MARGARET J PLEWS
PO BOX 20494
PHOENIX, AZ 85036

arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com

480-580-6807

Established: July 18, 2009
Editor: Peggy Plews


This site is to offer some critical analysis of the prison industrial complex in Arizona from a prison abolitionist's perspective. Abolitionism is an anti-colonialist articulation of a vision of racial and economic justice, one in which we don't submit to or depend on the prison industrial complex to brutalize the "duly convicted" (and their loved ones) as a response to harm, as a preventative measure out of fear, or as a means of assuring social order. It's an optimistic vision which presumes that our society collectively evolves, both morally and socially, such that the root causes of criminalization and incarceration are addressed before we produce more generations of people being allowed to hurt eachother. The current system doesn't prevent people from being victimized - it just prescribes rules for who does and doesn't get to hurt or be hurt in America. That's not a good enough foundation for a system truly based on achieving justice.

Prison abolitionism argues that we don't simply need to shut down the prisons: we need to rewrite the way the rules around perpetrating harm against people and property are made in the first place, so that humanity, not profit (or state "savings", as the case may be) comes first. From re-prioritizing our world, our ideas around what is crime and how to punish it would look much differently...Critical Resistance is a good source for more info on that.

I'm just a freelance writer and artist, by the way, but if you are the loved one of a prisoner and need help, feel free to contact me. Emailing me works best: arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com but 480-580-6807 is ok too.

AZ PRISON WATCH ACTION ITEMS:

New Trial Date: 4/11/14: 8am Phoenix Municipal Court

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AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:


Friday, April 11, 2014

Guilty of walking while trans in Phoenix: Activist Monica Jones.



At the 2014 Phoenix Pride Parade
this cop actually threatened to arrest me for chalking him- 
which means he was ready to put me in cuffs and drag me off against my will, 
and could have legally killed me if I resisted or tried to flee. 
Hell, he'd probably get a promotion for killing me.
Anyway, how is it that cops think arresting people isn't violent?
Moreover, how could all these social workers and community non-profits 
dedicated to serving marginalized people 
stand by and not call that out as violence as well?
 

I will save my comments for a separate post in which they won't be directly linked to  SWOP-Phoenix or Monica Jones, because I don't speak for either and I won't be as polite as this press release is about the injustice I witnessed today. Monica, however, was an awesome witness and advocate for human rights in court today, and is dealing with the verdict with more grace than I could ever hope to muster. 

Blessings to all the good friends who turned out to support today, and those around the world who have been raising hell about the violence that is ASU's Project Rose

Oh, and come to this talk on April 17th with all your questions and concerns for the ASU school of Social Work. The talk is by the architect of Project Rose; what a fitting conclusion to ASU"s "2014 Humanities Lecture Series", as we all have so much to learn from her.

"Dominique Roe-Sepowitz will conclude the spring 2014 Humanities Lecture Series at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus with her presentation, “Sex Trafficking In Arizona.” Hosted by the School of Letters and Sciences, the lecture starts at 6:30 p.m., April 17, at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, room 128, 555 N. Central Ave., Phoenix." (https://asunews.asu.edu/20140409-az-sex-trafficking-lecture)

See you all there!
--------------------

BREAKING from SWOP-Phoenix
Contact: Margie Diddams, 480-553-3777,
swop.phx@gmail.com

Guilty Verdict for Monica Jones Reveals Broken Legal System: 
Urgent Need For Action

PHOENIX--- Over 50 supporters rallied in front of the Phoenix Court house this morning in support of ASU student and anti-1062 activist Monica Jones. Ms. Jones was facing unjust charges of “manifestation of intent to prostitute,” a vague and discriminatory law that criminalizes activities like waving at cars, talking to passersbys, and inquiring if someone is a police officer. The ACLU of Arizona joined Jones’ lawyer in contesting the constitutionality of the manifestation statute. Dan Pochoda of the ACLU explained in his arguments, “The statute eviscerates first amendment rights.” In a packed courtroom filled with supporters wearing “I Stand With Monica Jones: Stop Profiling Trans Women of Color” t-shirts, the judge found Ms. Jones guilty based solely on the statements of the police officer who targeted Monica for her race and gender. Supporters across AZ and the nation are in an uproar about the injustice of this ruling.

In Arizona and across the country, trans women of color like Ms. Jones are routinely profiled and swept up in the criminal justice system on prostitution-related charges, due to a phenomenon many call “Walking While Trans”---a widely held belief by law enforcement and others that all transgender women are criminals.  Because of the injustice that leads people to take pleas against their best interest due to lack of community support, Ms. Jones decided she was going to fight the charges, so that no more trans women, sex workers, or people profiled as sex workers would have to face these injustices. Ms. Jones has remained adamant about her innocence, and that sex workers need rights, not arrests. Ms. Jones stated after the verdict, “As an African American and as a woman, the justice system has failed me.”

In light of this devastating ruling, SWOP Phoenix (Sex Worker Outreach Project) and Monica Jones will fight the case in an appeals process, while building national and international momentum against unjust policies that target trans women, people of color, and sex workers. SWOP Phoenix is calling on people from around the country to keep demanding justice for Ms. Jones. Meanwhile, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders is monitoring the trial as an example of discriminatory policing and retaliation on activists organizing for human rights.

Ms. Jones states, “I am saddened by the injustice that took place at my trial this morning, but we are not giving up the fight. It’s time that we end the stigma and the criminalization of sex work, the profiling of trans women of color, and the racist policing system that harms so many of us.”

Thursday, April 10, 2014

ASPC-Safford: Ryan condones sexual harassment with slap on the wrist.

What does this kind of "discipline" tell all the other women who work for Chuck Ryan - this man remains in his position of authority - anyone out there know what happened to the women who had the courage to complain about this fine gentleman? 

We can take a hint from the article below: 

"Colleen McManus, the DOC's chief human-resources officer, reported to Ryan that one of the women said employees at Safford "are told to keep their mouths shut or they will be reprimanded. There is general acceptance that things must go the warden's way, as that is 'the only way.' "


---------------------------
Lyle Broadhead, Warden ASPC-Safford

----------

Safford prison warden faced sexual-misconduct claims

Craig Harris and Rob O’Dell, 
The Republic | azcentral.com  
10:27 p.m. MST April 9, 2014

Last summer, the Arizona Department of Corrections' chief human-resources officer recommended Safford prison Warden Lyle Broadhead's removal from top management after a complaint of sexual harassment involving women who worked for him, records recently obtained by The Arizona Republic show.

The recommendation came a year after Broadhead had been disciplined for flirting with and touching his executive staff assistant.Yet Corrections Director Charles Ryan, who has cracked down on employee misconduct the past two years by imposing sanctions — including firings — nearly 2,400 times, suspended Broadhead for 40 hours without pay, but allowed him to remain in his current position.

The suspension was the minimum punishment Broadhead could have received for a Class 6 offense, the second-highest category of discipline in the Department of Corrections. The maximum punishment is dismissal,though the director has discretion in how to respond.

Broadhead, 40, is classified as a correctional administrator 5. He is the only one with that classification who has been disciplined in the past two years.

Broadhead, warden at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Safford since February 2008, did not return two calls seeking comment. His complex houses just more than 1,700 minimum- and medium-security male inmates about 165 miles southeast of Phoenix.

Martin Bihn, an attorney who represents correctional officers, called Broadhead's punishment "light," contrasting it with what he considers Ryan's overly harsh disciplinary actions against rank-and-file employees.

"I can't get my head around how they do things at the Department of Corrections," Bihn said. "In the Department of Corrections, you want wardens who will set an example for other folks."

Robert Blackmer, a spokesman for the 2,000-member Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association, called the handling of Broadhead's case "just one of the latest examples of what is a bigger problem.

"The upper-echelon staff members are getting off with light discipline, while the lower-line staff members who may do similar things are getting raked over the coals with max discipline, or they are being dismissed."

Ryan bristled when asked if he went easy on Broadhead, saying another offense by the warden will result in his firing. Ryan added that he considered Broadhead's service to the state, which began in February 1996, in imposing punishment.

"Basically, he doesn't get another opportunity," Ryan said. "I did not go light on him at all. He received the same as other employees in the range of sanctions."

Broadhead's case was among 2,379 situations that merited disciplinary actions in 2012 and 2013 among the department's more than 10,000 employees, according to records The Republic obtained through the Arizona Public Records Law.

Among 308 Class 6 disciplinary offenses, like Broadhead's, over the past two years that were identified by The Republic, about 59 percent drew 40-hour suspensions, 22 percent prompted80-hour suspensions, and 15 percent resulted in firings. The remaining 4 percent led to suspensions of 24 hours or less.

Among 42 sexual-misconduct cases identified by The Republic — which involved sexually explicit comments, inappropriate touching or sexual innuendo — one employee was demoted, four were fired, four received 80-hour suspensions and 12 drew 40-hour suspensions. The remaining half of the employees involved in sexual misconduct received suspensions of 24 hours or less.

The Republic sought disciplinary records after Ryan last year publicly called on employees to live by higher standards amid his concerns that too many department employees were being arrested.

Sexual harassment has been an ongoing problem within the DOC.

In 2010, federal jurors awarded $600,000 to a female corrections officer for enduring severe harassment.
At the time, Ryan chided his predecessor for not responding appropriately to complaints. He ordered supervisors to undergo additional training, saying such behavior would not be tolerated.

Broadhead's first formal warning about his behavior came in 2012, when he was told his job could be in danger if he continued inappropriate sexual conduct. An investigation found he engaged in flirtatious behavior — joking with, whispering to and touching female employees, and using pet names with his executive staff assistant.

Last year, an investigation was triggered by two female employees, with one telling an investigator that "there is not a day when she feels her job is safe." The women alleged that Broadhead:

• Commented repeatedly about one woman's physical appearance.

• Made inappropriate comments, including telling one woman he loved her "beautiful brown doe eyes" and another female worker that they were "sleeping together now" after they had gone to lunch together.

• Touched and twirled one of the women's hair.

• Gave one woman a dollar and said, "This is just like the guys used to give you," referring to what a stripper or dancer would receive for payment.

Colleen McManus, the DOC's chief human-resources officer, reported to Ryan that one of the women said employees at Safford "are told to keep their mouths shut or they will be reprimanded. There is general acceptance that things must go the warden's way, as that is 'the only way.' "

Broadhead, according to a July 3, 2013, disciplinary letter from Ryan, acknowledged that he had made comments about one female employee's "big brown eyes," but denied saying he "loved" her "beautiful eyes."
He also said that he told one woman he commented about her attire, but not in a sexual way, the letter says.
Broadhead also stated he "did not recall" twirling one woman's hair, but he may have moved her ponytail when he was assisting her. He also did not remember making the "sleeping together" comment, but he told investigators that "rumors abound at Safford," according to the letter.

McManus noted in her 2013 investigation that Broadheadhad been warned in a formal "Letter of Instruction" from the previous year to monitor his behavior after being accused of "inappropriate conduct" with an employee. Broadhead was told in the 2012 letter to maintain professional boundaries with staff, or face being fired or removed from his post.

McManus concluded that Broadhead had violated the standards mandated in 2012 and that he should be removed from his management responsibilities. Reached by phone recently, however, McManus referred questions about the investigation to DOC spokesman Doug Nick.

Nick provided The Republic with a statement from McManus saying it was the director's prerogative to review the situation and staff recommendations and approve, reject or modify any recommended actions. The week without pay for Broadhead, who earns $80,849 annually, cost him about $1,555.

DOC records show Broadhead received three other written letters of reprimand.

In 1999, he was cited for failing to exercise proper supervision; in 2000, he was cited for recommending a clearance level for an inmate without verifying information submitted to justify the clearance.

And in 2009, he was written up for failing to appropriately administer performance evaluations and failing to appropriately supervise his executive staff assistant.

The 2009 letter, signed by Ryan and Broadhead, stated that "continued violation on your part will result in more severe disciplinary action, to include dismissal from state service."

After the two sexual-conduct investigations in 2012 and 2013, Ryan charged Broadhead with "insubordination for violation of standards of conduct for state employees," records show.

Ryan's letter warned Broadhead: "You were expected to establish and maintain professional boundaries with staff that maintains a clear separation between staff and subordinate."

Corizon and the deliberate indifference and ignorance of AZ Rep. John Kavanagh.

This piece was done in December 2013 - good job, Al Jazeera. And SHAME on Fountain Hills Representative John Kavanagh for suggesting that prisoners are making up stories of medical neglect and abuse. Kavanagh's denial and ignorance is the very reason so many state prisoners and their families are suffering now. He should speak to the Corizon and AZ department of Corrections whistleblowers that I've heard from over the past year - but he would no doubt come up with some excuse to accuse them of lying as well.

Or maybe he's really well-informed and deliberately throwing up a smoke screen to cover for Corizon's failure to deliver as promised on their contract to provide prison health care. In fact, I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out someday that man has been taking kickbacks from more than one prison profiteer. How else can one explain why he'd try to outright GIVE AWAY $900,000 to GEO Group for doing absolutely nothing - his reasoning for that? From the AZ Republic:

Kavanagh said Monday that GEO had done the state a "big favor" by providing emergency private-prison beds at a discount rate during the Great Recession, and the company wanted to be financially restored. "I didn't see a problem in giving them a small increase," Kavanagh said. "If you don't treat people fairly they won't treat you fairly in the future." 

(Thank goodness he's such a fair man! These poor, mistreated "people" he wants to help at GEO Group claimed over $115 million in profits in 2013. )

Oh, and there's this as well, from the same Republic article: "State campaign finance records show that six GEO executives, including CEO George Zoley, gave Kavanagh's campaign committee a combined $2,544 in 2012." That's just the payoff that's on the books: imagine what he would have gotten from the nice $900,000 gift back to those guys it if had gone through.  

I find it very disturbing to know that man is a director with the criminal justice program at Scottsdale Community College - which leads me to suspect that anyone who graduates from that program is also either deluded about the real world of crime and punishment, or predisposed to corruption.

Privatizing prison health care and undercutting prisoner claims of abuse is not all that Kavanagh is behind, though. Here's his brilliant defense of SB 1062 on CNN, the "religious freedom" bill that Jan Brewer vetoed so Arizona's economy wouldn't tank from a nationwide boycott of transphobic legislation. Here's a short and sweet editorial about his opposition to expanding Medicaid coverage in AZ: note that life is so precious to him in the womb, but quite disposable if the baby is born poor. I think his "concern" for life of the unborn is really a charade to cover for his desire to control women's sexual and reproductive activity.

Too bad the voters of Fountain Hills and Scottsdale lack integrity themselves, or they'd recall that man for his many crimes against the most oppressed people of this state. Unfortunately, they seem to be as invested in their own hate, fear and self-interest (at everyone else's expense) as their elected representative is, since they keep sending him back to the AZ Legislature to torment the rest of us. For his critical role in assuring that Corizon and the AZ DOC can continue to neglect their patients without any legislative oversight, John Kavanagh's name should be at the top of every wrongful death prison lawsuit in the state.

Thanks to Abby Leonard and Adam May at Al Jazeera's America Tonight for this...

--------------


Arizona's privatized prison health care under fire after deaths

by
December 2, 2013 Al Jazeera (America Tonight)

SAFFORD, Ariz. — Rylan is a healthy and hungry 5-month-old baby girl who now lives with her grandmother Jodi and the rest of her family in a small Arizona farming town.

It's a world away from where she was born: the state prison complex near Phoenix, where her mother, Regan Clarine, is still locked up.

“She's very fun-loving. Very hyper, fun to be around, kind of always the leader,” Jodi Clarine, Regan’s mother, said about her daughter. “Regan was the one that I knew would be sneaking out the window by the time she was 3 years old. I would say, ‘You know, she's going to be our problem.”

Two years ago, when Regan was 18, she was arrested for having prescription painkillers illegally and charged with possessing a narcotic for sale. The court sent her to drug rehab, where she met and started dating Rylan's father. She found out she was pregnant just two days before a judge sentenced her to two and a half years behind bars.

“She holds her emotions very well but once she's talking to me alone, it's complete devastation,” Jodi said.
Regan was transferred from county jail to Perryville State Prison, where Jodi said she was denied prenatal care.

Jodi showed a note from Regan, saying she was advised by a doctor to get an ultrasound to check for any possible problems with her pregnancy.

“She did not get that ultrasound,” Jodi said. “I believe had they done the ultrasound they would have known they had the wrong date.”

Jodi said she believes the prison medical staff induced Regan early, which might explain why Rylan was born small.

“It just infuriates me,” Jodi said.

After 48 hours in labor, Regan had to have a C-section. Jodi said the medical staff didn't stitch the wound shut. Instead, they dressed it with butterfly bandages.

“They sent her back to the prison and for the first two days things are going OK,” Jodi said. “But by about day three she's noticing it's oozing. It's not looking right, it's looking infected.”

Jodi said doctors refused to see Regan – and it got worse from there.

“Regan woke up one night and something just told her to get up,” Jodi said. Her daughter was covered in blood. "Her clothes were soaked. So she was terrified and she just screamed for you know a guard to come help her. And they came took her to see a nurse. And you know, the nurse said, ‘Well, come back at 10.’”
Regan was sent back to her cell instead of going to the hospital.

“She would cry because it scared her so much to be able to look inside her body was just freaking her out,” Jodi said.

After two weeks of living with an open wound, Regan was sent to the prison hospital.

“I truly believe I could have lost my daughter had they not given her antibiotics” before her delivery, Jodi said.

Regan spent five weeks in the hospital and, slowly, the wound healed. But her ordeal was not over.

“They decided she had been there long enough, that she could go back to her yard,” Jodi said. “But it was still open a little bit. And so they decided that the best thing to do for this would be to pack it with kitchen sugar … we're talking sugar that you get from, because they donate it from McDonald's from Burger King, you know? They're standing there ripping open these little packs of sugar and filling that wound.

“I called my brother who is a doctor and I said ‘Sean, they're talking about pouring sugar into Regan and have you ever heard of this?’ And he said no way are they putting sugar in her wound. He said it's just got to be some medical term like maybe it's medicine with glucose in it. He said, ‘it's probably just a nickname of something. Nobody would pour sugar in a wound. So don't worry about it.’”

Sugar was used to treat wounds before the advent of antibiotics in the early 1900s, but it's no longer accepted medical practice. America Tonight asked the Arizona Department of Corrections to comment on Regan’s care, but they declined.

While we were talking to Jodi, Regan called from prison and described her ordeal living with the fist-sized opening in her abdomen.

“It was the worst pain I’d ever felt in my life,” Regan said.

When she did get care, she described seeing medical staff putting sugar in that wound.

“They were taking the kitchen sugar and pouring it inside and putting wet gauze over it and taping it,” she said.

We asked Regan if she actually saw prison officials opening up McDonald’s sugar packets and pouring the sugar inside her wound. “Yeah,” she said, adding that she was worried if it was sanitary.

“I was scared,” she said. “You know, it’s prison, maybe these packets are old, if there's something spilled on them and it dries, you know.”

Spending less on health care

Regan is not the only inmate alleging mistreatment. The ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Arizona Department of Corrections in March 2012, alleging that prisoners are at serious risk of "pain, amputation, disfigurement and death."

It cites examples of prisoners being told to pray to be cured or drink energy shakes to treat cancer symptoms.

The ACLU says the treatment amounts to cruel and unusual punishment and that it violates prisoners' constitutional rights.

“People are often sent to prison for two-year, three-year sentences that have turned into death sentences because of the absence of the basic minimal care,” said Dan Pochoda, legal director for the ACLU in Arizona. He says in his forty year career, he’s never seen a worse prison healthcare system.

A year and a half ago, the state handed over prison healthcare to a private, for-profit company. Legislators who supported the privatization promised that it would save taxpayers money, while maintaining adequate levels of care for inmates. At least 27 other states have also privatized prison health care, rewarding private companies for keeping costs down.

But there are studies showing prisoners could be suffering as a result. An October report from the American Friends Services Committee in Arizona found that since the state privatized its prison health care, medical spending in prisons dropped by $30 million and staffing levels plummeted. It also found a sharp spike in the number of inmate deaths. In the first eight months of 2013, 50 people died in Arizona Department of Corrections custody, compared with 37 deaths in the previous two years combined.

Tony's story

After his cancer, inmate Tony Brown's pain medication was switched from morphine to less-powerful Lortab.
After his cancer, inmate Tony Brown's pain medication was switched from morphine to less-powerful Lortab.
America Tonight
One of the inmates who died since the state privatized care was Tony Brown, who was serving a 10-year sentence for aggravated assault and was due to be released in September.

“They were supposed to come down for Thanksgiving this year,” his daughter Jenna Jumper said. “He never got to meet my husband and he wasn't there when I got married, so they were going to come visit.”

Brown had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer, but his medical records show it was in remission. He had been prescribed morphine for the pain. But in October 2012, the prison ran out of morphine. The medical staff switched him to Lortab, a weaker painkiller.

In a video taken by prison guards and obtained by America Tonight, Brown is seen just after he was put on the new medication writhing in pain while handcuffed to a gurney. His medical records show that guards told nurses his condition was worsening and that he "needed to be checked out." But there is no record of medical staff visiting his cell. In another video, a prison chaplain checks on Brown at his wife Jami Brown’s request.

“Inmate Brown, I spoke with your wife earlier today,” the chaplain is heard saying. “Can you communicate with me please? I’d like to speak with your wife later on. Is there something I can tell her?”

Brown, face down on a bunk, barely moves and doesn’t respond. A guard can be heard saying, “Is it me or does this just not feel right to anybody else?”

Two days after Brown first started complaining of pain, medical staff had still not visited him, so the guards intervened and started CPR. Nurses came to assist, but 40 minutes passed before they realized no one had called an ambulance.

Eventually, an ambulance came and took Brown to a hospital. A day later, he died. Two days after his death, his widow Jami said she finally received a call back from the private prison health care company, Wexford.

“My husband passed away on Monday and I got a call from Wexford Medical on Wednesday wanting more information so that they can make sure he's seen,” she said. “I was pretty upset because I was like, ‘What are you talking about? He's dead.’”

“He may have been a prison inmate, but my dad was no different than the governor or the guy that you interviewed or you or me,” his daughter said. “My biggest thing is that if people would stop to realize that he did have family and that he did have a child and he did have a wife and he had plans.”

The official cause of death was listed as complications from cancer. But Brown's family is suing Wexford, claiming he died from lack of adequate medical care. An attorney for Wexford issued a statement to America Tonight on the matter.

"Due to federal health care privacy laws and the pending legal claim, we are very limited in what we can say about the circumstances surrounding this inmate’s tragic death," Ed Hochuli said in the statement. "Based on the limited information we have at this time, though, I am very confident Wexford Health and its employees acted appropriately, and further investigation of this claim will demonstrate and prove the lack of any wrongdoing or negligence by Wexford Health.”

Privatization proponent

State Rep. John Kavanagh
State Rep. John Kavanagh
America Tonight
State Rep. John Kavanagh wrote the legislation that privatized Arizona's prison health care. We asked him whether he thought it had put inmates in danger.

“I mean, people die in prisons,” he said. “I receive a lot of handwritten notes from prisoners. I receive emails from prison families with all sorts of allegations of crazy behavior. And then, you call the prison people up and they usually have a reasonable explanation for it.”

Kavanagh said Regan’s story didn’t sound like a “true allegation,” adding that it “sounds ridiculous.”

“You know prisoners have 24/7 to think up allegations and write letters,” he said. “I'm not saying that some of them can't have a basis in fact. But you got to take them with a grain of salt or in the case of the hospital, with maybe a grain of sugar.”

We asked Kavanagh who would listen to prisoners’ concerns over their medical care.

“There's no shortage of prison advocacy groups and ACLU attorneys who at the drop of a dime will file a lawsuit,” he said. “I think most people who get into [class-action lawsuits] wind up with nothing and the lawyers walk away in limousines with their trunks full of cash.”

There are signs though, that Wexford, the private health company that was providing care at the time of Brown's death, was aware of the problems. America Tonight obtained a copy of a PowerPoint presentation written by top Wexford executives for a meeting with the Arizona governor's office in November 2012 – four months after the company started providing care in the state. It warned that the care it and the Department of Corrections were providing was "not compliant with … constitutional requirements" and that "the current class action lawsuits are accurate." It recommended an overall operational cleanup, staffing reassessment and the appointment of a governor’s office liaison.

The PowerPoint presentation also says that the department's "transparency" policy with the media could "encourage negative press."

Wexford was already in the spotlight for another incident just two months earlier. At a prison west of Phoenix, more than 100 inmates may have been exposed to hepatitis C. According to the Department of Corrections, a contractor nurse used dirty needles to deliver medication. Four months later, Arizona severed ties with Wexford and awarded the three-year, $369 million contract to another private healthcare company: Corizon, the largest prison healthcare company in the country. Corizon has similar contracts in 29 states, but it has faced problems in many of them. In fact, in the last five years, Corizon has been sued for malpractice 660 times.

Corizon’s no-bid contract

Arizona Democratic House minority Leader Chad Campbell said the Legislature didn't properly vet Corizon before signing the contract.

“I think the most concerning to us was the previous company when they started to lose that contract, the current company that got the contract didn't even have to go through a public process of any kind to get this contract,” he said. “No bid. Nothing. It was deemed an emergency situation by Department of Corrections so they didn't have to go through the normal process. But more interesting than that was this company that got the contract had just hired the former head of the Department of Corrections who was the mentor of the current head of Department of Corrections.”

Campbell said that is not the only tie that members of Arizona’s state government have to private prisons. Charles Coughlin, the former campaign strategist for Ariz. Gov. Jan Brewer, runs a lobbying firm called HighGround Public Affairs Consultants, which represented one of the country’s largest private prison companies. HighGround donated $5,000 to Jan PAC, Brewer's super PAC.

The governor's office declined America Tonight’s request for an interview and referred us to Kavanagh, who said the allegations that Brewer accepted bids because of personal relationships were “baseless.”

“I think they're propaganda,” he said. “I mean, people say to me I've gotten campaign contributions from private-prison people. Well, yeah. I got from a lobbyist who represents them but that lobbyist also represents 40 other clients in different industries. It's smoke and mirrors. It's a façade.”

Campbell said that multiple people and corporations are profiting from the privatization of prison health care.
“They're profiting on taxpayer dollars and to me, if I'm going to hand out money to a private entity, I want to make sure it's being spent wisely,” he said. Campbell is now calling for an investigation.

Corizon defended its level of care. "These patients receive care that meets their health care needs and satisfies constitutional requirements," it said in a statement to America Tonight, adding that it has a rigorous quality control program to make sure its health care meets federal and Arizona Department of Corrections guidelines. "In addition, the ADC maintains a dedicated internal audit team of over 30 health care professionals whose sole purpose is to monitor Corizon’s delivery of care," the company added. (Read Corizon's full statement here.)

In the meantime, allegations of wrongdoing continue to mount. According to the American Friends Service Committee report, an inmate at the Whetstone Unit of the Arizona State Prison Complex tested positive for tuberculosis in August. But Corizon did not test other prisoners, even those who were doing community service outside the complex.

Hoping to survive prison

Regan Clarine
Regan Clarine
America Tonight
As for Regan, she still has six months left on her sentence. The separation has been tough on the family, but what's worse is their fear that prison health care could be a death sentence.

As their allotted time for a phone call wound down, Regan asked her mother if she would be making the four-hour drive that weekend.

“I'm gonna lose you. I love you honey,” Jodi said. “I'm coming on Saturday with Rylan. And you don't…”
An automated message cut her off when their time limit was up.

“Oh, that's so frustrating when you can't finish talking,” Jodi said. “It's even tougher leaving. Her first visit with [her baby], my husband held Rylan up and she could just see Rylan's big blue eyes and she just started running and grabbed her and held her as tight as she could. It's very been hard. We all miss her very much.”

Monday, April 7, 2014

MCSO Deaths in Custody: the homicides of John Klatt and Douglas Walker.



As some folks out there are well aware, cops and prison guards often collaborate with gang leaders to set up people they want to see shut up or executed  - often by celling them with a likely assailant/killer, then looking the other way long enough for the deed to be done. 

Last week a prisoner was killed in a case I think is very much related to the murder of an accused child predator, John Klatt, in MCSO's jail in January by similar means - except this time, I think the intended victim is the one who survived the confrontation.  

In the January killing, it looks like the MCSO placed Klatt in minimum security with a ton of child molestation charges against him - an obvious attempt to have him executed by other prisoners before trial. 20 yo. Nike Black likely did the deed under order of one of the gangs, leaving him no choice but to kill the guy and be the hero, or or die as a coward himself. All the gangs police and punish the members of their own race in prison, whether or not those prisoners are gang members. That kid had a fresh charge that would have forced him to either seek protective custody in prison or do the gang's dirty work. The gang and yard leaders usually tell guys with domestic violence charges (or any offense against a woman) that they can only clear their own name by taking out some prisoner whose crime is worse than their own. What would most guys in similar shoes choose - and how much of a real choice is that, anyway? The MCSO helped force Black into that position, too, by celling him with Klatt.

The community has a lot to do with these extra-judicial execution of prisoners, as well - just look at the comments after this news article about the first of these two killings. Friends and family of both suspect and victim are there, and lots of people are giving the killer props for a job well done. For those of you who think accused pedophiles deserve to be executed, do you also think their killers deserve to have their lives destroyed as well? Because that's part of the collateral damage of extra-judicial executions and vigilantism - someone else then has to be punished for doing that job. Your champion, Nike Black's life will now be spent in prison and most likely shortened by violence and trauma, heroin addiction, or Hepatitis C (which most prisoners in this state contract during their incarceration...). In the meantime, you will all forget his noble sacrifice and he will become like all the other faceless, dehumanized prisoners you like to know are suffering.
 

Arpaio insisted in January that nothing could have been done to prevent Klatt's killing (How about segregating your sex offenders and child molesters from the rest of the population, as the AZ DOC does?) I think they have the right to be safe in custody, be they pre-trial or post-conviction. For those to whom guilt and innocence matters in prisoner rights cases, you're wrong. Let one be abused, and all are at risk - justifying punishments above and beyond those already sanctioned by the court, like rape of child predators, puts everyone in prison at greater risk, even the "good guys". But you should also be aware that up to 15% of convicted sex offenders may actually be innocent. What might the innocence rate be among those who have simply been accused? Sadly, all are condemned as soon as the news of their charges hits the media. Look at Courtney Bisbee.

So now we come to the current killing - a convicted prisoner awaiting sentencing on a violent crime who fears for his own safety is celled with an accused (and confessed) seriously mentally ill child killer awaiting trial, also fearing for his safety. If I was Walker's family's attorney, I'd look closely at Arpaio's refusal to take responsibility for re-visiting policies around celling people with crimes the rest of the prisoner population would find repugnant as the very reason that Walker ended up dead, even if Ward claims self-defense. As I observed earlier, the public was so pleased that the victim of the January attack was an accused pedophile that the MCSO wouldn't have felt much pressure to keep any other child predator in their custody safe from similar treatment. They were outright encouraged to set it up, in fact. It was ordained by that decision to cell those two together that one of the two parties would leave in a body bag - that was a reasonably forseeable event after the January homicide of John Klatt. That spells major liability.


In this more recent homicide,  I wouldn't be surprised if Walker was celled with Ward by folks at the MCSO wagering on whether or not he would kill him. Walker did time before and was on his way back to the joint - I guarantee the gangs would have put a green light on Ward to "discipline" him for the way he killed his 12 year old younger brother; his celly would be the most likely person they'd order to do it, regardless of whether or not the guy was in a gang. If Walker didn't follow those orders he'd be hitting the prison gates as a target himself in a short two weeks - he was expressing fear for his safety as it was, according to this report. I think everyone just underestimated Ward's determination to stay alive, and his capacity for fighting back.

Really, all of these men's families need to sue, with Arpaio's name at the top of the list. MCSO complicity will likely not be proven in criminal court, of course - the investigators handling these cases will never even try to hold officers or Arpaio accountable in their reports. Only the prisoners will appear to be the violent ones in all this - that's consistent with the way the good Sheriff Joe implements justice in the community, too: he subverts it and ducks responsibility every chance he can.


I'm sure I'll have more to say about this case down the road, as more is learned about what community-based psychiatric help, if any, Ward and his family got before he killed his brother. For now, though, I think the real story is about the proclivity of law enforcement officers to act as judges, juries and executioners (or their accomplices); moreover, the willingness of their adoring public to accept it. 


-------------------------

Phoenix man accused of killing brother now accused of killing cellmate

Vianka Villa, The Republic |
azcentral.com  
 April 4, 2014

A Maricopa County inmate charged in the fatal stabbing of his 12-year-old brother in Phoenix now stands accused of killing his cellmate in a frenzied attack on Wednesday night.

Andrew Ward, 27, was arrested early Thursday on suspicion of killing Douglas William Walker, who was awaiting sentencing on an armed robbery conviction, according to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.
Sheriff's officials said Walker was found "beaten, stabbed with a golf pencil and smeared with peanut butter over his head." He was discovered at about 7:30 p.m. when inmates notified detention officers on a security walk of a fight inside the cell.

Phoenix fire paramedics pronounced Walker dead on scene. Paramedics also determined that a plastic bag had been placed in Walker's nose and throat and obstructed his breathing.

Ward reportedly admitted to a play-by-play of the attack in an interview with detectives and told investigators that he had "no regrets," according to a sheriff's statement.

Ward relayed that he had cut Walker's throat with a plastic playing card, stabbed him in the eyes and throat with a golf pencil and finished the assault by stuffing a plastic bag down Walker's throat, according to a sheriff's statement.

Sheriff's Office spokesman Chris Hegstrom said Ward has been re-classifiedd and housed by himself in the Fourth Avenue Jail.

Both Ward and Walker were placed in segregated custody in the county jail system after each told jail administrators they feared for their safety, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Ward was arrested March 12 on suspicion of stabbing and killing his 12-year-old brother in a north Phoenix home last month, and pleaded not guilty to the allegations in a brief court hearing.

Walker pleaded guilty to armed robbery charges last month and was due to be sentenced, and likely transferred to the Department of Corrections, on April 11.

In September 2013 Walker and an accomplice robbed a man in a McDonald's parking lot on Indian School, threatening him with a knife and an Airsoft gun, a type of replica toy gun that fires plastic BB's, according to court documents.



Walker and his accomplice demanded money from the man and took his iPhone, which they later tried to sell after they fled the scene, court documents show. He was charged with armed robbery.


It is the second murder Ward has been accused of in the past three weeks.

Police said Ward called 911 on March 12 from a convenience store and reported he had stabbed someone at a house off 35th Avenue south of Deer Valley Road.

Officers found Austin Tapia with multiple and fatal stab wounds when they arrived at the home at about 5:30 p.m.

Ward had blood on his clothing and was believed to be carrying a knife in his pants pocket when he was taken into custody at the convenience store, said Sgt. Steve Martos, a Phoenix police spokesman.

Police said Ward was alone with his brother, whose mother and two sisters were out to dinner.

Austin had decided to stay home.

Detectives said that when they asked Ward why he killed his brother he told them, "Honestly, I just felt like killing."

Court records suggest Ward struggled with drugs and alcohol.

In filing the probable-cause statement, police suggested Ward may be an addict and mentally ill and had asked to "go to (a) mental hospital" instead of jail when he called police.

The report said Ward's family reported that he suffered from depression and had a history of domestic violence in the home.

The family also said Ward had threatened them in the past and that his siblings had called the police on him before.

Ward's previous convictions included DUI, assault, marijuana possession and resisting arrest, according to court records.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

MCSO jail medical staff's deliberate indifference kills again.

Like so many deaths in Arpaio's jails - like Deborah Braillard's - this could have been so easily prevented. 

Condolences to Felix's family.




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

Family files $3.35M claim in death of Maricopa County jail inmate

Megan Cassidy, The Republic | azcentral.com 
 3:06 p.m. MST April 3, 2014

A family filed a $3.25 million claim against a series of Maricopa County agencies after their relative, Felix Martinez Torres, died from a stomach ulcer that went untreated as the result of deliberate indifference to his medical condition, according to the filing.

The notice filed this week came as sheriff's administrators are asking a federal judge to lift court-ordered oversight of some aspects of jail operations, including medical care; and days after the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors agreed to pay $1.1 million to settle another wrongful death lawsuit stemming from the jails.

A report by Maricopa County Medical Examiner Mark Shelly found that Torres, 47, died of natural causes resulting from stomach ulcer complications.

Sheriff's Office officials said Torres was in jail near the time of his death for charges related to failing to appear in court and driving with a suspended license.

According to the notice of claim, Torres was taken from the Maricopa County Towers Jail to Maricopa County Medical Center in Phoenix on Oct. 3, where he was treated and released the same day.

The claim states that upon his return to jail, Torres repeatedly sought further medical assistance from jailers and medical personnel. He was reportedly seen in the medical clinic twice in the next few days for symptoms including nausea, vomiting and heartburn, but was never sent back to "the nearest Emergency Department," as was noted in the hospital's discharge orders.

"Although his symptoms warranted emergent treatment, they were ignored," the claim states.

The claim includes supplemental information from a detention officer's online journal entry. The entry states, "Inmate Torres from B1 was seen by medical on 3rd shift and stated he needed to see medical agin and medical staff refused to see him a second time stating the inmate was fine. Per 3rd shift."

A cellmate would later report that Torres was sick and in pain for days, according to the claim, and that by the morning of Oct. 5, he was having difficulty breathing. Surveillance footage shows Torres was refusing food by 6 p.m., the claim states.

Just after midnight, Torres was reportedly found slumped against the wall, not breathing and without a pulse. He was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center where he was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.

Phoenix attorney Michael Manning, who represents Torres' family, said tragic accidents happen in all jails but not nearly as often as in Maricopa County jails.

"Most of those in other cities are true accidents," he said in an e-mailed correspondence. "But here, too many are the product of willful neglect and a culture of cruelty that permeates our MCSO."
Manning said he does expect that the case will become a lawsuit.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Maricopa County Correctional Health Services Director Thomas Tegeler are two of many listed in the claim, which alleges deliberate indifference.

Arpaio is also named in a lawsuit claiming poor management of a Maricopa County Jails. The original suit was filed in 1977 by First Avenue Jail inmates who alleged detention conditions were "degrading, inhuman, punitive, unhealthy and dangerous."

A federal judge subsequently placed jail administrators under court-ordered oversight, and the suit has lingered throughout the decades despite its replacement of the plaintiffs, defendants and attorneys in the case.

The original orders for compliance have thinned considerably over the years, and sheriff's administrators are now asking a federal judge for release from the remaining oversight.

Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union argued in court last month that medical and mental-health-care remains inadequate. Sheriff's Office officials said they have done everything in their power to meet the judge's requirements and that ACLU attorneys are fixating on small items.

Eric Balaban, senior staff counsel for ACLU's National Prison Project and class counsel on the case, said he is not familiar with Torres' case in particular but the circumstances surrounding his death are not unique.

"One of the most enduring problems at the jail is the lack of timely access to providers," he said.

Balaban said both the plaintiff's expert and the court-appointed medical expert found that inmates with potentially life-threatening illnesses do not receive adequate care at the jails.

"These are not isolated problems," he said. "Unfortunately it's not surprising that prisoners with serious medical conditions have passed away at the jail."

Balaban said the ACLU cited more than 100 cases, more than 60 of them cases of inadequate medical care.
Sheriff's officials rebut the claim that Torres' case is indicative of a universal problem in the jails.

"The judge has said repeatedly that he is looking for systemic problems not incidental occurrences," said Jack MacIntyre, a sheriff's deputy chief who has been engaged in the long-running suit. "These cases can be handled by the judicial system on a case-by-case basis."

Further, MacIntyre said he sees nothing in the claim that would implicate the Sheriff's Office.

"This is nothing more than grandstanding for media attention," he said.

County spokesperson Cari Gerchick said she could not comment on potential litigation.

U.S. District Judge Neil V. Wake has not yet ruled on whether the federal oversight will be removed.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Corrupt Kavanagh's $900K gift to GEO group deleted from state budget.

How brazen that he thought nothing of trying to give away all that money to those people - that's how little he thinks of his constituents, that he can give our money away to prison profiteers like that while kids are going without in this state. If the people of Fountain Hills had any integrity or sincere concern for the rest of Arizona, they would recall this man for corruption. Meanwhile, he needs to be removed from chairing the House Appropriations committee immediately. 

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

Rep. John Kavanagh (Fountain Hills)
Chair of the AZ House Appropriations Committee

$900k for private prisons removed from Arizona budget

Craig Harris, AZ Republic
March 31, 2014

Nearly $1 million in additional funding for private prisons was removed from the state budget today, following an uproar of criticism from Arizonans.

The Senate Appropriations Committee took out $900,000 in excess funds the House last week had earmarked for GEO Group Inc., which is expected to receive $45 million this fiscal year for providing minimum- and medium-security beds in Phoenix and Florence.

The company has contracts with the state that guarantees at least a 95 percent occupancy rate, virtually ensuring the company a profit for operating its prisons in Arizona.

Read previous coverage: Private prisons may get $1 million

House Appropriations Chairman John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, who has received campaign contributions from GEO executives, sought the increase that was approved by the House.

Kavanagh said Monday that GEO had done the state a "big favor" by providing emergency private-prison beds at a discount rate during the Great Recession, and the company wanted to be financially restored.
"I didn't see a problem in giving them a small increase," Kavanagh said. "If you don't treat people fairly they won't treat you fairly in the future."

Kavanagh said he did not know if he would try to restore the funding taken out of the budget on Monday.
GEO's lobbying firm, Pivotal Policy Consulting, approached Kavanagh directly about getting additional funds even though the company had agreed to contracts with the Arizona Department of Corrections, which did not seek any more money for GEO.

Kavanagh said Monday that Kristen Boilini was the lobbyist who sought the additional money. Boilini did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

State campaign finance records show that six GEO executives, including CEO George Zoley, gave Kavanagh's campaign committee a combined $2,544 in 2012.

Kavanagh said it is common for individuals who share the same political ideology as candidates to contribute to their campaigns, and that he receives contributions from numerous people.

GEO is based in Boca Raton, Fla. The company posted $115 million in profits on $1.52 billion in revenue in 2013. The company, traded on the New York Stock Exchange, paid Zoley $4.62 million in total compensation last year.

Monday, March 31, 2014

ASPC-Winslow/Kaibab lockdown: Racial conflict, violence escalating.

This is why Winslow has been on lockdown lately. Why can't you guys see that you're only doing yourselves in when you attack each other this way? All the state has to do is let you kill each other off, then you'll never be a threat to them or the authority of the AB. The enemy, you see, is not the guy you were told to hit - its the one standing on the sidelines laughing at you all.

Here's the news I received of the situation on Kaibab from a prisoner caught in the middle. If anyone else has direct info about what's going down on Kaibab, please contact me:
 



--------------------below is from the AZ Republic on Friday------------------

Inmates hospitalized after Ariz. prison brawl

D.S. Woodfill, The Republic | azcentral.com  

3/28/14


State prison officials said prisoners are recovering in the hospital after a fight between "several dozen" Black and Hispanic inmates on March 20.

Doug Nick, communication director for the Arizona Department of Corrections, said the fight at the Arizona State Prison Complex- Winslow prison was between Hispanics and Blacks.

"That would be an indicator there were some disputes of (a racial) nature," he said.

Nick said he could not disclose many details because the fight is the subject of a criminal investigation, but that none of the inmates have life threatening injuries.

The fight broke out on prison grounds at some point in the afternoon of March 20, and guards rushed in using several non-lethal measures to suppress the disturbance, Nick said. A unit at the prison was then locked down.

No employees were injured, he said.

It's not clear what if any weapons were used in the fight, he said

"Inmate altercations are not – sad to say –uncommon," Nick said.

Supporting detainees and their families while rejecting Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

(edited 5am 4/1/14)


As noted in a recent post, I appreciate the critiques that have been shared with me about immigration reform and indigenous rights in response to my uncritical coverage  of the Puente hunger strike. I was directed to some pointed blog posts that examine the movement for ComprehensiveImmigration Reform from an indigenous perspective. The posts themselves, as well as the ensuing dialogue, were really helpful in explaining exactly what CIR is and how it may affect people indigenous to the border region.  These are the most pertinent ones:

 IN A BORDER WORLD: Colonization under the guise of “immigrant rights”

CIRCULAR MOTION: Why I'm Not Sold on the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Package
CIRCULAR MOTION: Their Dream is Our Nightmare: How the Prison Industry is Holding the Human Rights Movement Hostage

The ensuing conversation around the hunger strike and the potential it could reinforce passage of horrible legislation like CIR also reminded me that as much as I like to think I understand indigenous concerns, I really have no clue. I have no idea what it means to feel a sacred connection to land tended to by generations of my people - “my people” are the ones who immigrated here in droves and appropriated pretty much everything they came across on this continent for themselves and their heirs. What I’m so quick to offer to share with the world became “mine” only by way of genocidal practices and continued colonization of this region by my ancestors. Those ancestors aren’t all from the 19th century, either - it includes my beloved grandparents from Iowa, who helped settle Sun City in the 1970’s with the kind of nice old folks who perpetrate unspeakable violence on oppressed communities by voting for men like Joe Arpaio. Because they were here, my mother and I came and settled out here, too. 
 
Deeper in my genes I found the Pilgrims and Mormons - the leaders among them, even. Some people take pride in such heritage - my mother and grandmother even joined the Mayflower Society. I was mortified by what I found in my family tree, however - like the eyewitness account of William Bradford, first Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, narrating and justifying the brutal slaughter of the Pequot in 1637. The ancestor that qualifies me as a “Daughter of the American Revolution” (should I choose to join) fathered another prominent settler, Brigham Young, responsible for considerable harm to indigenous people. And I grew up in the US Army, raised by a military intelligence officer who spent his life fighting Communism in other lands...really, as a kid I was pretty well-indoctrinated with the notion that the descendants of this nation’s founders had a special duty to rule the world, since only we could do it right. So, I guess it’s no wonder that as much as I try to shake my settler mentality, I both identify with the immigrant story and think that this territory I’ve come to inhabit is something that I have the right to even consider “sharing”. That was something of an awakening, realizing how entrenched that mindset is.
 
My angst about my family's legacy of colonization and complicity in genocide is for another post, though. This one is mostly to clarify what I think are a couple of factual errors about the hunger strike itself, and explain my support for the families and prisoners on strike, as well as my thoughts on the upcoming walk to Eloy

I had several conversations with Puente members this week about the criticisms that have been shared with me of the current immigrant rights movement in general, some of which seemed clearly directed at their group in particular (though Puente wasn’t identified by name in all the posts), which I summarize here. My take on the "Trail to end detentions" evolved as I worked on this post, so there are several concerns I have not yet discussed with Puente members or organizers.
  
Carlos Garcia, Puente's director, was out of town last week and I didn't ask people to articulate the organization's position in his absence - this post really just deals with the opinions of the friends I have who are a part of the Puente community. I do hope to have a conversation with Carlos  in the next few weeks: I'd like to hear his thoughts on the criticisms of indigenous activists who have raised them, as I believe those voices are vital to the dialogue about CIR and both migrant justice and indigenous rights.


 From my experience, Puente is driven by its members’ needs and wants and willingness to work. Most of those members are people who have been directly affected by arrest and criminalization, detention or deportation.  Yes, Puente is allied with Dreamers, but most of the people I know from Puente have loved ones who fail to fit into the neat “Dreamer” or “model immigrant” packages, and are disillusioned with what is really Comprehensive Immigration Reform, (CIR). Even if passed today and signed into law, the CIR proposal offered by the Senate and celebrated by organizations like The National Council of LaRaza and Fast 4 Families won’t improve the very real and desperate circumstances they face right now. For many the passage of CIR will only make their long “path to citizenship” more precarious, if not impossible. That's why they aren't fighting for CIR to be resurrected and passed in the House. 
 
Puente members' concerns about the criminalized migrants they love were marginalized pretty quickly early on; this si their push-back. I hope in the process of doing so, they help humanize other criminalized groups in this state as well, and shed light on the inherent violence of imprisonment and inhumanity of exile from one's family and community, whatever the reason such penalty is imposed. I do hope the families of AZ DOC prisoners take note and organize to fight back against the system, too – together, you could have so much power.


As for the pro-CIR organizations capitalizing on the attention Puente and similar actions around the country got: its my understanding that some tried their best to discourage Puente from that plan in the first place. While the Not1More campaign that Puente's hunger strike hashtagged under is run by the National Day Labor Organizing Network, that particular action at ICE in Phoenix wasn’t planned by NDLON or Dreamers as a stunt to promote CIR. It originated in the anguish of an area mother who decided to fast for her son's liberation, as every other attempt to free him had failed. This mother knew she couldn’t sit around and wait for CIR to help her - if anything, the passage of CIR would assure his permanent deportation. 
 
The other family members of prisoners facing deportation – most of whom had criminal records - organized around her, as did their loved ones in detention. As I understand it, that was part of an escalating campaign to push back against the national CIR promotions that threatened the many Puente members already affected by criminalization. Here in Arizona that's especially common because of racial profiling (not just by Arpaio's people, either) and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery's decision to charge people arrested in workplace raids with as many felonies as possible - a practice Puente has drawn attention to and challenged more aggressively than anyone else in the community. 
 
CCA and ICE weren’t behind the release of Arturo Castenada, the one prisoner who was set free at the end of the strike, either - though it would have been a brilliant strategy, if they had been. The community had just finally managed to raise enough to bond him out. None of the prisoners in question have been released due to the hunger strike, in fact – and I'm not sure anyone really expected that they would be; they must have anticipated the probability of retaliation instead. 
 
And indeed, there were consequences. Prisoner organizers were placed in solitary and threatened with tube-feeding if a hunger strike dragged on. In fact, one hunger striker behind bars, Jaime Valdez, was deported in the middle of the 9th night, at the same time as the encampment at ICE was raided and the organizers on site were jailed. Despite Jaime’s deportation, the same families and prisoners continue to agitate.
 
Now, honestly,  I personally don't think that militarizing the border and offering migrants a "path to citizenship" - even if the path really led there - is the best solution for millions of people being forced from their homelands due to poverty and our exploitation of their labor, violence from the war on drugs, fallout from our decades-old war on communism, and so on – but then, I reject borders and nation-states in the first place, and advocate the overthrow of capitalism as the best solution to many of our social ills.  I'd like to see more local energy go into stopping further colonization, abolishing the border altogether, overturning NAFTA/aborting the TPP, and halting the development of the Sun Corridor – a critical piece of the CANAMEX superhighway which, along with CIR, will make the extraction of indigenous resources and the exploitation of desperate workers throughout the hemisphere all the more efficient - and destructive - in years to come. That would promote both migrant justice and indigenous rights.
 
Saying all that to detainees and their families in the middle of this struggle, though, is like talking prison abolition to prisoners who have been repeatedly assaulted in custody and are trying to get to safety, or who are dying for lack of medical attention – my ideal may be a great objective, but it doesn't help them survive the here and now. My role in relation to prisoners and their families when they fight the state on their own terms tends to be supportive - at the very least, I dont try to re-direct their actions or help the state invisibilize them. Rather, when prisoners and their families take action to make themselves seen and heard, they get my attention and respect - even if I dont completely agree with them. I hope they get yours as well. 

The Puente members I've met over the past few years are sincere, earnest people fighting incredible odds to reduce criminalization and incarceration while offering real support to prisoners and their families - that's where we connect the most, of course. Those who are fasting and walking and fighting today's deportation machine as best they can deserve better than to be dismissed as pawns or demonized as collaborators because the pro-CIR movement has exploited or tried to co-opt their actions. Nor is it necessarily their fault that the organization which has helped amplify their voices has such a complicated history and politic.  

That said, the organization Puente is still fair game for criticism.

I have issues with the name of this weeks' journey to Eloy ("Trail to End Deportations"), which seems to compare the experience of migrants with an explicitly genocidal forced march of indigenous people across the country so Anglos (from earlier generations of immigrants and colonizers) could claim their resources. It does seems to confirm that the struggle of the indigenous people from this region really doesn't register when Puente plans actions around immigration reform; I don't know how else to explain that.

And I have yet to hear a competing proposal for immigration reform - they wont advocate for CIR, as I explained, but I haven't heard anything from the organization taking a stand explicitly against it; it seems as if this campaign is limited to getting a stay for as many people as possible until CIR is passed, and wont address the other areas of concern raised by indigenous activists.  So I am conflicted again. I need to know more.

Whatever the White House does in the meantime, I see Congress at the end of this journey (during the height of the election season) taking up CIR and tweaking it a little to appease the Latino voting block, and maybe add a few more billion to border militarization without the national immigrant rights groups batting an eye...and that troubles me.  I have to agree with my indigenous comrades on this - I think we need to do everything we can to stop anything like CIR from passing. The Trail to end Deportations and the Not1More campaign is leading straight to CIR, regardless of whether or not it succeeds in its immediate aims. 

I'll let you know what I learn when I drop in on the walk to Eloy, and maybe have a chance to chat with Puente organizers a little more. They will be leaving Wednesday morning at 9am from ICE, and rallying Saturday at 10am in front of the Eloy Detention Center.

Below are links to indigenous voices on border issues, including the two blogs from above. 
Websites:

O'odham Solidarity Across Borders Collective

O'odham Solidarity Project

Circular Motion

In a Border World

Video:
Tohono O'odham and U S Border Patrol (youtube video)

Imaginary Borders, Real Obstructions (youtube video)

And these links come from chaparral respects no borders a really good blog on immigration issues.

Understanding Immigration Issues: Fliers and Articles



 






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