PO BOX 980404
Ypsilanti, MI 48198


Established: July 18, 2009
Editor: Peggy Plews

This site is to monitor conditions in Arizona's criminal justice system, as well as offer some critical analysis of the prison industrial complex from a prison abolitionist/anarchist's perspective. If you're unfamiliar with prison abolition, check out Critical Resistance. I'm a freelance writer and human rights activist, and have no legal training, FYI.




Stacy Scheff, a friend of mine and colleague for several years now, specializes in prisoner rights litigation, and just opened her own office in Tucson. If you are battling with the DOC over health care/safety, or otherwise need to sue them over civil rights violations, ask her for a consult. She's reasonable, cares about prisoners, and knows her stuff.

Law Office of Stacy Scheff
P.O. Box 40611
Tucson, AZ 85717-0611
(520) 471-8333

All I get for posting this, by the way (which Stacy didn't put me up to) is the knowledge that you're in good hands - that's enough for me.
AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Manfred Dehe: Corizon's deliberate indifference keeps killing...

Yes, Parsons v Ryan has been settled

                                    No, the prisoners havent stopped suffering yet.

--------from AZFAMILY.COM---------

Family claims prison health care killed father

by Brandon Lee

Posted on February 19, 2015 at 6:58 AM

Updated February 20 at 8:34 AM

PHOENIX -- The company that provides health care to Arizona inmates is Corizon. Its website states, in part, the company provides "high quality healthcare (sic)... that will improve the health and safety of our patients. Our people, practices and commitment to success through evidence-based medicine enable us to consistently meet and exceed client expectations."

But several nurses who currently work for Corizon Health tell 3TV that's not true.

What's more, one family says their father died because Corizon failed to live up to its promise.

"He was always in great shape," Mark Dehe said of his father, Manfred. "He walked all the time. He actually walked quite quickly."

Dehe said he spent as much time as he could with his father, but that changed when Manfred was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Dehe knew his dad would serve time but would eventually be released. The family would be reunited.

Dehe had no idea what three years inside an Arizona prison would do to his father.

"Infuriating," he said. "Infuriating."

Soon after Manfred went to prison, he complained to his family that he was in severe pain.

Dehe ignored him at first.

"I thought he was overreacting," Dehe explained. "I told him, 'Dad, this isn't the Ritz.' I told him it's prison you might just have to wait a little bit longer."

Medical records show that a prison doctor recommended surgery for a hernia on Feb. 21, 2012. It was categorized as an urgent priority.

On March 13, another medical professional recommended Manfred be seen by a doctor outside the prison, again for hernia-related issues.

One week later, medical staff again recommended outside treatment. It was again listed as "priority urgent."

I sat down with Dehe to talk about his claims that Corizon failed to provide proper care for his father.

Health care for violent criminal offenders is not at the top of most people's minds.

"I'm a little embarrassed to say I understand," Dehe confessed. "Prior to my father going to prison ... I didn't give it much thought. [M]y thoughts were 'Well if they didn't do anything wrong, then they wouldn't be in that position to begin with.

"But I also assumed that they were receiving and given adequate health care," he continued. "It may not have been the best. You may have had to wait a little bit, but I thought it met their needs. I was very ignorant."

3TV obtained hand-written notes from Manfred to prison staff. He seemed to be begging for help.

"I'm 77 years old. I don't feel right. I'd like to have a doctor fully examine me."

"To urinate is extremely painful. My hernias are also hurting."

"I'm not receiving any more meds for my urinary tract infection."

When Manfred was finally seen by doctors outside of the prison, lab tests came back with devastating results.

"Prostate cancer. Terminal prostate cancer. Stage 4," Dehe said.

Manfred's health deteriorated fast.

His family says he was supposed to receive monthly injections to slow the cancer. Medical records show that injections were sometimes missed because the medicine was not available, according to one doctor's notes.

Manfred continued to cry out for help. He wrote letters to management, saying, "I FEEL LIKE I AM BEING NEGLECTED. I NEED TO SEE A QUALIFIED DOCTOR AND GO TO THE HOSPITAL NOW!!!"

"From that time until he was finally seen for an exam, August 2013, 15 months had passed," Dehe said. "By that time, it was too late. He never left the bed. He never saw outside. He was never moved from one side to another and after two weeks he had severe bedsores. They would eventually get so bad you could see through to the bone."

Manfred's story is not unique. The state of Arizona has a contract with a private health care company, Corizon, to provide care for inmates. A report by medical experts hired by the ACLU to inspect and review the conditions at Arizona prisons found "almost half of the people who died natural deaths received grossly deficient medical care. And that the poor care clearly caused or hastened their death."

We even spoke to a current prison nurse who confirmed that inmates are dying because of poor care.

The prison nurse we talked with spoke on the condition of anonymity.

"People with ongoing diagnosis like leukemia, diabetes, or complications to some serious illnesses are being delayed care. Absolutely."

Nurses and doctors caring for Manfred tried to get him proper care.

"It is my medical judgement that this patient requires hospitalization," one doctor who saw him wrote to prison management.

One nurse even wrote a note that reads, "Department of Corrections short staffed and unable to provide security for ambulance transport. Consult Cancelled."

Dehe believes his father was sentenced to death because of poor health care.

"He was ridiculed by the staff," he said. "They didn't want to bathe him because quite frankly he smelled. One of the people even joked and said, 'Why don't you throw a sheet over him,' insinuating he smells like he's dead. He must be dead so cover him up."

Corizon recently settled a major class action lawsuit, promising it will make changes to provide better care to inmates. The case settled on Oct. 14, the same day Manfred lost his battle with cancer.

Manfred walked into prison at age 75. Three years later, he was dead.

"Do I think anything is going to change? Not a bit. Not a bit," Dehe said. "I have to assume that they act on the fact that there is no oversight, and therefore they can do whatever they want. If there's nobody watching me, I can do whatever I want. Who's going to complain? The inmate? Who's going to believe the inmate?"

Corizon declined an on-camera interview for this story. A spokesman did, however, respond with a statement.

"The oncological care provided Inmate Dehe from the time Corizon Health began serving the Arizona prison system met the standard of care and was appropriate to his condition. Federal and state privacy laws prohibit public discussion of details of patient conditions or courses of treatment."

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Corizon and the Arizona Department of Corrections have three years to make changes that will improve the health care provided to inmates.

PARSONS V RYAN settlement approved by US District Court Judge Duncan

---------------------from the AZ Republic-----------

Judge approves Arizona inmate health-care settlement

Craig Harris, The Republic | 

9:55 a.m. MST February 19, 2015

A federal judge on Wednesday approved a settlement that will provide improved health-care coverage for about 34,000 Arizona inmates in state-run facilities at a cost to taxpayers of at least $8 million a year.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Arizona and the Prison Law Office, a prisoner-advocacy group, reached a settlement with the Arizona Department of Corrections last October, days before a trial was to start.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of state-prison inmates, alleged that Arizona's inmate health-care system was so flawed that it caused deaths and preventable injuries. It also accused the state of keeping inmates in solitary confinement for long periods of time.

The state denied the allegations, and admitted no wrongdoing in agreeing to the settlement.

"This is a small glimpse of justice," said Patti Jones, whose nephew, Tony Lester, killed himself in a state prison. "I think this is a just settlement."

Jones was one of seven people to address U.S. Magistrate Judge David K. Duncan, who approved the settlement. Duncan also authorized $4.9 million in fees for the attorneys who represented the inmates.

The fees must be paid by the state. Duncan noted the amount for plaintiffs' attorneys nearly mirrored the amount the state spent in legal bills defending itself, bringing the state's total legal tab to about $10 million.

Gov. Doug Ducey is asking lawmakers for $8 million in his proposed budget for the coming fiscal year so the state's contracted inmate health-care provider, Corizon Health, can hire 91 additional health-care workers to comply with the settlement requirements.

The settlement requires DOC to:

• Meet more than 100 health-care performance measures, covering issues such as monitoring prisoners with diabetes, hypertension and other chronic conditions.

• Offer all inmates annual influenza vaccinations. Those with chronic diseases will be offered required immunizations.

• Offer inmates aged 50 to 75 annual colorectal cancer screening.

• Offer female inmates aged 50 and older mammogram screenings.

• Provide no less than 6 hours per week of out-of-cell exercise time for maximum-custody inmates.

• Provide maximum-custody inmates with serious mental illness an additional 10 hours of unstructured out-of-cell time per week.

• Only use pepper spray or other chemical agents during an imminent threat.

The settlement also allows attorneys for inmates and their experts to conduct up to 20 daily tours of state prison complexes annually to make sure the agreement is being enforced.

Donna Hamm, executive director of Middle Ground Prison Reform, said she liked the settlement but is unhappy that the state will have up to two weeks' advance notice prior to a tour.

"Some of the visits should be spontaneous and not announced," said Hamm, an outspoken critic of the Arizona prison system. "But overall, this is an improvement."

Daniel Struck, a private attorney representing the state, said DOC already has started to implement changes called for in the settlement.

David Fathi, director of the ACLU National Prison Project, called the settlement "real improvement" in the care of inmates.

The settlement does not apply to the roughly 7,000 inmates in six private prisons across Arizona.


Craig Harris covers the Arizona Department of Corrections and other state and federal agencies, with an emphasis on government accountability and public money.

How to reach him
Phone: 602-444-8478
Twitter: @charrisazrep

Saturday, February 7, 2015

GOP support for early release in AZ legislature this year...

Shocking. Even the GOP in the Senate isnt completely on board with Chuck Ryan's plan for new prisons...


GOP legislator pushes Arizona bill to relieve prison crowding

PHOENIX -- A Republican state senator is pushing a bill to release thousands of non-violent inmates early in a bid to save money and ease pressure on crowded prisons.

Sen. Steve Pierce, R-Prescott, said the legislation would expand an existing Department of Corrections program to help prisoners transition into daily life with services including counseling, case management and substance-abuse treatment.

The bill comes at a time when Gov. Doug Ducey's executive budget calls for $40 million for a new prison with 3,000 beds. Pierce said the size of the project could cost $70 million per year.

Arizona housed more than 42,000 inmates last year, and the Department of Corrections expects to add nearly 1,000 prisoners per year through 2016.

During that time, the Department of Corrections released 943 inmates through its three-month transition program and saved nearly $1 million, according to an annual report by the agency.

Senate Bill 1390 seeks to increase the number of inmates placed in the program to a minimum of 3,500 prisoners in the first year, and 5,000 in the second year. The program would serve low-risk, non-violent offenders and exclude those convicted of driving under the influence, sex offenses, arson or domestic violence.

Pierce said his bill would save the state money and avoid having to build another prison.

"We are spending an awful lot of money putting people and keeping people in jail that are non-violent criminals," he said. "I think more people need to be in treatment than in jail." 
The program has already proven to reduce the rate of return offenders compared with the general population, Pierce said.

When asked if the bill would provide a cost-effective alternative to building a new prison, the governor's office said it had not yet reviewed the legislation.

Corrections Department spokesman Doug Nick said the agency is aware of the legislation and monitoring it as the bill moves through the Legislature, but did not provide further comment.

AZ DOC tries to wriggle out of fine for allowing rape of teacher....

  • Article by: BOB CHRISTIE , Associated Press
  • Updated: February 6, 2015 - 3:50 PM       STARTRIBUNE

PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Corrections does not believe it should have to pay a $14,000 fine that state workplace safety regulators levied against the agency for failing to protect a teacher who was raped by an inmate in a sex offender unit.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press show the department filed an appeal last week to overturn the fine issued by Industrial Commission of Arizona. A prisons spokesman said the agency believes there is a basis for the appeal, but he did not elaborate.

Arizona has faced intense criticism over the attack. Prison officials sent out only a vague press release that referred to an assault on an employee after the January 2014 rape. The details of the assault came to light only after The Associated Press obtained documents under a public records request and interviewed people familiar with the case.

The attack raised questions about prison security because the teacher was put into a room full of sex offenders with no guards nearby and no closed-circuit cameras. She had only a radio to call for help.
The state found itself facing more scrutiny this week after lawyers for the attorney general's office argued in court that the woman's lawsuit should be thrown out. Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Weisbard wrote that the teacher routinely worked in classrooms and there is always a risk of assault when working with prisoners.

A federal judge on Thursday refused to dismiss the teacher's civil rights lawsuit, writing that the lawsuit raised plausible allegations that the warden and other top officials created a dangerous environment that led to the rape.

The workplace-safety investigation was launched last July after the AP story provided the first detailed account of the incident.

Authorities have said inmate Jacob Harvey, who was less than a year into a 30-year sentence for a home-invasion and rape, lingered after other inmates left the room on Jan. 30, 2014, then repeatedly stabbed the teacher with a pen before raping her.

Harvey remains in prison, and he is awaiting trial on new charges. He has pleaded not guilty.
The appeal of the $14,000 fine levied in January by the state Industrial Commission seeks a hearing before an administrative law judge.

The Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health recommended a fine of $9,000 for two violations of workplace-safety rules. But commissioners boosted that to $14,000 at a hearing last month, with one commissioner saying the violations showed the rape "should never have occurred in that facility."

Commissioner Joseph Hennelly Jr. even suggested the department could be hit with an additional $25,000 fine, but he was told state laws didn't allow it in this case.

A spokesman for the Department of Corrections said the department believes there are a significant number of factual inaccuracies in the worker safety agency's report that it plans to contest.

"The 2014 assault on the ADC teacher was a cowardly and despicable crime, for which the inmate is rightfully facing prosecution," spokesman Doug Nick said in an email. "The safety and well-being of all ADC staff is the department's paramount priority, and the victim has our full assistance and support."
Scott Zwillinger, the teacher's lawyer, criticized the Corrections Department for appealing the workplace safety citations.

"They refuse to acknowledge when they have issues. They refuse to be introspective and look and evaluate and make changes," Zwillinger said Friday. "So rather than accept what seems a relatively obvious conclusion and to correct these matters, all they simply do is deny and fight on."

State prison officials have since installed cameras in prison classrooms, increased patrols and issued pepper spray to civilian workers. They have said issuing pepper spray had been planned before the rape.

In minutes of the Jan. 8, 2015, meeting of the Industrial Commission where the fines were levied, commissioners repeatedly questioned how the teacher could have been placed in a room filled with sex offenders unattended. Commission Chairman David Parker said he understands there are situations where prisoners can end up alone with civilian staff.

"But something went wrong here, and this is different," he said.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Charles Davis: Truthout on the Free Press and the Mass Marketing of Mugshots.

Excellent commentary by freelance writer and producer Charles Davis. One of the things I hate most about our local "liberal" or "alternative" media is that it features a "mugshot of the week" contest, in which it seeks to inflict maximum humiliation on the subjects, amplifying, of all things, one of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's own tools of abuse. Having been targets of his themselves, you'd think the editors would show a bit more empathy. They even donated a big chunk of change they got from suing him to ASU to improve coverage of Latino issues in the field of journalism....

 By the way, this was one of their kickoffs for the "mugshot-of-the-week" contest. 
Lots of people thought he was funny. 
I know this guy, personally - and it wasn't funny. 
Cancer is what ate his face. 

 ---------------from TRUTHOUT-----------

Against Mugshots: Photos of the State's Latest Catch Don't Belong in a Free Press

Wednesday, 04 February 2015 10:20

By Charles Davis, Truthout | News Analysis

An image can tell a story, but like any tale it could very well be full of lies. Who is taking a photo - when they have taken it and why, what they have decided to include and chosen to leave out - invariably affects what we, the viewer, see. The lighting, positioning and camera angle can sway whether the picture evokes empathy or anger, lust or revulsion. The photograph is an unreliable narrator, then, telling us part of a story but giving us nothing close to the full picture.

A mugshot, the picture taken after an arrest, is a photo designed to tell the state's side of a story. The subject of the photo, taken at one of the lowest points in their life, has no voice, but the language of the form - the unflattering bright light, the drab background, the name and prisoner ID at the bottom - tells us we are looking at a "criminal."

With the internet, that "we" has expanded to the far reaches of the globe. Today, police in the United States can upload a photo of their latest catch to Facebook and see it in a foreign tabloid by the end of the day. Before the subject can mount a defense, a 1,000-word photo pronouncing their guilt may have already gone viral. Stacking the deck in favor of the already advantaged police, the photos discourage empathy in favor of judgment: of the accused person's appearance and their overall worth as a human being. Depicted only as a transgressor, not as a mother or father or someone's son or daughter, the subjects of mugshots become fair game for abuse. We can mock their looks and class and perceived intelligence without feeling guilty; this humiliation becomes just another manifestation of punishment (often before a conviction has even taken place).

The press partakes readily in this ritual debasement, the most respectable of media outlets eagerly distributing the state's unflattering photos, of people who have yet to be convicted of anything, on the front page and on the evening news and on dedicated websites that feature nothing but mugshots, sortable according to the physical features of the once-human body that is now behind bars, with a line at the end or in small print thrown in, almost as an afterthought, that the person we see is "innocent until proven guilty," though the implication of guilt hangs heavy over every photo: Come on, just look at them.

Almost everyone looks like a criminal because every arrested person we know who has been caught has posed for the same photo. And it's the looks of the person, not necessarily the severity of their alleged crime, which often makes a mugshot go around the globe.

"Woman arrested for meth possession while wearing 'I Love Crystal Meth' shirt," reported the Associated Press wire service, ensuring this important news would make it into papers across the country. "This Might Be The Most Ironic Mugshot Ever," said BuzzFeed. "Not ideal mugshot attire," snarked the Daily Mail, all the way over in Britain. "Walter White was a genius," said the New York Post, referring to a character from a TV show who was given the benefit of a backstory. "This woman? Not so much."

Unlike cable's most artfully depicted anti-hero, all we know about "this woman," whose arrest made international headlines, is what has been said about her by police. We don't know what led up to that moment (Did any of the reporters covering her arrest do any reporting?) except that, according to the sheriff's department in Laurel County, Kentucky, she and another person allegedly possessed "3.37 grams of crystal meth and a set of digital scales." We also know that under state law an intent to sell more than two grams of methamphetamines (street value: about $200) makes one a "trafficker," a fact that wasn't to be found in any of the 20,000 news stories that were published about Deborah Asher, actual human being, within a week of that arrest. While the worldwide web-browsing community snickered before moving on to the next content, its object of contempt sat in a jail cell grappling with the possibility of spending the next 10 to 20 years behind bars.

Asher was reduced to that booking photo, originally posted on Facebook by those who arrested her, and one sentence reducing her life experience to "criminal." She was marked "bad," so gestures of superiority and even celebration of her misfortune - disparaging the intelligence, looks and class status of a stranger - were given a thin veneer of moral justification.

"We're very judgmental people - that's a human trait," noted Mariame Kaba, founding director of Project NIA, a Chicago-based organization that promotes alternatives to incarceration, when I spoke to her on the phone. "You have to work at being nonjudgmental," she said, but mugshots discourage that, inviting us instead to sit back in judgment and indulge that vulgar human desire to feel better at the expense of some other poor wretch. "The circulation of these kind of images allows people to play out that judgment," Kaba added, "to be able to look at somebody else and see someone who is worse off."

Some argue that the dissemination of mugshots is necessary, so we can identify "criminals" should they escape state custody.

"Knowing the names and faces of those formally charged with crimes helps us protect ourselves and allows us to make informed decisions on who we want to associate with," Greg Rickabaugh, owner of the mugshot gallery and crime reporting website, told television station WJBF. He was reacting to a new law in Georgia, passed by a legislature not known for its bleeding-heart liberalism, which bars local police departments from posting booking photos online. Mugshots are still public records and as such are available upon request, but websites that obtain the photos are required to remove them, without a fee, if charges against the person in them have been dismissed.

The law is aimed at thwarting the dozens of websites that take these photos from the state-sanctioned system and repost them in the hopes of getting the person in them to pay hundreds of dollars to have them taken down, what Rickabaugh calls the "predatory" mugshot websites, contrasting them with the ostensibly legitimate exploitation exercised by websites like his, which earn profit through the classier, indirect route of advertising. Indeed, Mark Caramanica of the Reporters Committee for Freedom argues that, on principle, both not only have a right to exist, but have a right to easy, automated access to the photos of those whose rights have been taken away.

"Should we shut down the entire [mugshot] database because there are presumably bad actors out there?" Caramanica told The New York Times (who the "bad actors" actually are is left open to the reader's interpretation). "I think it's better if journalists and the public, not the government, are the arbiters of what the public gets to see."
Portraying the debate over the routine posting of mugshots online as one between those old (ostensible) foes, the free press and the state, is a smart public relations strategy. It is also absurd: It is the state, after all, that takes and then provides these photos to the press - photos the person whose liberty the state has taken away would generally prefer not be plastered across the media for friends and family to see. Like the other profit-driven sites that post these photos, the corporate media is effectively providing free press for the police, who get to show their side of the story ("proof" of criminality) - often before the person photographed has even had a chance to place their one phone call.

Yet in examining the issue of mugshots - or, really, any matter of the ethics of privacy - should we really stick to the narrow question of whether one has a "right" to do something? Legal rights aside, is it the right thing to do?

"Right 2 Know" is the slightly too defensive name the Chattanooga Times Free Press has given to its own mugshot gallery. Just looking at those featured on its homepage when I last visited, the alleged criminals the public has an interest in seeing shamed include a young man accused of underage drinking, a woman accused of driving on a revoked license and a woman accused of driving under the influence. The information is "presented here as a public service," the paper assures, the photos "gathered from open county sheriff's web sites," showing the state to be a publishing partner (certainly calling into question the position of the "fourth estate"). In fine print, we're told that "people shown on this page have not been convicted of these crimes and should be presumed innocent until proven guilty." If they are found innocent and possess the right paperwork, the site will even take down the legally declared person's photo, though by that point the photo will have already been out there on the internet, where it might very well serve defamatory purposes long into the future.

"I believe that there is a way to strike a balance between public interest in information while really respecting folks' rights as individuals who have not yet been convicted of anything," said Zachary Norris, executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, which seeks to reduce the threat of incarceration facing communities of color. "And I don't think we're striking the right balance at all with the publication of these mugshots because, effectively, in that context the only information you're getting about someone is that they did something wrong."

The use of that information becomes an ethical question with which the journalism community must wrestle. "Recognize that legal access to information differs from an ethical justification to publish or broadcast," says the Society for Professional Journalists in its code of ethics. "Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity, even if others do."

However, this code is likely read almost exclusively by journalists working on stories about ethics in journalism - and when it comes to publishing the photos of the recently arrested, few seem to have given the issue much thought. Erin Madigan, a spokesperson for the AP, said decisions at the newswire "are made on a case-by-case basis," but neither BuzzFeed nor The Washington Post responded when I asked if they had policies in place governing the use of such photos.

"We're all human and we all make mistakes," Norris told me. But the availability of these photos works against our ability to identify with the humanity of those who've been arrested. "In addition to that, these mugshots can have real ramifications in terms of people's ability to get jobs, [and] real ramifications in terms of their public reputation," he said. Be one a naked profiteer or a publication ostensibly pursuing the public interest, publishing these photos at all only "adds to an already pernicious environment where poor people are disadvantaged by the justice system."

But what of the pretty ones? Though the consumption of mugshots tends to focus on the wacky and conventionally unattractive, lately there has been a noticeable uptick in attention paid to what social media has dubbed the "#FelonBae." Jeremy Meeks took Twitter by storm over the summer of 2014 with his dreamy blue eyes, which were posted on the Facebook page of local police in Stockton, California. "Hot mugshot guy," The Washington Post called him in a report on his first courtroom appearance, which noted, almost as an aside, that it wasn't all fun and games for the hottie: He learned that he could spend up to 10 years in prison on a gun charge. "But," the Post pointed out, "There are photos!"

"Felon bae" is a certifiable trend. "Meet Your New 'Hot Mugshot Guy,'" reported The Daily Beast a few weeks later when another man in California was arrested, allegedly for assaulting a Fox News cameraman.

"These good-looking criminals that circulate on social media that people trade, like cards - it becomes that, just another player card," Mariame Kaba told Truthout. "It's not actually a human being, at all, and it doesn't matter that these folks have been accused of a crime that hasn't been proven." They are, ultimately, more meat to be objectified, "with a complete and utter disregard for people's humanity."

The Tampa Bay Times even categorizes the bodies in police detention according to height, weight, age and eye color, allowing the alleged felon fetishist more options for sorting their potential "baes" than what's available on most dating sites.

However, there are select cases in which the state fights to prevent mugshots from ever seeing the light of day. When the Detroit Free Press sought to publish the booking photos of four cops convicted of accepting bribes and conspiring to deal cocaine, the US Marshals Service refused to release to them. That prompted a lawsuit and, in April 2014, a federal judge sided with the paper and its attorney, Herschel Fink, who argued, according to the Associated Press, that the public "has a legitimate interest in seeing who has been arrested and charged with a crime."

But what exactly is that interest, and does it matter who the arrestee is, or what the context of their alleged crime may be? As US Department of Justice attorney Galen Thorp argued - entirely out of the state's self-interest in this particular case - that just publishing a mugshot could inflict serious damage on a person. "An 18-year-old arrested for a federal misdemeanor who appeared in court, pled guilty, did community service, and had his or her record expunged, could find his or her booking photograph immortalized on the Internet for every would-be employer to see for many years to come," Thorp said.

Of course, if a mere photo of an arrest for a minor crime can do such damage to a person, it raises the question: Why book any teen, or anyone, over a nonviolent misdemeanor when that arrest could prove much more damaging to society in the long run - once brought into the legal system, one's chances of coming back are exponentially greater - than the alleged offense? And, the cynicism of the state's arguments aside, those who would further the ruining of someone's life should ask themselves: to what end?

Indeed, what is the point, even, of posting a bad cop's mugshot? Arguably, it could show that no one is above the law - but of course, that principle is patently untrue: A black teen who kills a dog gets 23 years in prison while a white cop who kills a black teen, as a rule, gets maybe a paid vacation.
"I'm against posting people's mugshots just categorically," Kaba told Truthout. "If I don't believe the mugshots of people without power have meaning or purchase, then I don't think mugshots of people in power have meaning or purchase," she said. Desiring vengeance - to see one's enemies humiliated - may be understandable, but it's not a healthy basis for a system of justice or a desire to which we ought to cater. "It's the same kind of performance and spectacle that I think doesn't actually lead to what we want," said Kaba, "which is a redress of whatever it is that happened or, in some expansive way, justice."

This is not to say that publicizing who has done harm in a community is without merit. The power of social sanction, of shunning those who have violated community norms, is in many ways a more powerful and effective mode of accountability than just locking someone up for an arbitrary period of time where, instead of learning healthier behaviors, anti-social behavior is only reinforced.

"Particularly in the early 1960s to the mid to late-1970s, many feminists used to post posters around their community of rapists to alert other people and let them know what was happening, on the one hand, and to basically out and shame that person who has harmed people," Kaba said. "And I can understand that. I can see the value in having that as a warning to other people."

But the photos being posted today are overwhelmingly not those of people who are actively causing harm, but of people whose alleged offenses don't deserve to even be lumped under the same heading of "crime": nonviolent drug offenders, for instance, and disproportionately the poor and people of color. Posting their photos without any context but that provided by the state doesn't make us safer, but serves only to reinforce racist assumptions of criminality.

How do we move forward, past a practice of constant visual criminalization? Many advocates argue that public records should remain public, upon request, but barring local law enforcement from dumping these photos online is a demand that chills no one's right to free speech.

We also must actively hold those who fetishize mugshots accountable. "I think that we should be calling out these entities that are making a spectacle of folks and making profit of them in ways that don't jive with our idea of justice and common decency," Norris said. There's no reason why "ethics in journalism" should be the sole domain of video-game addicts who wish only to drive feminists away from their toys. So long as they purport to have them, editors should at least be forced to think about the ethics of what they are doing when they expose powerless people to the online judgment and ridicule of a global readership. And when journalists are forced to reflect on their role in the state-sanctioned system of shaming-by-mugshot, they may even reconsider their practices.

"I really don't think that the role of a community newspaper is to punish or embarrass anybody," said Ben Carlson, general manger of The Anderson News in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. At least, he added, it shouldn't be: Eight years after the paper first began publishing the booking photos of those accused of driving under the influence of alcohol, Carlson announced it would do so no more. In an editorial noted by the Society of Professional Journalists, Carlson argued that the press shouldn't be in the business of adding "a level of punishment, or at least embarrassment, beyond what is imposed by a judge."

None of the mugshots The Anderson News published went viral (nor had any effect on local DUI rates), but Carlson saw the impact his small-town Kentucky paper was having on the lives not just of those arrested, but on their families too. A child whose parent is in the paper is going to hear about it at school, effectively collectivizing the shame. As one father told the SPJ, "I deserved everything I got," but his innocent teenage sons were the ones who "got rode over pretty hard" by their classmates when his mugshot hit the press.

Those with much bigger platforms from which to name and shame ought to think carefully about how they use that power, what they are actually accomplishing when they wield it and whose interests are really being served.