Nevada prison chief resigns following escape of inmate

Porfirio Duarte-Herrera was serving a life sentence for murder when he escaped but his escape was't announced for a few days.

Updated: October 3, 2022 - 10:58pm

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Nevada Department of Corrections Director Charles Daniels has resigned, Gov. Steve Sisolak announced.

Sisolak requested Daniels’ resignation following the escape of Porfirio Duarte-Herrera, who was serving a life sentence for murder, from the Southern Desert Correctional Center. Though missing since Friday, NDOC did not report the incident until Tuesday.

Duarte-Herrera was captured Wednesday night, just before he was scheduled to leave on a shuttle to Tijuana, Mexico.

Deputy Director of Operations William Gittere will now serve as acting director in Daniels’ place.

“My office will continue to work closely with the team at the Nevada Department of Corrections to ensure the safety and well-being of both NDOC employees and inmates who are in the State’s care,” Sisolak said in a news release. “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.”

Six other officers have been placed on administrative leave.

Sisolak plans to “convene a small group of advisors to look specifically into the operations of Southern Desert Correctional Center.” NDOC has also launched an investigation into the event.

Additionally, Sisolak announced that the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services would conduct “a system examination of the behavioral and mental health practices” of NDOC to ensure inmates are provided enough care to maintain their mental and physical well-being.

DHHS will also “screen and treat inmates who may be in need of additional mental health care.”

Earlier this month, medical and mental health staff from the Southern Desert Correctional Center and High Desert State Prison sent Sisolak a letter expressing their concern about Daniels’ performance, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported on Sept. 23.

Following the suicides of two inmates, staff wrote that Daniels displayed “erratic, hostile, and abusive” behavior during meetings.

Daniels began serving as the department’s director on Dec. 10, 2019, after spending more than three decades working “various leadership roles” in corrections, according to the NDOC website.

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