LAS VEGAS- According to the Clark County Coroner’s office, two inmates at High Desert State Prison committed themselves within 24 hours of each other. The investigators has uncovered that the warden told personnel of developments inside the jail four days later, and the medical director of the Nevada Department of Corrections informed staff five days later that he was quitting.
On September 7, David Thompson, 38, died by hanging. According to Nevada Department of Corrections records, he was serving time for robbery with a dangerous weapon. His sentence would have ended in 2028.
Deryl Dent, 32, committed suicide by hanging on September 8. According to NDOC records, he was serving time for attempted battery and battery inflicting serious bodily harm. His sentence would have ended in 2023.
According to the coroner’s office, Dent’s death is the ninth at the institution this year. According prison records, five inmates committed suicide, four by hanging and one by ligature strangling.
According to the coroner’s office, one inmate died of a heart issue, and another died of a narcotics overdose, namely from methamphetamine and fentanyl.
Warden Calvin Johnson cited stringent housing restrictions and security enhancements in a memo to staff obtained by the news investigators. They include daily group tours by prison leaders and employees (including medical), deputy director tours, health and welfare count training for all staff, and supervisory oversight to ensure 30-minute irregular inspections in restrictive housing.
“The officer must observe every offender every 30 minutes to determine health and welfare and log into the 30 Minute Rounds logbook.” according to an internal letter. In addition to routine counts, the warden introduced health and welfare counts three times a day. “If any offender in restrictive housing does not come out of their cell for three consecutive days, on the third day the offender will be removed for a mental health evaluation and the cell will be searched,” according to the document.
The following day, NDOC Medical Director Dr. Michael Minev informed employees that he would be departing effective September 30. A representative for the NDOC verified his resignation to the news investigators. Dr. Minev has worked at NDOC since October 1, 2018, earning an annual salary of around $218,000, according to the department.
Teri Vance, NDOC’s deputy public relations officer, issued the following statement on Wednesday: “Unfortunately, there were two suicides last week at High Desert State Prison. As a Department, we are concerned by this and our staff is reviewing the circumstances surrounding these deaths. We are also working to develop an assessment and intervention plan for that unit.”
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