A friend and ally of mine dedicated to forwarding the cause of prison reform has said several times that her commitment of 25 years is powered by love. This is also where the family of Greg Silva comes from as we remember this man in the fifth year of his tragic ending.
Greg Silva was only 47 years old when he overdosed in solitary confinement on Nov. 21, 2016. He was soon to be released after completing a 14-year sentence.
In his grandmother’s home, a placard sits on the counter: “Families are forever.” And so in the spirit of love and family, we remember this man Greg Silva.
With few pieces of the puzzle of his death explained, we return to the questions we posed to public safety and Kaua‘i Community Correctional Center about the circumstances surrounding his fatal overdose on meth early that Monday morning.
The only indication of interest by KCCC has come from an employee of the jail whom we encountered in 2020. He informed us that the warden was absent from the jail that morning, that he was in Honolulu. However, he was the person who telephoned Greg’s grandmother.
He seemed to know exactly what took Greg’s life, though an autopsy report would come weeks later. No medical assistance was offered to Greg by the staff beforehand. To think he suffered with no help rendered is almost unbearable. The descriptions of his condition in solitary, prior to his passing, came from his cellmate. They are symptomatic of a person dealing with an overdose.
We asked how Greg could have such a large amount of meth to overdose on. The warden referred to a “balloon” which was ingested. It may have occurred prior to being in the work-furlough program, or while he was working. To narrow down who he was in contact with might explain that source.
Lack of supervision might account for an outside source being able to access him. One of our questions was why he was cut off from his family the whole time he was working. For family members to not be able to visit because the work-furlough program cuts into that time means there is no occasion for relatives to notice changes in behavior or personality that could point to problems later on.
Key to integrating back into the community is strengthening family ties. If you can’t connect, then you are cut off from the process. This error can lead to a situation like Greg’s.
Lastly, but certainly pertinent, why did the immediate family receive such terrible treatment? The warden stated an investigation would be completed in 60 days and family would be contacted.
That didn’t happen.
A formal letter as required in death disclosures, from the warden, within 48 hours, never happened. No autopsy report was ever provided by KCCC. The family obtained that through a Civil Beat reporter.
In fact, that is the only official document that the family has which clarifies causes of death. If anyone else was treated in such a manner, most assuredly, eyebrows would raise. The pervading suspicion is this callous treatment would force the family to bury their questions with Greg.
Just the opposite has happened. “Tears are words that need to be written.” Hence these are their tears manifest. All the sadness and grief must find resolve.
Until then, Greg’s fatal ending will not fade from their memories. They will continue to ask how this terrible tragedy could have happened. To sweep the incident under the carpet only allows the possibility of it occurring again.
Blu Dux is a resident of Kalaheo.