LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A letter sent to Nevada Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak from employees at the Nevada Department of Corrections describes a toxic work environment and unprofessional behavior by Director Charles Daniels.
A copy was provided to the 8 News Now Investigators. The letter, dated Sept. 16, is from “medical and mental health staff at High Desert State Prison and Southern Desert Correctional Center.”
In reference to Director Charles Daniels, the letter states, “His behavior has become increasingly erratic, hostile, and abusive. His most recent display of behavior has us concerned about his mental health and fitness for duty as the director of the department.”
The 8 News Now Investigators first reported that there were two inmate suicides within 24 hours at High Desert State Prison.
David Thompson, 38, died by hanging on Sept. 7. Deryl Dent, 32, died by hanging on Sept. 8. The warden informed employees of changes inside the prison four days later, and the medical director of the Nevada Department Corrections advised staff he was resigning five days later.
While the Department of Corrections provided limited details about the suicides, the letter provides more information: “Two offenders completed suicides with no warning in the same unit, same pod, within seven hours of each other.”
The letter also states that the suicides were directly linked to gang-related activities and influenced by housing mishaps.
According to the letter, an emergency meeting with medical and mental health staff from High Desert State Prison and Southern Desert Correctional Center was held on Sept. 9. The letter states that Director Daniels showed up an hour later and then, “He recited the 8th and 14th amendments and demanded that we all watch an outdated documentary from the 1980s about mental health in corrections…This was the beginning of a witch hunt and blame game.”
The letter states that Director Daniels “flew into a rage in yet another emergency meeting…” on Sept. 12. The employees wrote, “In this meeting, his behavior became completely unhinged. Once again an hour later, he arrived at this meeting in an agitated, angry state which quickly escalated to rage as he screamed at the staff present in the room and pounded his fist on the podium.”
The employees described themselves as “confused, shocked, scared and in fear for our jobs.” They also pointed out how the Nevada Department of Corrections has been critically understaffed and detailed concerns about whether the behavior of Director Daniels has contributed to this.
On Monday, the 8 News Now Investigators reached out to the NDOC to get a response from Director Daniels. No response was received as of Wednesday.
The 8 News Now Investigators also reached out to a spokeswoman who confirmed that the Governor’s Office received the letter and said staff is looking into the matter. Previously, when the Investigators reached out about the recent inmate suicides and the latest series of events brought to light in several Investigators’ reports, the spokeswoman for the governor sent a statement.
“The governor’s team continues to meet and work with Director Daniels and his team on measures to help alleviate ongoing issues,” the statement said. “Staffing at NDOC has been a challenge even prior to the pandemic, and the State is always working on ways to recruit and retain employees. The Governor is concerned about the vacancy rates at NDOC and appreciates the work that NDOC employees are doing to provide appropriate care for inmates.”
Director Daniels began working at the NDOC in December 2019.