Monday, June 30, 2014

Interview: Living History: Lessons from “Tough-on-Crime” Failure in America

Federally-funded study shows states' combined prison costs are up 400 per cent since the 1970s

By: CBC (Canada) The Canadian Press, May 11, 2014

John Witherow tried robbing a jewelry store — and walked away with a treasure-trove of insights into the American justice system.

His star-crossed participation in a stickup attempt in Reno, Nev., earned him 26 years in prison in an era of drastic change in U.S. justice policy, from the rise of the tough-on-crime approach to its more recent fall from favour.

Witherow shared his story during a conference in Washington, where there is bipartisan momentum behind a number of justice reforms designed to reduce prison costs and increase rehabilitation of inmates.

His initial plan, back then, was to tie down a jewelry store owner while one of his accomplices brandished a sawed-off shotgun. As it turned out, the store owner had a gun, too, and the plan went off the rails.

Witherow was eventually tracked down and sent to the slammer. Because of his seven prior convictions, mainly for robberies, he received an especially long sentence for attempted robbery with use of a weapon.

Longer sentences, services chopped.

This was in 1984.

When he arrived in the Nevada prison system, he recalls, prisoners were able to get out early for good behaviour, and some of his fellow inmates were getting college degrees. Witherow himself managed to turn his life around when he got paralegal training.

But he says things changed pretty quickly.

"It was just the start of the maybe-we-should-get-tough-on-crime era," said Witherow, whose jailhouse training has helped him request pardons, push for better health care, and fight for sentencing reform as head of the Nevada chapter of Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants, where he's been involved since his 2010 release.

"It was all about tough on crime but nobody thought, 'How we gonna pay for it?"'

Read the rest here.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Letter to Governor Sandoval about investigating if appointment of Nevada Parole Board Commissioner Bisbee violates NRS 213.108(6)

Senator Segerblom:
 
Attached please find a copy of my communications with Governor Sandoval regarding the composition of the NV Board of Parole Commissioners in violation of the provisions of NRS 213.108(6) for your review and investigation:
 
 
One of our Members contacted the Governor's Office regarding this matter and was advised that Commissioner Bisbee is "classified" as having a P&P background - not a prison background. 
 
On the Parole Board website, Commissioner Bisbee information indicates she was employed by the NV Department of Corrections, with no reference as to having worked for P&P. If her background was P&P, a person would think it would be listed with the information on her background. 
 
It appears to me, and others, that Commissioner Bisbee is "classified" as having a background in P&P to evade the requirements of NRS 213.108(6). To us, it is a clear violation of the legislatively intended statute.
 
Would you please initiate an investigation into this matter and insure that corrective action, if necessary, is taken and a report on the results of your investigation is published for the people of the community to review.
 
Please note Governor Sandoval and Attorney General Cortez Masto do not provide e-mail addresses on their websites - which is why those offices have not been copied with this e-mail.
 
Thank you very much for your assistance in this matter.
 
Sincerely,
 
John Witherow
NV-CURE President

Friday, May 9, 2014

Thank you Resist, Inc.!

NV-CURE is delighted to receive a grant from RESIST, Inc. This money will assist us with our mission of advocating for justice and fairness for all. 
 
RESIST, Inc. can be reached at:

259 Elm St.
Somerville, MA 02144

Thanks again to RESIST, Inc. They are changing the world by funding grass roots organizations.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Need for an Independent Ombudsman in Nevada

On May 1st 2014, NV-CURE President John Witherow will be presenting information to the Advisory Committee on the Administration of Justice (ACAJ) on the need for an independent ombudsman in Nevada. 

You can watch and/or listen online. Here is the link: http://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/Calendar/A/

When the meeting is taking place, the link to audio/video will be live and all you have to do is click it on.

Press Release: First 200 Documents of Prisoner Abuse Letters-Project are online

Press Release:

April 26, 2014

The first 200 documents of the Nevada-Cure Prisoner Abuse Letters-project are online.
These are documents sent to Nevada-Cure. These documents contain affidavits, grievances or other statements written and shared with permission of the writer. NV-CURE has posted them on our website. 

To view the list of complaints, with the documents hyperlinked to each complaint, visit these three tabs on the Nevada-Cure website:


Page 3: Again with intro, and Documents 121-200:
http://www.nevadacure.org/p/blog-page_13.html

This is an ongoing project, that involves educating the prisoners on the project, receiving their documents, scanning them and documenting them on Excel sheets, and uploading the documents with the annotations onto the website. The documents have been used to discuss with the Director of the NDOC the patterns of abuse, the people who commit abuses and what NDOC plans to do to stop these from occurring. This material can also be used as research material for press, attorneys, students and other researchers as well as family, friends and the human rights defense community. These documents reflect hundreds of hours of work by NV-CURE volunteers and reflect our interest in educating the public on events transpiring behind NV prison fences.

NV-Cure keeps the documents as an archive of abuses, which can also be used when necessary, if the Special Litigation Unit of the DOJ needs to have insight into the abuses occurring in the Nevada Department of Corrections prisons. 

Please help support NV-CURE in these efforts with your tax free donations to our organization – and keep this project alive.  Thank you.

Nevada-Cure

Contact:
Nevada-CURE
540 E. St. Louis Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89104
 
Email: Nevadacure@gmail.com
Website: Nevadacure.org
Tel.: 702.347.1731
Twitter: @NevadaCure

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Letter to Governor Sandoval on Parole Board Composition

Attached and below is a copy of the letter NV-CURE sent to Governor Sandoval, with a copy to Attorney General Masto, regarding the composition of the Board of Parole Commissioners.
 
Please review the below letter and, should you deem it appropriate, write a letter, e-mail, or telephone Governor Sandoval or Senator Segerblom regarding the limitation imposed by NRS 213.108(6) on the number of former prison people that may be Members of the Parole Board and request that Chairman Bisbee and one other former prison person be removed from the Parole Board.
Thank you for your help in this matter.

Governor Sandoval:

NV-CURE is writing to bring to your attention an apparent violation of the provision of NRS 213.108(6), which prohibits more than two members of the Board of Parole Commissioners (Parole Board) from the field of prisons (NRS 213.108(5)(a)(1).

The current composition of the Parole Board consists of at least three, and possibly four, members from the field of prisons. Those members are: Connie Bisbee; Tony Corda; Adam Endel; and, possibly, Eddie Gray. According to their biographies on the Parole Board website, each of these members have a background in the field of prisons. One, or possibly two, of the referenced members should be removed from the Parole Board to comply with the provisions of NRS 213.108(6).

NV-CURE suggest that one of the members of the Parole Board to be removed be Connie Bisbee, as she is the Chairperson of the Parole Board and she is responsible for Parole Board compliance with the laws of the State of Nevada relating to the Parole Board.

Please advise NV-CURE of your decision in this matter.  Thank you very much for your time and consideration.


Nevada-Cure News and Articles

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