New Nevada corrections director hears concerns as department investigates prisoner escape
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - The new acting head of the Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) confirms more prison staff has been placed on leave following the escape of a convicted killer last month.
On Monday, NDOC officials and Governor Steve Sisolak met for the first time since that escape-- and since the former department director stepped down at the request of the governor.
“My office will continue to work closely with the team at the Nevada Department of Corrections to ensure the safety and well-being of both NDOC employees and inmates who are in the state’s care,” said Governor Steve Sisolak, D-Nevada.
At a Monday board meeting in Las Vegas, the new leader William Gittere got an earful of passionate calls for change. Meanwhile, the state’s investigation of the circumstances surrounding the convict’s escape (and recapturing) are being investigated.
“Obviously none of us are satisfied or happy with what happened inside and at the end of the day we need to get to the bottom of it,” said Attorney General Aaron Ford, D-Nevada.
But this was also an opportunity for the new leader to hear directly from community advocates about what changes they wish to see happen now to move the prison system in a positive direction.
“We know we can’t choose the person, but listen to us,” said one community advocate whose husband is incarcerated. ‘This is the time to do something different... Look at the data, look at the research, look at best practices that are happening around the world.”
“Take care of the medical problem at hand,” said another woman. She added, “My son is dying in there, he got a blow to the head. Right now, he doesn’t even know who I am, and he doesn’t know how to call home... Can I get help? Can I get some help?”
Another advocate in attendance told FOX5, “I am here today to say my son needs to do his time in a safe environment.”
She said she previously felt like her concerns were not heard.
“They always have a cover-up. There always is no response back.”
She added that with a new leader, she has new hope, however-- especially with a renewed focus on the department’s operations.
“Do I think I’m being heard? I think it’s a start,” she said.
Gittere declined to answer media members’ questions after the board meeting about such claims and concerns.
“I’m sorry, I have another meeting scheduled,” Gittere told journalists.
However, Ford did respond to these claims from community advocates.
“I am engaged with them. We hear from them and I have my staff follow up and we do what we can to be responsive,” said Ford.
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