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Nevada governor orders prison head to resign after escape

Charles Daniels
Nevada Department of Corrections
/
Charles Daniels

The head of Nevada’s Department of Corrections has resigned at the request of Gov. Steve Sisolak in the wake of an escape by a convicted bombmaker that went unreported for four days.

Sisolak “requested and received Nevada Department of Corrections Director Charles Daniels’ resignation, effective immediately,” the governor’s office said in a statement Friday. Six other officers have also been placed on administrative leave.

Porfirio Duarte-Herrera escaped from the Southern Desert Correctional Center outside Las Vegas on Sept. 23 without anyone noticing for four days, before a tip led to his capture at a transit center in Las Vegas on Wednesday night as he prepared to board a bus out of town. State corrections officials didn’t realize until Tuesday that Duarte-Herrera was not at the medium-security prison where he was serving a life sentence for a deadly 2007 explosion outside a Las Vegas Strip resort.

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This undated photo provided by the Nevada Department of Corrections shows Porfirio Duarte-Herrera, a convicted bombmaker who was discovered missing Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, from Southern Desert Correctional Center outside Las Vegas. (Nevada Department of Corrections via AP)

 

Las Vegas police said they were informed Wednesday night that a person matching the description of Duarte-Herrera was in the area. Officers took the man into custody, confirmed he was Duarte-Herrera, 42, and arrested him, the department said.

Sisolak ordered the corrections department to investigate the escape “to ensure any lapses in protocol are immediately addressed.” Sisolak also said he is convening advisors to look specifically at the prison Duarte-Herrera escaped from and make recommendations on how to improve conditions there.

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Daniels’ resignation comes after a tumultuous month at the Southern Desert Correctional Facility and another Clark County prison, High Desert State Prison, that led many to call for his ouster.

Earlier this month, a group of medical and mental health staff at the two prisons wrote to Sisolak describing “increasingly erratic, hostile and abusive” behavior from the prison director.

In staff meetings after two inmates died by suicide within seven hours of each other in the same unit at High Desert, Daniels proceeded to “berate the medical and mental health staff,” which the letter-writers called the beginning of “a witch hunt and blame game.” At the second meeting, Daniels allegedly showed up an hour late and “screamed at the staff present in the room and pounded his fist on the podium,” shouting that “no one here is special, and everyone is replaceable.”

The Department of Corrections did not respond to those allegations, which were first reported by KLAS-TV in Las Vegas.

Sisolak said Friday that his office will work closely with the department “to ensure the safety and well-being of both NDOC employees and inmates who are in the State’s care.”

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“Corrections institutions across the nation are facing severe staffing shortages and together, we are working with NDOC to look at innovative ways to increase recruitment at all facilities within this state,” he said in the news release.

Kristen DeSilva (she/her) is the online editor for Nevada Public Radio. She oversees and writes State of Nevada’s online and social media content.