MARGARET J PLEWS
PO BOX 20494
PHOENIX, AZ 85036

arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com

480-580-6807

Established: July 18, 2009
Editor: Peggy Plews


This site is 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. If you're unfamiliar with prison abolition, check out Critical Resistance. I'm a freelance writer and human rights activist, and have no legal training, FYI.

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AS OF AUGUST 2014 I am dealing with a family emergency out of state, and will likely be gone for the next month. If you need assistance, write to my PO box and my friends with the PHOENIX ANARCHIST BLACK CROSS will try to help you. Or email me at arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com, which I'll try to check at least a couple of times a week.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Prison (HBO)

America's prisons are broken. Just ask John Oliver and several puppets.

THE I-Files: Teens in Solitary Confinement

AZ PRISON WATCH ACTION ITEMS:

RESIGN, CHUCK RYAN

RESIGN, CHUCK RYAN
Petition by the family of Tony Lester, victim of suicide in AZ DOC custody.

Prisoners and Families: Send your SOS to the DOJ!

We really need those of you out there who have been in an AZ prison, have lost a child or other family member in an AZ prison, or have a loved one in an AZ prison now, to write a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder (that one is mine) about the need for a federal intervention here, and send me a copy, with a nice photo, if you have one, of the beloved prisoner - I don't have to post your letters and pictures, but please tell me if I may, with or without names.

If you need some motivation, see what the Governor had to say to him about the swell state things are in here. Don't let her pass that BS off on him unchallenged.

When the truth of prison rape and violence is made public and appeals for relief come directly from those affected, the rest of the community identifies better with prisoners as people, and it puts more pressure on the feds - as well as the governor- to act. And you are the ones with the most at stake here. So, please back me up on this argument I'm making, folks. If the feds listened to me, they'd have been here long ago - I need your support!

And don't just "like" me on Facebook or the Daily KOS - SHARE SHARE SHARE!!!

US Attorney General Eric Holder
US Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington DC 20530


Send word to your loved ones in prison to write the AG as well, and to send me copies if they want me to post their letters, too.

AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:

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NOTE AUGUST 12, 2014: I am dealing with a family crisis out of state, and will likely not be available for the next month. Please write to my PO box (above) if you need assistance and my friends will try to help you.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Freedom Now: MAY DAY, Phoenix 2011.

Come look us up, folks!!! We'll be talking about prison conditions, state violence, and rights in custody - Come meet other prisoners' families!



printable flyer!!! make many!!!







Freedom Now - Tracy Chapman

They throwed him in jail
And they kept him there
Hoping soon he'd die
That his body and spirit would waste away
And soon after that his mind


But every day is born a fool
One who thinks that he can rule
One who says tomorrow's mine
One who wakes one day to find
The prison doors open the shackles broken
And chaos in the street


Everybody sing we're free free free free
Everybody sing we're free free free free
Everybody sing we're free free free free


They throwed him in jail
And they kept him there
Hoping his memory'd die
That the people forget how he once led
And fought for justice in their lives


But every day is born a man
Who hates what he can't understand
Who thinks the answer is to kill
Who thinks his actions are god's will


And he thinks he's free free free free
Yes he thinks he's free free free free
He thinks he's free free free free


Soon must come the day
When the righteous have their way
Unjustly tried are free
And people live in peace I say
Give the man release
Go on and set your conscience free
Right the wrongs you made
Even a fool can have his day


Let us all be free free free free
Let us all be free free free free
Let us all be free free free free


Free our bodies free our minds
Free our hearts
Freedom for everyone
And freedom now


Freedom now
Freedom now
Freedom now


Let us all be free free free free
Let us all be free free free free
Let us all be free free free free


Martori Farms and the AZ Department of Corrections.

It's come to my attention that the women from ASPC-Perryville who are providing the prison labor to Martori Farms are being coerced into taking the jobs by the guards responsible for recruiting them, and are reportedly working at times without water, sunscreen, adequate nutrition and full breaks, and without regard to medical concerns or age. Those who refuse the jobs or don't work sufficiently hard enough in the fields - or who even just complain - are threatened with being written up (a major ticket which can cost good time), or thrown into the hole.

The women are afraid for their health and safety; some are allergic to the bees they are harvesting, and others have been told to work through serious symptoms such as chest pain, still being dismissed as malingering - reminiscent of what happened to Brenda Todd and Susan Lopez, when they begged for medical care. They're presently working 8-hr days/6 days a week (not including the 1+ hour trek to and from the farm). Come harvest time, they've been told they'll be working 12-hour days.


Upon receiving this information, I called OSHA - the Department of Labor doesn't have jurisdiction over prison labor, even when contracted to private farms. The only department in the state, outside of Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) they referred me to was the AZ Department of Administration's Risk Management people - they're the only ones who care about prisoner-worker "rights", it appears, because they want to minimize liability (which has little to do with taking responsibility in practice, it appears).

The Department of Administration referred me back to the ADC, to a guy by the name of Barry Keith. I told them I already contacted the ADC"s general counsel's office about the issue, and want outside eyes on the prison to assure worker's rights are being protected. They had no one else to refer me to, though, so I left a message for Mr. Keith. We'll see who gets back to me with what - I'm not on the best of terms with them these days.

Again, I'm urging people to contact the Chair of the AZ House Health and Human Services Committee, Rep. Cecil Ash, and request hearings on the conditions in the prisons.
He can be reached at:


Arizona House of Representatives
1700 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85007
(cash@azleg.gov)


cc me (see margins), the Phoenix New Times
(PO Box 2510, Phoenix, AZ 85002 / Phone: 602-271-0040 / Fax: 602-340-8806) and your own legislators on your concerns, please...let me know if I can print what you write.

Finally, here's some info about prison labor, from a good DAILY KOS story in December 2010.
An older Christian Science Monitor article about AZ prison labor as it relates to the issue of immigration comes first...and here's something from another blog post last June: Slaves of the State: Prison Labor

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With Fewer Migrant Workers, Farmers Turn to Prison Labor


By Nicole Hill, Christian Science Monitor
Posted on August 22, 2007, Printed on April 29, 2011
http://www.alternet.org/story/60497/with_fewer_migrant_workers%2C_farmers_turn_to_prison_labor


Picacho, Ariz. -- Near this dusty town in southeastern Arizona, Manuel Reyna pitches watermelons into the back of a trailer hitched to a tractor. His father was a migrant farm worker, but growing up, Mr. Reyna never saw himself following his father's footsteps. Now, as an inmate at the Picacho Prison Unit here, Reyna works under the blazing desert sun alongside Mexican farmers the way his father did.

"My dad tried to keep me out of trouble," he says, wearing a bandanna to keep the sweat out of his eyes. "But I always got back into the easy money, because it was faster and a lot more money." He's serving a 6-1/2 year sentence for possession and sale of rock cocaine.

As states increasingly crack down on hiring undocumented workers, western farmers are looking at inmates to harvest their fields. Colorado started sending female inmates to harvest onions, corn, and melons this summer. Iowa is considering a similar program. In Arizona, inmates have been working for private agriculture businesses for almost 20 years. But with legislation signed this summer that would fine employers for knowingly hiring undocumented workers, more farmers are turning to the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) for help.

"We are contacted almost daily by different companies needing labor," says Bruce Farely, manager of the business development unit of Arizona Correctional Industries (ACI). ACI is a state labor program that holds contracts with government and private companies. "Maybe it was labor that was undocumented before, and they don't want to take the risk anymore because of possible consequences, so they are looking to inmate labor as a possible alternative."

Reyna and about 20 other low-risk, nonviolent offenders work at LBJ Farm, a family-owned watermelon farm, as part of ADC's mission to employ every inmate, either behind prison walls or in outside companies. The idea is to help inmates develop job skills and save money for their release. "It helps them really pay their debt back to the folks who have been harmed in society, as well as make adequate preparation for their release back onto the streets." says ADC director Dora Schriro.

If it weren't for a steady flow of inmates year-round, says Jack Dixon, owner of LBJ, one of the largest watermelon farms in the western US, he'd have sold out long ago. Even so, last year 400 acres of his watermelons rotted on the ground - a $640,000 loss - because there weren't enough harvesters. Mr. Dixon had applied for 60 H2-A guest worker visas, but only 14 were approved because of previous visa violations.

"We are in desperate need for hand labor," says Dixon, who started working on the farm when he was 9, alongside mostly migrant workers. "It's hard to get migrant workers up here anymore, with all the laws preventing them. It's not what it used to be," Dixon says. "It's dangerous for them with all the coyote wars and smuggling."

Other farmers wonder if inmates could be their solution. Dixon has received calls from a yellow-squash farmer in Texas inquiring about how to set up an inmate labor contract as well as from another watermelon farmer in Colorado seeking advice on how to manage inmate crews.

For labor-rights activists, federal immigration reform is the only viable solution to worker shortages.

Marc Grossman, spokesman for the United Farm Workers of America, says inmate labor undermines what unionized farmworkers have wanted for years: to be paid based on skill and experience. "It's rather insulting that the state [Arizona] would look so poorly on farm workers that they would attempt to use inmates," Grossman says. There is also the food-safety aspect, he says: Experienced workers understand sanitary harvesting.

"Agriculture does not have a reliable workforce, and the answer does not lie with prison labor," says Paul Simonds of the Western Growers Association, a trade association representing California and Arizona. "This just underscores the need for legislation to be passed to provide a legal, stable workforce." A prison lockdown would be disastrous, he points out, with perishable crops awaiting harvest. Other crops, like asparagus and broccoli, require skilled workers.

Although the ADC is considering innovative solutions - including satellite prisons - to fulfill companies' requests for inmate labor, prison officials agree that, in the end, the demand is too high. "To go into a state where agriculture is worth $9.2 billion and expect to meet a workforce need is impossible," says Katie Decker, spokeswoman for ADC. At any given time only about 3,300 prisoners statewide (out of a prison population of about 37,000) are cleared to work outside.

ACI provides inmates to nine private agricultural companies in Arizona, ranging from a hydroponics greenhouse tomato plant to a green chile cannery. Unlike other sectors where federal regulations require that inmate workers be paid a prevailing wage and receive worker compensation, agricultural companies can hire state inmates on a contract basis. They must be paid a minimum of $2 per hour. Thirty percent of their wages go to room and board in prison. The rest goes to court-ordered restitution for victims, any child support, and a mandatory savings account. Private companies are required to pay for transportation from the prison to the worksite and for prison guards.

For Reyna, his work on farms over the past couple of years has added $9,000 in his savings account and given him a renewed respect for his Mexican father's lifetime of stoop labor.

At Dixon's farm, it's 103 degrees F. The inmate crews, wearing orange jumpsuits, work in a rhythmic line, calling out the number of the watermelons, and alongside the trailer. Just a few yards away, Mexican workers also work in a line. The inmates will quit at 4 p.m., while the immigrant laborers may work 13-hour days. "We go back, they stay out here," Reyna says. "It really isn't the same."

In the farm's office, watermelons line the counter, and photos of migrant workers hang in dusty frames. When asked why he doesn't sell the farm, Dixon says, "the inmates, the migrants, these people are part of the family - that's why I keep this darn place."

Dixon says he supports the idea of a reformed, guest-worker program that would employ migrant workers during the harvest and return them to Mexico in the winter. But until that happens, he's willing to fight for the workers he's shared the land with for most of his life.

"People are crossing the border because they are starving to death," Dixon says, "I don't care what their status is. If they are hungry and thirsty, I am going to feed them."

"I could sell this and quit," he continues, "But I believe in supporting the American farming industry."

© 2011 Christian Science Monitor All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/60497/

INSOURCING - Identifying businesses involved in prison labor or supporting those who are

by Bob Sloan

DAILY KOS

Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 03:23 PM PST


Many readers have asked how a corporation can be identified as participating in the use of inmate labor. Actually there are three "categories" of those involved in prison labor and prison industry operations:

  1. corporations, businesses and companies that use direct inmate labor for manufacturing and service jobs,
  1. corporations, businesses and companies that contract with other companies to purchase products or services made by inmate labor (such as McDonalds), and,
  1. individuals, corporations, organizations and investment companies that support the use of prison labor or enable prison industry operations by contributing financial support to those directly involved in using inmates for labor or invest in or support private prison corporations.

To demonstrate how difficult involvement in prison industries and the use of inmate labor is to identify, we'll begin with an investment firm involved in many of our 401(k) and retirement accounts.

Fidelity Investments (Fidelity). This "financial investment" corporation is involved in holding the retirement and 401(k) accounts of millions of Americans. Many of the largest companies in our country offer Fidelity Investments as the sole source of retirement investing for their employees.

Fidelity was previously identified as a funder of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in an earlir Insourcing blog. ALEC is deeply invested in supporting Corrections Corporation of American (CCA) and Geo Group (Geo) - that are both corporate members of ALEC. ALEC has willingly accepted responsibility for enactment of laws authorizing and increasing the use of inmates in manufacturing of products as well as the housing of those inmates by private corporations such as CCA and Geo.

Unfortunately if your retirement savings, 401(K) or other investments are held by Fidelity, chances are some of your money is invested by Fidelity in either the use of prison labor or in other operations related to the prison industrial complex (PIC).

I purposely mentioned McDonald's in the intro because though they are not "directly" using inmate labor in their food service operations, they are dependent upon the use of inmate labor to reduce costs associated with those operations. The way they do this is by contracting to purchase their uniforms and some of the plastic utensils provided to customers from a company using inmate labor to make those uniforms and utensils. The uniforms are made by Oregon Inmates. Wendy's has also been identified as relying upon prison labor to reduce their cost of operations - and they fund ALEC.

Two other U.S. companies relying upon prison labor for products sold in their stores are K-Mart and J.C. Penny. Both sell Jeans made by inmates in Tennessee prisons. The same prison in Tennessee provides labor for Eddie Bauer's wooden rocking horses. There are other products we would not associate with prison made products: dentures, partials, eye glasses, processed foods such as beef, chicken and pork patties sold to and served in our schools, grocery stores and hospitals. I don't know about you but putting dentures made in prison in my mouth just somehow causes me concern...just as buying a box of breaded chicken patties and fixing them for my family does.

What about services such as Insurance? Banking? Utilities - gas, oil, electricity? Prescription drugs? Are all of these services or commodities tied to prison labor and the PIC? Unfortunately, yes. Many insurance companies are tied to ALEC...as are corporations involving utilities provided to you in your city or town. To name jut a few brand names you'll recognize that are invested in prison labor or PIC through ALEC are:

BANKS: American General Financial Group, American Express Company, Bank of America, Community Financial Services Corporation, Credit Card Coalition, Credit Union National Association, Inc., Fidelity Inestments, Harris Trust & Savings Bank, Household International, LaSalle National Bank, J.P. Morgan & Company, Non-Bank Funds Transmitters Group

ENERGY PRODUCERS/OIL: American Petroleum Institute, Amoco Corporation, ARCO, BP America, Inc., Caltex Petroleum, Chevron Corporation, ExxonMobil Corporation, Mobil Oil Corporation, Phillips Petroleum Company.

ENERGY PRODUCERS/UTILITIES: American Electric Power Association, American Gas Association, Center for Energy and Economic Development, Commonwealth Edison Company, Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc., Edison Electric Institute, Independent Power Producers of New York, Koch Industries, Inc., Mid-American Energy Company, Natural Gas Supply Association, PG&E Corporation/PG&E National Energy Group, U.S. Generating Company.

INSURANCE: Alliance of American Insurers, Allstate Insurance Company, American Council of Life Insurance, American Insurance Association, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Corporation, Coalition for Asbestos Justice, (This organization was formed in October 2000 to explore new judicial approaches to asbestos litigation." Its members include ACE-USA, Chubb & Son, CNA service mark companies, Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., Kemper Insurance Companies, Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, and St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company. Counsel to the coalition is Victor E. Schwartz of the law firm of Crowell & Moring in Washington, D.C., a longtime ALEC ally.)
Fortis Health, GEICO, Golden Rule Insurance Company, Guarantee Trust Life Insurance, MEGA Life and Health Insurance Company, National Association of Independent Insurers, Nationwide Insurance/National Financial, State Farm Insurance Companies, Wausau Insurance Companies, Zurich Insurance.

PHARMACEUTICALS: Abbott Laboratories, Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Bayer Corporation, Eli Lilly & Company, GlaxoSmithKline, Glaxo Wellcome, Inc., Hoffman-LaRoche, Inc., Merck & Company, Inc., Pfizer, Inc., Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of
America (PhRMA), Pharmacia Corporation, Rhone-Poulenc Rorer, Inc., Schering-Plough Corporation, Smith, Kline & French, WYETH, a division of American Home Products Corporation.

MANUFACTURING:American Plastics Council, Archer Daniels Midland Corporation, AutoZone, Inc. (aftermarket automotive parts), Cargill, Inc., Caterpillar, Inc., Chlorine Chemistry Council, Deere & Company, Fruit of the Loom, Grocery Manufacturers of America, Inland Steel Industries, Inc., International Game Technology, International Paper, Johnson & Johnson, Keystone Automotive Industries, Motorola, Inc., Procter & Gamble, Sara Lee Corporation.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS: AT&T, Ameritech, BellSouth Telecommunications, Inc., GTE Corporation, MCI, National Cable and Telecommunications Association, SBC Communications, Inc., Sprint, UST Public Affairs, Inc., Verizon Communications, Inc.

TRANSPORTATION: Air Transport Association of America, American Trucking Association, The Boeing Company, United Airlines, United Parcel Service (UPS).

OTHER U.S. COMPANIES: Amway Corporation, Cabot Sedgewick, Cendant Corporation, Corrections Corporation of America, Dresser Industries, Federated Department Stores, International Gold Corporation, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Microsoft Corporation, Newmont Mining Corporation, Quaker Oats, Sears, Roebuck & Company, Service Corporation International, Taxpayers Network, Inc., Turner Construction, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

ORGANIZATIONS/ASSOCIATIONS: Adolph Coors Foundation, Ameritech Foundation, Bell & Howell Foundation, Carthage Foundation, Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, ELW Foundation, Grocery Manufacturers of America, Heartland Institute of Chicago, The Heritage Foundation, Iowans for Tax Relief, Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation of Milwaukee, National Pork Producers Association, National Rifle Association, Olin Foundation, Roe Foundation, Scaiffe Foundation, Shell Oil Company Foundation, Smith Richardson Foundation, Steel Recycling Institute, Tax Education Support Organization, Texas Educational Foundation, UPS Foundation.

As the foregoing illustrates, many U.S. companies and corporations not only fund ALEC's activities regarding prison labor and PIC, they have foundations that also contribute handsomely to ALEC. Many are represented upon ALEC"s Private Enterprise Board.

Commodities, services and various products sold to U.S. consumers provide profits to these companies/corporations that are used to further the goals of ALEC. They sell us our vehicles, Chrysler, Ford, GM...sell us the fuel to power those vehicles, insurance to cover our cars and trucks. Some of our homes are mortgaged through banks and mortgage companies affiliated with ALEC. Our homes are insured by carriers supporting the use of inmate labor. Our phones are provided by those who are also involved and our medications also fund these same ALEC activities. Even the fast food places we depend upon are part of the overall PIC operation - McDonalds and Wendy's.

Reservations we make for American Airlines and the likes of AVIS rent-a-car are taken by inmates. More and more call centers are coming on line every day manned by inmates in both state and federal prison operations. Each position taken by an inmate, used to belong to private sector workers who are now unemployed.

Another industry I've briefly touched upon needs to be discussed here. That is the agriculture industry. One side effect of immigration laws being enacted in the Western states is the reduction of migrant workers in those states that have passed tougher immigration policies. Not one to miss such an opportunity, prison industries are vying to fill the voids created by these laws.

Colorado has been one of those states hardest hit because of new laws similar to that of SB 1070. In an effort of providing labor to the farmers in that state, the legislature has partnered with the state DOC to implement a new program allowing for the use of inmates on private farms.

"To meet the needs of the capitalist farmers, the state legislature has partnered with the Colorado Department of Corrections to launch a pilot program this month that will contract with more than a dozen large farms to provide prisoners who will work in the fields. More than 100 prisoners will go to farms near Pueblo, Colo., to start the program in the coming weeks.

Prisoners will earn a miserable 60 cents a day. The prisoners will be watched by prison guards, who will be paid handsomely by the farmers. The practice is a modern form of slavery.

The corporate farm owners and capitalist politicians are defending the program. They claim that business needs to be "protected" for the sake of capitalist production in the agricultural sector."

There were many indicators that this was on the horizon over three years ago, when articles began to appear about several states switching from migrant farm workers to inmates:

"As states increasingly crack down on hiring undocumented workers, western farmers are looking at inmates to harvest their fields. Colorado started sending female inmates to harvest onions, corn, and melons this summer. Iowa is considering a similar program. In Arizona, inmates have been working for private agriculture businesses for almost 20 years. But with legislation signed this summer that would fine employers for knowingly hiring undocumented workers, more farmers are turning to the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) for help."

It isn't surprising that agricultural and farming needs would be pointed in this direction by state legislators...where ALEC's efforts of eliminating "illegal" aliens from agribusiness work coincided with their SB 1070 and earlier state legislative efforts. They realized the impact the laws would have upon immigrant workers and that a labor force would be necessary to take the place of immigrants picked up or scared off by laws like SB 1070. CCA, Geo and state prison industry operators were informed of the expected future labor needs of U.S. farmers and began to gear up in 2007 when ALEC successfully proposed and was able to enact one of the first restrictive immigration laws in Colorado. I believe ALEC projected the impact on farming, predicted the labor need and advised prison industries to be prepared to put inmates out in agriculture work on short notice. As soon as the Colorado law went into effect, prison industries had inmates picked, vetted and with the proper custody level ready to step into the shoes of the missing migrant workers.

All in all a very effective business plan put into place by ALEC and their members - eliminate an entire industry workforce and replace it with a workforce supplied by their members at a wage scale of less than $1.00 per hour. At the same time salaries of the prison staff guarding the workers is paid for by the farmers. Talk about a win-win-win business plan.

Prison labor had been used in Arizona for more than two decades prior to SB 1070. However the enactment of that law made the need for inmate labor to treble - along with profits from that labor.

Other occupations are being impacted by privatization of prison related healthcare. Many doctors are now choosing to work in prison rather than private practice. Obviously this switch lowers the number of doctors available in the private sector. One reason for this change in direction by physicians is retirement benefits and free malpractice insurance offered by prison healthcare corporations, such as PHS.

If more information is needed to clarify the financial impact of continuing incarceration upon us as a society take a brief look at Washington State's latest efforts to address the state deficit. The below cuts are necessary to reduce the budget by $600 million. A substantial need for such reductions was created because of the state's continued reliance upon incarcerating more and more citizens, reducing private sector jobs through the use of prison labor by large WA. corporations such as Boeing and Microsoft.

"Among the cuts approved by legislators: nearly $50 million from the Department of Corrections, including the closure of a prison facility; $50 million from K-12 education, including funding intended to keep class sizes small; $51 million from higher education, including at several of the state's flagship universities; nearly $30 million from a state-subsidized health insurance program for the poor; and the elimination of non-emergency dental care for poor adults."

What a trade off, huh? More cuts to education and social programs that benefit the poor while they pay out millions to prison industries and private prison operators - and give tax breaks to Boeing and Microsoft. Washington citizens are getting the shaft - especially their students and the poorest among them.

While Washington state is making terrible cuts to the budget, elsewhere prison workers and their supporters are successfully keeping unnecessary prisons open to keep prison staffers from losing their employment. An action that keeps taxpayers funding their salaries - needlessly.

"ETOWAH COUNTY, Alabama -- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have agreed Thursday to delay removal of more than 300 inmates from Etowah County's detention center until at least the spring, the Gadsden Times reports.

ICE officials had notified the county Saturday that they would be removing the inmates from the Etowah County jail, which is the only facility in Alabama with a contract to house ICE inmates.

On Thursday, after intercession by the county's congressional delegation, ICE agreed to keep inmates at the facility and use Etowah County's prisoner transportation services until March 31, 2011, according to the Gadsden Times, which cites a news release from Sheriff Todd Entrekin.

The decision stops what would have been a substantial economic loss for the jail and could have resulted in the loss of some 49 jobs."

While this fight to keep jobs and inmates in AL. is fought, another fight results in the loss of a successful privately operated reentry program for ex-offenders in Virginia. The state has decided to "re-vamp" its reentry efforts and closed this and 12 other successful programs. Even in instances where volunteers and organizers step-up to address recidivism, the state steps-in and thwarts their efforts. It's almost like there are efforts going on at the state levels to keep incarceration and recidivism rates up.

Our country is being turned into a nation of prisoners and those who pay for their incarceration costs - period. Everything else is being cut to keep the PIC in place and profitable. Medicare and Social Security are next in line in the next U.S. Congress. Don't you find it odd that of all the rhetoric about our failing economy, the cuts to social and community programs, unemployment and unemployment compensation arguments - none of our lawmakers are openly voicing calls for any reduction in imprisonment? I mean there have been hundreds of articles identifying incarceration costs as being responsible for necessary cuts in funding for education and other necessary programs...but no one wants to go on the record as supporting a stop to mass incarcerations? How is it that our elected officials continue to cut more and more out of annual budgets to pay for incarceration and make no effort of reducing the need for that incarceration? I believe it is because they're paid handsomely to avoid any effort of reforming laws or reducing incarceration. It is simply too profitable to allow us to stop sending men, women and our children to jail and prisons.

This is exemplified by a recent article on Louisiana's practice of housing state prisoners in local Parish jails:

Legislators wonder why the budget for the Department of Corrections is so large,” said one state employee who is familiar with the department. “As long as they keep trying to criminalize everything they find personally offensive in the name of law and order for the benefit of the folks back home, the budget is going to keep growing.

”Each legislative session, dozens of bills are introduced by Louisiana lawmakers to either create new criminal statutes or to increase penalties for existing laws. Only rarely does a bill attempt to reduce penalties for crimes. In the 2010 regular session alone, for example, 68 of 93 bills addressing criminal procedure and crime, called for jail time for new crimes or longer sentences for existing laws. Those included crimes ranging from “unlawfully wearing clothing which exposes undergarments or certain body parts” to cyberbullying, and terrorist acts.

"Local sheriffs relish the opportunity to house state prison inmates because it infuses needed cash into the local coffers. One state official said the actual cost to sheriffs to house the state prisoners is only a fraction of the $24.39 daily income per prisoner. “It’s a big bonus for the sheriffs,” he said."

Right now prisoners in Georgia are striking due to being used as slave labor by that state's prison industries. Such strikes are unheard of and one reason is the huge amount of "get-back" available to the prison staff and their willingness to use physical means to force compliance. My heart goes out to these men, as I've been there and know how dire their circumstances must be to cause such a dangerous mission from behind bars. Many are trying to provide assistance to them through phone and email communications with prison authorities, but so far the prisons involved (6) remain on indefinite lockdowns with reports of retaliation at each facility being reported via cell phone calls from the inmates. There has been limited media coverage of this historical strike (and no mainstream media attention) - again, it is not in their best interests to publicize this action to the public, for fear of creating a discussion on the merits of using inmate labor in a "slavery like" manner - though from reports, thousands of inmates are participating in the strike. These men represent those who are now performing the work previously performed by Georgia private sector workers, and doing it for pennies on the dollar.

As shown by the above information, every facet of our lives are now touched in some way by prison privatization, prison healthcare, feeding of prisoners or by working prisoners in the PIC. This puts their products in our homes, on our grocer shelves, in our produce consumption and reduces available private sector jobs - including positions for physicians. Sadly we must realize that all of this is financed with our tax dollars that are quickly converted to "profits" once received into the coffers of corporations participating in the PIC.

Many comments have been made to my Insourcing Series saying we should identify those involved and boycott their products and services. As this segment demonstrates, it is nearly impossible to identify each corporation, group, organization or individuals involved in PIC and prison industries. Their products are so vast and diverse, each of our homes now have one or more of those products in use. Even picking up the phone and calling for technical assistance with products, making a reservation or inquiring about services may put us in touch with an inmate on the other end of the phone. The Prison Industrial Complex is simply too vast to avoid or boycott - in a manner typically used by consumers and concerned citizens.

Boycotting is usually an activity used to refuse our business to those involved in practices we object to. In this case it is just too difficult to accurately identify prison industry participants.

I'm working on developing a program now that may allow all of us to identify those companies, businesses and corporations not involved in any way with prison labor or the PIC. We can eliminate the profits realized by corporations using inmate labor, by reducing sales of their products. Just as those participating in the PIC transfer our tax dollars into profits, we can transfer their anticipated future profits back to the private sector worker through participation in this program. The only thing these corporations understand is "profit". Money drives them and is what gets their attention. So let's get their attention by denying them sales - not boycotting.

I intend to set up a website allowing those not connected with the PIC, not investing in or funding prison industries and not selling any products made by inmates or inmate provided services to be named. The site is intended to list corporations, retailers, providers and businesses certified as not involved in PIC operations. Links to these certified non-participating company websites and online catalogs, local outlets and products lines will be made available. In addition those industries, corporations, investors, banks, finance companies and others identified as profiting from PIC or prison industries in any form will be identified and "blacklisted". In this way one comprehensive site can be used to identify those products, services and companies to avoid while providing links to U.S. retailers and companies not involved, that provide the same products or services without the use of prisoners.

In order to participate, these companies must "Certify" in writing that they use no inmate labor, do not invest in or sell products made in prison. Secondly they will be required to use the "Made in U.S.A." labels with products and services provided by American workers and offer those products to U.S. consumers.

Prison made goods include those made in China and elsewhere that are finding their way to our retail shelves more and more of late. There are strict prohibitions against allowing imported products into the U.S. when those products were made by prison, slave or child labor. These strict provisions are being circumvented in some instances and deliberately ignored by our Custom Service in others. Companies, businesses, retailers and manufacturers wishing to be listed within the proposed site, must certify non-use of those foreign prison-made goods as well.

The site is intended to allow consumers to identify those not involved in prison labor related products and offer shoppers a discount direct from participating U.S. manufacturers, retailers and service providers for purchasing their products or services made by U.S. workers in our private sector markets. This will help increase jobs and deny continued profits to those using inmate labor.

This effort will be time consuming and expensive to develop and put into operation. Sponsors and volunteers will be needed to assist in this endeavor. This is going to need the expertise of a website developer, software programmers, advertising and accounting assistance. We are going to need people to submit to us the names of businesses they own, work for or invest in that are not associated or affiliated with prison labor or products. Money is going to be needed to advertise the site and make consumers aware that such a site exists to provide them with alternatives to prison made products. If successful this will put money into the pockets of those manufacturers and retailers who refuse to become involved in prison made goods for profit. It will provide those businesses with income to hire more workers due to increased production and sales.

Any volunteers...suggestions...advice...assistance? If you believe this is a good idea to help us take back our jobs, eliminate the vast profits made off of cheap prison labor and promote "real" products made by free American workers, write and let me know. If you want to participate or assist in this development, I'm listening...

Originally posted to Bob Sloan on Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 03:23 PM PST.


Angela Davis, May 5, 2011: The Future of Democracy.


<-- printable flyer!!! make lots!!!





NEEB HALL

THURSDAY, May 5, 2011

5pm

ASU News April 18, 2011


Noted scholar, activist and author Angela Y. Davis, who once spent 18 months in jail herself in the early 1970s, will discuss her ideas about incarceration during a free lecture at 5 p.m., May 5, at Neeb Hall, Arizona State University.

Davis’ talk is titled “Education or Incarceration? The Future of Democracy.” It will be followed by a question-answer session moderated by Gregory Sale, whose exhibition "It's not just black and white" is currently on view at the ASU Art Museum. There will be a reception following the lecture at the ASU Art Museum, and Davis will sign copies of her newest book, “Are Prisons Obsolete?”

Davis gained fame – and notoriety – in the late 1960s and early ‘70s when she was involved in the black power politics of that era. She joined the Communist Party when Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968. She was active with SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and the Black Panthers. She was arrested as a suspected conspirator in the abortive attempt to free George Jackson from a courtroom in Marin County, Calif., and was eventually acquitted of all charges.

Since then, Davis has taught at universities such as UCLA, Vassar and Stanford, and is a professor emerita of history of consciousness, an interdisciplinary Ph.D. program, and professor of feminist studies.

Davis also has been involved in the nation’s quest for social justice. She has written eight books, and her most recent theme has been the range of social problems associated with incarceration and the generalized criminalization of those communities that are most affected by poverty and racial discrimination.

She currently works with Justice Now, which provides legal assistance to women in prison, and engages in advocacy for the abolition of imprisonment as the dominant strategy for addressing social problems. Internationally, she is affiliated with Sisters Inside, a similar organization based in Queensland, Australia.

"In thinking about the possible obsolescence of the prison," Davis writes, "we should ask how it is that so many people could end up in prison without major debates regarding the efficacy of incarceration."

Davis argues that “the very future of democracy depends on our ability to develop radical theories and practices that make it possible to plan and fight for a world beyond the prison industrial complex.”

The lecture is sponsored by Project Humanities in conjunction with the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.



Trailer from Quad Productions "Mountains that Take Wing: Angela Davis & Yuri Kochiyama


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Grieving Susan Lopez: Prisoners have families, too...

The following note was left this afternoon on my Prison Abolitionist blog, under the "comments" for the main post on the suicide of state prisoner Susan Lopez in March. An additional story was added by a prisoner who knew her on San Carlos, before ASPC-Perryville transferred her to a higher custody yard, Santa Cruz.

My condolences go out to Rick Lopez, Susan's and Rick's respective kids, and the extended Flores family; they've been through a lot lately.



"Prisoners have families, too."
Maricopa County Jail: Tent City.
April 5, 2011.




Left with Broken Hearts,


If only you would of known what a beautiful person Susan Lopez our daughter was, full of joy, she had the most sweetest heart, enough love for everyone, and now shes gone from our lives, but will live forever in our hearts, because of the prisons lack of medical attention our daughter is gone.


Whoever is responsible for the neglect of our daughter may god forgive you. you will have to answer to god, for all vengeance are his.


we love you Susan forever you will live in our hearts..............


love mom and dad :(





Rick Lopez at Central Property:
Retrieving Susan's things.
ASPC-Perryville
Goodyear, AZ
Apr 23, 2011

Prisoner's post, ASPC-Perryville: Losing Susan Lopez.


This came in last week from Perryville's San Pedro yard, where Susan was housed before being trucked off to court and returned to a medium custody yard, Santa Cruz, where she died...

Thanks from Susan's family go out to the prisoner who took the time to write this letter. Don't let the other women give up in there - help is on the way.


---------------


A Cry for Help...Silenced.











































Toersbijns: STG's and the Supermax death trap.

Carl Toersbijns was a Deputy Warden at Arizona's Supermax facility, ASPC-Eyman, until he retired last year from the Arizona Department of Corrections; he knows of what he speaks. He knows he takes considerable risk doing so, as well; he's one of the good guys. I steal his blogs once in awhile like this, without even asking - hit his yahoo site for more insider info on the AZ state prisons.

------------------------------


Another Death at Eyman: Carey Wheatley, 49.

I don't know what exactly this man was accused of, or what he actually did, for that matter. I do know of men and women alike who I believe were wrongfully convicted, however, so before you jump on my blog to post "good riddance", bear in mind that we do have innocent people in prison, including those doing life for murder and facing death for horrendous crimes against children.

That's not to say this guy was innocent - just keep it to yourself if you're doing nothing but trolling for the misery of others to exploit. His survivors, if he has any, will read these posts for a long time to come. So will the survivors of other dead prisoners. Respect them, at least, and lay off.


Furthermore, believe it or not, even some of the guilty ones have a conscience they can't live with. Some men mutilate and destroy themselves so as not to hurt others again with their own buried trauma and rage. Most offenders don't get life or death, though, and are eventually returned to the community - so we need to learn better responses to them than just slamming our collective door, or they're set up to re-offend in the shadows again.

The best way to hold perpetrators accountable and transform their behavior, in this context, is to keep them in the light of higher expectations as community members with major amends to make to us all, not simply to expect the worst when they return from exile. Really, if there was an option of a deserted island where they could go be self-sufficient and not hurt anyone, most of these guys would go - we just don't have that for them, except in prison...some guys even violate themselves and go right back in when released on lifetime probation.

The introduction to prison comes only AFTER these folks violate another human being, though - we need to give them a safe retreat before they go that far. Many many of them display some form of intellectual or psychiatric disability, are still considered victims themselves, and are just beginning to struggle with the manifestations of trauma then. Regardless of how we feel about pedophiles (I'm as disturbed by their conduct as anyone else - especially being a survivor myself), an intervention at that point in the continuum of the criminalization of abuse victims could save lives and prevent another child from being hurt.

Evidence-based practice compels us to begin to look differently - at the level of community - at how we deal with sex offenders coming home from prison. If we let them suffer even more trauma in there and alienation out here, we won't have very much success with them once they're free again to do as they please. Kudos to Barbara Broderick, Chief of Maricopa County Probation Department, for having the wisdom and courage to tackle issue that head-on in last week's panel discussion at the ASU Art Museum (sorry, I didn't report on that one - there are many things I do that I just don't get to) - as she said, even these people are human. I can certainly attest that their stories are often far more complex than headlines let on...

So are their victims', of course. Some of the stories of violent crime victims I profile as well - at least those who are raped, assaulted and murdered in prison or jail. The mainstream victims' rights people take care of the rest.

This notice was released the day the ACLU hit Eyman, by the way, so hopefully they're already getting records.

Our condolences to anyone who cared about this man.




.