Legislation prompts hunger strike at Ely State Prison

By: - July 1, 2021 5:04 pm
carceral state

(Nevada Department of Corrections photo)

carceral state
(Nevada Department of Corrections photo)

Nevada prison officials confirm a dozen inmates at Ely State Prison are on a hunger strike to protest “changes made to package and canteen protocols” according to Teri Vance, a spokeswoman for the department.

Inmates who are in administrative segregation have reportedly been denied access to the commissary because of misbehavior by prisoners in disciplinary segregation, according to sources.

“While denying food provided by the institution, some of the inmates continue to consume commissary items purchased in preparation for the protest,” Vance said in a statement. “All inmates are being monitored by medical staff.”

Sources say the strike is in its tenth day.

Vance says the inmates are taking issue with Administrative Regulation 507, which details protocol for placing an offender in Administrative Segregation, and with Senate Bill 22 passed by the Legislature this year, which allows the prison department director to suspend deliveries of packages from family members to an inmate who is in disciplinary or administrative segregation, “and the prohibition is necessary to ensure the safety of other offenders in administrative segregation.”

“The statute provides for a process.  The Department has to demonostrate the individual is creating a danger to others,” before suspending commissary and package program privileges, says Holly Welborn, legislative director of the ACLU of Nevada. Thats not what’s happening.  They are being punished as a whole for the actions of other people when they can’t deny access to the entire unit.”

The ACLU of Nevada says NDOC is misinterpreting the statute.

“We intend to reach out to the Attorney General regarding his client’s misinterpretation of the statute, which requires an individualized assessment of ‘an inmate,'” Welborn told the Current.

Last year, Nevada prison officials abruptly and without notice began seizing up to 80% of inmate funds deposited by loved ones to comply with restitution provisions outlined in Marsy’s Law, a victims’ rights measure passed by voters in 2018. But lawmakers took exception with the Department of Corrections’ actions and limited the allowed deductions.


This story has been updated with comment from the ACLU of Nevada.

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Dana Gentry
Dana Gentry

Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana has four adult children, two grandsons, three dogs, three cats and a cockatoo named Casper.