A lot of people have been looking for information lately about the "early release" of state prisoners - specifically hoping that some will be paroled after serving only 65%, instead of the currently mandated 85%, of their sentence. I'm sorry to say, that doesn't appear to be what the deal is. That would require major sentence reform that the state legislature hasn't been willing to undertake in recent years.
It appears as if during one of the special sessions this past year, however, the legislature passed a bill which gave the Az Department of Corrections' Director, Charles Ryan, considerable leeway to release low-risk prisoners early as a means of easing the pressure on the budget. On October 1, 2010, Ryan issued a memo in response to this which details who might be eligible under what circumstances for what the rest of us tend to call "early release".
Here's the link to that memo, (also known as a Director's Instruction): DI#288. As best I can tell, no one's sentences are getting cut short, but you need to read it for yourself to determine how it applies to the situation you're involved in. It looks to me like the ADC is just cutting a handful of people loose from their parole tail so they go straight into their receiving county's hands for a term of probation, but I could be missing something.
Try using the current ADC Constituent Services Guidebook as a supplement to figure this out - if nothing else, it will direct you to the folks at the ADC central office who can better answer your questions.
Getting sentencing reform legislation next session is going to be hard. If you're the friend of family member of a prisoner, or otherwise interested in organizing with others on the issue of sentence reform and reduction, contact me soon. We have a better shot at it if we work together and draw in other members of our communities being decimated by the practice of mass incarceration and the lack of meaningful "correctional" programming going on during or after one's term of imprisonment. My contact info is in the side column of this page.
Sorry I don't have better news and didn't get this in your hands sooner. If anyone learns different from investigating this further, please contact me. If you write it up for us I'll post it as a guest blog.
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. email@example.com
until all are free -
MARGARET J PLEWS (June 1, 2015)