July 9, 2020
Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse
333 Las Vegas Boulevard S., Suite 2058
Las Vegas, NV 89101
Re: Emergency COVID-19 Release Requests for Melvin Lewis Dillon (Inmate Number 55495048) and Robert John Dillon (Inmate Number 55496048)
Dear Marshal Schofield,
I am concerned for the welfare of Melvin Dillon and Robert Dillon, brothers who are incarcerated at the Nevada Southern Detention Center (NSDC). They await trial in federal court and therefore are your responsibility as a U.S. Marshal. As you know, their guilt or innocence have yet to be determined. The system could be sentencing Mr. Melvin and Robert Dillon to death by COVID-19 before their guilt or innocence has even been determined. And, there are laws that allow you to give them an alternative.
In a letter written by Mr. Melvin and Robert Dillion and shared by their mother, Mary Barbee, I have learned that NSDC is not in compliance with CDC-recommended COVID-19 protocols for detention centers and correctional institutions (bit.ly/cdccor). It is their firsthand observation that NSDC has not:
- Screened all inmates and staff for COVID-19.
- Accessed their stockpiles of food, medicine, and sanitation supplies.
- Ceased movements of inmates and detainees among its facilities.
- Implemented social distancing, including not spreading the bunk beds 6 feet apart in dormitories, which are mostly at capacity.
- Served detainees on styrofoam plates instead of the hard plastic trays they are still given.
- Been equipped to provide adequate care (confirmed by Warden Koehn).
- Been honest about whether there are COVID-19 cases at NSDC. (Staff told them that there are confirmed cases.)
- Reinforced health hygiene practices.
- Implemented prevention strategies for staff.
Mr. Melvin Dillon and Mr. Robert Dillon both struggle with chronic lung disease and asthma. Melvin Dillon also has high blood pressure. On “Groups at Increased Risk for Severe Illness” (https://bit.ly/cdcincrisk) published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these are all recognized risk factors for severe COVID-19 illness. In addition, Robert Dillon was diagnosed with diverticulitis. He’s bled internally, worsening since mid-December, without adequate care weakening his whole system to resist infection.
The 5th Amendment Due Process Clause does not allow defendants to be punished before a trial. Yet, the mental health effects of continued concern over exposure to COVID-19 is a form of unconstitutional punishment they currently endure. If these Brothers contract COVID-19, this is another, more severe, and possible life-ending, unconstitutional punishment.
Due to concerns of COVID-19 spread, federal Attorney General William Barr directed the Bureau of Prisons to transfer all suitable candidates to home confinement (April 3, 2020 memorandum). Based on criteria offered in this memo, both Robert and Melvin would be eligible for home confinement if they were under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Prisons. In addition, they have been recommended for emergency release under the petition filed with the Nevada Supreme Court by Defense Attorneys Michael Horvath and Michael Mcavoyamaya.
Mr. Melvin and Robert Dillon are both eligible under the CARES Act, Bail Reform Act, AG William Barr’s directives of April 3, 2020 and March 26, 2010, and the BOP Director’s directive of April 21, 2020 to be screened for released to home confinement/pretrail release. Considering all these factors and more, their letter concludes that their civil and international human rights are being violated.
This civil rights violation can be addressed immediately. The Bail Reform Act provides for the “temporary release of a person in pretrial custody” to the extent that the judicial officer determines such release to be necessary for the preparation of the person’s defense or for another compelling reason.” 18 U.S.C. 3142(i). This law specifically includes people who are in the custody of a U.S. Marshal, such as Melvin and Robert Dillon, who are awaiting trial by federal court. During the period of release, Robert will be living with his wife. Melvin will be living with his Mother or home confinement in halfway house.
For these reasons, I respectfully ask you to use your power as U.S. Marshal to release Mr. Melvin Dillon and Mr. Robert Dillon, so they may get the care and protection they need during this extraordinary international crisis.
Steve Sisalak, Governor, State of Nevada
Brian Koehn, Warden, Nevada Southern Detention Center
Jacky Rosen, U.S. Senator, State of Nevada
Steven Conry, Vice President, Operations Administration, Core Civics