That said, I should add that Cassie's articulated that she accepts responsibility for the hurt and grief she's caused, regretting that it can't be undone. That will probably get me hate mail for saying, because of how profound that injury is, but I think the government put out sufficient propaganda compromising her due process from day one of the escape by sensationalizing the extent of an Aryan Brotherhood connection with Charlie, and their supposed romance-between-first-cousins, that I'm not giving her an undue PR advantage. The worse she looks, the better ADC Director Chuck Ryan looks - he can divert attention from the fact that he let Kingman prison get so bad on his watch.
Cassie didn't initiate the contact with me, anyway, or ask me to print anything on her behalf. She was writing in response to my letter to her expressing concerns that I'd heard she wasn't getting her mail. I observed that it also appeared as if she wasn't getting as vigorous a defense as the US Constitution requires, but it turns out that she just doesn't want to put up a fight. I actually gave her an open door, a loaded cannon, and the ACLU's address to lodge a complaint about the conditions of her confinement or the quality of her defense, if she wanted to, but she politely declined any help, and is planning to quietly do her time; I expect to see a guilty plea in New Mexico, too.
This woman wasn't offering her remorse for media consumption, nor do I want to contribute to the frenzy - and glamour - around this case. My bet is she'd rather I leave it alone, frankly. I think she honestly feels she can't justify that what she did led to the murders of the Haas couple, and is ashamed that anyone tries to defend her; it's as if arguing for a "fair" trial seems inappropriate to her.
A few days after writing me back saying she didn't need my help, though, Cassie took the time and postage to refer another prisoner to me - a young woman who's actually facing even worse trouble for the actions of an abusive partner...I'll probably be posting on that soon. That was right before she entered this plea below.
Don't mistake your plea of guilt for taking responsibility for having harmed others, if you have, folks: let go of the pettiness of prison's minor inconveniences, and do something to help someone else in greater need - including stepping in the line of fire in a losing battle, if it's the right side, and in some cases defending your own rights yourself. In prison, if you don't fight back against the oppression, chances are you'll die waiting for someone who will. How far we advance human rights in the prisons in the next few years will depend a lot more on prisoners like Cassie Welch taking risks than on agitation by free women like me...
don't just take a swing, run away, or tell them where to go -
grieve it it right, and write to me instead.
Arizona Prison Watch
PO Box 20494
Phoenix, AZ 85036
April 12, 2011
By Associated Press, Tuesday, April 12
KINGMAN, Ariz. — The cousin of an Arizona inmate pleaded guilty Tuesday to state charges of helping him and two other men flee a state prison, but she still faces federal charges in the deaths of an Oklahoma couple who authorities say were killed during the escapees’ run from the law.
Casslyn Welch, 44, entered her plea before Mohave County Superior Court Judge Steven Conn, who said he would sentence her after she resolves the pending federal charges. The judge ordered the sentence to be served concurrently with any federal sentence if Welch is convicted.
Under a plea agreement with Arizona prosecutors, Welch will receive 20 years in prison on an escape charge and two counts of armed robbery. Prosecutors agreed to drop kidnapping and aggravated assault charges stemming from the prison break last July, and also dismissed six drug charges in a separate case.
“That’s a good resolution,” said prosecutor Victoria Stazio.
Welch’s attorney declined to comment following the hearing.
Welch is charged in New Mexico on federal carjacking and murder counts relating to the deaths of the couple, whose remains were found in New Mexico. Welch was expected to be transported to that state, where she has an initial hearing Monday in Albuquerque.
Welch previously pleaded not guilty to the Arizona charges from the escape, which sparked a nationwide manhunt. On Tuesday, she acknowledged throwing cutting tools onto the grounds of the medium-security prison near Kingman, which allowed John McCluskey, Tracy Province and Daniel Renwick to break through a perimeter fence and flee into the desert.
Welch, who is McCluskey’s fiancée and cousin, also admitted to supplying them with guns and money, and Renwick with a get-away vehicle.
Province, McCluskey and Welch found themselves without transportation and hijacked a semi-truck at gunpoint near Kingman, forcing the drivers to take them to Flagstaff. Prosecutors say the three also targeted Gary and Linda Haas, of Tecumseh, Okla., at a rest stop in New Mexico for the couple’s camping trailer. The Haases were taken to a remote ranch where they were shot.
Renwick was captured first after a police shootout in western Colorado, followed by Province. Welch and McCluskey were arrested later at an eastern Arizona campsite.
Welch and Province have pleaded guilty to armed robbery. Neither is listed as witnesses in the Arizona trial of McCluskey, who has pleaded not guilty.
Welch’s drug charges arose from a prison visit last June. Authorities said she lost her visitation rights, but not her phone privileges, when a vehicle search turned up marijuana, heroin and drug paraphernalia.
Welch wasn’t immediately jailed after the search because sheriff’s officials said she agreed to be a drug informant. She was charged following the prison escape with six counts of narcotics violations.
Province was sentenced to more than 38 years on the escape charges, but a judge acknowledged it meant little because Province already was serving a life sentence for prior crimes.
Renwick, who was serving time in Arizona for murder, faces three counts of attempted murder in Colorado.
(Here's the real story...)
After the escape, the MTC founder, Bob Marquardt, claimed that this was the corporation's "first major glitch."
Apparently the dozen or more prior escapes they'd experienced, the frequent riots and murders, don't count as "major glitches." Anyone who cares to can watch the YouTube video of two of those murders during a riot at an MTC California prison.
Google: Eagle Mountain/Private Prison Riot gone bad
This couple was not "taken to a remote ranch and shot." They were shot in their trailer alongside I-44. When the carjackers drove their truck and camper to a filling station they realized blood was running out the door, so they drove to Santa Rosa, NM, then on to rural Colonias, 25 miles north. On a remote ranch, the trailer was detached from their pickup, doused with alcohol, and their remains were cremated inside the trailer after their dogs were freed and watered.
The escapees and their accomplice, Welch, did not "force the drivers to take them to Flagstaff." Welch and McCluskey drove the semi themselves. They voted on whether or not to kill the east Indian drivers, and Welch and Province spared their lives.
The real story is prodigious incompetence, which the AP reporter, Felicia Fonseca, somehow avoids.
The killers never should have been moved to the cracker box Kingman for-profit prison in the first place. They were clearly incapable of handling such security risks. Two were lifers, the third had two fifteen year sentences and a Pennsylvania parole hold. At least two were white supremacists, "security threat group" members who were again well beyond the capacity of the high turnover, poorly trained, paid and chosen staff to manage.
The state also ignored the blatant malfunctioning of the alarm system which never worked well and hadn't been repaired in years. The state's monitors ignored such obvious problems, it's hard to imagine that they were not doing exactly as they had been expected to do. The alarms, for instance, went off scores of times during the 16 hours before the escape, so the green employees ignored them.
The Governor has been trying to shift the blame to her predecessor and director of corrections who preceded her appointee. That simply won't wash. She has taken substantial campaign funding and support from the prison industry which explains the failures of oversight.
The for-profit staff couldn't count properly, so didn't know the escapees were gone for about 2 1/2 hours, were still unable to identify the fugitives, gave inadequate notice to the Mohave County Sheriff's Office and finally delayed notice to the state Department of Corrections for another 80 minutes. The media may not have been alerted until 12 hours after the escape.
The Mohave Sheriff never should have released Welch. Her arrest was widely known, as was her release. Because of that, her cousin would have been quickly marked for a hit by her suppliers. He was almost forced to escape.
The pursuit was lackadaisical. Close relatives and friends of the escapees were not contacted until five days after the escape, in clear disregard of professional correctional policy. By then one had been captured in a Colorado shootout, the other three had gone to Texas, reversed direction to Billings, Montana, and finally the cousins went all the way to Pennsylvania before returning to Arizona."