News Releases

North Kern State Prison Officials Investigate the Death of an Inmate as a Homicide

DELANO – Officials at North Kern State Prison (NKSP) are investigating the death of an inmate at Facility B as a possible homicide.

On Jan. 1, 2020, just after 11 p.m., correctional officers responded when inmate Lawrence Tate, 63, was found unresponsive in his cell. Staff initiated life-saving procedures and transferred him to an on-site medical building. 

Medical staff continued life-saving measures while waiting for the ambulance and they were able to regain the inmate’s pulse. He was transported to a local medical center where life-saving measures were continued; however, the inmate died of his injuries and was pronounced dead at 2:08 a.m.

Tate was received by California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) from Los Angeles County on November 8, 2001 to serve life with the possibility of parole for second-degree murder.

NKSP officials have identified the inmate’s cellmate, Willie Clay as a suspect. Clay, 30, was received by CDCR from Riverside County on December 6, 2019 to serve a 14-year sentence for attempted murder as a second striker.

NKSP’s Investigative Services Unit and the Kern County Coroner’s Office are investigating.

NKSP houses medium- and minimum-custody general population inmates and provides them vocational and academic education as well as other rehabilitative programs. Part of NKSP is a reception center where newly arriving inmates are processed. After compiling their criminal records, life histories, medical and psychological evaluations and social relationships, NKSP staff determines their classification score and institutional placement. NKSP houses more than 4,100 incarcerated people and employs approximately 1,500 people.


Contact: LT. Garry Garrett(661) 721-2345