I'm still way too ignorant to weigh in articulately about this - I know I don't support the plan to unravel that place this way, but I need some time to make an argument for a better vision of just how it should be unpacked (which is my ultimate goal, after all), because the place is still a nightmare for kids - and I'd think for people working in some of these facilities, too. I'm skeptical about the governor's agenda - it's not made in the best interests of youth - but I also don't think the legislative resistance is much more than show for certain constituencies - they know no one needs their votes on this anyway, so they can seem to be on the side of the working people once in awhile.
The real problem is that if the department unravels but we aren't dismantling the rest of the beast and really reworking juvenile "justice", then kids and resources will just get chewed up at the local level doing this same thing. That means men like Arpaio (and our ever-so-understanding county attorney's office) end up with discretion over who's criminalized and how critical resources for youth are distributed. All we'll have time to do anymore is react to abuse and neglect complaints and scramble to save our mentally ill kids from the adult prison system. Meanwhile, the private prison industry is proactively employing lobbyists who have much better access to power there than any of the rest of us do (just try approaching an important man at the Senate about violence against sex workers, and see what happens). They know those bodies are going have to go somewhere, and that the public - via our legislators - has decided we don't ever want some of them back again.
So, why not make a little cash off our families' suffering? make sure the laws and sentencing mandates are tight enough to boost the next quarters' earnings' report. I'll bet we see a lot more children being charged as adults, now, too. That's the most disturbing probability of all. Keep an eye on who fights the hardest to lock young children away for life without parole - it's not all just law enforcement; someone's making big bucks from that.
I haven't checked their site out yet www.protectarizona.org - just in and out of here today, so keep in mind that it's the cops' place when you drop in and take a look around. I don't imagine there are many abolitionists in the bunch at AZCOPS, but maybe we'll learn something from following what these folks have to say about the departmental closing as it unfolds. We may even find ourselves protesting on the same side of the street over some of these issues.
Wouldn't that be strange?
Don't forget your bandannas, if we are.
(Posted: Feb. 10, 2010)
PROTECT ARIZONA! (www.protectarizona.org) contains the truth about the Governor's plan to close juvenile correctional facilities and the impact on public safety. The website is one component of a media campaign to warn the public about the plan. Radio commercials and direct mail will also be used to communicate with citizens across the state...
This week, AZCOPS unveiled a new website that will serve as an online presence in a campaign to stop Gov. Jan Brewer from closing the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections in July.