Ely State Prison

Coordinates: 39°23′08″N 114°56′18″W / 39.3855°N 114.9384°W / 39.3855; -114.9384
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39°23′08″N 114°56′18″W / 39.3855°N 114.9384°W / 39.3855; -114.9384

Ely State Prison (ESP)
1999 aerial photo of the prison
Location4569 North State Route 490
Ely, Nevada 89702[1]
Coordinates39°23′7.80″N 114°56′18.24″W / 39.3855000°N 114.9384000°W / 39.3855000; -114.9384000
Security classMaximum
Population1,125 male inmates[2] (as of May 10, 2017)
OpenedJuly 1989
Managed byNevada Department of Corrections
WardenWilliam Allan Gittere [1] Associate Wardens Harold Mike Byrne William Gittere

Ely State Prison (ESP) is a maximum security penitentiary located in unincorporated White Pine County, Nevada,[3] about 9 miles (14 km) north of Ely.[4] The facility, operated by the Nevada Department of Corrections, opened in July 1989. As of 2010 the prison has a staff of 406 and is a major employer in the Ely area.[1] As of September 2010, the prison housed 1,077 male inmates.[2]

The state's death row for men is located at Ely State Prison,[1] as is the execution chamber, which opened in 2016.


Residents of Ely, Nevada spent a year and $25,000 lobbying for the prison to be built in the area. On December 19, 1985, the prison was unanimously approved by the finance committees of the Nevada Legislature to be built in the Ely area.[5] The prison opened in July 1989. Phase I was completed and opened in August of that year. Phase II was completed November 1990. Originally Ely had a capacity of 1,054; as of 2010 its capacity is for 1,150. The prison has a staff of 406 and is a major employer in the Ely area.[1]

Allegations of inadequate medical care and ACLU lawsuit[edit]

Ely State Prison was the recipient of numerous criticisms by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) regarding its alleged failure to provide adequate medical care to its inmates.[6]

Dr. William Noel, a medical expert retained by the ACLU, produced a report in December 2007 that described his review of the medical records of 35 prisoners from ESP. He wrote that "the medical care provided at Ely State Prison amounts to the grossest possible medical malpractice, and the most shocking and callous disregard for human life and human suffering, that I have ever encountered in the medical profession in my thirty-five years of practice."[7]

His report describes in detail the death of Patrick Cavanaugh, an inmate who he claims died due to complications of diabetes, after having received no insulin for a period of three years and having his ulcerated legs left to fester without treatment or amputation.[8] The report also mentions accounts of wholly untreated cases of chronic pain,[9] hepatitis,[10] fibromyalgia,[11] rheumatoid arthritis[11] and syphilis.[12] The report also notes cases in which an epileptic patient was not regularly equipped with a helmet; in which a stroke sufferer was not given any physical therapy nor even an arm brace to prevent the eventual contraction of his affected limb;[13] and in which a patient was switched back to a potentially lethal medication.[14]

On January 23, 2008, the ACLU met with the Nevada State Board of Prison Commissioners seeking a consent decree which would voluntarily have let a federal court oversee prison medical care. Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons and other commissioners were presented with a report by NDOC Director Howard Skolnik and Medical Director Dr. Robert Bannister refuting Noel's findings. The commissioners rejected the ACLU's request.[6]

On March 6, 2009, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Nevada Department of Corrections, Governor Gibbons and other state officials. In it, they sought to have a federal judge find that the Department of Corrections had not provided inmates with adequate medical care.[6] The suit was settled in July 2010, with the NDOC agreeing to appoint an independent medical expert to monitor the prison's health care system and to submit regular reports evaluating officials' compliance with various medical requirements. It was also agreed that nurses would make daily rounds at the prison to pick up medical request forms and that inmates would have access to a registered nurse or higher level practitioner within 48 hours of requesting medical attention.[15]

Men's death row and execution chamber[edit]

The men's death row is located at Ely. As of 2023 there are 57 prisoners on that death row.[16]

The state execution chamber at Ely was built in 2016. The Nevada Legislature agreed to spend almost $860,000 to build it.[17] A Las Vegas company, Kittrell Garlock & Associates, designed the chamber.[18] The execution chamber was previously the prison courtroom, and it also functions as a private meeting place for attorneys. At that time no executions were scheduled due to a lack of execution drugs available.[16] Previously executions by the state of Nevada were to be carried out at Nevada State Prison,[19] even though the facility closed due to budget issues in 2012. In 2012 the department was considering a capital improvement program that would relocate the execution chamber from Nevada State Prison to Ely State Prison, which was later done in 2016.[20]

Notable inmates[edit]

Inmate Number Status Description
War Machine 1131480 Life sentence. Eligible for parole after 36 years.[21] Convicted of multiple criminal charges related to an assault on his ex-girlfriend, porn star Christy Mack.[21]
Darren Mack 1014861[22] Eligible for parole in 2042 Murder - Millionaire who killed his wife and shot at a judge over a dispute over custody of his child.
Coyote Acabo 55671[23] Released in November 2013 Battery with a deadly weapon, writer and prison activist who spent his last five years on High Risk Potential status
David Casper 65117[24] Transferred to Arizona Armed robbery - Adopted son of world-famous golfer Billy Casper. NDOC considers him to be High Risk Potential due to multiple attempts to escape from Ely State Prison.
Ike Ibeabuchi 71979[25] Released by Nevada, February 2014; released from custody, November 2015 Battery with intent to commit a crime and attempted sexual assault - A former regional heavyweight boxing champion.
Jose Vigoa 73847[26] Serving four life sentences without parole. Armed robbery, murder - Vigoa was the leader of a band of robbers who robbed multiple casinos and armored cars in the Las Vegas area from 1998-2000, killing two guards during the crime spree. He pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty, and was sentenced to life without parole. The case was later featured in an episode of The FBI Files.
Chester Stiles 1036868[27] Serving 21 life sentences with the possibility of parole in 140 years.[28] Gained notoriety after he appeared in video clips of himself raping and sexually abusing a girl who was three years old at the time.
Scott Dozier Committed suicide in January 2019.[29] Imprisoned for two murders, taking place in 2001 and 2002.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "NDOC: Ely State Prison". Nevada Department of Corrections. April 27, 2010. Archived from the original on June 18, 2009. Retrieved November 8, 2010.
  2. ^ a b Offender Management Division (September 1, 2010). "Report 1.1: Daily Offender Count by Location" (PDF). Nevada Department of Corrections. Retrieved November 3, 2010.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "2020 CENSUS - CENSUS BLOCK MAP: White Pine County, NV" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. p. 79 (PDF p. 80/140). Retrieved 2022-08-14. Ely State Prison
  4. ^ "Ely State Prison (ESP)" (Archive). Nevada Department of Corrections. Retrieved on September 19, 2015.
  5. ^ "State Prison a Jackpot for Nevada City". The Sacramento Bee. December 20, 1985. Retrieved September 16, 2017 – via NewsLibrary.
  6. ^ a b c Vogel, Ed (March 6, 2008). "Ely State Prison: Lawsuit to be filed over inmate care". Las Vegas Review-Journal.
  7. ^ William, Noel. Report Prepared for the National Prison Project of the ACLU: Review of Medical Records from Ely State Prison. pp. 1–2.
  8. ^ Noel, p. 2-3
  9. ^ Noel, p. 10
  10. ^ Noel, p. 16, 18
  11. ^ a b Noel, p. 5
  12. ^ Noel, p. 3-4
  13. ^ Noel, p. 11-12
  14. ^ Noel, p. 17
  15. ^ "ACLU Agrees To Settle Lawsuit Charging Inadequate Medical Care At Nevada's Ely State Prison" (Press release). American Civil Liberties Union. July 16, 2010.
  16. ^ a b Pearce, Ed (2016-11-29). "Nevada's new death chamber will sit unused for some time". KOLO-TV. Retrieved 2017-04-23.
  17. ^ Whaley, Sean (2016-11-27). "Nevada's new $860,000 execution chamber is finished but gathering dust". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2017-04-23.
  18. ^ "Nevada execution chamber construction moving forward despite drug cutoff". Las Vegas Review-Journal. 2016-05-16. Retrieved 2017-04-23.
  19. ^ "Department Organization" (Archive). Nevada Department of Corrections. Retrieved on September 19, 2015. "At the present time the lawful method of execution is by means of lethal injection. The site of executions is still the chamber in the Nevada State Prison."
  20. ^ "MINUTES Of the meeting of the BOARD OF PRISON COMMISSIONERS MEETING October 15, 2012." Nevada Department of Corrections. Retrieved on September 19, 2015. "The capital improvement program (CIP) to move the execution chamber to Ely State Prison is expected to take approximately 12 - 14 months and the CIP to move the tag plant to Northern Nevada Correctional Center is approximately 16 – 18 months. "
  21. ^ a b Dansby, Kel (July 21, 2018). "War Machine finds love, gets engaged in prison". KTNV. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  22. ^ "Nevada Offender Tracking Information System: Darren R. Mack". Retrieved November 3, 2010.[permanent dead link]
  23. ^ "Nevada Offender Tracking Information System: Coy Sheff". Retrieved November 7, 2010.[permanent dead link]
  24. ^ "Nevada Offender Tracking Information System: David Casper". Retrieved November 7, 2010.[permanent dead link]
  25. ^ "Nevada Offender Tracking Information System: Ike Ibeabuchi".[permanent dead link]
  26. ^ "NDOC Inmate Search". Archived from the original on 2016-06-19. Retrieved 2016-11-20.
  27. ^ "Nevada Offender Tracking Information System: Chester Stiles".[permanent dead link]
  28. ^ "Vegas Child Rapist Gets 140-Year Sentence Archived May 30, 2009, at the Wayback Machine," Fox 5 News (29 May 2009).
  29. ^ Ritter, Ken (January 6, 2019). "Nevada inmate whose execution called off found dead in cell". AP News. Retrieved January 9, 2019.

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