News Releases

Death of Salinas Valley State Prison Inmate Being Investigated as a Homicide

SOLEDAD – Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP) officials are investigating the death of an inmate that occurred Sunday morning in one of the prison’s maximum security yards. Just after 10 a.m. on April 8, inmate Michael Ellison attacked Jason Lewis with an inmate-manufactured weapon. Officers quickly intervened and used chemical agents to quell the attack.

Lewis, 42, succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead at the institution. He was admitted on December 30, 2016, from San Diego County to serve a life-with-the-possibility-of-parole sentence for first-degree murder as a second striker.

Inmate Ellison, 35, has been identified as the assailant. Since 2004, he has been serving a life-with-the-possibility-of-parole sentence from Riverside County for second-degree murder. During his incarceration, he received convictions from Kern and Kings Counties for possession/manufacture of a deadly weapon by a prisoner and assault by a prisoner with a deadly weapon. In 2014, he received a 14-year sentence from Kern County for assault with a deadly weapon.

SVSP administrators have limited inmate movement on the facility where the incident occurred to facilitate the investigation.

SVSP opened May 1996 on approximately 300 acres in Monterey County. The institution provides long-term housing for 3,435 minimum- and maximum-custody male inmates and employs approximately 1,600 people.


April 9, 2018

CONTACT: Lt. Eduardo Mazariegos

(831) 678-5554