My Point of View
Greetings to everyone! I am Perly Viasmensky and I am covering for Rolando Larraz this week.
I read with great interest the article by Katelyn Newberg in the Sunday, Jan. 30 edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal entitled, “Slaying of jail inmate spurs lawsuit.” It was no surprise to me to read the story of Jason Dickman, the young man who lost his life at the Clark County Detention Center at the hands of another inmate. I have always been of the opinion that the personnel of the jail and Nevada Prison system need to be trained to recognize illness, and they don’t need to go to medical school to receive such training. That case brought to mind the case of another young man who is now a guest of the Nevada Prison System in Indian Springs. This young man, due to a horrible brain injury, now suffers from epilepsy, something that requires lots of medication that the State Prison system is not providing to him.
Anyone with a little gray matter in their tiny brain knows that the symptoms of epilepsy vary and depend on the type of seizure. Those symptoms could include euphoria before the episode, temporary confusion, episodes of staring blankly, uncontrollable jerking movements and twitching of the arms and legs, loss of consciousness, and fear and anxiety. Before an episode, they can get very loud for no reason, whatsoever.
This young man was accused by prison guards of using heroin, but after medical testing, he was clean and clear of heroin use — something that makes us, the outsiders, wonder: if the guards suspect drugs were introduced into the prison, how do they explain such a situation which includes their lack of supervision?Inquiring minds want to know.
This young man was taken to the hospital on two occasions, only to return to prison to find that his cellmate had sold all his property to other inmates and ate all the food that his mother through much sacrifice had sent to him. His mother is a single mother who works three jobs to be able to support the needs of her only child. This incident also happened because of the negligence or the laziness of the prison guards that failed to secure his property. Now, they also accuse this young man of faking those episodes and threaten to withhold his medications.
You don’t need to be mentally bright to know that if the epilepsy condition is untreated for a prolonged period of time it may lead to injuries or death due to falls, or psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies, or frequent and recurrent seizures without consciousness, a condition known as status epilepticus, and even unexpected death. Dr. Ipsa Arora is of the opinion that if epilepsy seizures are left untreated, they become prolonged and more frequent and the consequences can be quite severe, including excessive bodily injury, psychiatric impairment, permanent brain damage, and social disability. The report of Katelyn Newberg with the Review-Journal and her interview with Richard Dickman, father of Jason Dickman, brought light to whatever is happening behind prison and jail walls.
Coincidentally, Richard Dickman is a former corrections officer. He expressed that security protocols he would have followed as a guard with the Nevada Department of Corrections were ignored the day his son, Jason, was placed in the Clark County Detention Center’s general population. Jason Dickman, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, wasn’t separated into a unit intended for people with severe mental illnesses; instead, he was placed in at least two general population cells, one of which with the man that eventually killed him.
Yes, the jails and prison systems are filled with career criminals, others who made mistakes in life, and hundred of others who are totally innocent, but those people have been judged and sentenced by a jury of their peers and it is not up to the guards to judge them again and deprive them of medical care and assistance. The Dickman lawsuit is the last one in the news and there have been several others. If those guards — and that includes social workers inside prison walls — are not trained properly, the State of Nevada and many other states would not have any insurance companies left that would cover the amounts to be paid to families of inmates treated inhumanely.
My name is Rolando Larraz, and as always, I approved this column.
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Perly Viasmensky is the General Manager of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Perly Viasmensky, email her at email@example.com.