Fight the Treatment Industrial Complex

Fight the Treatment Industrial Complex by supporting the AFSC- Arizona campaign

Fight the Treatment Industrial Complex by supporting the AFSC- Arizona campaign
AFSC-Arizona staff are amazing advocates for prisoners - and as such, are true blessings to our communities. Spend time on their site - lots of resources.

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. collective@phoenixabc.org

until all are free -

MARGARET J PLEWS (June 1, 2015)
arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com



AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

AUG 5: Conversation with Monica Jones and Laverne Cox: The Criminalization of Trans Women of Color and Visions for Justice

from SWOP-Phoenix and the ACLU of Arizona, 7:30 on August 5 at the Herberger!




Conversation with Monica Jones and Laverne Cox: 
The Criminalization of Trans Women of Color and Visions for Justice

Herberger Theater Center- Stage West
Tuesday, August 5, 2014, 7:30PM
Doors open at 7PM for pre-registered seating and 7:15PM for general seating

Alongside Arizona’s already brutal racial profiling laws, severe anti-prostitution statutes enable police to profile and harass people of color, people in poverty, and LGBTQ people. Trans women of color disproportionately face the discriminatory and detrimental effects of these laws.

Join us for a discussion with Emmy-nominated actress Laverne Cox and Phoenix activist Monica Jones about the fight for fairness and justice for trans people.

Jones, a social work graduate student at ASU and advocate for sex worker rights, is currently fighting a conviction for “manifesting prostitution”-- a crime in Phoenix that some have taken to calling “walking while trans.” Cox is the star of the critically acclaimed Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black” and an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ community.

This event is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is strongly encouraged. To register for this event, visit: www.acluaz.org/standwithmonica

RSVP on Facebook here
 
Sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arizona and Phoenix Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) with generous support from the Herberger Theater Center


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Wendy Halloran rocks! Once-touted PHX arson squad under heavy fire.

When I started Arizona Prison Watch 5 years ago, one of my main reasons for doing so was my lack of confidence in the mainstream media's interest in publishing the truth about Power and their police in this state. I've always been highly critical of TV news, for good reason, I think. They mostly serve the interests of the power I fight, particularly police power, by being the primary medium by which the state exploits racism and xenophobia and oppression through outright propaganda. 


Furthermore, the state leaks information about arrests and misrepresents "facts" they cant prove in court all the time to tip the scales of justice against the accused, and the media so often plays along. Once you're condemned there, a plea deal favorable to the prosecution is much easier to obtain - as are a conviction and severe sentence if the defendant dares go to trial. Never mind that "innocent until proven guilty" standard you learned in civics class - you're pretty much done in America's injustice system if the news gets a hold of you before the jury ever hears a word.


No, as far as I was concerned, despite an occasional exception, neither the liberal "alternative" press or conservative local  media could be trusted to get to the bottom of what this state was doing to those of us it accused or held in custody any more than Joe Arpaio could be counted on to care who died on his watch. The only stories that would ever play here would be those who served the corporate media's own interests - or the state's. 


After the death of AZ state prisoner Marcia Powell in 2009 I began blogging and trying to figure out  how to get at the truth and put it out there myself, cursing the cowardice of journalists and news outlets in this state (except for the guy who followed her case more closely, Stephen Lemons at the PHX New Times, that is...). My favorite target of criticism for pandering to police and political power was the Arizona Republic - albeit a favorite target of the right, as well, for not being loyal enough to conservative mores. As far as I was concerned, they did the dirty work of the state whenever bidden to do so by publishing their press releases as if they were "truth", which was all I needed to know.  The only people I could really trust were fellow bloggers, it seemed. 


Since then, this blog has resulted in literally hundreds of letters and phone calls from prisoners and their families with information about abuses in the state prison system, as well as local jails and police departments. Unfortunately, no matter what I learned in my work with prisoners (and their survivors, in cases where they died in custody), I didn't have enough audience to ever impact a state policy or liberate someone wrongfully imprisoned, so I nevertheless often appealed to mainstream journalists to help those I couldn't. They seldom ever did. I really resented Arizona's media for awhile for whitewashing the DOC with silence on the state's real crimes, in fact. Big media, especially, was wholly knowingly complicit, as far as I was concerned. 

Then I noticed investigative journalist Wendy Halloran covering what was happening in the prisons, the courts and the larger world of crime and punishment that I'm now tuned into. She exposed the gross neglect of Tony Lester as he lay bleeding to death, unassisted in any way by the first responders of the AZ Department of Corrections. Her investigations into the DOC's,  Wexford's, and Corizon's shoddy treatment of the sick and mentally ill has helped bring the problems of prisoner's health care to the forefront, such that there is now a class action suit alleging system-wide negligence and abuse. And she's gone after corruption, racism and shady cops in the MesaPhoenix, and Goodyear police departments fearlessly in the past few years. She sticks up for the underdog behind the scenes, too - she's not just out for her own glory, she's out for justice.


Because of their willingness to believe the unbelievable about the conduct of state agents, Wendy Halloran and the folks at 12news/KPNX have now helped bring about a criminal investigation into the conduct of the "crack" Phoenix arson squad, demanding justice for those wrongfully targeted by them. She and her station went out on a limb doing so, too. I even worry for Wendy's safety due to the heat she's brought down on powerful people in this state, so when you see her out and about in the Valley of the Sun, dear People, please watch this woman's back. After all, she's been watching ours...


Here's the latest in Wendy Halloran's coverage of the Phoenix Fire Department's Arson Squad, followed by links to the rest of her work on that case. Thank you, KPNX/ AZCentral and Gannett News, for supporting this kind of  journalism, and Wendy Halloran for your courage and commitment to pursuing the truth. 


-----from CH12/AZCENTRAL.COM----


3 Phoenix arson investigators put on paid leave




DPS recommending criminal charges against two for acts of dishonesty during investigation. 









"Three members of the Phoenix Fire Department's once highly touted arson squad were put on leave Friday in the face of the release of a state criminal investigation, according to a departmental news release released to the media.


Capts. Sam Richardson and Fred Andes and unit director Jack Ballentine were placed on paid administrative leave a day after the Arizona Department of Public Safety reported it had concluded a criminal investigation into the members' alleged misconduct and improper investigative techniques.


A final, redacted review has not yet been released to fire officials.


The DPS review came at the request of the department after a series of 12 News reports into the squad.


1.       Raked Over the Coals

http://archive.azcentral.com/video/2152644923001


2.       Phoenix City Councilman calls for inquiry into arson unit

http://archive.azcentral.com/video/2194033984001



3.       Mayor responds to investigation

http://archive.azcentral.com/video/2224313250001


4.       FBI Launches probe/The Captain, His Crew and Carl Caples

http://archive.azcentral.com/video/2351415559001


5.       Phoenix Fire Department Captain insists his investigation was solid

http://archive.azcentral.com/video/2351186725001


6.       Phoenix Fire Department releases findings from arson review

http://archive.azcentral.com/video/2762486885001


7.       Which Lab is Better? The chocolate lab or the crime lab?

http://archive.azcentral.com/video/2992112970001


8.       One-on-one with Phoenix Fire Chief Bob Khan –Phoenix Fire Department inflates arson clearance rates

http://archive.azcentral.com/video/3115428973001


9.       Officials want outside inquiry into Phoenix Fire Department


http://www.azcentral.com/community/phoenix/articles/20140213officials-want-outside-inquiry-into-phoenix-fire-department-arson-unit.html


10.  Judge Orders depositions of fire investigators in death penalty case


http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2014/06/03/12news-judge-orders-depositions-for-investigators/9935329/



Thursday, July 24, 2014

Journalist Keifer witnesses Wood's execution; urges independent inquiry.

Very thorough coverage of the botched execution of Joseph Wood, which was witnessed by AZ Republic journalist Michael Keifer, as well as the family of Joseph Wood's victims, who I do feel for. Both have something to say about the execution in the video clip below.

I have no idea why Jan Brewer continues to employ Director Charles Ryan at the AZ Department of Corrections. Those prisoners of his who are in for minor offenses are being beaten and killed by gangs - effectively punished with death - while  the condemned are being medically tortured. The last condemned Arizona prisoner who died succumbed to untreated throat cancer before he could be executed...he might have preferred the drug cocktail instead. Three men on death row committed suicide last year, as well

Hmm. Yes, I must say that all is certainly not well on Arizona's Death Row.

Meanwhile Debra Milke was released from death row at ASPC-Perryville last year when her conviction was overturned after 23 years of imprisonment. That was due to evidence that she was convicted on testimony of a dirty, lying cop who likely perjured himself saying she confessed to having her son murdered when he interrogated her. Guess it's a good thing that we hadn't yet gotten around to killing her before we made absolutely sure she was prosecuted justly...


 ---------------------------------

Execution of Arizona murderer takes nearly 2 hours

Bob Ortega, Michael Kiefer and Mariana Dale, 

The Republic | azcentral.com  

12:24 a.m. MST July 24, 2014





The controversial drug that Arizona used to execute double-murderer Joseph Rudolph Wood on Wednesday took nearly two hours to kill him and left him snorting and gasping for breath. One reporter who witnessed the execution, Troy Hayden of Fox 10 News, said it was "very disturbing to watch ... like a fish on shore gulping for air. At a certain point, you wondered whether he was ever going to die." State officials and the victims' families, however, took issue with other witness descriptions, saying that Wood was not conscious after the first few minutes and that the noises he made sounded like snoring.

The drawn-out execution — most take about 10 minutes — quickly drew international attention and criticism, spurring calls for a moratorium on executions and putting Arizona front and center in the contentious debate over lethal-injection drugs.

RELATED: Emergency motion for stay

The process at the state prison in Florence began about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday and dragged on long enough that, more than an hour after the execution started, Dale Baich of the Federal Public Defender's Office sent two other lawyers out to file an emergency motion asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to halt it, saying it violated Wood's Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment. The motion noted that Wood "has been gasping and snorting for more than an hour" after being injected with a lethal cocktail of drugs.

Wood died before the appeals court responded.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne declined to comment. His spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, disputed that Wood snorted or gasped for air. "He went to sleep and appeared to be snoring," she said. "This was my first execution, and I was surprised at how peaceful it was."

Wood was sentenced to death for the 1989 murders of his ex-girlfriend, Debra Dietz, and her father, Eugene Dietz.

The victims' family members said the media were wrong to focus on the execution method rather than on the victims. "Everybody here said it was excruciating," said Jeanne Brown, Debra Dietz's sister. "You don't know what excruciating is. Seeing your dad lying there in a pool of blood, seeing your sister lying there in a pool of blood, that's excruciating."

Her husband, Richard Brown, who said he witnessed the murders, said, "What I've seen today, you guys are blowing this all out of proportion about these drugs.

"Why didn't we give him a bullet? Why didn't we give him some Drano? These people that are on death row, they deserve to suffer a little bit."

Across the country, a majority of Americans support the death penalty, but that support appears to be waning.

A 2013 Pew Research Center survey indicated that 55 percent of U.S. adults favor the practice, while 37 percent oppose it, a big drop from two years earlier, when 62 percent said they favored the death penalty for murder convictions and 31 percent opposed it.

Wednesday's execution began at 1:53 p.m., after Wood's last words, in which he thanked his attorneys, said he had found Christ and concluded, "May God forgive all of you."

According to Arizona Republic reporter Michael Kiefer, who witnessed the execution, lines were run into each of Wood's arms. Wood was unconscious by 1:57 p.m. At about 2:05, he started gasping, Kiefer said.
"I counted about 640 times he gasped," Kiefer said. "That petered out by 3:33. The death was called at 3:49. ... I just know it was not efficient. It took a long time."

The length of the process drew swift condemnation from death-penalty critics.

"The worst part about Joseph Wood's botched execution was, it was entirely predictable and avoidable," Diann Rust-Tierney, executive director of the National Coalition To Abolish the Death Penalty, said in a statement noting that the same combination of drugs had been used in a problematic execution in Ohio earlier this year.

That was echoed by the Arizona director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

"Arizona had clear warnings from Ohio and Oklahoma," said Alessandra Soler, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona, calling for a moratorium on executions. "Instead of ensuring that a similar outcome was avoided here, our state officials cloaked the plans for Mr. Wood's death in secrecy."
The latest petition initially was filed in Pima County Superior Court after a federal appellate court's stay was lifted Tuesday by the U.S. Supreme Court. It argued that Wood had ineffective assistance of counsel during his trial, and also challenged Arizona's lethal-injection protocol and the drug cocktail used in executions.
Pima County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Lee dismissed Wood's first argument, but sent the question of Arizona's lethal-injection protocol to the state high court.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court had upheld Arizona's veil of secrecy around its lethal-injection drugs, permitting plans for the execution to proceed.

The high-court ruling knocked down a federal appeals court decision that the execution could not move forward unless the state turned over information about how the execution would be carried out.

Executions are public events. But in recent years, many states that still have capital punishment, including Arizona, have passed or expanded laws that shroud the procedures in secrecy.

The Arizona Department of Corrections planned to use a controversial drug, and it favors a controversial method of administering it, so Wood's attorneys demanded to know the qualifications of the executioners and the origin of the drugs to be used in the execution, claiming that Wood had a First Amendment right to the information.

On Saturday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.

The state appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which lifted the stay without addressing the First Amendment issue.

State officials said in court filings that they need to maintain secrecy because publicity has made it more difficult to obtain the drugs needed to carry out executions.

Drug manufacturers have begun refusing to sell to departments of corrections, forcing the departments to experiment with new and less reliable drugs or to specially order them from compounding pharmacies, which in turn are harassed by anti-death-penalty activists.

"Prisoners who are sentenced to death for their crimes have every right to know what drugs are going to be used," said Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, "but it would be a bad matter of policy if the manufacturer of these drugs were identified. The very reason we have a new drug protocol is because of the pressure and threats applied to the companies ... forcing them to stop making it."

It was not the first time the Supreme Court has ruled against a stay of execution based on drug secrecy. In 2010, it ruled against an Arizona prisoner asserting his right to know about lethal-injection drugs that turned out to have been improperly obtained from overseas.

The U.S. District and Circuit Courts in Washington, D.C., later determined federal law had been violated, which the Arizona Attorney General's Office denies.

"In most respects, what Mr. Wood is asking for is quite small," said Megan McCracken, a former federal defender who works with the University of California-Berkeley Death Penalty Clinic. "I think they don't want to set precedent about giving out information, and they don't want to come under scrutiny."

Sen. Ed Ableser, D-Tempe, called the execution barbaric and said: "This one is really on (Brewer's) shoulders. She can sign an executive order, put a stay on executions and let the Legislature find a better way to deal with violent criminals who deserve the maximum penalty, but one that is not cruel and unusual."

Dan Peitzmeyer, president of Phoenix-based Death Penalty Alternatives, said, "Actions like this might not cause us to totally repeal the death penalty. But it should sure as hell cause us to bring a moratorium to it and take a sincere look at what we're doing."

Executions by lethal injection using barbiturates such as pentobarbital more typically take about 10 minutes. But the European and American manufacturers refuse to supply it for executions. With the drug unavailable for death penalties, Arizona became the latest of four states to turn to another sedative, midazolam, first used for execution less than a year ago.

Arizona used it in combination with a narcotic, hydromorphone. Midazolam, by itself or with hydromorphone, has led to flawed, drawn-out executions in three other states.

Wood's attorneys had fought its use before the U.S. Supreme Court and then in a last-minute appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court, saying the drug was "experimental" and had not been proven to be effective.

Wood had been scheduled to die at 10a.m. Wednesday, but the state Supreme Court halted the process to consider a last-minute petition for post-conviction relief. The court lifted its temporary stay shortly before noon, clearing the way for his execution later in the day. Witnesses were told when the stay was issued to return by 1 p.m.

One day earlier, it was uncertain whether the execution would go forward. Wood's attorneys had filed for a preliminary injunction to stop the execution unless Arizona revealed where it had obtained the midazolam and divulged the qualifications of the medical team that would administer it.

In October and January, midazolam was used in executions in other states. Both times, witnesses said that the condemned prisoners appeared to gasp for breath and took longer to die than with the barbiturates that were used until they became unavailable.

And in April, an Oklahoma inmate was executed using the drug, but the medical person inserting the catheter into a groin artery completely punctured it, sending the drug into the soft tissue beneath. The man writhed in pain for more than 40 minutes before dying of an apparent heart attack.

Wood's attorneys asked for information with those incidents in mind. A U.S. District Court judge denied a stay. But on Saturday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted it, with the condition that it would be vacated if the state turned over the information. The Arizona Attorney General's Office appealed the 9th Circuit ruling and the U.S. Supreme Court threw it out Tuesday afternoon.

Wood chose not to have a special "last meal" Tuesday night, instead eating the sausage and mashed potatoes that the rest of the prisoners were served.

In 1989, Wood was living with Debra Dietz, who supported him and paid for the apartment they shared. But Wood was abusive, and after Dietz moved out of the apartment, he stalked her.

On Aug. 7, 1989, Wood became enraged when Dietz wouldn't take his calls. He went to the auto body shop where Dietz worked for her father. Eugene Dietz was on the phone when Wood reached the body shop; Wood waited for him to hang up and then shot him in the chest without saying a word.

Wood then hunted down Debra Dietz and shot her twice in the chest.

Megan Finnerty and Megan Cassidy contributed to this article.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Teacher victimized in AZ DOC prison rape files claim for $4 million.


Arizona teacher files $4M claim in prison rape

Craig Harris, The Republic | azcentral.com  
5:03 p.m. MST July 18, 2014

A teacher who was assaulted and raped after being left alone in a state prison classroom with convicted sex offenders earlier this year filed a $4 million claim Thursday against the Arizona Department of Corrections.

Department officials declined to comment, but prisons Director Charles Ryan has previously acknowledged that the woman was "brutally assaulted."

Inmate Jacob Harvey was indicted in May on charges of sexual assault, kidnapping and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the Jan. 30 attack.

In the notice of claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, the woman's attorney alleges the teacher was in a room with seven sex offenders on the day of attack with no supervision from correctional officers. The claim says the state engaged in gross negligence and intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon the woman.

The claim says the woman typically would teach inmates in the visitation room at the Meadows Unit, which houses sex offenders, at Eyman Prison in Florence. That area was monitored by security cameras and correctional staff.

Yet, on the day of the attack, because of a special event, she was sent to a classroom that wasn't monitored by security cameras and for 90 minutes "not a single corrections officer entered the classroom to perform a security check," the claim says.

At the end of the teaching session, six of the inmates left the classroom, but Harvey remained behind. He stabbed the woman repeatedly with a pen, choked her, slammed her head into the floor, tore off her clothes and raped her, the claim states.

"The lack of basic security measures provided Harvey the opportunity to rape and assault (the victim) that he never should have had," the claim says.

The Arizona Republic does not publish names of sexual-abuse victims.

"They handed her a radio and said: 'If anyone acts out, let us know,'" said Scott Zwillinger, the woman's attorney. "The guy who raped her should have never been in a medium-custody unit."

The teacher told investigators she screamed for help, but none arrived. Afterward, Harvey tried to use her radio to call for help. It had apparently been changed to a channel the guards didn't use, so Harvey let her use a phone.

A medium-custody unit is the second-lowest classification for inmates held in the Department of Corrections.
Harvey is now in a maximum-custody unit.

Harvey, 20, was originally serving a sentence until 2041 after being convicted of sexual assault, kidnapping and dangerous crimes against children.

Zwillinger said Harvey was convicted of raping and beating a woman in front of her toddler during a home invasion.

The claim says the DOC failed to provide a safe environment for the teacher and created a situation "where a violent rapist was left alone wholly unsupervised in a classroom with a teacher who did not have sufficient training, expertise and equipment to manage the inmate and protect herself."

The claim says that if the state does not settle, the woman will file state and federal lawsuits, and that "it is likely a judgment will be obtained that, in total, will exceed 10 million dollars."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mexico Hearts Chuck Ryan, while AZ DOC insists on keeping non-English speakers ignorant.

I have been accused of spreading propaganda about the Arizona DOC on more than one occasion by Chuck Ryan, Jan Brewer's most favored perpetrator of punishment (I think Terry Stewart actually has something on her, to tell you the truth - that's the only reason she could possibly still be standing by her man). All I do, though,  is tell folks what prisoners and their families and the DOC staff are telling me - and when hundreds of people are saying the same thing about something they see, I think that has more weight than the witness of the perpetrator who is denying not only responsibility, but the existence of a problem to begin with.  I dont need a huge budget for my blogging - nor have I ever been sued - because all I do is tell the truth. Ryan, on the other hand, has to pay a whole crew to spin his leadership failures for the public as success. That should tell you something.


So should the way the DOC packaged and promoted this story about the books from Mexico last week in all the local and national media they could. Talk about propaganda! If I was a prison director anywhere else in the country I would be pretty pissed off at the Arizona Department of Corrections' claim that their "education programming is among the most robust for corrections departments throughout the United States." What arrogance to suggest that this state is seen as a role model for other DOC's anywhere. In truth, the AZ DOC is INFAMOUS across the country for being the most brutal, abusive place to do time, and one of the most dangerous systems to work in: the heroin traffic, gangs and violence are raging out of control and prisoners are dying all over the place of neglect.


The AZ DOC cares so little about the educational needs or rights of their Spanish-speaking prisoners that they haven't even bothered to translate a single of their policies into Spanish, despite having over 5,000 foreign nationals in their prisons. Spanish-speaking prisoners have to rely on bi-lingual prisoners to translate for them if they are filing a grievance, appealing  a disciplinary action, trying to obtain medical care, or even speaking to a medical professional about their prostate cancer. That means they dont have fair access to the courts, or resources, or anything in prison. AZ DOC makes us all look like hypocrites, living in a true sham of a democracy.

THAT's why the Mexican Government donated textbooks for Arizona's Spanish-speaking prisoners. And if any of those books are for educating their citizens about their legal rights as prisoners, you can bet they'll hit the incinerator before they see a single AZ prison library shelf...unfortunately they all look like children's books. Great.  DOC is going to be teaching adult prisoners how to "See Spot run" instead of how to make sure they get through their incarceration and make it back home alive. God forbid a foreign national should be allowed to read about his own rights in the custody of a hostile captor.




photo from the YUMA SUN, courtesy of AZ DOC


--------------------from the Director's Desk at the AZ DOC-------------------


07/10/2014

Textbook Donation

The government of Mexico has graciously donated more than 1,600 Spanish-language textbooks to the Department of Corrections.

These are now being distributed to our prison complexes throughout Arizona, where they will be made available in prison education libraries.

This donation goes beyond generosity. It addresses a fundamental need for this department, because books of this kind are an essential part of helping every inmate get an education.

Our commitment to inmate education is something that some people may not be fully aware of. ADC's education programming is among the most robust for corrections departments throughout the United States.

In a typical month, approximately 6,000 inmates are enrolled in some form of educational program such as functional literacy, career and technical education, special education or high school equivalency.

This is in addition to the tremendous amount of programming we provide to address substance abuse issues, promote self-improvement, and help inmates develop job skills that will help them become productive and law-abiding members of society when they're released. But without an educational foundation, inmates will not be able to make progress toward that goal.

A significant portion of our inmates speak Spanish as their primary or only language, and it's important that they have the resources they need in order to fulfill their responsibility to get an education.

This donation represents the best kind of partnership between two countries because it meets a substantial need and it will get tangible results. Sincerely,

Charles L. Ryan
Director

Scott A Bowers: Next President/COO of Corizon HealthScare.


I think I'd like to interview this fellow, if I can, and do a bit more research before I say much of anything about him, so stay tuned. Just found it interesting that there's yet another change in leadership there right now.

In the meantime, folks having trouble with accessing adequate health care services at the AZ DOC these days might want to check out these blog posts:

Corizon and the AZ DOC: Prisoners & Families, Know Your Rights (03/05/13)
 
Corizon's deliberate indifference: fighting back (05/30/13)

"DEATH SENTENCE": KPNX's Halloran and whistleblower expose depth of negligence at Corizon/AZ DO (05/22/14) 

Corizon's Cruel and Unusual Greed: follow the money with Prison Legal News (06/21/14)
 

PHOTO Credit: Nathan Morgan 
Nashville Business Journal


-------------- from Corizon's corporate website (as of 07/16/14)-------

Corizon News: Corizon Health Names Scott A. Bowers President and Chief Operating Officer

(07.07.2014)
 
BRENTWOOD, Tenn., July 07, 2014 – Corizon Health today named Scott A. Bowers as its President and Chief Operating Officer, effective Aug. 4, 2014.  Bowers, who was most recently President and Chief Executive Officer of United Healthcare Community Plan of Tennessee, brings 18 years of healthcare management experience to his new role...


FYI: I believe the new president can be sent certified mail as of Aug 4, 2014 at:

Corizon
12647 Olive Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63141
United States

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

ASPC-Lewis: Another Murder in "The Promised Land": Homicide of Gordon Lee (UPDATE)

UPDATE July 9, 2014

It's my understanding, from more than one source, that Gordon Lee was strangled to death in the ASPC-Lewis Bachman shower by three other prisoners, who then dragged him back to his cell, dressed him and put him in bed. Staff allegedly slept through the murder happening 15 feet away from them, and didn't do their 4am count. He was found dead the next day. I dont know why tyey killed him - there are plenty of more horrible pedophiles in Protective Custody, which is what the Bachman yard he was killed on is. PC has become an increasingly dangerous place these days.

According to my sources,  Lee was assaulted a couple of weeks before this attack, and told a nurse what happened to him but she failed to report it to anyone. Its unclear whether or not he also formally applied for additional protection after that - the investigation, if conducted honestly, should show his protective custody requests (many prisoners need to PC up from Protective Custody yards like Bachman because of drug debts or repeated victimization, so that wouldnt be unusual for him to request). 

I believe that Wendy Halloran at Channel 12/KPNX is on the job trying to get records, so I'll be tuning in to them for follow-up.

peggy plews 7/9/14

From original POST (7/7/14 6:53PM) 

This man was murdered on ASPC-Lewis/Bachman, the same yard Alex Clark was just killed on. Seems like Protective Custody (AKA "the Promised Land" by the guys in the process of getting there) is as dangerous as the rest of the prison system these days. That's a big warning sign, Arizona. 

Think the Governor is paying attention yet? Maybe she notices, finally - the problem is that she still just doesn't care. This guy was in for child molestation, anyway, so no one will care that he's been murdered. He's one of the few who get long sentences who fessed up, interestingly - his plea was apparently not to avoid dying in prison - usually these long sentences are reserved for those who deny their guilt, like the truly innocent convicted at trial.  About 8-15% of sex offenders, by at least one prominent exoneration study, are likely to be innocent.

Gordon Lee's plea deal pretty much guaranteed he would never again be free, in fact - and maybe he felt he shouldn't be. You'd be surprised how many men who perpetrate these kinds of crimes against children are remorseful and want only to not hurt anyone again. Some mutilate themselves, and many commit suicide to protect the world from the monsters they fear they have become. Some even beg their judges to lock them away forever, castrate, or execute them. Many of them know what it's like to be violated, as survivors of childhood sexual abuse themselves; they never wished to become what they abhorred. Gordon Lee may have been a  sick human being to do what he did, but at least he didn't make the victim and her family go through a trial, or call her a liar in court. He owned his crimes against that child, when so few people ever do. There must have been some humanity in him somewhere.

Condolences, by the way, to anyone who cared for this man. Thoughts go out to his victim as well, who will likely relieve certain feelings all over again and have unexpected ones as well, in light of this news...  

(Remainder of post EDITED out - it was all speculation inviting people to contact me)

If anyone has any additional information about this homicide or this mans life, please contact me. He had no known close friends or family contacts outside of prison.


Reach me at 480-580-6807 arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com.


Monday, July 7, 2014

AZ DOC's Chuck Ryan takes rape seriously. Seriously?

Most readers are aware by now that a teacher at AZ DOC's supermax complex, ASPC-Eyman, was stabbed and raped in January after being left alone in a classroom with one of the sex offenders she was educating, on a sex offender unit, where teachers have routinely been left alone with students. Here's the more complete account of the incident by the AP just last month.

One might expect this to have happened sooner or with greater frequency, given the poor security measures taken at the state's "most secure" facility. Despite their charges, however, I suspect that most of the students would have come to this teacher's defense if they had been present when it happened - they not only value their educational opportunities and appreciate the people who offer them, they also know this whole incident will keep educators and other civilians away for years to come, now.  

Seems like any dummy in the Governor's office can take one good look and advise the AZ DOC director that Warden Credio is putting female staff and volunteers at risk by leaving them alone in classrooms full of sex offenders with no surveillance (or even pepper spray, until now), but in the aftermath of this rape report going national in June, the Arizona Occupational Safety and Health Administration has decided to conduct an investigation into staff safety at Eyman. I guess Arizona wants the nation to know that we take rape seriously here - we do if it happens to anyone other than a prisoner, at least. We refuse to abide by the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, which should tell you something about how else we treat our prisoners.


Unfortunately, OSHA never investigates when prisoners are assaulted or injured on the job because prisoners are technically slaves of the state, or this might have been prevented. If ANYONE other than the DOC investigated prisoner assaults and deaths (and had authority to change things there), they would have most certainly required additional safety measures to be taken at Eyman and elsewhere. 


In fact, the whole system would be safer to work and be confined in than it is now if someone from outside of it - like the legislature or auditor general's office -took a good close look at how it's being run.  Makes you wonder where that billion dollar budget is being spent, since it clearly isn't going into facility repairs, surveillance cameras, security personnel, health care, psychiatric treatment, or substance abuse programs. (Hmm. I'd love to see DOC administrator's expense accounts and departmental credit cards...)

Needless to say, mainstream media has been rather critical of the AZ DOC over this, to which the director felt compelled to respond last week. It was such classic bureaucratic BS that I'm posting it below - along with the comment I left at the end of the article. Go to the source for the other remarks, including those by former Eyman Deputy Warden Carl Toersbijns...




--------------------- 


Prisons director: Actually, we do take rape seriously

AZCENTRAL.COM
Charles L. Ryan, AZ I See It 5:50 p.m. MST July 2, 2014

Regarding what I believe to be a misrepresentation of the Arizona Department of Corrections' response to an assault on one of its own employees, ("Is rape an acceptable risk for teachers? We think not," Editorial, Saturday):

On Jan. 30, a staff member at the Eyman corrections complex in Florence was brutally assaulted by an inmate. As the Department of Corrections reported in news releases that day and the following, a criminal investigation was immediately launched with the goal of pursuing prosecution of the inmate suspect to the fullest extent. In May, the inmate was indicted by a grand jury on charges including sexual assault, kidnapping and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Contrary to The Republic editorial board's assertion of indifference, every assault against staff and inmates is reviewed extensively and thoroughly investigated. In fact, when I returned as director in January of 2009, I changed the previous policy and ordered that all physical actions taken by inmates against staff or other inmates be reported and investigated, whether an injury occurred or not. This sends the strong message that every assault is intolerable.

Obviously, this incident at Eyman was a despicable and cowardly act — a fact clearly stated by this department when the documents from the criminal investigation were released to the news media.

But an Associated Press story published June 22 in The Arizona Republic indicated, "Prison officials dismissed the concerns. They say assault is a risk that comes with the job of overseeing violent inmates." This is not a department quote. It's the description by the AP reporter.

Department practice is quite the opposite. Staff and inmate safety is our highest priority — a fact reflected and borne out by ongoing training and assessment of security protocols. Significant focus is given to ensuring that all staff remain vigilant that any inmate, regardless of custody level or prior criminal history, can turn violent.

Such self-examination is ingrained in the daily work of the Department of Corrections. It results in decisions to create sector officers who conduct security checks on staff working in isolated areas; random physical, visual, radio and phone checks of such sectors; implementation of chemical-agent and hand-held radio training; addition of cameras where appropriate; and numerous other security measures that are constantly being reviewed.

Reporting on corrections can be tainted by sensationalism. Each assault in prison is thoroughly reviewed and investigated, and those responsible are held accountable administratively or criminally for their actions.

The safety of our staff and inmates has been, and always will be, my commitment and first priority.

Charles L. Ryan is director of the Arizona Department of Corrections.

Join the Conversation...


Peggy Plews · Top Commenter · Editor at Arizona Prison Watch

Violence against the staff at the AZ DOC - as well as a jump in the viciousness of attacks on more vulnerable prisoners such as transgender women and those with mental illness, has increased under this man's leadership, causing such concern among officers that one of the employee associations has asked Judicial Watch to investigate and local advocates have called on the US department of Justice. Those pleas for outside intervention were preceded in November 2010 with an open letter to Jan Brewer by the Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association urging her to sack Chuck Ryan because, among other things:

"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..."

The Minority Leader for the Arizona House of Representatives, Chad Campbell, has called for Ryan's termination more than once, and the media has feasted on the tragedies generated by the privatization of prison health care under this director. Of course, I've been calling for him to go for some time now, having heard from hundreds of prisoners and their loved ones about highly racialized gang violence, the heroin epidemic, pervasive despair and hunger, and gross medical neglect behind bars these days. Arizona should be ashamed of itself for rivaling the horrendous conditions attributed to prisons in far more impoverished countries run by dictators.

I hope some of you out there who know what I'm talking about have the courage to speak out and demand a new director. If you bother to call the governor's office about that, be sure to call your legislators as well - they are as much to blame for all this as Brewer, for simply refusing to oversee the prisons and giving them a blank check to do as they please.

Please ask that the Governor re-visit the AZ DOC's determined non-compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act, too - I just received a letter from a gay prisoner who was raped and denied protective custody yet again, and the AZ DOC thinks they dont have a problem. http://www.arizonaprisonwatch.org/2014/06/az-state-prisoners-and-activists-call.html

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Execution by Deliberate Indifference: Killing Robert W. Murray.

UPDATED JULY 1 2014: There's nothing new about this, sadly - the AZ DOC has been executing prisoners all along by way of failing to treat their critical  medical and psychiatric conditions. Three death row prisoners in just over  a year have also committed suicide...





You must be a subscriber to see Gary Grado's newest article at the Capitol Times  about the above notice of Robert Murray's death -  if you can afford it,  check it out. Below is the original piece on Murray's cancer last fall, also by Grado, along with my post at the time. Not sure anything more needs to be said, except condolences to anyone who might have cared about this prisoner, as well as to the loved ones of his victims, for whom this will be an emotional time as well. 


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

SOS from Arizona's living dead: 
Deliberate indifference to life on death row
(originally posted to arizonaprisonwatch.org on September 26, 2013 7am)


 one of many letters received at AZ Prison Watch re: 
prisoner frustration over difficulty accessing medical care.

A big thanks goes out to Gary Grado at the AZ Capitol Times for interviewing this prisoner, and to the publication for making this particular article accessible to non-subscribers. Prisoners don't make sympathetic news subjects - especially not those on death row. A lot of folks would just as soon let Murray die of throat cancer untreated, in favor of putting those health care resources into the community (as if the state would actually re-direct "savings" there, instead of into the private pockets of profiteers). 

All I can say is that withholding medical care from Murray because the state plans to kill him anyway is akin to choosing to execute him by applying acid to his throat in small doses over the course of  9 months or so, letting it eat slowly away at his ability to  swallow, speak, and breathe, knowing this will not only kill him, but will make him suffer horribly as he dies. This has nothing to do with one's feeling about the death penalty - it's a question of whether or not you are for the constitution and against torture. If you believe in the rule of law, and that we should not torture our prisoners, then you have to support the provision of a basic standard of medical and mental health care to them.

The other thing is that prisoner health IS public health, and if we don't treat them inside, they come out with high rates of chronic illness, infectious disease, psychiatric disability, and so on. The imprisoned population is especially high-risk, medically, and many live marginally once back in the community, where they are more likely to lack access to health care than most non-felons. In prison they're frequently exposed to things like Hepatitis C (at least 40% of prisoners are believed to be infected), but as a captive patient population, they would be more likely than not to follow up on treatments and regimens that lower their mortality and long term health risks considerably, if their dietary plans and health care provider will offer them.

But that's not what appears to be happening. Deliberate indifference to human suffering is the absolute worst cancer there is in a society, and it's metasticized from the head of the AZ DOC to the agency's extremities. I hear stories like Murray's all the time, sadly - and it's not just the guys on death row. Remember Benny Joe Roseland? I've written to him a few times, but haven't heard back from him since writing that post. DOC says he's still alive, but that's all I can get from them.

Furthermore, as Dan Pochoda points out below, how we treat our prisoners says a lot about our society. The conditions in Arizona's prisons - from the medical neglect to the prevalence of heroin, the dominance of criminal gangs, and the rampant racialized violence - are among the worst in the country. There was a brief spell of progressive vision a the AZ DOC while Dora Schriro was director, under then-governor Janet Napolitano, but she was often mocked as being a "thug-hugger" for favoring rehabilitative programs over punishments, and her efforts were frequently undermined by the Good Old Boys network of DOC administrators and officers.

According to prisoners and former employees, things at the AZ DOC got dramatically worse as soon as Jan Brewer became governor, bringing Charles Ryan out of retirement to be her chief disciplinarian at the AZ DOC. The culture of contempt for prisoners and human rights that permeates that institution has actually been decades in the making, much of it under the direction of the younger Chuck Ryan, so all the bad stuff began to flourish again once he took over the reins there. 

I don't understand that man at all, I have to say. He's spent his career climbing that ladder, but now there, he appears to have utterly ceded control of his prisons to the gangs and profiteers - either that, or he's knowingly and intelligently aiding and abetting them. In either case,  his directorship  should be an embarassment to the Governor's office - for some reason Jan still stands by her man, though. 

Check out the other work the Capitol Times has been doing on the prison system here. If you're a subscriber, this is a pretty good piece that just came out about the class action lawsuit over health care, also by Gary Grado:

Exhibit in class-action lawsuit details failings of prison health system



-------from the AZ Capitol Times (9/16/13)--------

Prison ordeal

Death row inmate struggles with cancer

By Gary Grado

Published: September 16, 2013 at 8:41 am


A lab discovered death-row inmate Robert Murray had cancer the same day a Scottsdale surgeon removed his tonsils, but his disease went unknown to him and untreated for seven more months.

As Murray, 48, and his lawyers try to figure out what went wrong with his medical treatment, one thing is certain. The breakdown coincided with the turmoil surrounding the Department of Corrections’ transition to a private health care provider for Arizona prisoners, and his situation didn’t improve after the first company parted ways with DOC and a new company came under contract.

Murray endured long, painful delays between doctor’s appointments, a misdiagnosis, and a time in which blood from a burst abscess on his tonsil gushed from his mouth. He came to learn he had cancer when the surgeon he hadn’t seen in months asked him if he was finished with radiation to treat the illness, a treatment he never had.

Despite the delays, the cancer didn’t spread. Murray said an oncologist told him that although the situation could have become grave, he should have a full recovery with proper treatment.

“It was prayer, luck it just didn’t explode like it could have,” Murray said in a 21-minute interview from death row in Arizona State Prison Complex-Florence, where he’s been locked up since October 1992.

Such allegations aren’t unusual. A class-action lawsuit alleging DOC has provided inadequate health care for years offers other medical horror stories. And a suit recently filed by the survivors of an inmate who died in October 2012 alleges employees of Wexford Health Sources Inc. of Pittsburgh refused to treat him while he convulsed on the floor. Wexford is a company that provides prisoner health care in Arizona and elsewhere.

“We get weekly at least one letter that is equivalent, literally, to this fellow on death row,” said Dan Pochoda, the legal director for ACLU-Arizona.

Pochoda is one of more than 20 lawyers involved in the class action suit. He said the medical hardships of prisoners don’t resonate with the public, but they should because the state has a heavy obligation to provide adequate health care once it takes control of someone’s life.

“To paraphrase Dostoevsky, the test of a society is how they treat persons in prison,” Pochoda said.

Pleas for help

Murray and his brother, Roger Murray, are on death row for convictions in the May 14, 1991, robbery and murders of Dean Morrison, 65, and Jacqueline Appelhans, 60, at their store in Grasshopper Junction in Mohave County.

Morrison and Appelhans were found face down in their bathrobes, shot several times each in the head with shotguns and handguns. Appelhans was clutching Morrison’s arm.

Murray wrote a book titled “Life on Death Row” in which he denied committing the murders.

He has contended with an assortment of health problems during his 21 years in prison, and it was during an examination in February 2012 that he first complained of a lump in his throat.

Murray’s tonsils were becoming swollen and sore by April 2012, which was one of the final months that DOC provided medical care. Murray saw a DOC doctor in May and was diagnosed with an infected tonsil and given antibiotics.

Just days before his appointment, DOC and Wexford Health Solutions announced the company had been awarded a five-year contract to provide onsite medical, dental, pharmacy and mental health care, as well as the administration of third-party services.

Murray claims in a nine-page affidavit that the antibiotics had no effect and his many requests over the next month to see a doctor went unfulfilled as the swelling worsened and swallowing became difficult.

“His neck and face were visibly deformed,” said Murray’s attorney, Jennifer Garcia, a deputy federal public defender.

Wexford took over on July 1, 2012, and the company informed Murray he was on a waiting list to see a doctor, even as he continued to submit medical requests pleading for help.

“At least once during this period I overheard RX delivery nurses state that ‘Wexford has no available doctors for (the infirmary),’” Murray wrote.

In a Cure Notification, a letter to Wexford to outline how it wasn’t complying with the contract, DOC said the company’s staffing shortage created “inappropriate scheduling gaps in on-site medical coverage.”

In his requests to see a doctor, Murray writes about shooting pains in his ear, choking and coughing and difficulty breathing. He saw a nurse practitioner on July 20, 2012, who became alarmed by his condition and prescribed “magic mouthwash,” a formula of various medicines used to treat ulcers in the mouth.
Four days later the abscess burst.

“A warm fluid gushed into my mouth, I thought I may be vomiting and hurried to my sink,” he wrote.

He was rushed to the hospital, but he didn’t see a surgeon until September and wasn’t on the operating table until Nov. 19, 2012.

DOC, meanwhile, was already unhappy with Wexford’s performance, stating in the Cure Notification that the company was inadequately staffed, administered medication incorrectly, inconsistently and incompletely, and lacked a sense of urgency in addressing crisis situations.

DOC referred to several incidents in which it said Wexford did not comply with the terms of the contract, including not giving medication to a mentally ill inmate who hanged himself and a nurse who contaminated diabetes insulin with syringe tainted with Hepatitis C and continued to inject inmates with it.

Wexford responded with a letter of its own explaining that “the majority of the problems Wexford now faces are long-standing issues, embedded into (DOC) health care policy and philosophy, and which existed well before Wexford Health Sources assumed responsibility of the program.”

Wexford also alleged that DOC kept key information hidden during the procurement process.

An aggressive form of cancer

Dr. Joel Cohen of the Allergy Ear Nose and Throat Center in Scottsdale removed Murray’s tonsils on Nov. 19 and sent them to a nearby lab. The lab confirmed he had cancer and phoned the results to Cohen the next day, according to the pathology report.

Dr. Sun Yi, a University of Arizona professor who specializes in cancers of the head and neck, said that after diagnosis, blood work and scans would be done to determine the severity, or stage, of the cancer, a process that generally takes a few months.

From there, the patient would be referred to various oncologists.

“With malignancy, the more time you wait the more time the tumor has to continue to populate and grow,” said Yi, who is not involved in the case. “The worst case scenario is the cat’s out of the bag situation where it metastasizes and becomes phase four and for most cancers incurable at that point.”

Yi said cancer in the throat is extremely aggressive.

There are no records of any of the steps Yi described in Murray’s medical file.

Murray said Cohen wanted to see him 14 to 21 days after the surgery, but “ADOC-Wexford failed to take action.”

Cohen said he reported the cancer by telephone to a doctor at DOC on Nov. 20, 2012, and recommended treatment.

The doctor said he regularly treats prisoners and he understands there are all sorts of prison protocol that must be followed for each visit. He typically wants to see a patient for post-operative visit in 10 to 14 days.

“The prisoners can’t always come back when they’re told to come back,” Cohen said.

He said it is not his responsibility to prescribe the cancer treatment.

A spokesman for DOC and spokeswoman for Wexford declined to comment for this story. The agency and company agreed Jan. 30 to end the contract and DOC signed a new one with St. Louis-based Corizon Health Inc., which took over services on March 4.

Murray’s throat was still irritated and swollen in the meantime, and he got an appointment with Cohen on May 14.

“He’s talking to Corizon all the time about this problem and no one seems to be addressing them for months either,” Garcia said. “It doesn’t seem to me things have been measurably better under Corizon.”

Murray said Cohen asked him about his radiation treatment, which he never had, but the doctor still didn’t tell him about the cancer.

Records indicate Murray was prescribed radiation and a CT scan that day, but there is nothing in the record explaining why. When Murray returned to the doctor’s office on June 7 he saw Lee, Cohen’s associate.

“He said, ‘You have cancer, you didn’t know,’” Murray said. “It was kind of an astounding moment, surreal.

I kind of expected something was not right.”

Ray Norris, a medical malpractice attorney with the firm Gallagher and Kennedy, said medical negligence is determined by whether a doctor fell below the standard of care.

Norris, who is not involved in Murray’s case, said standard of care is measured by what an ordinary, prudent, and reasonable health care provider would do under the same circumstance.

“If there was a breach of the standard of care, the question then becomes causation, or in other words, what difference did it make,” Norris said.

Murray’s theory is he thinks Cohen expected him to return for a follow up visit within a few weeks and was going to inform him then about the cancer, but when Wexford failed to schedule the appointment Cohen never followed up. “I think it was probably just an accident, but an accident can be easily overlooked,” Murray said.

Murray is still undergoing treatment, and while it isn’t going at the pace he would prefer, he said he’s been assured it is normal pace for treating such a cancer. He said he is still considering his options on filing a lawsuit and looking for a civil lawyer.

Health Decline

May 2012: Inmate Robert Murray diagnosed with possible infected tonsils and given antibiotics. Wexford Health Solutions is awarded $349 million contract to provide health services to Arizona prisoners.

June 2012: Swelling in neck worsens.

July 1, 2012: Wexford takes over medical services.

July 24, 2012: Abscess in neck bursts and Murray rushed to hospital.

Aug. 17, 2012:  In an incident not related to Murray, Wexford nurses are accused of improperly administer medication by making inmates lick powdered medication from hands.

Aug. 23, 2012: Mentally ill inmate who didn’t receive psychiatric medication for weeks found hanged in cell.

Aug. 27, 2012: Wexford nurse allegedly contaminates diabetes insulin with syringe tainted with Hepatitis C.

Sept. 21, 2012: Arizona Department of Corrections informs Wexford of assorted contract breaches.

Nov. 19, 2012: Murray, whose face is deformed from swelling, undergoes tonsillectomy and lab results show he has cancer.

January 2013: Murray’s requests for follow up with surgeon unfulfilled, problems and pain with neck persist. Wexford and DOC agree to cancel contract. Corizon becomes new contractor.

June 7, 2013: Murray informed he has cancer that went untreated for seven months.

The Atlantic: Solitary Confinement and the Teenage Brain...

SOLIDARITY WITH SOLITARY PRISONERS
(Tucson. June 9, 2014)

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


How Solitary Confinement Hurts the Teenage Brain
THE ATLANTIC
June 30, 2014
By Laura Dimon
Lately, Josh has been having delirious dreams, often waking in cold sweats, panicked and disoriented. “I started to feel like I was going crazy,” he said. The episodes are unpleasant, but they’re not unfamiliar; they’re reminiscent of the time he spent in solitary confinement as a teenager 16 years ago.

Josh’s story is a glimpse into a troubling practice that is sometimes considered too cruel for adults, and even more so when used on minors. The effects are damaging and lasting, and ultimately, they’re not just a problem for the child, but for society as a whole.

Solitary confinement involves isolating inmates in cells that are barely larger than a king-sized bed for 22 to 24 hours per day. It wreaks profound neurological and psychological damage, causing depression, hallucinations, panic attacks, cognitive deficits, obsessive thinking, paranoia, anxiety, and anger. Boston psychiatrist Stuart Grassian wrote that “even a few days of solitary confinement will predictably shift the EEG pattern towards an abnormal pattern characteristic of stupor and delirium.”

If solitary confinement is enough to fracture a grown man, though, it can shatter a juvenile.

One of the reasons that solitary is particularly harmful to youth is that during adolescence, the brain undergoes major structural growth. Particularly important is the still-developing frontal lobe, the region of the brain responsible for cognitive processing such as planning, strategizing, and organizing thoughts or actions. One section of the frontal lobe, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, continues to develop into a person’s mid-20s. It is linked to the inhibition of impulses and the consideration of consequences.

Craig Haney, a professor of psychology at the University of California Santa Cruz, has been studying the psychological effects of solitary confinement for about 30 years. He explained that juveniles are vulnerable because they are still in crucial stages of development—socially, psychologically, and neurologically.

“The experience of isolation is especially frightening, traumatizing, and stressful for juveniles,” he said. “These traumatic experiences can interfere with and damage these essential developmental processes, and the damage may be irreparable.”

Juveniles can be placed in solitary for disciplinary, protective, administrative, or medical purposes. For Josh, now 33, it was his “smart mouth,” he said, that landed him there. He spent time in isolation in five different Oregon juvenile detention facilities before he turned 18. Once, the isolation lasted for two weeks in a cell in the basement of Newport jail, he said.

Josh, who was detained for burglary, described solitary as a “dark, dark place” and a “profoundly lonely experience.” If juveniles endure it for too long, he said, “You rob them of their spirit. You may as well kill [them].”

The ACLU said that just hours of isolation “can be extremely damaging to young people.” In December 2012, the Attorney General’s National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence issued a report that read, “Nowhere is the damaging impact of incarceration on vulnerable children more obvious than when it involves solitary confinement.”

They noted that among suicides in juvenile facilities, half of the victims were in isolation at the time they took their own lives, and 62 percent had a history of solitary confinement.

The task force requested that the practice be used only as a last resort and only on youths who pose a serious safety threat. The UN expert on torture went further and called for an “absolute prohibition [of solitary confinement] in the case of juveniles,” arguing that it qualified as “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.”

In April 2012, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry issued a statement saying they concurred with the UN position. “In addition, any youth that is confined for more than 24 hours must be evaluated by a mental health professional, such as a child and adolescent psychiatrist when one is available,” they wrote.

Despite these declarations, there are about 70,000 detained juveniles in the U.S., 63 percent of whom are nonviolent. And in 2003—the most recent survey data available—35 percent had been held in isolation. More than half of them were isolated for more than 24 hours at a time.

The damage extends far past the time spent in isolation. Josh said that to this day he has “irrational thoughts or paranoia that seep in,” and that the “personal deficiencies” that solitary left behind, such as low self-esteem, are “hard to eradicate.”

“When you strip a person of their fundamental value, take away a core belief that, to someone, they matter, you really have no purpose for the time being,” he said. “Total—and I mean complete emphasis on total—worthlessness is always the final conclusion. This is who you are: a person who sits in a cell.”

He didn’t just feel worthless, he felt angry. He was a pliable teenager who had been hardened. By adulthood, he said, he had “a whole bag of chips on [his] shoulder.”

Congressman Tony Cardenas, a Democrat from California, has been fighting for juvenile justice reform for the past 18 years. He has voiced strong opposition to the use of solitary, saying that if there were a heavier focus on rehabilitation and restoration, re-offending rates would drop. Using solitary confinement, he believes, makes it more likely the child will commit a crime in the future.

“It’s an expensive cycle, the same dumb thing over and over and over,” Cardenas said. “Remember, they all become adults eventually.”

Some states are starting to reverse course. In February, for example, New York State corrections officials agreed to new guidelines that limit the maximum duration of solitary and curb the use for vulnerable populations. Inmates under 18 should now receive at least five hours of exercise and other programming outside of their cells five days per weeks. And last month, the Department of Justice settled a long-running lawsuit against the state of Ohio.

The New York Times reported that, “Under the new agreement, Ohio will sharply reduce and eventually end solitary confinement. It will also ensure that young people receive individual mental health treatment and educational services with the aim of preventing the disruptive behaviors that led to the confinement in the first place.” The Times called Ohio a model for juvenile detention reform.

But significant work remains. According to Ian Kysel, the Dash/Muse Fellow at the Georgetown Law Human Rights Institute, no states prohibit isolation of children in adult facilities and only a few states limit it in juvenile facilities. Kysel recommends that states and the federal government be required to publicly report when, why, and for how long children are being isolated.

“We must also reform our laws to ensure that children are detained only as a last resort and never held in jails or prisons designed for adults,” he wrote in a message. “Children should never be subjected to a cruel practice that works against rehabilitation and violates their fundamental human rights.” Protecting children from solitary confinement requires a national ban, and, Kysel argues, the federal government should enact a prohibition.

Until that happens, we’ll continue sending teenagers into solitary confinement and creating problems down the line. “The blood is on everyone’s hands,” Josh said. “Kids need to be nurtured. Put them in solitary confinement and you do exactly the opposite.”

This article available online at:
http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/06/how-solitary-confinement-hurts-the-teenage-brain/373002/