Retiring Arizona Prison Watch...
This site was originally started in July 2009 as an independent endeavor 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. It was begun in the aftermath of the death of Marcia Powell, a 48 year old AZ state prisoner who was left in an outdoor cage in the desert sun for over four hours while on a 10-minute suicide watch. That was at ASPC-Perryville, in Goodyear, AZ, in May 2009.
Marcia, a seriously mentally ill woman with a meth habit sentenced to the minimum mandatory 27 months in prison for prostitution was already deemed by society as disposable. She was therefore easily ignored by numerous prison officers as she pleaded for water and relief from the sun for four hours. She was ultimately found collapsed in her own feces, with second degree burns on her body, her organs failing, and her body exceeding the 108 degrees the thermometer would record. 16 officers and staff were disciplined for her death, but no one was ever prosecuted for her homicide. Her story is here.
Marcia's death and this blog compelled me to work for the next 5 1/2 years to document and challenge the prison industrial complex in AZ, most specifically as manifested in the Arizona Department of Corrections. I corresponded with over 1,000 prisoners in that time, as well as many of their loved ones, offering all what resources I could find for fighting the AZ DOC themselves - most regarding their health or matters of personal safety.
I also began to work with the survivors of prison violence, as I often heard from the loved ones of the dead, and learned their stories. During that time I memorialized the Ghosts of Jan Brewer - state prisoners under her regime who were lost to neglect, suicide or violence - across the city's sidewalks in large chalk murals. Some of that art is here.
In November 2014 I left Phoenix abruptly to care for my family. By early 2015 I was no longer keeping up this blog site, save occasional posts about a young prisoner in solitary confinement in Arpaio's jail, Jessie B.
I'm deeply grateful to the prisoners who educated, confided in, and encouraged me throughout the years I did this work. My life has been made all the more rich and meaningful by their engagement.
I've linked to some posts about advocating for state prisoner health and safety to the right, as well as other resources for families and friends. If you are in need of additional assistance fighting the prison industrial complex in Arizona - or if you care to offer some aid to the cause - please contact the Phoenix Anarchist Black Cross at PO Box 7241 / Tempe, AZ 85281. firstname.lastname@example.org
until all are free -
MARGARET J PLEWS (June 1, 2015)
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Bet he didn't get cuffed, shackled, bagged and beaten by our beloved defenders of public trust and safety during his brief stay. His jaw probably wasn't broken by some thug with a badge while he was in 4-point restraints in the jail's psychiatric wing. I doubt anyone will be sending an armed intruder to his home to slice up him and his loved ones, either. He's actually pretty fortunate that most of us don't endorse his brand of "justice", and that the cyber-bullies who applauded him following the news articles about his crimes are all just as cowardly as he is.
Gerster's next court appearance is (Rescheduled for an unknown time and place - check for court records on both him and Keesee here, once they're posted, or call the criminal court office at 602-506-8575 if you don't find anything). Anyone who cares about real justice should be there to make sure that not only the cops, but also the courts and prosecutors are held accountable, too.
No word yet on when his colleague, officer Alan Keesee, will be arrested and arraigned. It does not appear as if any of the officers who witnessed the assaults and did nothing (or even those who helped restrain the victims) are being charged. Nor is any of the MCSO leadership, of course.
During his press conference about Gerster's arrest Arpaio seems to justify that conduct by stating "being a detention officer is a difficult job". The Lower Buckeye Jail's chief of custody, Jerry Sheridan, goes on to attribute the assault of the most recent victim to him "mouthing off". I don't believe there's ever a case in which violence is justified by mere insult - especially coming from a mentally ill person already bound in chains - but for some reason law enforcement officers seem particularly inclined to think it does.
The Maricopa County Sheriff Office's history of human rights' abuses suggests that Officer Gerster's disposition to repeatedly assault helpless people was fostered by his boss and the workplace culture Arpaio has cultivated there. Savagery and criminal misconduct by law enforcement agents of the MCSO is a well-established pattern and practice - one which this state's deluded electorate sadly seems to embrace.
For those of you who missed it, the PHX New Times did a thorough investigation in 2007 of how the MCSO treats prisoners: Inhumanity Has a Price. Read it and weep. I did. As of the time that article was written, the Maricopa County jails - under Arpaio - had already killed 11 prisoners in as many years as a direct result of violating their constitutional rights. For all you right-to-lifers who think the jails just house rapists and murderers who "deserve whatever they get": the death toll included the unborn child of a woman who hadn't even been convicted of anything yet.
By contrast, according to the MCSO website page dedicated to their fallen officers, "In the Line of Duty", since 1994 two officers died in car accidents and one died by gunshot. To hear the rhetoric that keeps justifying the massive build up of weaponry, the round-ups of "criminal aliens", and the brutality they display towards all those dangerous characters they throw in the local lock-up, you'd think the deputies were being slaughtered out there. According to the Goldwater Institute, Arpaio and his crew aren't even going after the real bad guys, though. It's actually the rest of the public that's in danger of getting killed by the MCSO.
Sunbelt Justice in the title of this post, by the way, is a reference to a very worthwhile read about crime and punishment in Arizona. Pick it up before the next legislative session, and recommend it to State Senator Ron Gould, the new chair of the AZ Senate Judiciary Committee. He has a lot to learn.
Again, if you care at all about the abuses of power occurring here, show up for Kevin Gerster's next hearing, stay tuned for Alan Keesee's, and show the rest of this community that at least some of us won't stand for it.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Imagine how many others the MCSO has brutalized in Sheriff Joe's jail that no one ever hears about - especially when it comes to the mentally disabled. By the time they get back into court (after nine months of being berated, beaten and "restored to competency") they plead guilty to whatever they've been charged with just to escape the kind of mental health "care" - even if it means years in prison for something they didn't do or weren't competent enough to be culpable. I see it happen far too often. That's coercive plea bargaining and the ultimate subversion of justice.
Unfortunately, according to the Arizona Constitution, the victim here doesn't even have the rights of other victims (which can include "entities" like neighborhood associations, corporations, etc.) because he's "in custody for an offense" (recently reaffirmed by the AZ Court of Appeals in this decision; which I was tipped off to by Eric Manch's blog). Likewise, if he was killed in this assault, his family wouldn't have the legal standing of other victims, either. It's no wonder cops here feel so free to violate their prisoners. That would seem to imply that we become less than human once a cop arrests us - whether he's the real criminal or not.
Whatever happened to the state's duty to protect "vulnerable adults"?
Shame on all the legislators, the state's prosecutors, and the victims' rights groups that endorsed that provision (and the voters, since it was put there by referendum). Frankly, I think curtailing prisoners' rights when they're victimized encourages this kind of behavior, and the state of Arizona should be sued by every victim of state violence for not extending equal protection to all persons, whether or not the state has them in custody. The AZ Constitution doesn't even differentiate between pre-trial detainees and the convicted when depriving those "in custody" of their constitutional rights as victims, so it treats the guilty and those presumed to be innocent (and too poor to post bail) the same.
More another time - I'm too disgusted and enraged. From the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office to the Phoenix PD to the AZ Department of Corrections, there are way too many violent criminals on the loose here with badges and guns and keys. I hope our new county prosecutor and state Attorney General have the ethical foundation and guts to nail them all.
I guess we'll see...
Urgent Action Alert!
US Senate to vote on the DREAM Act this week!
Photo by DreamActivist- Ruben Hernandez
In September, the Senate lacked only a few votes to pass the DREAM Act. Senator Harry Reid has promised to bring this legislation to the Senate floor again in the week after Thanksgiving recess, and we need your emails and phone calls to win this first step toward immigration reform!
Click Here to Send a Message to Your Senators!
Even though the majority of the public supports the DREAM Act, opponents are flooding Senators’ phone lines and email inboxes. This may be one of our only chances to make something good happen on immigration in Congress this year, and just seconds of your time could change the lives of over one million young people.
Please Take 30 Seconds and Send a Message to Your Senators Telling Them to SUPPORT the DREAM ACT!
After you've emailed, call your Senators and ask them to support the DREAM Act:
Call Republican Senators who are on the fence:
If you live in Arizona, you can also call Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl at these local offices:
Phoenix: (602) 952-2410
Prescott: (928) 445-0833
Tempe: (480) 897-6289
Tucson: (520) 670-6334
Phoenix: (602) 840-1891
Tucson : (520) 575-8633
When you're done, be sure to forward this email to all of your contacts! Thank you for taking action!
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
As some of you may know, one of the corrections' officers unions also called on the governor to fire Ryan in a letter of no confidence two weeks ago. I shouldn't have to point this out, but prisoners aren't the only ones behind bars at heightened risk under current conditions. The front line staff also have good reason to be concerned.
Needless to say, none of us are making friends in Arizona's high places. In fact, since the people we're antagonizing have badges and guns on their side - as well as the keys to the prisons - it would help if the public and media really watch our backs out here.
Other witnesses to the institutionalized neglect and abuse of prisoners with mental illness in Arizona are urged to contact the US Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division; send them what you know and request that they initiate a CRIPA investigation before the next ADC suicide or homicide goes down. If you need to you may remain anonymous while doing so.
Mental Health Treatment for Offenders
- Allocate more security staffing to the lockdown units in Florence Eyman and Tucson so that everybody who works there are safe and the institutions are operating at a safe and sound level by meeting mandated conditions of confinement.
- You need to allow more time and structure for these so called PMRB (prescribed medication review board) for the mental health professionals to gain insight of inmate behaviors before you order them on involuntary (forced) medication creating excessive use of force situations and physical harm to both staff and inmates. Most administrators sitting in on these reviews are called for the task but really have no insight of the inmate's history or medical / mental health needs.
- Allocate more mental health professionals to these units so they can be functional and purposeful and legally in compliance with the civil rights you have sworn to protect.
- Update your Mental Health Treatment Department Order 1103 dated August 22, 1997 as it is a sure indicator of its priority of this administration by being neglected to be revised for such a long time now.
Monday, November 22, 2010
By Kristina Bui
Published: Friday, November 19, 2010
Arizona's facing an ugly budget battle, and higher education is looking like just another drafted casualty in the war against deficits.
But don't worry about it, Rep. John Kavanagh. It's totally cool. I've only been hanging out in college to kill time, since I couldn't find anything to watch on TV. I didn't actually want that whole degree thing anyway.
According to Arizona Daily Star reporter Becky Pallack, the budget cut could be as large as $200 million. Making up that loss would force the UA to cut 25 percent of its entire payroll, or raise tuition by $9,000, roughly doubling the cost of in-state tuition. Neither will be met with support by the public, but the Legislature refuses to explore other options.
Kavanagh, the Arizona House Appropriations chairman, told the Daily Star that cutting university funding was one of a limited number of options for solving the state's deficit problem. The state universities haven't cut out enough administrative bloat, he said, and they would be able to compensate for the loss in funding by simply raising tuition costs some more.
There is nothing new about a politician who brushes aside education as soon as money gets tight. Nor is anyone surprised by the earnest student who begs him to hear cheesy variations of "America's students are America's future."
What is new is the politician who is also an educator. Kavanagh is a professor of criminal justice at Scottsdale Community College and a former instructor at Arizona State University. I respect Kavanagh's position as a legislator, but wonder about his perspective as a teacher. All jokes about his affiliation with ASU aside, his rationalization for cutting university funding because tuition can make up for the loss is baffling. As a professor, Kavanagh knows firsthand who's affected by tuition increases.
Students are being prepared to enter a workforce, one that has to be educated and skilled to attract job-creating businesses to the state. Ironically, such businesses would shape a healthy economy. Strange how that works out.
Rep. Bill Konopnicki, who will leave the Legislature in January, and Rep. Cecil Ash proposed an alternative: Cut funding for state prisons by reconsidering sentencing laws. Ash has vowed to propose legislation next year that would loosen mandatory-sentencing laws to save Arizona millions of dollars spent on non-violent criminals.
Read the rest here.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Pardons in Arizona have nothing to do with mercy or grace, by the way - or even justice for that matter, even when sincere people try to deliver it. Look at what our good governor did to Bill Macumber, the innocent man who has already spent 35 years in prison for murder and may well die there. Convinced beyond any doubt that his conviction was based on perjured testimony and manufactured evidence, the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency unanimously recommended him for a full pardon, which would have gone into effect if Brewer had simply left it alone for 90 days. Instead she quashed it, in the interest of her kind of "justice". Affirming Bill's innocence would have implied his ex-wife's guilt. As she worked for the Maricopa County Sheriff's office at the time she framed him, I suspect Brewer was doing someone with history there a favor. But what do I know?
Sadly, despite his story saturating the media across the country before November 2, the voters in Arizona elected that woman anyway.
As for Davon: the outcome of his hearing was no surprise, really - probably least of all to him - but it was still a disappointment; his little sister left the room abruptly in tears. We did, however, raise awareness about the prosecution of the seriously, mentally ill for their symptoms rather than their criminality, and built a network for prisoners with Hep C and their families. We also entered our objections to the prison industrial complex into the public record (that was the part I think they didn't want to hear). One of our legislators even turned out to corroborate Davon's mom's assertion that Arizona's prisoners aren't getting the medical care they need in there - and that came from a self-described "conservative Republican". I suspect he will pay a price for having done that, which is why I won't name him here. I doubt he would endorse my own take on the system, but he's still one of the few politicians I've ever met with real integrity. I can't think of a single Democrat in this state who would put themselves on the line like that for a convicted violent, crazed felon seeking mercy - much less another Republican.
I'm convinced that clemency boards exist largely to reinforce the illusion that the system we have of doling out punishment in our country is a "just" one that serves the best interests of society at large. By allowing room for pardons and commutations, we suggest that the legal system we live under, as a rule, delivers justice to criminals and victims alike, and that any abuse of power or injustice perpetrated by the state in the process is an exception that needs to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. If that was the reality, however, our prisons would not be packed almost exclusively with the poor - most of whom have the least ability to do great harm. In a truly just and morally evolved society it is the money-lenders, warmongers and rogue sheriffs of this land who would be doing time for exploitation, mass murder, and kidnapping - not making the rules the rest of us have to live by. They certainly wouldn't be retiring with honors and drawing down our collective dime.
But ours is neither a just nor a moral society - it isn't even a democracy. It is a capitalist republic in which the wealth and power of the few still depends on their ability to co-opt, terrorize, and restrain the many. We literally replaced our plantations with prisons when overt slavery went out of style. America's governments exploit and injure far more innocent and vulnerable people than all our lone criminals combined do. We've even made the perpetuation of victimization and crime an attractive, acceptable industry from which savvy investors can profit.
Thanks, everyone, for all your support through this. Stay with us, please - this fight is much bigger than one young man, and has only just begun. Keep an eye on what's happening with Davon for awhile longer - he went further out on a limb in the interest of prisoner rights and health care than any of the rest of us had to - and risks paying a much higher price now than the one extracted from him at sentencing. We'll see if he's allowed to keep his good time - and make it successfully through the 4 years of probation he has yet to serve -in light of his and his mother's public defiance. I guess we'll also see if the Arizona State Legislature shows any mercy for the honesty and courage of one of their own.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
As far as I know, many of the prisons are still primed to go up in flames, taking everyone inside - prisoner and CO alike - with them. Even if those problems were addressed, there are serious problems with the conditions of confinement at the ADC.
The history of the class action suit against AZ for not protecting prisoners in protective segregation is especially interesting, considering how many prisoners have been murdered or killed themselves in higher level custody settings at the ADC of late - and those who killed themselves after being denied extra protection.
Arizona Prison Watch: January, 2010
I don't know how the abuse that Marcia Powell endured in her final hours could have possibly been a shock to anyone in power at the AZ Department of Corrections. They've been defending that kind of behavior for a long time. Terry Stewart, the long time director there, is a disturbing man. Current Director Ryan was his protege, by all accounts.
Ryan's tenure consulting with Iraq's prisons isn't mentioned with the piece from Senator Charles Schumer's office about Stewart, but he apparently made it over there in time for the scandal: check out his bio. He was part of a team that was exporting our tactics for imprisoning and punishing people, while most of the rest of America thought we were "liberating" Iraq. It even appears he received a medal of valor for it. Coming from George Bush, I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing.
In either case, I sure hope you begin to show us something new at the ADC, Ryan.
How can you not keep track of fires at the prisons, anyway? How can those facilities even be open? And why wouldn't you tell the rest of us about those repairs being turned down - we'd have given the legislature hell and got that funding approved or had some folks sent home.
You can't be imprisoning people if you can't keep them safe, Ryan - if you were a nightclub, you'd be shut down and charged with all sorts of things - and that's if nothing even caught fire and no one died. You're just waiting for someone to die before you have to do anything about it.
We can't afford to wait for that.
What other population that the state has custody of is left to languish locked inside fire traps? Maybe we better check all the institutions to make sure...
That must be some kind of constitutional violation - stripping someone of their liberty and trapping them someplace you can't safely evacuate. We saw what happened to the guys in New Orleans when the guards abandoned their posts, leaving them locked up to drown.
Anyway, here's ADC's darker side, Terry Stewart. He's the one who seemed to think that it was okay to ignore sexual abuse and to punish prisoners for days on end with exposure to the elements. It's a wonder he didn't kill more prisoners than he did.
Schumer Reveals Fourth Corrections Official With Checkered Record In Power Position At Iraqi Prisons
Former head of Arizona prisons turned a blind eye to sexual abuse of female prisoners by male guards including rape, sodomy and assault
Evidence mounts: Fourth civilian with shocking record of tolerating prisoner abuse hand picked to oversee reconstruction and running of Iraqi prisons
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today revealed evidence that a fourth civilian who served in a position of power in the Iraqi prison system had a troubling history of tolerating and defending prisoner abuse while serving as a corrections administrator in the United States. Senator Schumer also called upon the Department of Justice's Inspector General to investigate how so many US prison officials with checkered records were selected by the DOJ to oversee the sensitive and important project of reconstituting the Iraqi prison system.
Schumer revealed that Terry Stewart, one of a handful of former prison officials recruited by the Department of Justice to help rebuild Iraq's prison system, came under scrutiny for numerous incidents involving the mistreatment of inmates while serving as the head of the Arizona Department of Corrections from 1995-2002.
In 1997, the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division named Stewart in a suit brought against the Arizona Department of Corrections concerning a pattern of sexual assault against female prisoners by male prison guards. Stewart was charged with knowingly turning a blind eye to repeated incidents of sexual abuse by guards against female prisoners ranging from sexual assault, rape and sodomy to watching female prisoners undress and use the restroom. The suit was eventually settled after the Arizona Department of Corrections agreed to make major changes in numerous prison policies.
Under Stewart's watch prisoners at Arizona facilities were also made to stand outside in the summer for up to four days in the summer and for up to 17 hours in the winter without sanitation, adequate drinking water, changes of clothing, proper food or protection from the elements. In a third questionable incident a class action suit was brought against the Arizona Department of Corrections during Stewart's tenure charging that the prison system had failed to properly use protective custody to shield certain at-risk inmates from harm.
“How four individuals with such checkered pasts could be placed in positions of power in Iraq's prison system defies reason and demands explanation,” Schumer said. "The fact that Terry Stewart turned a blind eye to sexual assault perpetrated by guards under his watch is appalling. Every revelation leads to further questions, and to further silence from the Department of Justice. I wish Attorney General Ashcroft would at a minimum explain what kind of vetting system, if any, was in place for such high level appointments to such sensitive posts."
Stewart joins John Armstrong of Connecticut and Lane McCotter and Gary DeLand of Utah as members of a growing list of civilians with checkered records who were placed in positions of power overseeing the reconstitution and running of Iraq's prison system. While serving in Iraq McCotter and Stewart even dubbed themselves the "Baghdad Duo" while traveling the country in their roles working for the Department of Justice.
Schumer's revelations concerning Stewart come on the heels of his discoveries concerning John Armstrong, who was forced from his post as the head of Connecticut’s corrections department for defending abuses of prisoners before eventually serving in a high-ranking management position overseeing the Iraqi prison system. While running Connecticut’s prison system, Armstrong made a practice of shipping even low-level offenders to a supermax facility in Virginia which was notorious for its use of excessive force - ranging from unjustified use of stun guns shooting 50,000 volts through prisoners to locking inmates in five-point restraints for such lengthy periods that they were routinely forced to defecate on themselves.
Armstrong resigned under a cloud of credible allegations that he tolerated and personally engaged in the sexual harassment of female employees under his command.
Lane McCotter, who had a similarly disturbing history of defending inmate abuses, was also tapped to be one of four individuals sent by the Department of Justice to redevelop Iraq’s prison system. McCotter was forced out of the top spot in Utah's Department of Corrections when a schizophrenic prisoner died after being strapped to a chair naked for sixteen hours. His record was further tainted when the DOJ investigated a New Mexico prison that was run by a private corrections firm that employed McCotter for failing to provide inmates with a safe environment and adequate medical facilities.
Gary DeLand served in the same position later held by McCotter, as head of Utah's Department of Corrections, in the late 1980's. According to Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, Deland was well known for the "sadistic" manner in which he ran the state's penal institutions. DeLand was also recruited to help reconstitute Iraq's prison system, including Abu Ghraib.
"A pattern like this just doesn't happen spontaneously," said Schumer. "It is time for the Department of Justice to explain how lightening managed to strike four times in the same place. This why I am calling on the Inspector General to investigate how the United States government manage to send four individuals with histories of involvement in prisoner abuse cases to oversee a prison system that is now notorious for prisoner abuse. Given the far reaching impact of the revelations of abuse at Abu Ghraib it is vital that we answer this fundamental question, and we must answer it soon."
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Signs at 1st Ave and Roosevelt greeting counter-protesters
coming in from the 202 and Light Rail. Phoenix, 11/13/2010.
Intersection: Washington and Fourth Ave.
Sandra Day O'Conner Federal Courthouse, Phoenix. 11/13/2010.
I did plenty of advertising, but it looks like I actually failed to post the notice of today's Community and Resistance tour event at the Burton Barr Library, 2:30pm, with Jordan Flaherty (Katrina, Jena Six) and "Resistance Behind Bars' author Vikki Law. Here's a link to the Angloa 3 Newsletter's recent interview with Vikki.
I'll try to be better about this next time.
Chalking and clowning in front of Sandra Day O'Conner Federal Courthouse, Phoenix. Ringed by names of the dead. Phoenix, 11/13/2010.
The photos for this post all came from the gathering of anarchists before the Neo-Nazis arrived at the Sandra Day O'Connor Courthouse yesterday. Two demonstrators were arrested at the Anti-fascist counter protest to the Nazis, one reportedly targeted as he was leaving for throwing rocks at police during the action. The other was accused of throwing rocks at the Neo-Nazis. I chalked, as you can see, but left before the action started to head off to ASPC-Tucson. Stay tuned: nazi protest coverage is being posted to phoenixanarchist.org.
Two of my favorite revolutionaries protesting racism and fascism.
Sandra Day O'Conner Federal Courthouse. Phoenix, 11/13/2010.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
I'm glad they have as many problems with the falsification of records and shabby treatment of prisoners as I do. Their website is an interesting resource, and I imagine they probably have members who would willingly provide eyewitness testimony to institutional patterns of abuse, neglect and deceit to anyone investigating the ADC. Corrections' employee websites and blogs are the bomb. The ACPOA has had a running commentary from the president about the dictatorship of Chuck Ryan for quite awhile, and now they're bordering on insurrection. In fact, it looks like they're already there.
One problem, however, is that the appeal to sack Chuck Ryan goes to the very person who wanted him there to bully everyone into submission in the first place - this isn't just how Chuck runs his department, it's how Brewer runs the state. She asked that man to come run the ADC for a reason, so I'm not entirely optimistic that this appeal will make much of a difference with her - especially given her overwhelming victory in the elections. But it's still a message worth sending.
Good luck in your battle, folks. Let me know if I can help.
Governor Janet Brewer,
We, the Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association, represent all members of the Arizona Department of Corrections to include: correctional officers, correctional officer IIIs, correctional sergeants, correctional lieutenants, correctional captains,correctional nurses, correctional majors, non-uniform staff and many others that proudly serve the citizens of the State of Arizona. We respectfully submit this letter as our official notice regarding a majority vote of no confidence in Agency Director Charles Ryan.
We, the AZCPOA, write this letter with great hesitation, and only after much discussion and contemplation. We hesitate because we consider ourselves a team of professional, dedicated and educated individuals, and it goes contrary to our traditions to break the chain of command. We also hesitate because we fully believe that if this letter does not have the desired result, there will most certainly be retaliation. We will most certainly pay a high price for doing what we know in our hearts to be the right thing for the State of Arizona, its citizens and its employees.
Over the past year and a half, we have been disheartened by the actions of Director Charles Ryan. He has tested our willpower and confidence in his skill to adequately lead this agency. Under his leadership, staff morale has plummeted to depths never before seen at this agency. This is a direct reflection of our lack of confidence in Director Ryan as he has not taken any steps to improve the spirits of the members of this association or members of this agency. If anything, attitudes have continued to deteriorate within the department forcing an exodus of many well respected individuals and members of our Association.
Employee issues in question regarding the leadership qualities of Director Ryan include: lack of communication in the day to day operations of the agency where information is not disseminated through his subordinates who are responsible for ensuring compliance with polices and procedures. To illustrate this point, there are many unanswered questions regarding staff rotation and why the methodology is inconsistent from complex to complex with apparent disregard to employee needs and fairness.
Furthermore, the agency has experienced a large amount of disparate punishment for similar offenses in the past and suspect there are employees that are being targeted for political reasons or just purely disciplined on emotion rather than facts or evidence at hand. It appears the merits of the investigations have no bearing on the sanction imposed thus poor judgment is used to handle these matters. It is our opinion Director Ryan fosters an atmosphere of workplace bullying and intimidation of employees to maintain a micro management type of control over the agency.
There exists, within ADOC administration, a well-known pattern of obstructing the disclosure of hazards in time to prevent accidents, injury, illness, and deaths. Tragically, in these instances, danger is not "imminent" - it is past, and too late to respond. Employees are routinely ordered to falsify documents and when they proactively seek to report identified hazards, they face punishment and retaliation. Obtaining an accurate account of the range and extent of violations will be difficult from records alone. It is unlikely that ADOC will disclose information without well-planned intervention by authorities. There is no evidence of any health and safety program existing, even on paper. There is no identifiable health and safety officer or other person bearing that responsibility and essential training is lacking to assure staff can perform certain assigned tasks safely and equipped with appropriate equipment e.g. cell extractions, transports, etc.
The entire department is devoid of any active programs for: Fire Prevention, Hazard Communication, Respiratory Protection, Medical Surveillance, Record keeping, Ventilation, Emergency Evacuation Procedures, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Response, Training, or Education. Failure of ADOC administration to respond has resulted in secondary risks and complications - now endangering, not just the prison population and employees, but the public at large. Appropriate identification of risk requires your immediate intervention. Another day must not go by without initiating an investigation.
We as institutional line staff are expected to hold a very high standard within the institutions and community, we expect that our Director and his administrators to be held to the same standard of conduct and the same standard of punishment if those standards are violated.
In closing this matter, we would like to remind you that we are not troublemakers, malcontents, or disgruntled employees. We are members of the Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association who have given our hearts and souls to serve the agency and the State of Arizona. Our agenda is strictly based in the well being of the agency so that we may appropriately serve the communities that depend on us for public safety.
Based on these circumstances we tender this letter of No Confidence in Director Charles Ryan and ask that Director Ryan be removed from his position.
President and Executive Director
Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association
Interestingly, there doesn't appear to be a higher incidence of drug use among vets in prison than the rest of the prison population. That may not be saying much, though. Most people in prison are there for drug-related convictions.
The news on what our vets are in prison for is not good. Most are in for violent or sexual offenses. It's possible that veterans with lesser offenses are just being cut more slack in sentencing, concentrating the violent offenders among them in prison. The verdict on how PTSD affects this population is still out, but there's a clear correlation between military service and violent crime.
The US DOJ is overdue for a new statistical report and analysis. We've had over nine years of war, with soldiers going out on multiple deployments, since the last big study they put out in 2000. There's a particular need for an examination of women veterans in prison. Here's the 2007 press release on the DOJ's updated figures, nonetheless. Keep in mind it was from statistics gathered in 2004.
Here's the link to the UK's Howard League recent study on veterans in US prisons. It's also very informative. We really should be studying this more ourselves, though.
|Bureau of Justice Statistics|
|SUNDAY, APRIL 29, 2007||Contact: Stu Smith 202/307-0784|
|www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs||After hours: 301-983-9354|
MALE VETERANS LESS THAN HALF AS LIKELY AS MALE NON-VETERANS TO BE IN PRISON IN 2004
Veterans Older, Better Educated Than Other State and Federal PrisonersWASHINGTON—There were an estimated 140,000 veterans held in state and federal prisons in 2004, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. State prisons held 127,500 of these veterans, and federal prisons held 12,500.
Almost all veterans in prison were male (99 percent). Among adult males in the U.S. population in 2004, veterans were half as likely as non-veterans to be in prison (630 prisoners per 100,000 veterans, compared to 1,390 prisoners per 100,000 non-veteran U.S. residents). The difference is largely explained by age. Two-thirds of male veterans in the U.S. population were at least 55 years old, compared to 17 percent of non-veteran men. The incarceration rate of these older male veterans (182 per 100,000) was far lower than for those under age 55 (1,483 per 100,000).
In 2004, the percentage of state prisoners who reported prior service in the U.S. Armed Forces (10 percent) was half of the level reported in 1986 (20 percent). BJS began surveying federal prisoners in 1991, and federal inmates showed a similar decline in reporting military service – from 20 percent in 1991 to 10 percent in 2004.
Despite the declining percentages of prisoners with prior military service, the estimated number of veterans in state and federal prison increased by more than 50,000 between 1985 and 2000. This increase coincided with a rapid growth in total prison populations. Since 2000, the number of veterans in prison has fallen 13,100 or 9 percent.
The average length of military service of veterans in prison was about four years, and six in 10 received an honorable discharge. The majority of veterans in state (54 percent) and federal (64 percent) prisons served during a wartime period, but a much lower percentage (20 percent of veterans in state prisons, 26 percent of federal) reported seeing combat. Vietnam-era veterans (36 percent) were the largest group of wartime service veterans in state prisons, followed by veterans of the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War (14 percent). Only 4 percent of the veterans in state prison had served since operations began in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Over half of veterans (57 percent) were serving time for violent offenses, compared to 47 percent of non-veterans. In particular, veterans (23 percent) were twice as likely as non-veterans (9 percent) to have been sentenced for sexual assaults, including rape. Among violent offenders, a higher percentage of veterans reported victimizing females (60 percent for veterans compared to 41 percent for non-veterans) and minors (40 percent for veterans compared to 24 percent for non-veterans).
Veterans were much older than other inmates; the median age of veterans in State prison was 45, compared to 33 for non-veterans. Veterans in state prisons were also more likely to be white (54 percent) than non-veterans in state prisons (33 percent). Veterans were much better educated than other state prisoners. Nearly all veterans (91 percent) reported at least a high school diploma or GED, compared to 60 percent of non-veterans in state prisons. College attendance was three times higher among veterans in state prison as well (33 percent compared to 10 percent of non-veterans).
Veterans were less likely to report drug use in the month before their offense (42 percent) than other state prisoners (58 percent). Veteran status was not related to inmate reports of alcohol dependence and abuse.
The report, Veterans in State and Federal Prison, 2004 (NCJ-217199), was written by BJS statistician Margaret E. Noonan and BJS policy analyst Christopher J. Mumola. Following publication it can be found at http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=808.
For additional information about the Bureau of Justice Statistics please visit the BJS Web site at http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/.
The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), headed by Assistant Attorney General Regina B. Schofield, provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice and assist victims. OJP has five component bureaus: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the Office for Victims of Crime. Additionally, OJP has two program offices: the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy and OJP’s American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Desk and the Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART) Office. More information can be found at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov.
Monday, November 8, 2010
I think the current climate in our country is the kind that calls for revolutionary action under the provisions of the US constitution - that we have a right to overthrow our current government for embracing such evil as we see our leaders perpetrate against vulnerable populations today, using racism, fear and jingoism to rally ignorant American patriots to their side. I would even go so far as to say we have the duty - and should act on it before it's too late.
A new museum exhibit in Berlin focuses on the mass appeal of a failed artist who spent time in a homeless shelter and went on to become one of history's biggest mass murderers.
The exhibit, "Hitler and the Germans: Nation and Crime," is drawing huge crowds at the German Historical Museum.
The show explores how ordinary Germans not only accepted but often also celebrated and idolized the Fuhrer. It also shows how the Nazi's racist ideology seeped deeply into popular culture and everyday life with playing cards with Hitler on them, Nazi board games, Third Reich quilts and swastika party lanterns all on display.
"I think it's really important to show it again and again and again over the next decades," says 38-year-old Markus Hoppe, who came from Hamburg, Germany, to see the exhibit. "There were so many who were involved [in Nazi crimes]. ... The media and people — they were involved."
It is not the first time a German museum has exposed the depth of the Fuhrer cult. But it is a first for the German Historical Museum — the country's national museum.
"Not only one man, not only the SS, not only some perpetrators, but the whole society [took] part to stabilize this regime and make it possible."
- Simone Erpel, one of the curators of "Hitler and the Germans"
The cultural artifacts are striking. There is a large stand-up ad for drummer cigarettes with a smiling brown-shirted Nazi SA member. Hitler is a drummer for big ideas, the saying went, smoke national socialist cigarettes.
There are metal signs that were posted in public parks and at entrances to towns: "No Jews wanted," they exclaim.
The Luftwaffe- and Wehrmacht-themed board games, which suggest family fun playing blitzkrieg around the kitchen table, caught the eye of Hoppe.
"I was really impressed in a negative way by those sick games they played during the war, like war games," he says. "I can't believe this. I haven't known this before."
It wasn't just board games that targeted children. There are hand puppets for kids from the early 1930s with grotesque caricatures of Jews and other groups the Nazis would later murder en masse at death camps and elsewhere.
There are carefully colored toy figures made of plastic, a new material at the time, so kids could play with goose-stepping Wehrmacht soldiers.
And they could create their own Nazi rally with a toy Hitler giving his stiff-armed salute from a podium surrounded by swastikas and Gen. Hermann Goering, the Nazi military and party official who committed suicide after he was sentenced to death for war crimes and crimes against humanity at Nuremberg.
A Broad Regime
Historian Simone Erpel, one of the curators of "Hitler and the Germans," says the exhibit is important to underscore again that the crimes of the Nazis were not committed by only a few.
"Not only one man, not only the SS, not only some perpetrators, but the whole society [took] part to stabilize this regime and make it possible," she says.
Erpel stands before a large needle and patchwork tapestry, which was created by village women from a Protestant Church in central Germany.
The tapestry, which was started in 1933 just after Hitler took power, shows boys and girls in Nazi garb. The church congregation and the army are all marching toward the church, surrounded by the words to the Lord's Prayer. A swastika flies from the church steeple above the cross. The tapestry's meaning is clear: Party, church and state are one.
"The motive is, 'We bring the swastika into the church,'" Erpel says and notes that the congregation was ordinary and adapted quickly and eagerly to the Nazi ideology.
"There was not a political reason to do it," she says. "They do it for themselves."
Erpel also says the show comes at an opportune time given the increasingly shrill tone of anti-immigrant sentiment in Germany.
A Notable Absence
But the idea of a larger circle of guilt has been explored before, and some German critics complain the exhibit fails to break new ground.
Indeed, a fear of Hitler the man seems to hang over the show. There are no speeches by the Fuhrer played out loud — just a snippet on the audio guide. There is a piece of a table from Hitler's ridiculously oversized Berlin office; you were meant to feel small in front of the Fuhrer.
But after much debate, the curators decided not to include any of Hitler's personal items, like one his many uniforms, out of concern that such things might become objects of veneration by some or that they could be seen as glorifying the genocidal dictator.
"Maybe some of the visitors would interpret it as 'Hitler returns,'" Erpel says.
Other museums in Germany explore the Fuhrer cult as part of their permanent exhibits. They include the Topography of Terror museum in Berlin, the Berghof museum in the Bavarian Alps and the House of the Wannsee Conference, a memorial and museum in the waterfront mansion in suburban Berlin where, in January 1942, Nazi officials met for lunch and mapped out the bureaucratic mechanics of the "final solution" genocide campaign against European Jewry.
One wonders why a deeper exploration of the Fuhrer cult is not part of the Berlin museum's permanent collection.
A Better Understanding
Despite its flaws, many Germans who have visited the exhibit say it is eye-opening and important to have in the capital.
"We didn't learn a lot about the Hitler cult in school in the '70s," says Sabine Hornisher, who came from Stuttgart, Germany. "Of course we saw a lot about concentration camps, about who won and who lost and the political situation. But I think people were still a little bit afraid to talk about the Hitler worship [back then], and this is why I find this important now."
When you see all these pictures here today maybe you cannot fully understand it. But at least you come one step closer, she says.
The exhibit — "Hitler and the Germans" — runs through early February.
That's Arizona's favorite son, Russ Pearce again, to the left. He has a lot to do with all this. He's done our state - our nation -more damage than Brewer, I'd say. Follow the link below for part II of the NPR story for more on his role.
-----------from Imagine 2050------------------
NPR broke an incredible story this week that is sure to continue unearthing the shady dealings behind the creation and passage of SB 1070 in Arizona. The following article was published on Oct. 28, 2010 by NPR reporter Laura Sullivan. To listen the podcast of this story click here.
"Last year, two men showed up in Benson, Ariz., a small desert town 60 miles from the Mexico border, offering a deal.
Glenn Nichols, the Benson city manager, remembers the pitch.
“The gentleman that’s the main thrust of this thing has a huge turquoise ring on his finger,” Nichols said. “He’s a great big huge guy and I equated him to a car salesman.”
What he was selling was a prison for women and children who were illegal immigrants.
“They talk [about] how positive this was going to be for the community,” Nichols said, “the amount of money that we would realize from each prisoner on a daily rate.”
But Nichols wasn’t buying. He asked them how would they possibly keep a prison full for years — decades even — with illegal immigrants?
“They talked like they didn’t have any doubt they could fill it,” Nichols said.
That’s because prison companies like this one had a plan — a new business model to lock up illegal immigrants. And the plan became Arizona’s immigration law..."
Continue reading the NPR article here.
Here's part II of the report:
Among hundreds of bills drafted by an alliance of business, lawmakers: Arizona's immigration law...
I may be too tied up with the real Fascists here to go out and play with them, myself, though. They all strike me as little bullies playing dress-up. Not that they're harmless - remember the River City Pool Hall Murder and other violence when Unit 88 was running amok here. Those are the kinds of thugs we should be keeping a close eye on for signs of trouble - not sidewalk chalkers and anarchists (both the neo-nazis and the good Senator...). If you're free that day, why not go help run them out of town?
--------------------from Imagine 2050 (good site to check out) -------------------
Posted By MJ Olahafa On November 3, 2010 @ 1:00 pm In Immigration,Politics | Comments Disabled
With 96 members as of 2010, the House Immigration Reform Caucus  (IRC) was founded by Tom Tancredo, a xenophobic politician from Colorado who passed the reigns to Brian Bilbray of California, another politician fiercely hostile to immigrants, after an ill-fated run for President in 2007. Bilbray is a former lobbyist  for the Federation for American Immigration Reform , an organization which is listed as a hate group  by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its ties to white nationalists.
Tom Tancredo’s run for governor of Colorado in 2010 was unsuccessful as well. He lost by a 13% margin to Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. Bilbray (incumbent) won the California Congressional District 50 House Seat with 59% of the vote. All members of the IRC are incumbents of their Congressional Districts and most have been re-elected for another term. These include Rep. Steve King (IA-5, 66%), Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-1, unopposed), Eric Cantor (VA-7, 59%), Vern Buchanan (FL-13, 69%), Michele Bachmann (MN-6, 50%).
Losses include Parker Griffith (AL-5, defeated in primary) and Lincoln Davis (TN-5, 38%).
State Legislators for Legal Immigration  (SLLI) is a coalition founded by Pennsylvania Rep. Darryl Metcalfe. SLLI which is the legislative arm of Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) works closely with the Immigration Reform Law Institute , the legal arm of FAIR, to pass punitive immigration laws at the state level. Almost 50 members of SLLI – out of 70 – were up for reelection in 2010, a good number of which ran unopposed. A majority of SLLI members will be back for another term.
A well-known member of SLLI is Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce  (AZ-18). Pearce gained notoriety for being the public face of the controversial Senate Bill 1070, and is now spearheading attacks on the 14th Amendment. Pearce’s is openly tied to neo-Nazis in Arizona. This  is a picture of Pearce in 2007 with a man named J.T. Ready. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, J.T. Ready is a neo-Nazi leader in the National Socialist Movement.
IRC and SLLI, two groups with hostile views towards immigrants, have been flirting with white nationalists for too long. These election results show that voters are either unaware of this fact or indifferent to it, and that needs to change. This is not the time to bury our heads in the sand (like the ostrich) while white nationalists shape the debate around immigration. It’s time to get educated and proactive in the fight against xenophobia.
Article printed from IMAGINE 2050: http://imagine2050.newcomm.org
URL to article: http://imagine2050.newcomm.org/2010/11/03/candidates-tied-to-white-nationalism-gain-ground-in-2010-elections/
URLs in this post:
 House Immigration Reform Caucus: http://www.newcomm.org/pdf/CNC-HIRC.pdf
 Federation for American Immigration Reform: http://www.newcomm.org/pdf/CNC-FAIR.pdf
 is listed as a hate group: http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/news/nations-most-prominent-anti-immigration-group-has-history-of-hate
 State Legislators for Legal Immigration: http://www.newcomm.org/images/stories/slli-1.pdf
 Immigration Reform Law Institute: http://www.newcomm.org/pdf/CNC-IRL.pdf
 Senator Russell Pearce: http://imagine2050.newcomm.org../2010/10/20/the-tanton-network%E2%80%99s-assault-on-the-14th-amendment-continues/
 This: http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/bastard/jt.jpg
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Check out the Globe Miami Times for more on this issue - they've been doing some pretty critical coverage of the private prison industry. There's a well-informed bunch of people in that town, so there may yet be hope for their collective future.
Give the Southern Gila County Economic Development Board a piece of your mind, if you're from the area, before they compromise your community any further. Someone's expecting to make a healthy return on their investment in the EDC's plans - and it won't be the good people of Globe. Here are the rap sheets on Corplan Corrections and Emerald Correctional Management - anyone who tells you that it's good for the town to do business with those folks is clueless, misguided, or corrupt.
Tell the EDC that you expect something better for your kids' and grandkids' futures than a private prison to work for (or perhaps to live in, given the rate at which we're criminalizing everyone as even more Arizonans plunge into poverty).
Here's the EDC's contact info. Make sure to find out when they're scheduling their next meeting, and be there:
1360 Broad Street
Globe, AZ 85501
928.425.4495 / 800.804.5623
7:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. MST
While you're at it, hit the Globe-Miami Chamber of Commerce with your thoughts on the prospect of the private prison industry taking them over, too.
GLOBE-MIAMI REGIONAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
1360 North Broad Street, Globe AZ 85501
(928) 425-4495 / (800) 804-5623 / Fax (928) 425-3410
email@example.com • www.globemiamichamber.com
150 N. Pine St.
Globe, AZ 85501
Fax Number 928-425-4820
Hearing Impaired Line: 928-425-3550
Jim Moss, who heads up Citizens of Globe Opposed to Becoming a Prison Town (aka: Globe Citizens Opposed to a Private Prison), gave a ten minute presentation on Thursday to the Southern Gila County Economic Development Board who were instrumental in bringing the project to Globe. Although the State has temporarily pulled the RFP (Request for Proposal) on building more prisons by partnering with the private prison industry, the move is simply to allow them to re-write the RFP to include greater security standards. It is expected the project will be back on the table – soon.
The talk was meant to be informational and provide the EDC Board with a greater understanding of the the groups efforts which have included a 3 month petition drive which has gathered over 2000 signatures and a more targeted post card mailing which reaches registered voters and allows them to write a brief comment on why they oppose this issue.
"Today our main purpose is to share with you what our group - Citizens Opposed to Becoming a Prison Town, is currently up to, and to convince you that the majority of folks in this town and the wide community do NOT want another prison."
As a brief recap, Moss went on to outline what the group has done in the last four months:
* Information which was research-based and included sections on both the economic and social impacts of private prisons and the industry itself.
*A general petition drive which had gathered as many as 1000 signatures by the time the group addressed Globe City Council on September 13th . TODAY we have over 2000 signatures.
*A booth at the County Fair gained another 325 signatures, with people. “We spoke to hundreds of people during the fair and heard very few voices that supported a prison project. Consistently over 4 months- whether at the Fair, out front of Safeway, volunteers going door-to-door, or residents visiting our retail shop – 70-80% of residents say they are opposed.Moss acknowledged that elected officials and economic boards do not change their course of action easily and said, “Nor should they. However, sometimes, when substantial citizen opposition becomes apparent it is time to re-evaluate."
"Our job, as Citizen Opposition Organizers/Leaders is to convince you that it is definitely time to re-evaluate. Ultimately, it is in the political arena that decisions are made. That public policy is determined. And, I think you will agree that elected representative’s power and authority rests with the people. Right?
So a few weeks ago we began our political ground campaign. We changed to a one-person-one-vote concept which has a much more powerful political impact. These postcards have been distributed throughout this area.
We are targeting registered voters, beginning in Council District 3. The preliminary results of this campaign has elicited over 200 registered voters who have thus far returned a post card – many with comments.
Out of 350 post cards we have exactly 1.5 cards supporting a prison.
Our plan is to go district by district by district. And to get over 2000 signed postcards from registered voters in Globe.
We continue to try to persuade elected officials and local leaders like all of you on the EDC Board. We truly want to find a positive way to bridge the impasse between local officials and the majority of citizens in our community.
It was reported in the Silver Belt a couple weeks ago, that a member of this (EDC) board, during a board meeting, accused our Opposition Team of “threatening certain Council Members.” We assume this person on your Board meant the threat of Recall? Actually, recall is a legitimate political tool that is sometimes necessary to exercise when elected officials refuse to listen to their constituents.Right? Honestly, we have not been pushing recall, even though Globe residents raise the question all the time. We have said from the beginning, recall is an absolute last resort."
(Jerry McCreary, EDC Board president, clarified the issue from his perspective and said the comment was merely from a member who had been asked by those of the Opposition group several times- 3 times- if they wanted a ‘button’ as they went in and out of Council Chambers the night of the Groups presentation. (The group was passing out No Prison Town stickers). The member felt threatened by this action. He was not aware of any Council member being threatened, although that is what was reported in the Silver Belt.)
Moss continued, ” We have been urging a resolution from Council that reflects a majority “will of the people’ on this issue. We understand it does take time…A meeting with Arizona Legislators has been scheduled in November and we expect the DOC to be there. We will show them the postcards we have gathered and the comments from local citizens. ”
“Finally, we did not take up this cause to be spoilers of a grand idea, or to wave the flag of morality. We have done our homework. We believe that the evidence shows that a big prison (and the proposal is for one 3 times the size of the current State prison), in a small community such as ours bring problems, not solutions. That, as a community, we should not be looking at incarceration as an economic development strategy, nor should be looking at inmates as “profit centers.” That we should not be partnering with the unscrupulous Private Prison Industry.
That we, the citizens….and this community- can do better.”
NOTE: Moss asked for another meeting with the Board when they would have more time to discuss the issue and field questions. McCreary has agreed, saying he would email the Board with several possible dates and find a convenient time for all. He noted that the Board would not be doing their duty if they were not open to all views. It is expected that this second meeting will take place within the next 3-4 weeks. Interested citizens are welcome to attend.