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.

until all are free -

MARGARET J PLEWS (June 1, 2015)


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AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Prison + Children = Suicide

I'm sorry I didn't get this out when it first happened. I hope this kid's sentencing judge heard about his suicide, and thinks twice about how he sentences children in adult court. We have to think of better ways to work with these kids - and sooner.

As a survivor of sexual assault myself, even I don't believe that prison is the answer, especially for kids. It just traumatizes and twists people more deeply, and either makes them more mean or more self-destructive: in either case, there's a high recidivism rate pointing to the fact that prison fails most prisoners. A few rare souls may emerge "better" people, not because of the prison so much, though, as because of who they already were going in. My bet is that prison destroys more lives than it helps to rebuild...lives like Jerry Kulp's.

Our condolences to Jerry's family and friends.

Teenage state prison inmate dies in Tucson

Associated Press

Posted on May 12, 2010 at 6:19 PM

Updated Thursday, May 13 at 9:31 AM

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Authorities say a state prison inmate has died at a Tucson hospital less than a week after an apparent suicide attempt.

Arizona Department of Corrections officials say 17-year-old Jerry Kulp died Tuesday at University Medical Center after being taken off life support. They say Kulp's family authorized the withdrawal of care.

Kulp was transported to the hospital on May 5, just two days after he entered the prison system.

DOC officials say Kulp was sentenced out of Maricopa County and was serving 10 years for sexual assault. He was at the minors unit of the state prison complex in Tucson.

Harm Reduction in Prison: Under the Skin.

We need to be organizing more programs like this here, too. Pretty cool that they went around interviewing the prisoners instead of letting all the "experts" speak for them...


Under the Skin: A People’s Case for Prison Needle and Syringe Programs

What do people in prison have to say about the Canadian government’s unwillingness to permit the distribution of clean needles in prison?

Between 2008 and 2009, interviews were conducted in person and over the phone in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, resulting in sworn affidavits or testimonials from 50 individuals who have used drugs or shared needles in a federal prison. The hope is that their stories will strengthen the case for change, which governments continue to ignore even as a growing body of evidence highlights the need.

The Legal Network is not alone in calling on the federal government to implement needle and syringe programs in Canada’s prison. Our position is supported by the Canadian Medical Association, the Ontario Medical Associations, the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the Correctional Investigator of Canada and the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Furthermore, a 2006 review of the scientific evidence by the Public Health Agency of Canada concluded that prison-based needle and syringe programs have largely positive outcomes for the health of people in prison.

Published On 2010-02-02
Author Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
Topics Prisons, Drug Policy and Harm Reduction
Document Type Reports
Language English
Doc Id 1594

Prison Health News: Get It.

Dear friends and colleagues,

After a few years break, Prison Health News is back and better than ever -- with four extra pages of health care and advocacy information in each issue, and a network of over 2,000 subscribers and contributors in prisons and jails across the country.

In 2001, Prison Health News was launched to meet a critical need for information written by and for people who have been in prison or are currently behind the walls. Our readers are living inside a system that denies them prevention tools and treatment information about HIV, hepatitis, and other health issues. They are dealing with medical neglect, daily humiliations driven by intense stigma, and the destruction of their communities by mass imprisonment. Prison Health News works to build community across the prison walls that divide us.

Now a joint project of the Institute for Community Justice and Reaching Out: A Support Group with Action, each Prison Health News issue is produced by a Philadelphia-based collective of writers and editors, most of whom have been in prison and are living with HIV. Through our collaboration with the Philadelphia FIGHT AIDS Library, we are able to answer the many letters to us from people in prisons and jails asking for resources and health information. We also work in partnership with organizations across the country who assist with distribution, support and advocacy for people incarcerated in their cities and states. Contact one of our Resource Partners to get involved in your local area!

Our relaunch issue features:

  • From the Crack House to the White House – on the inspirational journey of one PHN writing collective member from her incarceration to her involvement in national and international advocacy work

  • Hearts on a Wire – on the work of a Philadelphia-based collective fighting alongside trans folks in the prison system and those coming home for justice, dignity and respect.

  • Staying Safe and Healthy in Prison – on the basics of HIV prevention in correctional settings, based on a Roll Call presentation conducted every June in the Philadelphia Prison System

You can view Issue 8 online. You can also download a printable version of Issue 8, formatted for double-sided photocopying.

Fischer v Lynch: AZ House Committee on Sentencing

I had a family emergency on the morning of this meeting and was unable to attend to give my own testimony, which I'll mail to them and post as soon as I have time (if I still have time).

The administrative contact person for the committee appears to be his assistant, Maureen WIlliams, at or 602-926-3695 - I'd suggest sending any additional remarks you have for the committee to her. Please do so, if you have anything constructive to add at all - but read the whole set of meeting minutes at the Legs website first - we need to respond directly to Fischer's report; Mona Lynch did a lot towards that end.
This comes to us from Camille Tilley, by the way - she's on top of all of this better than I am most days.


Minutes of Meeting
Friday, May 14, 2010
House Hearing Room 5 -- 10:00 a.m.
Chairman Ash called the meeting to order at 10:05 a.m. and attendance was noted by the secretary.

Members Present

Representative Goodale Representative Ash, Chairman
Representative Hendrix
Members Absent

Representative Konopnicki (excused) Representative Tovar (excused)
Representative Sinema (excused)

Opening Remarks
Chairman Ash remarked that the state’s financial situation has compelled legislators to re-evaluate state government and this seems like a good opportunity to review the state’s sentencing structure.  There have been 30 years for evaluation since the Sentencing Code was reenacted in 1978; there have been some good results, but some things need to be looked at in light of technological advances and other methods of incarceration, sentencing and rehabilitation.   

Mrs. Goodale welcomed everyone and said she is excited about the opportunity to look at new research and what has been working in other states.  She served as a probation officer in
Mohave County for 33 years where she interacted with many people in the criminal justice system from the judiciary to the prisons.  She believes it will be possible to develop a better product that will serve everyone while preserving public safety, which is first and foremost, and fiscally watching taxpayer dollars.

Mr. Hendrix stated that he appreciates Chairman Ash taking a lead on this issue and he looks forward to being involved.

Testimony on Sentencing

Representative Jerry Madden, Texas House of Representatives; Vice-Chairman, House Corrections Committee; Member, House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee, via teleconference, stated that Texas has been held up as the leading example of what is now called justice reinvestment.  He said he had no experience in the criminal justice system until 2005 when he was appointed Chairman of the Corrections Committee by the Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives who gave him the directive not to build new prisons because they cost too much.  When the Texas Legislature entered the 2007 Session he was informed that the prison population would increase by 17,000 by 2012.  It costs about $42 per day to house each prisoner and Texas had over 150,000 prisoners.

Representative Madden related that he worked with a Senator who is knowledgeable about the prisons to make sure the system is cost-effective and things are done the right way.  The probation system was reviewed to determine how it is working.  Most prisoners were not directly sentenced, but violated probation, and 13,000 were technical violations, so to lower those numbers, it was necessary to determine how to break the cycle of recidivism.  The best and cheapest place to do that is when people are young so they never get into the system; the second place is in the school system; the third place is probation; the fourth place is in the prisons by providing the right programs; and the last place is when prisoners are on parole and back in the community.

He said in reviewing who is in prison, it was determined that many have drug or mental health problems, many are school dropouts or low performers and many have a combination of those issues.  The three types of prisoners are the really bad individuals that if let out of prison return immediately for which it is a waste to spend money on, those who will never return to prison for which the only item he would consider spending money on is education so they become better taxpayers and the majority that he calls swingers who may or may not return depending on what programs and treatment are provided and their drug habits or alcoholic problems.  The swingers are the prisoners that were concentrated on in Texas, and a critical item in doing that is good risk assessment. 

Representative Madden noted that in Texas money was added for treatment of probationers with mental health problems and support was provided to the Nurse-Family Partnership at a cost of $8 million to break the cycle at a young age.  To break the cycle in schools, some things in school districts were changed such as no longer allowing violations of the code of conduct to be a misdemeanor, reviewing gang and bullying activities, along with intervention and support for juvenile probation.  Much time and effort was spent to make sure there were enough probation workers with proper caseloads, as well as intermediate sanction facilities, substance abuse facilities and specialty courts were expanded to give judges more options. 

He said that in prison the therapeutic treatment program for drug addicted individuals was expanded and a program was put in place for alcoholics.

Representative Madden stated that for parole additional substance abuse treatment beds and intermediate sanction facilities were provided. The parole rate was reviewed and the Parole Board was asked to review the guidelines for release of the lowest-risk prisoners; Texas had about a 26 percent parole rate that was raised 3 to 4 percent without impacting public safety, which is the number one priority.  He added that there are wonderful think tanks that can develop ideas.  

Representative Madden advised of the successes achieved in Texas:
  • The projected cost of between $1.5 billion to $2 billion to build prisons and $40 million to run each prison per year was not incurred, but about $240 million was used for the additional programs. 
  • To date, the prison population has been reduced by about 2,500 prisoners. 
  • It is difficult to measure success for recidivism because there is a three-year measurement period, but some intermediate tracking can be done.  The parole revocation rate dropped by 29 percent the first year and another 3 percent in the second year, and there were fewer people in the juvenile and adult probation systems. 
  • Crime rates and violent crime rates are down.
  • The state is having trouble filling the additional 3,200 specialty beds for drug abusers because the specialty courts were increased and are keeping people out of the facilities and within the community, which means crime victims are being paid, more child support is being paid and the taxpayer burden is lessened. 
  • The revised forecast indicates there is no need to build new prison beds, at least in the next three to five years.

He suggested for the short term that Arizona concentrate on probation, which is where a quicker savings can be realized, dealing with and working on progressive sanctions, looking at specialized courts to help keep people in local areas, and parole rates to see if low-risk prisoners can be paroled without endangering public safety.   

In response to questions, he indicated that money will have to be invested in all of those areas, except possibly parole.  Additional funding was not provided for ankle bracelets in Texas and only a few minor changes were made to the definition of any crime.  In reviewing ankle bracelets, he found that some money can be saved with certain people; ankle bracelets are a definite incentive for many not to go out drinking, for example.  He said sentencing reform was not addressed in Texas.

Chairman Ash asked if Texas provided for early release of some prisoners. 
Representative Madden replied that there was not an early release program specifically, but people were eligible for parole review and the Parole Board was asked to look at the parole rates.  A risk analysis was already set up by the Legislature as a guideline for parole, which was not changed, but by putting programs in place, providing intermediate sanction facilities and additional caseload funding, parole departments can watch parolees better within the community.  Some people will probably not endanger public safety while on parole, which otherwise might have been put aside for another year or two.

Dana Hlavac, Deputy County Manager, Mohave County Criminal Justice Services, addressed the Committee about his perception of issues involving the sentencing laws of Arizona and made
13 specific recommendations (Attachment 1).

Dr. Daryl R. Fischer, Author Prisonersin Arizona, A Profile of the Inmate Population [March 2010], related that he is the former Research Manager for the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC).  The report he authored was commissioned by the Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys’ Advisory Council (APAAC) and provides the most in-depth statistical profile of the Arizona prison population ever attempted.  As of September 30, 2009, ADC housed 40,514 inmates, including 40,431 sentenced for crimes committed in Arizona.  The purpose of the study was to help in the debate concerning alternatives to incarceration and early release of state prisoners as a budget-cutting measure.  Since non-violent first offenders are usually the first group to be considered for some type of early release, the thrust of the study was to determine how many inmates fell into this category.  It was also possible to develop a broad array of statistics detailing the present and past criminal activities of Arizona prisoners. 

Dr. Fischer reviewed statistics from the report and noted that the fact that 94 percent of inmates are violent or repeat offenders runs counter to perceptions of some outside observers who stated publicly that as much as half of the prison population consists of non-violent first offenders, the kind normally targeted for some type of early release.  He said the criminal justice system is working fairly well.  There are not a large number of non-violent first offenders in custody and those that are in prison are there for definite reasons. 

He stated that the conclusion of the analysis is that the state appears to be getting its money’s worth for the current $1 billion annual investment in the prison system.  A previous study conducted while he was with ADC showed that recidivism rates were reduced by 25 percent for inmates who actively participated in rehabilitation programs prior to release.  The greatest reductions in recidivism were recorded by inmates who served 10 years or more.  Inmates need to be prepared to successfully return to the community, and when adequately funded, ADC does a good job of making sure that happens.

Dr. Fischer conveyed that as far as the overall picture of crime, the incarceration rate in ADC increased by 18.3 percent since 1995; the crime rate dropped by 42 percent since 1995 and reached the lowest level on record since 1966.  Violent crimes are at the lowest level since 1971, which he believes is mostly due to implementation of Truth-in-Sentencing in 1994 and the dedicated efforts of police, prosecutors, prison officials, etc., to keep dangerous felons behind bars.  Prison population growth in Arizona appears to have leveled off, and according to the Phoenix Police Department, violent property and drug crime in the city dropped by 24 percent over the last two years, which bodes well as far as future prison population growth.  He added that the entire report is available at

When asked if crime rates have dropped nationally, Dr. Fischer responded affirmatively and said it correlates with the fact that many states adopted some form of Truth-in-Sentencing, which he believes serves as a deterrent to crime to some extent.  There is no proof that incarceration reduces crime, but while an active criminal is locked up, that person is not committing crimes.

Chairman Ash noted that only 5.8 percent of the ADC prison population are non-violent first offenders, but just 2.8 percent of those might be considered for early release.  Dr. Fischer responded affirmatively, noting that there may be a question of why that lowest group is even in prison.  He mentioned that although a high percentage of the prison population consists of repeat offenders who have high recidivism rates, that is not the case for all inmates.  Many older inmates have lower recidivism rates, which does include repeat offenders.  The older inmate population could be targeted for early release, but unfortunately, many are convicted of more serious offenses such as murder and child molestation.  He recommended consideration of alternatives for people with sentences of one year and under, many of which are convicted of less serious crimes and have no history of violence.  Many have priors, but if those are not too serious, it may be appropriate to divert those prisoners to the counties to ease fiscal pressures on the state.

When asked about Representative Madden’s description of the three types of inmates,
Dr. Fischer replied that he developed a risk assessment instrument for ADC that sorts offenders into high, medium and low-risk groups.  Low-risk inmates will succeed no matter what is done for them; high-risk inmates have recidivism rates that seem to be relatively insensitive to much intervention; and the medium-risk (swing) group can go either way, which is where he believes the majority of resources in the prison system should be diverted to try to rehabilitate. 

Robert Hirsch, Pima County Public Defender, reviewed a handout relating to the way drug and alcohol offenders are handled in Arizona (Attachment 2).  He questioned if it is the right thing to do and if money should be spent to incarcerate people for small quantities of drugs since most are addicts who cannot help themselves.  He submitted that it is best not to worry about priors, but to worry about treatment to get people off drugs and alcohol and out of the prisons.  He endorsed New York’s Drug Treatment Alternative to Prison (DTAP) program and offered the following strategies for efficient crime control:

·     Develop sentencing guidelines in non-violent offenses that enable judges to make treatment and community confinement decisions based on evidence-based practices.
·         Implement cost-effective and workable programs for drug and alcohol offenders in lieu of prison. 

He added that Pima County needs money allocated for community treatment to take care of these people and make some changes.

Derek Rapier, Greenlee County Attorney; Chairman, Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys’ Advisory Council (APAAC), advised that APAAC commissioned the study by Dr. Fischer because of the financial problems of the state and the fact that the criminal justice system is not budget protected by referendum or otherwise; it has been protected throughout the years by a notion that the first duty of government is to keep the public safe.  Additionally, there has long been a notion that prisons are filled with first-time non-violent, mostly drug user offenders, which is not accurate. 

He said the drug problem in Greenlee County usually involves methamphetamine and/or marijuana, which has been attacked in a multidisciplinary fashion by providing more counseling in jails and long-term treatment, but there has to be some “teeth” in that if recovery is not taken seriously, there will be consequences because people do not accept things such as property crimes and murders.  He said he would love to have a panoply of options available, but he is not willing to suggest that because the mental health system or substance abuse treatment are funded, sentencing should be changed and these people should be released. 

Mr. Rapier contended that the statistics in Dr. Fischer’s study show that the right people are in prison, i.e., repeat and violent offenders (94 percent).  He opined that there is great danger in making changes in Arizona without the investment in alternative systems that Representative Madden talked about, which the state has not been willing to fund.  He indicated that anecdotal situations provide a snapshot and not a true picture of the overall problem, which is one of the values of Dr. Fischer’s study.  The prosecuting community does not suggest that simply throwing people in prison is the one factor in reducing the crime rate, but it is not something that can be ignored.  There have been reductions in crime rates, not only in Arizona, but across the country, particularly in states where mandatory sentencing has taken place.  Truth-in-Sentencing has resulted in a finite system where people who are sentenced to ten years know they will serve eight-and-a-half years.  There was also a reduction in overall sentence prison exposure that some may argue was not enough or in certain crime areas was not sufficient, but an attempt was made to address that, and there is honesty in the system now that was not present before. 

Mr. Rapier submitted that if a policy is pursued not to incarcerate child pornography defendants, children in Arizona will be at increased risk; it is disingenuous to say there is no link between child pornography and child sex crimes.  He cannot explain or quantify that link, but he is confident in saying that reducing that crime will result in increased risk to children.

Chairman Ash mentioned a newspaper article about a man who was sentenced to 14 years in his wife’s slaying, yet someone with no prior criminal history who looked at 11 pornographic pictures was sentenced to 100 years.  Mr. Rapier opined that judges should be given more discretion to handle those types of cases concurrently or consecutively.  He added that he is not opposed to looking at alternative solutions, but pointed out that someone who is released from prison and on the street likely poses some risk.

Jeremy Mussman, Deputy Director, Maricopa County Public Defender’s Office, expressed concern that the report by Dr. Fischer is being portrayed as a roadblock to any changes in the criminal justice system.  He noted that during an interview, Dr. Fischer said “I did this report for the prosecutors, but if I was doing it on my own, I would take a more balanced approach,” and Dr. Fischer repeatedly explained that the report does not address risk to the community. 

Mr. Mussman opined that the report creates categories that are quantified based upon macro information that is not tied to specific individuals who are in custody, and at times the information is based on anecdotal information that is not part of the charge for which the defendant was actually convicted.  It does not address the specific risk analysis of each individual, and Dr. Fischer specifically referenced that he has a risk analysis tool that ascertains whether or not individual defendants are a high risk to the community. 

He continued that APAAC provided him with the database to Dr. Fischer’s report where he found information showing that anyone who has a G (general risk) or V (violent risk) rating of 3 or lower is low-risk.  Based upon that data, there are 6,641 individuals currently in custody that are at the lowest end of the risk scale (Attachment 3).  At $56 per day that calculates to a savings of $375,000 per day and over $136 million per year for that group alone.  By looking at anyone who is G3 or V3, the calculation is upwards of $500,000 per year.  He submitted that this data needs to be cross-referenced to figure out the following:

·         How much money can be saved immediately by early release and which individuals can be released.
·         What inmates do in ADC to have such a low-risk factor.
·         What can be done to encourage inmates to take advantage of rehabilitation programs. 
·         How these people ended up in ADC in the first place, especially G1 and V1 individuals who are low-risk and self-correcting, but after exposure to the ADC environment may leave prison and be a danger to the community. 

Mr. Mussman asked that a small stakeholder group be created to analyze this data and develop recommendations.

Senator John Huppenthal, related that he chaired the Judiciary Committee for two years and read research to use best practices to guide policies.  As he encountered groups that are intent on reducing the prison population, it struck him that it is a noble objective, but it needs to be a secondary objective.  In New York State, the objective was to reduce crime, and a reduced prison population was a byproduct.  He suggested an experiment in Arizona with accountability measures at the local level as was done in New York City by Chief William Bratton, which resulted in a huge reduction in crime and the prison population.  Another element would be to increase the circulation rate of the prison population with guidance from researchers.  Also, Texas has more differentiation in prison populations, i.e., special prisons for extremely low-risk inmates, to reduce the cost of operating prisons, which should be a key piece. 

He added that he worked with the Pew Foundation on legislation to implement an incentive system for people on probation whereby the length of probation is reduced using a specific formula if an individual is drug-free and meets community service and restitution requirements.  The results appear to be very good so far; an all-time record of successful completion of probation was reached and revocation rates to prison decreased by 12 percent.  He said perhaps this type of incentive can also be used with prison populations. 

Mona Lynch, Associate Professor, Criminology, Law and Society, University of California Irvine; Author Sunbelt Justice: Arizona and the Transformation of American Punishment[Stanford University Press 2009], reviewed Arizona’s history in relation to the prison population and sentencing reform from the late 1970s to 2010 when Arizona is now faced with an unprecedented budget shortfall and immense pressure to make fixes to the criminal justice system.  She made the following statements about Dr. Fischer’s report:
·         It does not speak to creating an efficient and effective criminal justice policy; it is as if prison or nothing is the underlying assumption.  There is no discussion of other interventions that may be more cost-effective and more effective in general. 
·         There is a theory that incarceration works when much research suggests that is wrong, particularly for drug offenders. It does not consider the unintended negative consequences of imprisonment for the people in prison, as well as families and communities.    
·         It states that the prison population increase has contributed to crime decline, but crime has gone down everywhere, which many people believe is an aging factor, i.e., the crime-prone group is smaller now than in the 1980s. 
·         There are inferences about causality with no data to measure causality. 
·         The suggestion that longer sentences are more rehabilitative is problematic because an older population is leaving prison that is now in their less crime-prone years.  Similarly, offenses that may result in long sentences typically have low recidivism rates; they may be very serious but do not tend to be high repeat types of crimes.   
·         It does not consider alternative explanations for recidivism, including the failure of incarceration relative to other potential interventions. 

Ms. Lynch endorsed the idea of creating a bipartisan stakeholder group to categorize populations to be let out as a short-term response, but opined that some long-term solutions are also necessary, which means more money directed toward programming in prisons rather than simply warehousing.  Graduated release is considered an important way to get people back into communities through re-entry facilities, etc., and those types of low-cost releases can be done if sentences are shortened.  The difficulty will be determining the parameters of populations to be left in prison and those that can be better served in other types of facilities. 

She said New York, Kansas, New Jersey and Michigan all used a combination of sentence reform, alternatives to prison programs, early release programs, graduated release programs, investment in specialized courts and specialized treatment programs, etc.  A report by
Judith Greene tells how four states greatly reduced the prison population.  Ms. Lynch made the following suggestions:
  • Decide which offenders need to be in state custody as opposed to alternative local sanctions, calculate the optimal size to work with for long-term planning, make sure offenses that might be better addressed at the local level are legally eligible for local sanctions and consider whether the marginal cost of some lengthy sentences outweighs the marginal gains financially and on public safety grounds.
  • Build upon successes such as the incentive program mentioned by Senator Huppenthal.
  • Incentivize counties to manage offenders locally, develop effective crime prevention and/or early intervention programs and discourage sending an inordinate number of offenders to the state for incarceration.
  • For offenders in prison, adequately fund custodial and after-care interventions that have been demonstrated to reduce recidivism.
  • Consider using “carrots” and “sticks” to encourage local collaboration in these kinds of efforts. 

Chairman Ash pointed out that Ms. Lynch is from California and paid her own way to testify. 

David Gallagher, Executive Director, Arizona Addiction Treatment Programs, Incorporated, stated that he represents an out-patient clinic for licensed behavioral health, substance abuse and Driving Under the Influence (DUI) diversion and out-patient treatment.  The company contracts with the Administrative Office of the Courts and most referrals are from Maricopa County Probation.  He talked about the prevalence of alcohol and drug abuse among young people and adults.  He said some progress and changes have been made in Juvenile Court, at least in Maricopa County, through a program that Senator Thayer Verschoor came up with that was implemented in October 2009.  Also, people from the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program are developing good ideas about diversion, prevention and educating probation officers and parents.    

Public Testimony

Sandra Guziejka, representing self, Gilbert, testified that she has a son in ADC who is a non-violent offender and questioned why he cannot be released on electronic monitoring, especially since she and her husband are willing to be responsible for him on house arrest until his sentence is completed.  When Chairman Ash noted that Truth-in-Sentencing requires inmates to complete 85 percent of their sentence, Mrs. Guziejka responded that her son has done that.

Chairman Ash stated that her son should be eligible for release on community supervision and noted that posting of a bond is used in many areas of the economy to ensure performance, which he believes some families would be willing to do.  Mrs. Guziejka clarified that her son has a disability and is not able to produce urine samples in front of anyone, so he was allowed to do dry cell testing.  All of a sudden, he was not allowed to do that, so he filed a lawsuit for violation of his civil rights.  He never tested positive for anything and he is asking for alternative methods of testing, but he is losing some good time because of it and his contact visits have been reduced.

Chairman Ash noted that he cannot get into specific issues, but as a policy measure, it is necessary to explore the options for releasing people early who are not a threat, particularly if the inmate has family or community support.  He added that he will look into the situation.

Raymond Beckmann, representing self, Chandler, said he has an incarcerated stepson who is serving a five-year plea bargain sentence for merely possessing child pornography on his tainted computer.  In 2001, over 10 different people and minors had access to his open passwords and unsupervised computer in his apartment.  Parental controls and blocks did not exist at that time, and only today is sexting by preteens and cyberbullying being defined, which were definite behaviors that were perpetrated on his son’s computer.  False accusations, ignorance, poor lawyers and prosecutorial misconduct are reasons for this miscarriage of justice.  His son will be labeled a lifetime sex offender and will be severely restricted by those rules as long as he lives on the outside, which are almost impossible for any human being to comply with, and if he violates those rules, he will be resentenced for the same prison time he originally served.   

He asked the Members to eliminate the Adam Walsh Act and not adopt a new version, submitting that it has been proven not to work and it does not protect children in Arizona.  He indicated that there is a need to reform Arizona’s unjust existing sex offender and child pornography laws, which are overly broad and flawed.  He raised the following points:  

  • Why has the required time to serve been changed from 65 to 85 percent?
  • There is no consideration in the laws for early release for sex offenders, especially the non-contact, non-dangerous, non-violent, no possession of child pornography types. 
  • It is against the U.S. Constitution and it should be against state law to create and punish a class of people for the rest of their lives. 
  • Why is computer not included in the classification of A.R.S. Section 13-3553 since sexual exploitation of a minor is not clearly defined; it is a computer crime and should be properly identified as such. 
  • Grouping all sex crimes together is too much.
  • There is great disparity of punishment for child pornography possession countrywide.  California classifies child pornography as a misdemeanor and New Mexico does not even apply possession of child pornography.  All other states apply minimal sentence times.

Mr. Beckmann concluded by stating that he and his wife cannot believe their son is now a convict, suffering in prison, surviving amongst real criminals because he owned a computer that was tainted with several illegal images that he was charged with merely possessing.  He is not a criminal, child pornographer, pedophile, predator or a sex offender, yet Arizona brands him for the rest of his life.  Prosecutors are out for convictions and not necessarily the truth.  Defense attorneys are greedy and his son was forced to enter a plea of five years because the mental and financial resources of the family were depleted.  He asked for early release of those who are not a threat to society to give them a chance to live again.

Jeanne Thompson, representing self, Chandler, stated that she is the mother of an imprisoned sex offender and an activist.  She stated that she is happy that Tonya Craft, who was facing 400 years in prison on 22 counts of child molestation, was acquitted on May 12, 2010, even though she is not claiming victory because of the scars left in the aftermath.  In comparison, her son was advised not to go to trial because the risk was too great; if a computer expert proves child pornography images exist on someone’s computer, that person is sentenced to 10 years per image.  Also, after indebting the family for $70,000, it was not possible to come up with another $20,000 to $50,000 to take the case to trial.  Additionally, their son was suffering in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s inhumane jail and could not take any more abuse.  The family endured five nightmare years fighting for her son and another five years while he has been in prison, yet their story will go on for the rest of their lives unless changes are made to the horrendous sex offender law.  She asked the Members not to sign up for the Adam Walsh Act because adults, convicts and ex-convicts need to be protected and afforded constitutional rights. 

Chairman Ash said this is an area of law that needs to be looked at that he has discussed with prosecutors and defense attorneys; there are many sad cases.

Tom Tilley, Free Courtney Bisbee Coalition, Scottsdale, said his daughter is in prison.  Charges were pressed for 75 years and she was offered 44 days time served.  He told her he would never admit to something he did not do and now he is paying the price for saying that because she had a chance to get out of prison.  Also, she has to be registered as a sex offender, so there is something very wrong.

Camille Tilley, Free Courtney Bisbee Coalition, Scottsdale, stated that their daughter,
Courtney Bisbee, an honors graduate from the University of Southern Florida, came to Arizona with her husband, got a divorce and took a job at the Horizon High School in Paradise Valley.  She has been in Perryville Prison for four-and-a-half years.  She was arrested by a SWAT team at her home in Scottsdale in front of her four-year-old daughter because of a false allegation by a teenager.  She said her daughter needs to be reunited with her daughter.  She provided CDs, Freedom March for the Wrongfully Convicted [June 27, 2009] (Attachment 4) and Lawyers Anti-Andrew Thomas Protest [December 21, 2009] (Attachment 5).

Chairman Ash said there are serious problems; no system is perfect, but improvements need to be made.

Without objection, the meeting adjourned at 1:23 p.m.

                                                                        Linda Taylor, Committee Secretary
                                                                        May 27, 2010
(Original minutes, attachments and audio on file in the Chief Clerk’s Office; video archives available at

---------- DOCUMENT FOOTER ---------

May 14, 2010

Eric Holder: Stop Prison Rape.

Here's Just Detention International's most recent Press Release on protecting prisoners against rape, which provides many useful links on the subject:



Congressional Leaders, Advocates, and Survivors Call for Urgent Action A Year After Bipartisan Commission Proposed Federal Blueprint to Stop Sexual Abuse Behind Bar

Washington, DC, June 23, 2010. One year after the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission released national standards aimed at ending sexual violence in detention, a bipartisan group of lawmakers, advocates, and prisoner rape survivors called for urgent action as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder missed the statutory deadline to formalize the measures.

"It is inexcusable that the Justice Department would miss the deadline to implement these important regulations," said Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), a leading advocate for strong national standards. "After years of careful study and vetting by the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, the department is wasting time and taxpayer money on costly, duplicative reviews while the president's budget actually proposes cutting funds to implement these regulations."

The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 -- passed by a unanimous Congress and signed by President George W. Bush -- created the bipartisan Commission to develop standards addressing sexual abuse behind bars. Led by U.S. District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton, the Commission released its final recommendations on June 23, 2009. By law, Attorney General Holder was to promulgate a set of "zero tolerance" national standards within one year of that date.

Federal studies estimate that some 100,000 detainees are sexually abused each year in prisons, jails, and juvenile facilities. The Commission's research revealed that these attacks are not inevitable but the result of failures in facility management. The recommended standards outline the necessary policies and practices for stopping this violence, including regular audits to hold agencies accountable for mistreatment.

"I repeatedly reported the abuse I experienced, but officials took no real actions to protect me," said Scott Howard-Smith, a prisoner rape survivor. "People in prison constantly face the same horrible situation I faced. The Attorney General has it in his power to keep this from happening to others."

Just Detention International assembled and leads the Raising the Bar Coalition, a partnership of more than 60 organizations, from all points on the political spectrum, including leading progressive advocacy organizations and conservative faith-based groups, united in support of strong national standards to address sexual assault in detention.

Once the Attorney General issues final standards, the regulations will immediately be binding on facilities run by the Bureau of Prisons and other federal agencies. States will have one year to establish their compliance or risk losing five percent of their corrections-related federal funding.

"Every day that the Attorney General fails to implement these recommendations, men, women, and youth in detention will continue to get raped, even though we know how to end this type of abuse," said Lovisa Stannow, Executive Director of Just Detention International.

Prisoners sue Virginia to Stop Rape.

35 victims are willing to come forward in a prison in order to stop sexual violence there - that's astonishing. Unfortunately the following article focuses on 4/35 prisoner litigants who have violent histories as if everyone does. At least it acknowledges a bias that makes it hard for us to see predators as victims in a different situation, and feel any kind of empathy for them, however.

Most of the other litigants are probably doing hard time, actually (which suggests more serious offenses), so they have less to lose than guys trying to keep their good time or those finally approaching parole, so I wouldn't expect to find a bunch of angels suing prisons in general, especially in class-actions. Regardless of their crimes, though, I do think these guys should get some credit for taking this on - they're doing it as much for their peers and the next generation of prisoners as they are for themselves...this is a pretty major undertaking, with significant implications, whether or not these guys win. Just filing the suit cranks up the heat on the DOJ to investigate their victimization - I don't see how the DOJ could refuse to CRIPA the place now...

Like it or not, folks, we need to protect the real bad guys we lock up as much as anyone else, especially if they are ever to return to our communities. We don't want them coming back more violated and violent than when they went to prison. Nor do we want to resort to barbarism, ourselves (I hope). Knowingly subjecting others to rape and torture twists our own heads, policies, and priorities in ways we won't recognize some day, if we don't stop and take responsibility now. So, even when convicted rapists and murderers and child molesters report that they have been raped in prison, we'd better respond wisely and make sure that this particular crisis brings out the best, not the worst, in all of us who wish to be part of the solution instead of the problam.

Furthermore, some things need to be said for all the rest of the prisoners vulnerable in this place. 35 VA prisoners filed suit - that's a LOT of people from one facility taking a risk that they'll be retaliated against any number of ways (including assault and murder). Suing your prison isn't a very safe thing to do while you're in it; it takes guts. Check out what's been happening with the Soy Suit litigants in Illinois.

Considering the potential consequences they're braving here, this reporter really dissed all the guys who signed on to this Virginia lawsuit. Whatever else they have done in life, no matter how horrendous, and whatever their sentence may be, prisoners can still make decisions every day to try to improve the world around them, to just be victimized and grow more vicious or self-destructive, or to hurt others. Because of the angle this lawsuit is taking, the involvement of Just Detention International, and the likelihood that these guys (and their lawyers) won't ever see a dime as a result of it (their emphasis is on reform), I think these guys all made a decision to try to make the world a little better, despite their crimes. I think that deserves some respect, if nothing else.


Va. inmates file suits to stop prison violence

Published on | (

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Truth in Sentencing: You may be raped.

This article was actually written a decade ago - sounds like it could have been yesterday, though...


"NOT PART OF THE PENALTY": Judicial Abdication Of Responsibility For Protecting Prisoners From Rape

Thursday, Apr. 19, 2001

Rape in prison is a terrifying and traumatic experience. It is an abuse that no inmate, whatever the reason for his incarceration, should have to endure. As the Supreme Court has emphasized, rape is simply "not part of the penalty that criminal offenders pay for their offenses."

[prison rape]

Unfortunately, our justice system offers scant relief to sexually abused prisoners. Although inmates are, in principle, granted a degree of constitutional protection from harm, they face daunting obstacles to the assertion of their legal rights.

Rights Against Rape in Theory, But Not In Practice

In Farmer v. Brennan, a 1994 decision involving a transsexual inmate who sued prison authorities for failing to provide protection from rape, the Supreme Court recognized that prisoner-on-prisoner sexual exploitation is constitutionally unacceptable. Confirming the prior holdings of a number of lower courts, the Supreme Court held that a prison official violates the Eighth Amendment if, acting with deliberate indifference, he exposes a prisoner to a substantial risk of sexual assault.

Justice Clarence Thomas dissented. (Which came as no surprise. In his retrograde view, the Eighth Amendment should not be interpreted to cover any prison abuses. Instead, it only prohibits torturous punishments meted out by statute or by sentencing judges.) Justice Thomas apparently believes that rape in prison is inevitable. In his dissent, he stated that "[p]risons are necessarily dangerous places; they house society's most antisocial and violent people in close proximity with one another. Regrettably, some level of brutality and sexual aggression among [prisoners] is inevitable no matter what the guards do . . . unless all prisoners are locked in their cells 24 hours a day and sedated." (quotations omitted)

Although the law is set by the Court's majority, many lower court judges appear to hold views approaching those of Justice Thomas. Notwithstanding the relevant legal rules, many judges seem eager to abdicate responsibility for protecting prisoners from abuse. While they may be less explicit than Thomas in justifying their disregard of prisoners' claims of abuse, their actions, in case after case, reflect a similar bias.

Courts' Toleration of Prison Rape, and Official Indifference

Prisoners seeking recourse for violations of their constitutional rights — include the Eighth Amendment violations that occur if officials are deliberately indifferent to a prisoner's risk of rape — can file civil actions in federal court. Yet such cases rarely succeed. Having reviewed dozens of prisoners' legal filings in the course of research on prisoner-on-prisoner rape, I can attest that even the most compelling cases are unlikely to survive judicial scrutiny.

Why is that so? To begin with, prisoners are among the least lucrative of clients, and certainly the least sympathetic to juries, so that few lawyers are willing to litigate on their behalf. The vast majority of cases challenging prison abuses are thus filed by inmates acting pro se — in other words, on their own behalf. Often filing handwritten complaints that are scribbled and hard to decipher, and lacking knowledge of legal procedure, prisoners are easily tripped up and tricked by the law's procedural complexities. As a result, even cases challenging serious abuses in prison are frequently dismissed in the early stages of litigation.

Moreover, as Justice Thomas's words show, many federal judges view prisoners' legal claims with an extremely cynical eye. Perhaps they entirely disbelieve prisoners' complaints of abuse, preferring to focus their concern on the constraints under which correctional authorities operate. Perhaps they simply are — as Justice Thomas seems to be — resigned to tolerating prison violence and exploitation as somehow inevitable.

Their caution may, to some extent, reflect their belief that crucial policy and budgetary decisions affecting prison conditions are made elsewhere, and that guards and other officials should not be blamed for the predictable abuses that result. But the buck must stop somewhere. By such reasoning, the courts have ensured near-complete impunity for abuses.

Judicial Rationalizations for "Inevitable" Abuse

The reasoning behind the 1988 decision in Chandler v. Jones is indicative of the tendency — although in that case, the court's comments were more candid than most. The case involved an inmate who was sexually pressured and harassed after being transferred to a dangerous housing unit. The federal district court dismissed the case, explaining that "sexual harassment of inmates in prisons would appear to be a fact of life."

Absolving prison officials of responsibility for the prison's poor conditions, the court said that the officials at least "made the best of a bad situation." The decision reflects the notion — apparently deeply ingrained — that prison abuse is an inevitable truth officials cannot change.

The decision in Kish v. County of Milwaukee, issued in 1971 by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, reflects similar thinking. Ruling against two inmates who were sexually assaulted, the court suggested that sexual assaults were frequent in the overcrowded jail under consideration, but that prison officials could not be blamed for the problem. As the court explained: "the assaults were a result of the physical layout and overcrowding of the jail, both matters beyond the control of the defendant."

The courts' tendency to overlook abuses is strongly reinforced by the requirement in such cases that prison officials have "actual knowledge" of the problem. Under this standard, unless the court finds that a prison official was personally aware of the plaintiff's risk of rape, it must rule in favor of the defendant. In other words, the legal standard allows court to dismiss even those cases in which the risk of rape would have been obvious to any reasonable person in the official's position.

Prisons as a Barometer

Not all federal judges are insensitive to prison abuses. Indeed, a few worthy efforts have been made to put a stop to prisoner-on-prisoner sexual abuse — most notably, the rulings in LaMarca v. Turner, issued in 1987 by a federal district court in the Southern District of Florida, and Redman v. County of San Diego, issued in 1990 by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Yet it is fair to say these rulings are the exception.

As many have noted, the state of a country's prisons is a telling indicator of its level of civilization. The barbarity of sexual assault in prison reflects poorly on our society, and on our courts.

Joanne Mariner, a FindLaw columnist, is deputy director of the Americas division of Human Rights Watch. She has visited scores of penal facilities in the United States and Latin America. Human Rights Watch's Report on prison rape, entitled No Escape: Male Rape in U.S. Prisons, was published today (date of article publication). More information on prison rape can also be found on Human Rights Watch's website.

LGBTI prisoners and the Community's Voice.

Just an FYI for family members: keep your eyes open for chances to put in your two cents - like contacting the National Institute of Corrections, who put out this solicitation I stumbled across (below). If you think corrections does a lousy job with our people, tell them what they should be doing better - not just in your prison or state, but as a national standard. We want to be training the trainers - that's called being proactive. We need to be figuring out and sharing with each other just who those entities are, and how to influence them.

We should also be telling them what kind of research to be doing - what are they not getting? As for this particular solicitation, research shows the bias that results in longer or more severe sentences for people who are or are perceived to be LGBTI; prosecutors play on stereotypes and homophobia to get convictions and harsh sentences just like they exploit racism. Then people just keep getting screwed as they go through the system - singled out for assault, exploitation, false accusations, etc. LGBTQ & I prisoners are subject to extraordinarily abusive conditions and treatment (by guards and other prisoners alike). I don't know what the NIC project will actually yield - probably not anything from a radical women of color's collective, but possibly something creative that will make the punishment of all prisoners a little less cruel and unusual.

In any case, don't just wait and see what the profession comes up with - if you have ideas, let them have them: who else is going to speak up? They need all the help they can get to stop the abuse and neglect of prisoners, and there's no reason that their directions shouldn't come straight from the communities most affected by the social and economic injustices in our society that both fuel and feed on the practice of mass incarceration. Otherwise, we leave the running of the criminal justice system to the same people who got us into this mess in the first place, and it'll just keep grinding up our families and communities.
If you are blessed enough to have a voice - especially if you have survived the hell of jail or prison yourself - put it to good use.


(Updated) Cooperative Agreement: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex Guidance Project

Updated: 6/07/2010

The National Institute of Corrections (NIC) is soliciting proposals from organizations, groups, or individuals to enter into a cooperative agreement for a 12-month project period. Work under this agreement will result in a policy guide for corrections practitioners charged with the care and custody of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) offenders. In addition to providing guidance in selected operational areas (see Goal 2 and Supplementary Information), the guide will provide:

  1. A brief summary of the relevant case law,
  2. A description of current terms and definitions relevant to the LGBTI population, including an acknowledgment that these terms evolve and change over time, and
  3. A list of topics that should be addressed in initial and ongoing staff training.

Informational resources, websites, and sources for additional support should accompany each of these three areas.

DEADLINE: Applications must be received by 4:00 p.m. EDT on Friday, June 11, 2010.

Questions/Responses (posted 5/24/2010)

  1. What is the time frame for the project?
    This will be a twelve month award.
  2. Can the due date be extended?
    Proposals will be due June 11, 2010
  3. In order to achieve Goal 4, developing and testing the first draft of the guide, would the NIC Research and Evaluation unit assist with accessing corrections personnel, or should we have a clear plan and some type of cooperative agreement in place with corrections personnel at the time of proposal writing?
    Applicants should be prepared to meet the project goals as stated. Under a cooperative agreement NIC will work with the awardee to refine their plans for the project.
  4. Similar to the scope of the PREA Standards, can the policy guide for corrections practitioners charged with the care and custody of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) offenders address those held in adult prisons and jails as well as youth held in juvenile facilities? We believe there is a great need for guidance on this topic for juvenile justice administrators, medical and mental health staff, and training coordinators.
    Applicants should include whatever components they feel best address the project goals. NIC welcomes creative suggestions and innovative approaches to the work, within the budget constraints and available funds.
  5. (Added 6/7/2010) Is there a predetermined start date for the project?
    No, the 12 month time frame will begin with the date of the award.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The dying, prison, and Adam Montoya.

For those who still think that prisoners get great medical care, think again. This is not an unusual story...sounds like Marcia Powell's.

If you wish you could have helped this guy - or Marcia Powell, for that matter - and want to know how to make a difference here: please take a minute and help someone still living. Free Davon Acklin. That will take you straight to the petition his mom has going supporting her request that he be pardoned by Governor Brewer so she can bring him home for medical care.

He's only
23, and he has hep C and needs a liver biopsy. He's not getting treatment at the ADC, either, so your time and good name for the cause would be appreciated.


Ill. inmate died in agony while pleading for help

For days before he died in a federal prison, Adam Montoya pleaded with guards to be taken to a doctor, pressing a panic button in his cell over and over to summon help that never came.

An autopsy concluded that the 36-year-old inmate suffered from no fewer than three serious illnesses -- cancer, hepatitis and HIV. The cancer ultimately killed him, causing his spleen to burst. Montoya bled to death internally.

But the coroner and a pathologist were more stunned by another finding: The only medication in his system was a trace of over-the-counter pain reliever.

That means Montoya, imprisoned for a passing counterfeit checks, had been given nothing to ease the excruciating pain that no doubt wracked his body for days or weeks before death.

"He shouldn't have died in agony like that," Coroner Dennis Conover said. "He had been out there long enough that he should have at least died in the hospital."

The FBI recently completed an investigation into Montoya's death and gave its findings to the Justice Department, which is reviewing the case. If federal prosecutors conclude that Montoya's civil rights were violated, they could take action against the prison, its guards, or both. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment, saying that the matter was still being investigated.

The coroner said guards should have been aware that something was seriously wrong with the inmate. And outside experts agree that the symptoms of cancer and hepatitis would have been hard to miss: dramatic weight loss, a swollen abdomen, yellow eyes.

During Montoya's final days, he "consistently made requests to the prison for medical attention, and they wouldn't give it to him," said his father, Juan Montoya, who described how his son repeatedly punched the panic button. Three inmates corroborated that account in interviews with The Associated Press.

The younger Montoya was taken to the prison clinic one day for "maybe five, 10 minutes," his father said. "And they gave him Tylenol, and that was it. He suffered a lot."

The federal prison in Pekin will not discuss Montoya's death. Prison spokesman Jay Henderson referred questions to the Bureau of Prisons, which denied an AP request for information on Montoya's medical condition, citing privacy laws.

It isn't clear whether the prison system, relatives or even Montoya himself knew the full extent of his illness. Montoya's father had no idea his son had cancer or hepatitis. Inmates who knew him said he told them he had cancer, but they knew nothing of his HIV.

According to its website, the Bureau of Prisons tries to screen the health of new inmates within 24 hours of their arrival. A closer examination within two weeks is required for prisoners with serious, long-term illnesses. But officials have not said whether Montoya was given any kind of exam or whether his medical records made it to Pekin.

Montoya pleaded guilty in May 2009 to counterfeiting commercial checks, credit cards and gift cards. Prosecutors will not say how much money was involved in the scheme, but Montoya was ordered to pay a little over $2,000 in restitution.

Montoya, who had a history of methamphetamine abuse, was released while awaiting sentencing and was ordered not to use drugs. At the time, he was living with his father and working for his father's process-serving business, which delivers legal documents. His father said he was paying Montoya's bills and paying him about $300 a week.

Then in mid-June, Adam Montoya was diagnosed with HIV.

"It hit him like a ton of bricks," his father said.

After the diagnosis, Montoya retreated back into methamphetamine. Following a urine test, he admitted using the drug three times in a month, and he was locked up.

Montoya began taking antiviral drugs, so his father still had hope and tried to give his son a sense of the same. "I thought, 'You'll get out. You'll get your probation, and you'll have years of life," the elder Montoya said.

In mid-October, Montoya was sentenced to two years and three months in prison. When he arrived at a federal prison transfer center in Oklahoma City, his medication was waiting for him. His father took that to mean that the prison system knew Montoya suffered from HIV.

Montoya arrived at the Pekin prison on Oct. 26. He lived just 18 more days. The inmates around him say he spent much of that time pleading for help from his cell.

Prison staff told Montoya he had the flu, according to Randy Rader, an inmate in the next cell who wrote letters to his mother about Montoya and discussed him in an e-mail interview with the AP.

"That man begged these people for nine days locked behind these doors," Rader wrote to his mother on Nov. 14. The letter was first obtained by The Pekin Daily Times, which wrote about Montoya's death earlier this year.

Rader has since been moved to a prison in California -- far from his family in Michigan. He suspects the move was retaliation for speaking out about Montoya.

The last time a staff member visited Montoya, about 10 p.m. on Nov. 12, he reported having trouble breathing and complained that he could no longer feel his fingers, Rader said in the e-mail interview. The staff member told Montoya that he would try to get help the next day.

Around 6:30 a.m., prison officials found Montoya's body in his cell.

The autopsy showed that Montoya's spleen was almost 10 times the normal weight because it had been engulfed by a cancerous tumor, which was on its way to doing the same with his liver.

The pathologist who examined Montoya's body said his eyes were also yellow -- an unmistakable sign of hepatitis. Dr. John Ralston is reluctant to speculate whether treatment could have saved Montoya's life by the time he reached Pekin. The doctor suspects he would have needed a liver transplant to have a chance.

That said, "You would think that he would have been feeling bad enough and complaining enough that somebody should have tried to get to the bottom of this," Ralston said.

The AP sought opinions about Montoya's condition from other doctors who did not examine him but were familiar with his diseases. They agreed he probably displayed obvious signs of distress.

Montoya would have had a swollen abdomen because of his spleen. At the same time, he probably was losing weight rapidly because the large tumor would have left little room in his belly for food, according to Dr. Krishna Rao, an assistant professor of oncology at Southern Illinois University Medical School in Springfield.

Someone in Montoya's condition should have been taking heavy doses of chemotherapy for his cancer or receiving stem cell transplants, if he were healthy enough, said Dr. James Egner, an oncologist with the Carle Foundation Hospital in Champaign.

If the cancer was too advanced, Montoya should have at least been treated for pain with powerful drugs, possibly in a hospice, Egner said.

The president of the American Civil Liberties Union's National Prison Project said it isn't uncommon for medical records not to arrive with a federal inmate.

"Sometimes it arrives late, and sometimes it doesn't happen at all," said David Fathi, who has spent 15 years studying prison conditions. "That's why it's so critical that the new facilities do a medical screening" of new inmates.

Fahti said Montoya's death "is really an egregious failure, of the kind that you wouldn't expect from even a small county jail, let alone the largest prison system in the United States."

After his son's death, Juan Montoya wrote to the prison complaining about its medical care. Warden Richard Rios wrote back to defend his institution.

"I must respectfully disagree with your characterization of the medical care Adam received and want to assure you that we carefully monitored you son's medical condition," wrote Rios, who was not hired for the job until months after the death. He did not elaborate, writing that privacy laws limited what he could say.

The elder Montoya is now waiting for his son's medical records, but he doubts they will offer many clues. The family has hired lawyers but has not decided whether to file a lawsuit.

Montoya thinks a lot now about the assurances he offered his son as he headed for prison.

"Your time will go by fast, and you'll get out, and we'll get you a job and be part of the family," Montoya recalls telling his son. "It never happened."