My job, however, is to remember those families of prisoners killed in the care of the state who don't even have the standing as "victims" under our state constitution. Marcia Powell didn't even earn standing as a "victim", for all the suffering she went through before her death. I imagine that's so the state doesn't admit liability for neglect by acknowledging the special class of victims they create through neglect and abuse. Maybe if our constitution inferred that the same level of humanity exists in "people in custody for an offense" they wouldn't be getting killed by the desert in outdoor cages or ignored when being mutilated by cellmates so often.
A couple of these men were themselves in prison for murder or had otherwise seriously harmed others, but not most of them. None were sentenced to be executed. I have heard from or read messages left by many of their traumatized loved ones - their families were destroyed once by their convictions and imprisonment, now again by their murders.
I've also read a bit by family members of their victims, and from the victims of others. These deaths often open wounds for them, as well, including those not yet healed. I hope this doesn't have that effect for any of them.
I'll put together a later piece with links to relevant documents or blog posts on each of the murders I've researched. Today I'm just remembering homicide victims in prison, not what they did to get there. On some level, the public has already bargained that most prisoners get what they have coming to them. They don't. Most of the truly evil criminals aren't even in prison - some are actually running this show. A lot of people go to prison who never should have because they're just too poor to fight it.
I've decided that I'm going to ask the victims' rights organizations for help on this issue. Prisoners deserve safety, too, and are far too vulnerable to victimization - especially those who have been abused and exploited already.
I need to run this final list by the AZ Department of Corrections Monday to see if they can give me any more information from their own investigations, as the media did almost no follow-up on any of the ADC reports. I have more posts following the Hawaiian prison homicides than I do on the Arizona ones. This is a high prison homicide rate (national average 4/100,000 state prisoners per year), regardless on how those suspicious deaths pan out. The Phoenix New Times did good coverage of this issue after the four in 2008 - I hope someone in the media picks it up again.
The prisoner homicides that have been reported by the Arizona Department of Corrections in the past nine months alone follow. Our condolences to their loved ones. Please contact me if you want to share your story, connect with other prisoners' families, or think there's anything else I might be able to do.
If you contact the Department of Justice about your loved one's homicide, address your correspondence (always keep a copy; I certify my mail them, too) to:
US DOJ Civil Rights Division
Special Litigation Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, PHB
Washington, D.C. 20530
1. Print out this blog post, and write "PLEASE CRIPA this state!" across the top. Also write in your own name and contact info.
2. Photocopy your final work, then put it in an envelope.
3. Address the envelope to the DOJ.
4. Put appropriate postage on the original and mail it.
It would be a big bonus if you send me a copy of your CRIPA request so I can post that here, too. All my contact info is in the column to the side.
National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims (September 25, 2010).
Shannon Palmer, 40 (9/10/10) ASPC-Lewis/Buckley Transitional
Dana Seawright, 26 (7/7/2010) ASPC-Lewis/Stiner
Albert Tsosi, 35, (6/16/2010) ASPC-Lewis/Rast
Alexandru Usurelu, 23 (1/25/10) ASPC-Eyman/SMU
Ulises Rodriguez, 22 (1/25/2010) ASPC-Tucson/Cimmaron
Also reported as suspicious in that time with no media follow-up (post updated 11/04/10):
Carl Cresong, 49 (1/3/2010) ASPC-Lewis/Buckley (suspected accidental drug overdose by ADC records reviewed by me on 10/30/10)
Christopher Francis, 39 (8/17/2010) -ASPC-Lewis/Stiner (reported as accidental opiate overdose by ADC records reviewed by me on 10/30/10)
Armando Lugo, 36 (3/26/2010) - ASPC-Lewis/Morey (reported as homicide by ADC records reviewed by me on 10/30/10)
Not reported in media, but discovered in ADC records reviewed by me as suspected homicide:
James Jennings 59 (9/05/10) - ASPC-Eyman/Meadows (cause of death believed to be secondary to a fight with another prisoner who was angry about Jennings' psychiatric symptoms.)
I'd really like to hear from some of you out there. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org (phone 480-580-6807).