Prisoners who identifed to the DOC that they were being persecuted in the GP for being gay or transgender were being told there was no evidence of a statewide threat against them - even though there's a well-documented intolerance of openly gay and transgender prisoners on the part of the prison gangs and general prison population. The PC reviewers were also denying some applicants who reported they had been brutally raped or assaulted already, implying that if there is no evidence of an assault (or complaint on record) it must have never happened. In short, the DOC says that rape victims who have no DNA evidence are liars.
On Manzanita in ASPC-Tucson, there is (or was) a Lieutenant who likes calling rape victims "fags" and shaming them for inviting sexual assaults to happen - guys like him are one big reason so many prison rapes are never reported. He did that to one poor prisoner who got two years added to his sentence for biting a guard who took him down while the prisoner was banging his own head out of agitation at this cop. Interestingly, before he launched into humiliating the victim, this coward made sure the prisoner was cuffed and shackled and flanked by two guards - only then did he start abusing him. That's what the cowards of the AZ DOC do when they plan to deliberately provoke a prisoner to violence.
Given how pervasive the heteropatriarchy is in the AZ DOC, that brave, noble Lieutenant probably got a pat on the back, not a slap on the wrist, for his role in screwing over that prisoner. No doubt the junior officers he was setting that great example for covered for him if there were any questions raised about his conduct. The Lieutenant should be as liable for his officer's injury as the prisoner was found to be. If anyone out there has heard other things about this jerk, please drop me a line. I'm making a list of who's naughty and nice, and he's definitely getting a chunk of coal this year for Christmas, if I have anything to say about it.
The prevalence of contraband cell phones across the prison system also makes escaping one's reputation in prison impossible. Gang and yard leaders check out all new arrivals, demanding their police papers and calling around to see if they PC'ed up or had any other issues on any yards. Even reporting a rape can brand them as a snitch.
Where the officers have been corrupted (in many places) they often give intelligence to the gang leaders about who's snitching and set those folks up for assault by leaving cell doors open, skipping security checks, and so on. One of my correspondents was stabbed 13 times by a guy who paid off the guard $1000 to let him in his cell...which we know only because the guard was busted and actually prosecuted, while the DOC settled quietly with the victim for $50K.
Furthermore, it's well-documented by the DOJ and the corrections profession that LGBTQ people in prison are exquisitely vulnerable to sexual and other violence. Having been sexually victimized once is one of the characteristics that makes a person more likely to be assaulted again, too, which doesn't seem to be given any consideration by the staff deciding PC applications.
I reported not long ago that Mr. Ryan had completely ignored that letter from the NAACP, but apparently he was just a little slow gathering his thoughts on the matter. It now appears as if he actually takes our concerns very seriously, and is glad we shared our feelings with him. Isn't that sweet? I do believe he hopes we will now thank him and go away.
Meanwhile, a number of other organizations around the state - like the Sex Worker Outreach Projects (SWOP) in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona's Outright Libertarians, 1 in 10, 3rd Space, the Phoenix Harm Reduction Organization (PHRO), and This is HOW - all want to be part of the dialogue with both the prisoners and the state about the rights of queer people behind bars.
We've begun meeting every 2nd and 4th Tuesday as the Seawright Prison Justice Project to follow up on queer prisoner correspondence, research issues and records, and strategize intervening at the AZ DOC on their behalf. That's at my place off Indian School and 9th st.
If you want to be a part of this particular outreach effort and volunteer your time (or postage stamps) to the cause, please let me know. I'm Peggy Plews (480-580-6807 / firstname.lastname@example.org ).
Here's Director Ryan's response to the NAACP's letter of September 9 (sorry it's taken this long to post...he sent it out to Dianne on the 10th):