have a high school diploma. Therefore, those who were enrolled in the program (including my man) and who had already earned meritorious credit for such, which would have decreased their time in prison – but only if they complete the program, have LOST that time.
To exacerbate this problem is the additional bombshell for my babe that if he does not get a job IMMEDIATELY, he will be dropped to Level 2. That is a tremendous punishment, in that it means being locked in his cell for more than half the day, having extremely limited phone time, and time ADDED to his sentence. Yes, that’s what they will do.
Now, if this next bit wasn’t so horrific, it would be funny: my man cannot have a job (he has repeatedly tried and been denied) because he has a leg injury – WHICH THE PRISON WILL NOT TREAT HIM FOR, as well as high blood pressure – WHICH THE PRISON WITHHELD HIS PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION FOR UNTIL I CALLED THE NDOC AND COMPLAINED. That same evening, after 7 weeks of going without it, he was finally given his medication – but only part of it; he needs two prescriptions, but was given only one.
This is the same bullshit that the Parole Board did to him when he went before them in June. He was punished for not having attended any “programming,” yet “programming” is not offered to him because he is in Medium Security. He asked for an in-cell study program, but was refused. He asked for a “classification reduction” but was again refused. He challenged his classification but was told by his caseworker that he cannot challenge unless his sentence gets reduced, or some other bullshit.
On top of all of this, the PSI report (Pre-Sentence Investigation report) that was used when he was sentenced is INCORRECT; this is not something you, dear reader, will be unfamiliar with, if you have spent any time reading blogs regarding PSI reports. They are notoriously full of errors, yet prisoners are essentially powerless to do anything about them or to have them changed. Even getting your hands on a copy of one seems to be an insurmountable obstacle.
What causes so much grief for me about this whole situation, aside from the obvious, is that people know this stuff is going on. The Governer knows, the ACLU knows, the media have published reports and articles about it – there are huge groups of people who are fully aware of the serious and ongoing human rights violations, Constitutional violations, etc., yet nothing changes. NOTHING. How can so many people know and be able to do nothing? Meanwhile, so many people are suffering intensely behind bars in Nevada. What can I do? What can anyone do?
I cannot fathom the grotesque carnival of horror that the man I love is being subjected to on a daily basis. Not only the emotional and mental strain of it, but the physical pain, too: he is not ablet to sleep because of the pain in his injured knee, and he cannot eat because the “food” makes him sick and is notoriously “not fit for human consumption.” And now the prison has the power to add time to his sentence to force him to stay there even longer, simply because he cannot get a job – because they will not allow him to have one? It’s a Catch-22 of the worst and most horrific magnitude.
There is so much more to this story, and I will write more later. For now, I need to try to un-kink my brain and try to wrap it around this nightmare so I can figure out what to do next to effect some sort of change – something far greater people than I have tried and failed to do so far. But that doesn’t mean that I am going to give up. Because I’m not. I don’t know how I’m going to do this, but I AM going to do this. I hope you’ll help me; there’s power in numbers…
Just spoke to someone (I know her name but I won’t thank her by getting her in trouble) at the Parole Board in Carson City. She told me the date she has listed for when the board sent their decision on paper to the prison. Needless to say, it is WAY after the date by which they are required to have notified Tracy. Additionally, it is NOT the date he was actually given the paperwork. In fact, it is a full 15 days BEFORE he was given the paperwork.
This is not a surprise, since the caseworker is notoriously slack. Anyway, I am pleased that we have a few more days under which we can file an appeal. And we will also file the Writ of Mandamus. And any other lawsuit we can. I am sick of this bullshit.
Next call today: NDOC to speak with the person in charge of medical stuff at High Desert State Prison. I have spoken with her previously, and it only took TWO WEEKS for Tracy to get some medical attention, as opposed to TWO MONTHS. He has sent numerous medical kites, to no avail. So, I’ll be spending some quality time on the phone again today with the NDOC.
And I will be documenting it ALL. Stay tuned…
Ripped directly from the Nevada Revised Statutes, here’s THIS:
1. A jailer or person who is guilty of willful inhumanity or oppression to any prisoner under the care or custody of the jailer or person shall be punished:
(a) Where the prisoner suffers substantial bodily harm from the inhumanity or oppression, for a category D felony as provided in NRS 193.130.
(b) Where no substantial bodily harm results, for a gross misdemeanor.
2. Whether or not the prisoner suffers substantial bodily harm, any public officer guilty of willful inhumanity is guilty of a malfeasance in office.
[Part 62:108:1866; B § 2660; BH § 1697; C § 1843; RL § 2818; NCL § 4818]—(NRS A 1967, 524; 1995, 1255)
Now, I need to continue reading, obviously, to find out what the *definition* of “inhumanity” and “willful inhumanity” are under the NRS, but it seems that common sense would indicate that so far, because of the NDOC’s refusal to treat Tracy’s constant, staggaring pain, an excellent and very strong case could be made that they collectively are GUILTY of willful inhumanity.
Clearly, I have a lot more reading to do – and I will do that, but I feel pretty excited about finding this so far. It came about because of a conversation I had with a fantastic attorney today. I had previously discussed with him our desire to appeal the parole board’s denial, but since the prison seems to be refusing all attemps Tracy makes to mail his parole paperwork, I have not been able to submit it to said attorney to make any progress. So today, he suggested that we may want to file a Writ of Mandamus, which essentially asks the court to FORCE the government to abide by its own laws.
One of the best pieces of advice the attorney gave me was to do as much of the research myself, since research time would eat up a lot of the retainer. (He bills against the retainer, and said that money goes extremely quickly, which isn’t hard to imagine.)
Anyway, I *just* spoke to Tracy; he called while I was in the middle of typing that last paragraph, and I discussed this stuff with him. He told me what I already knew – that he first has to go through the grievance process within the prison. And, we both know that absolutely NOTHING will come of that. Once he has exhausted his options there, we can move forward with civil litigtion. So, I know what my time frame is for gathering the necessary intel and paperwork: forever, since that is how long it will take for the NDOC to answer the grievance.
One of the scariest things for me about this entire nightmare is that I know Tracy will be punished by the prison for filing a grievance. That is standard operating procedure there, and he will be labled as a trouble causer, even though his grievance is legitimate. I can’t let myself think about it – too scary.
He told me, during this last phone call (and has told me previously) that he has been telling the NDOC the entire time he’s been incarcerated that he needed surgery, since he had already been planning for it before his arrest. So this entire time, they have been ignoring him and his intense, unrelenting pain.
I’m cutting this short so I can get it posted, because Tracy is calling again now…
So, Tracy fell and had to go to the infirmary today; his leg just gave out on him, and he hit the ground. He has an ACL tear and a meniscus tear in his knee, and has gotten exactly ZERO medical care. Why? Because there IS no medical care in prison. He could call a “Man Down,” which would cost $80.00 and which is reserved for life-threatening emergencies; if an inmate calls a “Man Down” and there is not a true emergency, not only is he out the $80 bucks, but he will also get a write up and be thrown into solitary confinement as punishment. So, unless it’s a stroke, heart attack or someone is bleeding profusely, most inmates will not call a “Man Down.”
Tracy told me he has seen inmates deal with broken bones and all kinds of gruesome injuries themselves and NOT call a “Man Down” precisely because they fear the punishment for doing so, even when they truly need care. They would rather bleed out, or die from cardiac arrest, than suffer the punishment for asking for help. I cannot say I honestly blame them; death must seem like a lovely option to the insane, macabre hell that is High Desert State Prison and the guards who run it.
This is *maddening* to me, because the pain in Tracy’s knee is at “a constant 7,” he says, and it gets much worse at night, keeping him from being able to sleep. The prison WILL NOT give him a knee brace for it, and obviously, physical therapy – the prescribed treatment (other than surgery) for ACL tears – is out of the question. His knee is swollen up as large as his thigh, and he said his leg is starting to look deformed. Clearly, he needs help, and clearly, he is not going to get any. I asked him about the feeling below his knee and he said he doesn’t feel much of anything. That is terrifying to me, because the circulation is affected – and that is also something that is known to happen as a result of such a severe knee injury. Without treatment, he could lose his leg, and that’s not even being melodramatic; that’s just a medical fact.
Adding to the evil carnival that IS HDSP, Tracy had to WALK to the infirmary – on the leg that had just given out beneath him, up a hill, approx. 1/4 of a mile. I cannot even begin to wrap my head around the insanity of that nightmarish place. The torture never ends, either for the inmates, or the people on the outside who love them.
Not hearing from Tracy is *never* a good thing, especially since we usually speak at least three times every day. So when he doesn’t call, I know something is wrong, and none of the options are good: either he’s sleeping because he didn’t get enough sleep the night before; or he’s sleeping because something he ate made him sick (extremely common for him to be sick; the food in prison is notoriously horrible and inedible; some of it has even been labeled as “not fit for human consumption.” But then, most people do not consider inmates “human,” so that has been allowed to pass); or, the guards won’t open the doors to let the inmates out, as they should; or, the prison is on lockdown because a fight has broken out/guards have shot someone/they’re doing commisary (in the evenings) – you name it, there are myriad reasons; or – well, the list is endless, and none of the items on it are great.
Combine all of the horrible things that could be preventing Tracy from being able to call, such as today’s incident (for which he spent FOUR HOURS sitting around in the infirmary waiting for the nurse to assess his knee…), with a woman (ME!) who naturally worries all the time about everyone and always has since she was a little girl and you’ve got a powder keg just waiting to errupt. I worry like mad, and I start to panic. I am a person who likes routine, who needs things to be stable and clockwork-like – *especially* in this kind of situation…and that is exactly what I can’t have. *Especially* in this kind of situation. It’s bizarre, and I hate it.
But I love Tracy, and I care so much about him and worry so much about him. I’m glad he’s a big, tough guy, and I know he can deftly defend himself in any kind of altercation (that does not involve bullets, or a shank, for example), but how can he defend himself against his own body – his knee, in particular? He needs a cane to help him walk, but the prison will not give him one. He also needs a very good knee brace but, again, the prison will not give him one; both of those items could be used as weapons, apparently. I can see the cane being used in that way, but the knee brace? Maybe because the right brace would be one that contained metal or metal pieces and could therefore be dismantled and turned into weapons. Geez.
I hope the ACLU will be able to do something to help the prisoners to receive the medical care they need, but I won’t hold my breath. In fact, I don’t think that anything will be done at all to help the man I love, or any of the other men who are suffering needlessly. I understand that most people look upon prisoners and people who are incarcerated as animals who deserve whatever they get, but not all prisoners are child molesters, rapists and murderers. A great many of them are just people who did stupid things, like getting caught with marijuana, or writing bad checks. These are not hardened criminals who should be cast out of society and forgotten, relegated to live the rest of their lives in unadulterated hell and torment. Some of them just lost their way and have made, and would continue to make, positive contributions to society if they were given the chance – *especially* after being severely punished in a prison such as High Desert State Prison.
I don’t know what I can do to help, but I will do whatever it is once I find out, because the pain is excruciating for Tracy, and it is mind-numbing for me, too. I cannot comfort him, I cannot prop up his leg with pillows, he cannot sleep in peace on a soft bed with soft, scented sheets. Instead, he’s disregarded and treated like a worthless piece of trash. He sleeps on a hard bunk with no comfort at all. At least tonight, as with last night, he has his cell to himself; many of the men have been transferred to Southern Nevada Correctional Facility (and other facilities), including Freddie, Tracy’s cellie. So until he gets a new one, he’s got the cell to himself, and for that, he is thankful. He was lucky to have Freddie, who was an older inmate and with whom Tracy got along, most of the time. Who knows what the next cellmate will be like? Tracy and I both hope it’s an older inmate who is similar in temperment to Tracy: quiet, studious, respectful. Tracy is a chess player, an avid reader, spiritual, and a mentor to the younger members of the population. But the younger men tend to be quite rowdy at times, and always ready for a fight – and Tracy avoids that kind of stuff like the plague. If he gets a cellmate who wants to fight, either with him or with other inmates, it will be trouble for Tracy, even if he has no involvement whatsoever. That has happened before; his cellmate was acting up, and because he was mouthing off to the guard, he got a write up – a disciplinary action. And since Tracy was present in the cell while that was happening, he got written up, too. Totally unfair, but then, so is prison. And that is just the way it is.
Anyway, I got to speak with him for exactly 6 minutes and 9 seconds before they flashed the lights (the signal for the inmates to “rack in” for the night), so he had to suddenly get off the phone and make a mad dash for his cell. But I know we will speak tomorrow. I just wish he was home. He said they wrapped his knee very tight and that helped it feel better, so hopefully he’ll be able to sleep at least for a few hours tonight without waking up with screaming pain in his leg. I will find out tomorrow…
Goodnight, Tracy. I love you.
Tonight, Tracy told me that 38 other prisoners are appealing their parole denials, since the parole board is OUT OF CONTROL. They are basing their decisions on erroneous PSI (Pre-Sentencing Investigation) reports, redacted court documents, assessments for which there are NO standard guidelines as to how to score them – the entire thing is a fiasco. A FARCE. I am sick to my stomach.
To complicate matters for US, the prison – for some reason – has fucked around with Tracy’s mail. TWICE now, he has mailed the paperwork he was given with the parole denial, including the reasons the board denied him, and TWICE the mail never got to me. TWICE. Now, this is particularly troubling, because a letter I mailed to him yesterday morning is already there and in his hands; he told me that tonight.
Appeals must be filed within a certain amount of time, and the hold up with the mail just complicates things, obviously. So, it’s a nightmare. But what is exciting is that so many others are going to appeal. As soon as the NDOC and the state realize that they’re going to have many, MANY lawsuits on their hands, they might start doing the right thing. But probably not. No one wants to do ANYTHING without being forced to by law.
I’m sick of the fact that there is no oversight. There are no rules. Cops on the street murder black people and get away with it, and guards inside this particular prison shoot, injure and murder inmates – not to mention the race baiting that goes on, as well as the general horrific mistreatment of the inmates by the guards – and answer to NO ONE. Well, they can start answering to ME, because I’m not going to sit down and shut up. I have a big mouth, a cause, and a man I love – and I will fight. I am a KNIGHT.
THIS KNIGHT WILL FIGHT.
I love my man so much, and he is worth it – as are all the other unjustly and unfairly incarcerated individuals sitting behind bars right now. Their lives mean something, too — their lives matter.
The battles wages on. Tracy, I love you. I am fighting for you, and I always will. ❤
Please read the following article published on the Huffington Post: