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)


ANTICOLONIAL zines, stickers, actions, power

Taala Hooghan Infoshop

Kinlani/Flagstaff Mutual AID


The group for direct action against the prison state!

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AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Arizona Prison Watcher: January 2015


Margaret J. Plews, Editor

January 13, 2015

New Year’s Greetings to those behind bars in the AZDOC:

This may well be my last letter to you all as Arizona’s Prison Watcher, since my family has recently called me home, where last week it was literally colder than Mars. I moved back East around Thanksgiving and immediately got caught up in my loved ones’ medical crises. Then my house burned down in December, just before I moved in - thank goodness no one was hurt. I’m crashing on a friend’s sofa now, and all my stuff is buried in the garage under the things that were salvaged from the house after the fire. That means my office is still in boxes, and may well sit there until spring, as I have no place else to put it.

Furthermore, while I did put in a forwarding notice with the post office before moving, a lot of stuff didn’t get forwarded for over a month and I got hit all at once with a ton of mail last week. So, I’m not blowing anyone off - I just haven’t been able to get back to most of you who have written in the past few months. That’s what prompted this letter, as I can’t answer all your requests for help - really, I’m having a time of it right now myself. The best I can do is refer you to my friends and comrades back in Arizona, in hopes that they can help you somehow. None of the following people have asked me to promote them or anything, by the way - I compiled this list as a favor to you, not them.

First is Tucson-based attorney Stacy Scheff. I’ve been following the work she’s done these past few years. She’s a civil rights attorney, not a free one, either - she has bills to pay. But she is very competent when it comes to prisoner rights litigation, can coach you through filing a suit yourself if need be, and will do a demand letter re: PC or medical care for a reasonable fee. DOC and the AG know her, and that she’s not to be taken lightly. She used to work with Vince Rabago, but has recently started her own practice in Tucson. If you need a legal consult on a matter of your rights as a prisoner, get a legal call to explain your issue and see what she might charge, or write to her. I get no kickbacks for referrals, by the way - I just know that if you have a case, she can kick the state’s a**, which makes me happy.  Law Office of Stacy Scheff  / P.O. Box 40611  / Tucson, AZ 85717-0611 /  (520) 471-8333  FAX: (520) 300-8033

Of course, there’s also the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona (ACLU-AZ). They sued the DOC in the class action over health care at the DOC, Parsons V Ryan. Ask them for a copy of the original complaint and the stipulations the DOC agreed to in the settlement - it might help you in your own fight for access to medical care. You should also report violations of human and constitutional rights to them. FILE GRIEVANCES over that stuff, first, though, and see them through - follow the policy or you have no chance in hell of holding DOC accountable in court down the road. Even if the ACLU doesn’t intervene in your individual case, its so important for prisoners to document with them what’s going on inside, that’s what get’s them paying attention to areas that may require litigation: a barrage of compelling testimony from prisoners and their family members, and evidence of unconstitutional policies and practices.  They are at: ACLU-AZ / PO Box 17148 / Phoenix, AZ 85011.

I’d also recommend reporting the abuse and neglect of prisoners with serious mental illness (SMI includes major thought and mood disorders, like schizophrenia or manic-depression) to the Arizona Center for Disability Law. The AZCDL has the “Protection & Advocacy” authority in Arizona, which is power to intervene with institutions where disabled individuals are being abused, neglected, or denied their civil rights. Historically they have not helped SMI prisoners on an individual basis (they litigated the DOC in Parsons v Ryan over the poor treatment of mentally ill prisoners and the abuse of solitary confinement), but they may make an exception if your case is representative of a bigger problem they’ve been hearing about. The only way to really drag them into this fight is for those they should be serving (or those looking out for them) to write to them. Even if they don’t help you, your letter may help them tune into what SMI prisoners are going through, and get them more involved on some other level. Their contact info is:

                                     Arizona Center for Disability Law
5025 E. Washington St., Ste 202            100 North Stone Ave., Ste 305
Phoenix, AZ 85034                                 Tucson, AZ 85701
(602) 274-6287 (voice/TTY)                   (520) 327-9547 (voice)
(800) 927-2260 (voice/TTY)                   (800) 922-1447 (voice)

If you’re fighting for your medical care, or dealing with extreme isolation, the folks to write to are at the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in Tucson. They’re on top of prison and health care privatization, new legislation affecting criminal justice issues, and in the fight against solitary confinement. They wrote “Death Yards” about Corizon’s shoddy care, and a booklet on solitary confinement in AZ. They may have other resources that can help, and it’s good for them to hear from prisoners about what’s going on. Their contact info is: AFSC-Tucson / 103 North Park Avenue,  #111 / Tucson, AZ  85719 /  (520) 623-9141

Another place for prisoners (not solely people of color) to report the DOC’s bad conduct  to is the NAACP of Maricopa County.  The attorney who volunteers for them is in only once a week, but is good about checking the mail and will occasionally pursue a complaint on a prisoner’s behalf if it appears civil rights are being violated, whether it’s due to racism, homophobia, or other such prejudices. She’s advocated for the safety of gay and transgender prisoners as well, regardless of race. She’s a member of the National Lawyer’s Guild, too - I often see her at protests doing legal observing (cop-watching). She also goes around the state doing presentations to community groups against private prisons and mass incarceration - thank her for all her community service if you write. Send your letters “LEGAL MAIL” to: Dianne Post, Legal Redress  /  NAACP of Maricopa County / P.O. Box 20883 / Phoenix, AZ 85036

Now, for those of you who like to express yourselves, don’t care what the DOC thinks about it, and want to be a part of a larger community of AZ prisoners sharing poetry, art, essays, horror stories, or experience, strength and hope in a new prisoner-written zine or newsletter, write to the Free Verse at PO BOX 7241 Tempe AZ 85281 with your ideas and ask them what they’re working on - someone will get back with you. Those are my friends, too.

Take care, all.

                                       Peggy Plews

#CHUCKCHUCK #DARTHryan #DarkSideRyan  #FireChuckRyan" 


PS: here are the attorneys I know who have recently sued the AZ DOC successfully, in most cases, I believe. PAGE 1   PAGE 2

ART ATTACK at the Maricopa County Courthouse
Day of the Dead Prisoner: November 1, 2013

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Manfred Dehe: Corizon's deliberate indifference keeps killing...

Yes, Parsons v Ryan has been settled

                                    No, the prisoners havent stopped suffering yet.

--------from AZFAMILY.COM---------

Family claims prison health care killed father

by Brandon Lee

Posted on February 19, 2015 at 6:58 AM

Updated February 20 at 8:34 AM

PHOENIX -- The company that provides health care to Arizona inmates is Corizon. Its website states, in part, the company provides "high quality healthcare (sic)... that will improve the health and safety of our patients. Our people, practices and commitment to success through evidence-based medicine enable us to consistently meet and exceed client expectations."

But several nurses who currently work for Corizon Health tell 3TV that's not true.

What's more, one family says their father died because Corizon failed to live up to its promise.

"He was always in great shape," Mark Dehe said of his father, Manfred. "He walked all the time. He actually walked quite quickly."

Dehe said he spent as much time as he could with his father, but that changed when Manfred was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Dehe knew his dad would serve time but would eventually be released. The family would be reunited.

Dehe had no idea what three years inside an Arizona prison would do to his father.

"Infuriating," he said. "Infuriating."

Soon after Manfred went to prison, he complained to his family that he was in severe pain.

Dehe ignored him at first.

"I thought he was overreacting," Dehe explained. "I told him, 'Dad, this isn't the Ritz.' I told him it's prison you might just have to wait a little bit longer."

Medical records show that a prison doctor recommended surgery for a hernia on Feb. 21, 2012. It was categorized as an urgent priority.

On March 13, another medical professional recommended Manfred be seen by a doctor outside the prison, again for hernia-related issues.

One week later, medical staff again recommended outside treatment. It was again listed as "priority urgent."

I sat down with Dehe to talk about his claims that Corizon failed to provide proper care for his father.

Health care for violent criminal offenders is not at the top of most people's minds.

"I'm a little embarrassed to say I understand," Dehe confessed. "Prior to my father going to prison ... I didn't give it much thought. [M]y thoughts were 'Well if they didn't do anything wrong, then they wouldn't be in that position to begin with.

"But I also assumed that they were receiving and given adequate health care," he continued. "It may not have been the best. You may have had to wait a little bit, but I thought it met their needs. I was very ignorant."

3TV obtained hand-written notes from Manfred to prison staff. He seemed to be begging for help.

"I'm 77 years old. I don't feel right. I'd like to have a doctor fully examine me."

"To urinate is extremely painful. My hernias are also hurting."

"I'm not receiving any more meds for my urinary tract infection."

When Manfred was finally seen by doctors outside of the prison, lab tests came back with devastating results.

"Prostate cancer. Terminal prostate cancer. Stage 4," Dehe said.

Manfred's health deteriorated fast.

His family says he was supposed to receive monthly injections to slow the cancer. Medical records show that injections were sometimes missed because the medicine was not available, according to one doctor's notes.

Manfred continued to cry out for help. He wrote letters to management, saying, "I FEEL LIKE I AM BEING NEGLECTED. I NEED TO SEE A QUALIFIED DOCTOR AND GO TO THE HOSPITAL NOW!!!"

"From that time until he was finally seen for an exam, August 2013, 15 months had passed," Dehe said. "By that time, it was too late. He never left the bed. He never saw outside. He was never moved from one side to another and after two weeks he had severe bedsores. They would eventually get so bad you could see through to the bone."

Manfred's story is not unique. The state of Arizona has a contract with a private health care company, Corizon, to provide care for inmates. A report by medical experts hired by the ACLU to inspect and review the conditions at Arizona prisons found "almost half of the people who died natural deaths received grossly deficient medical care. And that the poor care clearly caused or hastened their death."

We even spoke to a current prison nurse who confirmed that inmates are dying because of poor care.

The prison nurse we talked with spoke on the condition of anonymity.

"People with ongoing diagnosis like leukemia, diabetes, or complications to some serious illnesses are being delayed care. Absolutely."

Nurses and doctors caring for Manfred tried to get him proper care.

"It is my medical judgement that this patient requires hospitalization," one doctor who saw him wrote to prison management.

One nurse even wrote a note that reads, "Department of Corrections short staffed and unable to provide security for ambulance transport. Consult Cancelled."

Dehe believes his father was sentenced to death because of poor health care.

"He was ridiculed by the staff," he said. "They didn't want to bathe him because quite frankly he smelled. One of the people even joked and said, 'Why don't you throw a sheet over him,' insinuating he smells like he's dead. He must be dead so cover him up."

Corizon recently settled a major class action lawsuit, promising it will make changes to provide better care to inmates. The case settled on Oct. 14, the same day Manfred lost his battle with cancer.

Manfred walked into prison at age 75. Three years later, he was dead.

"Do I think anything is going to change? Not a bit. Not a bit," Dehe said. "I have to assume that they act on the fact that there is no oversight, and therefore they can do whatever they want. If there's nobody watching me, I can do whatever I want. Who's going to complain? The inmate? Who's going to believe the inmate?"

Corizon declined an on-camera interview for this story. A spokesman did, however, respond with a statement.

"The oncological care provided Inmate Dehe from the time Corizon Health began serving the Arizona prison system met the standard of care and was appropriate to his condition. Federal and state privacy laws prohibit public discussion of details of patient conditions or courses of treatment."

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Corizon and the Arizona Department of Corrections have three years to make changes that will improve the health care provided to inmates.

PARSONS V RYAN settlement approved by US District Court Judge Duncan

#CHUCKCHUCK #DARTHryan #DarkSideRyan  #FireChuckRyan" 


---------------------from the AZ Republic-----------

Judge approves Arizona inmate health-care settlement

Craig Harris, The Republic | 

9:55 a.m. MST February 19, 2015

A federal judge on Wednesday approved a settlement that will provide improved health-care coverage for about 34,000 Arizona inmates in state-run facilities at a cost to taxpayers of at least $8 million a year.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Arizona and the Prison Law Office, a prisoner-advocacy group, reached a settlement with the Arizona Department of Corrections last October, days before a trial was to start.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of state-prison inmates, alleged that Arizona's inmate health-care system was so flawed that it caused deaths and preventable injuries. It also accused the state of keeping inmates in solitary confinement for long periods of time.

The state denied the allegations, and admitted no wrongdoing in agreeing to the settlement.

"This is a small glimpse of justice," said Patti Jones, whose nephew, Tony Lester, killed himself in a state prison. "I think this is a just settlement."

Jones was one of seven people to address U.S. Magistrate Judge David K. Duncan, who approved the settlement. Duncan also authorized $4.9 million in fees for the attorneys who represented the inmates.

The fees must be paid by the state. Duncan noted the amount for plaintiffs' attorneys nearly mirrored the amount the state spent in legal bills defending itself, bringing the state's total legal tab to about $10 million.

Gov. Doug Ducey is asking lawmakers for $8 million in his proposed budget for the coming fiscal year so the state's contracted inmate health-care provider, Corizon Health, can hire 91 additional health-care workers to comply with the settlement requirements.

The settlement requires DOC to:

• Meet more than 100 health-care performance measures, covering issues such as monitoring prisoners with diabetes, hypertension and other chronic conditions.

• Offer all inmates annual influenza vaccinations. Those with chronic diseases will be offered required immunizations.

• Offer inmates aged 50 to 75 annual colorectal cancer screening.

• Offer female inmates aged 50 and older mammogram screenings.

• Provide no less than 6 hours per week of out-of-cell exercise time for maximum-custody inmates.

• Provide maximum-custody inmates with serious mental illness an additional 10 hours of unstructured out-of-cell time per week.

• Only use pepper spray or other chemical agents during an imminent threat.

The settlement also allows attorneys for inmates and their experts to conduct up to 20 daily tours of state prison complexes annually to make sure the agreement is being enforced.

Donna Hamm, executive director of Middle Ground Prison Reform, said she liked the settlement but is unhappy that the state will have up to two weeks' advance notice prior to a tour.

"Some of the visits should be spontaneous and not announced," said Hamm, an outspoken critic of the Arizona prison system. "But overall, this is an improvement."

Daniel Struck, a private attorney representing the state, said DOC already has started to implement changes called for in the settlement.

David Fathi, director of the ACLU National Prison Project, called the settlement "real improvement" in the care of inmates.

The settlement does not apply to the roughly 7,000 inmates in six private prisons across Arizona.


Craig Harris covers the Arizona Department of Corrections and other state and federal agencies, with an emphasis on government accountability and public money.

How to reach him
Phone: 602-444-8478
Twitter: @charrisazrep

Saturday, February 7, 2015

GOP support for early release in AZ legislature this year...

Shocking. Even the GOP in the Senate isnt completely on board with Chuck Ryan's plan for new prisons...


GOP legislator pushes Arizona bill to relieve prison crowding

PHOENIX -- A Republican state senator is pushing a bill to release thousands of non-violent inmates early in a bid to save money and ease pressure on crowded prisons.

Sen. Steve Pierce, R-Prescott, said the legislation would expand an existing Department of Corrections program to help prisoners transition into daily life with services including counseling, case management and substance-abuse treatment.

The bill comes at a time when Gov. Doug Ducey's executive budget calls for $40 million for a new prison with 3,000 beds. Pierce said the size of the project could cost $70 million per year.

Arizona housed more than 42,000 inmates last year, and the Department of Corrections expects to add nearly 1,000 prisoners per year through 2016.

During that time, the Department of Corrections released 943 inmates through its three-month transition program and saved nearly $1 million, according to an annual report by the agency.

Senate Bill 1390 seeks to increase the number of inmates placed in the program to a minimum of 3,500 prisoners in the first year, and 5,000 in the second year. The program would serve low-risk, non-violent offenders and exclude those convicted of driving under the influence, sex offenses, arson or domestic violence.

Pierce said his bill would save the state money and avoid having to build another prison.

"We are spending an awful lot of money putting people and keeping people in jail that are non-violent criminals," he said. "I think more people need to be in treatment than in jail." 
The program has already proven to reduce the rate of return offenders compared with the general population, Pierce said.

When asked if the bill would provide a cost-effective alternative to building a new prison, the governor's office said it had not yet reviewed the legislation.

Corrections Department spokesman Doug Nick said the agency is aware of the legislation and monitoring it as the bill moves through the Legislature, but did not provide further comment.

AZ DOC tries to wriggle out of fine for allowing rape of teacher....

EDIT 05/18/2019

#CHUCKCHUCK #DARTHryan #DarkSideRyan  #FireChuckRyan" 



Arizona Corrections Department appealing workplace safety fine in prison teacher rape case
  • Article by: BOB CHRISTIE , Associated Press
  • Updated: February 6, 2015 - 3:50 PM       STARTRIBUNE

PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Corrections does not believe it should have to pay a $14,000 fine that state workplace safety regulators levied against the agency for failing to protect a teacher who was raped by an inmate in a sex offender unit.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press show the department filed an appeal last week to overturn the fine issued by Industrial Commission of Arizona. A prisons spokesman said the agency believes there is a basis for the appeal, but he did not elaborate.

Arizona has faced intense criticism over the attack. Prison officials sent out only a vague press release that referred to an assault on an employee after the January 2014 rape. The details of the assault came to light only after The Associated Press obtained documents under a public records request and interviewed people familiar with the case.

The attack raised questions about prison security because the teacher was put into a room full of sex offenders with no guards nearby and no closed-circuit cameras. She had only a radio to call for help.
The state found itself facing more scrutiny this week after lawyers for the attorney general's office argued in court that the woman's lawsuit should be thrown out. Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Weisbard wrote that the teacher routinely worked in classrooms and there is always a risk of assault when working with prisoners.

A federal judge on Thursday refused to dismiss the teacher's civil rights lawsuit, writing that the lawsuit raised plausible allegations that the warden and other top officials created a dangerous environment that led to the rape.

The workplace-safety investigation was launched last July after the AP story provided the first detailed account of the incident.

Authorities have said inmate Jacob Harvey, who was less than a year into a 30-year sentence for a home-invasion and rape, lingered after other inmates left the room on Jan. 30, 2014, then repeatedly stabbed the teacher with a pen before raping her.

Harvey remains in prison, and he is awaiting trial on new charges. He has pleaded not guilty.
The appeal of the $14,000 fine levied in January by the state Industrial Commission seeks a hearing before an administrative law judge.

The Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health recommended a fine of $9,000 for two violations of workplace-safety rules. But commissioners boosted that to $14,000 at a hearing last month, with one commissioner saying the violations showed the rape "should never have occurred in that facility."

Commissioner Joseph Hennelly Jr. even suggested the department could be hit with an additional $25,000 fine, but he was told state laws didn't allow it in this case.

A spokesman for the Department of Corrections said the department believes there are a significant number of factual inaccuracies in the worker safety agency's report that it plans to contest.

"The 2014 assault on the ADC teacher was a cowardly and despicable crime, for which the inmate is rightfully facing prosecution," spokesman Doug Nick said in an email. "The safety and well-being of all ADC staff is the department's paramount priority, and the victim has our full assistance and support."
Scott Zwillinger, the teacher's lawyer, criticized the Corrections Department for appealing the workplace safety citations.

"They refuse to acknowledge when they have issues. They refuse to be introspective and look and evaluate and make changes," Zwillinger said Friday. "So rather than accept what seems a relatively obvious conclusion and to correct these matters, all they simply do is deny and fight on."

State prison officials have since installed cameras in prison classrooms, increased patrols and issued pepper spray to civilian workers. They have said issuing pepper spray had been planned before the rape.

In minutes of the Jan. 8, 2015, meeting of the Industrial Commission where the fines were levied, commissioners repeatedly questioned how the teacher could have been placed in a room filled with sex offenders unattended. Commission Chairman David Parker said he understands there are situations where prisoners can end up alone with civilian staff.

"But something went wrong here, and this is different," he said.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Charles Davis: Truthout on the Free Press and the Mass Marketing of Mugshots.

Excellent commentary by freelance writer and producer Charles Davis. One of the things I hate most about our local "liberal" or "alternative" media is that it features a "mugshot of the week" contest, in which it seeks to inflict maximum humiliation on the subjects, amplifying, of all things, one of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's own tools of abuse. Having been targets of his themselves, you'd think the editors would show a bit more empathy. They even donated a big chunk of change they got from suing him to ASU to improve coverage of Latino issues in the field of journalism....

 By the way, this was one of their kickoffs for the "mugshot-of-the-week" contest. 
Lots of people thought he was funny. 
I know this guy, personally - and it wasn't funny. 
Cancer is what ate his face. 

 ---------------from TRUTHOUT-----------

Against Mugshots: Photos of the State's Latest Catch Don't Belong in a Free Press

Wednesday, 04 February 2015 10:20

By Charles Davis, Truthout | News Analysis

An image can tell a story, but like any tale it could very well be full of lies. Who is taking a photo - when they have taken it and why, what they have decided to include and chosen to leave out - invariably affects what we, the viewer, see. The lighting, positioning and camera angle can sway whether the picture evokes empathy or anger, lust or revulsion. The photograph is an unreliable narrator, then, telling us part of a story but giving us nothing close to the full picture.

A mugshot, the picture taken after an arrest, is a photo designed to tell the state's side of a story. The subject of the photo, taken at one of the lowest points in their life, has no voice, but the language of the form - the unflattering bright light, the drab background, the name and prisoner ID at the bottom - tells us we are looking at a "criminal."

With the internet, that "we" has expanded to the far reaches of the globe. Today, police in the United States can upload a photo of their latest catch to Facebook and see it in a foreign tabloid by the end of the day. Before the subject can mount a defense, a 1,000-word photo pronouncing their guilt may have already gone viral. Stacking the deck in favor of the already advantaged police, the photos discourage empathy in favor of judgment: of the accused person's appearance and their overall worth as a human being. Depicted only as a transgressor, not as a mother or father or someone's son or daughter, the subjects of mugshots become fair game for abuse. We can mock their looks and class and perceived intelligence without feeling guilty; this humiliation becomes just another manifestation of punishment (often before a conviction has even taken place).

The press partakes readily in this ritual debasement, the most respectable of media outlets eagerly distributing the state's unflattering photos, of people who have yet to be convicted of anything, on the front page and on the evening news and on dedicated websites that feature nothing but mugshots, sortable according to the physical features of the once-human body that is now behind bars, with a line at the end or in small print thrown in, almost as an afterthought, that the person we see is "innocent until proven guilty," though the implication of guilt hangs heavy over every photo: Come on, just look at them.

Almost everyone looks like a criminal because every arrested person we know who has been caught has posed for the same photo. And it's the looks of the person, not necessarily the severity of their alleged crime, which often makes a mugshot go around the globe.

"Woman arrested for meth possession while wearing 'I Love Crystal Meth' shirt," reported the Associated Press wire service, ensuring this important news would make it into papers across the country. "This Might Be The Most Ironic Mugshot Ever," said BuzzFeed. "Not ideal mugshot attire," snarked the Daily Mail, all the way over in Britain. "Walter White was a genius," said the New York Post, referring to a character from a TV show who was given the benefit of a backstory. "This woman? Not so much."

Unlike cable's most artfully depicted anti-hero, all we know about "this woman," whose arrest made international headlines, is what has been said about her by police. We don't know what led up to that moment (Did any of the reporters covering her arrest do any reporting?) except that, according to the sheriff's department in Laurel County, Kentucky, she and another person allegedly possessed "3.37 grams of crystal meth and a set of digital scales." We also know that under state law an intent to sell more than two grams of methamphetamines (street value: about $200) makes one a "trafficker," a fact that wasn't to be found in any of the 20,000 news stories that were published about Deborah Asher, actual human being, within a week of that arrest. While the worldwide web-browsing community snickered before moving on to the next content, its object of contempt sat in a jail cell grappling with the possibility of spending the next 10 to 20 years behind bars.

Asher was reduced to that booking photo, originally posted on Facebook by those who arrested her, and one sentence reducing her life experience to "criminal." She was marked "bad," so gestures of superiority and even celebration of her misfortune - disparaging the intelligence, looks and class status of a stranger - were given a thin veneer of moral justification.

"We're very judgmental people - that's a human trait," noted Mariame Kaba, founding director of Project NIA, a Chicago-based organization that promotes alternatives to incarceration, when I spoke to her on the phone. "You have to work at being nonjudgmental," she said, but mugshots discourage that, inviting us instead to sit back in judgment and indulge that vulgar human desire to feel better at the expense of some other poor wretch. "The circulation of these kind of images allows people to play out that judgment," Kaba added, "to be able to look at somebody else and see someone who is worse off."

Some argue that the dissemination of mugshots is necessary, so we can identify "criminals" should they escape state custody.

"Knowing the names and faces of those formally charged with crimes helps us protect ourselves and allows us to make informed decisions on who we want to associate with," Greg Rickabaugh, owner of the mugshot gallery and crime reporting website, told television station WJBF. He was reacting to a new law in Georgia, passed by a legislature not known for its bleeding-heart liberalism, which bars local police departments from posting booking photos online. Mugshots are still public records and as such are available upon request, but websites that obtain the photos are required to remove them, without a fee, if charges against the person in them have been dismissed.

The law is aimed at thwarting the dozens of websites that take these photos from the state-sanctioned system and repost them in the hopes of getting the person in them to pay hundreds of dollars to have them taken down, what Rickabaugh calls the "predatory" mugshot websites, contrasting them with the ostensibly legitimate exploitation exercised by websites like his, which earn profit through the classier, indirect route of advertising. Indeed, Mark Caramanica of the Reporters Committee for Freedom argues that, on principle, both not only have a right to exist, but have a right to easy, automated access to the photos of those whose rights have been taken away.

"Should we shut down the entire [mugshot] database because there are presumably bad actors out there?" Caramanica told The New York Times (who the "bad actors" actually are is left open to the reader's interpretation). "I think it's better if journalists and the public, not the government, are the arbiters of what the public gets to see."
Portraying the debate over the routine posting of mugshots online as one between those old (ostensible) foes, the free press and the state, is a smart public relations strategy. It is also absurd: It is the state, after all, that takes and then provides these photos to the press - photos the person whose liberty the state has taken away would generally prefer not be plastered across the media for friends and family to see. Like the other profit-driven sites that post these photos, the corporate media is effectively providing free press for the police, who get to show their side of the story ("proof" of criminality) - often before the person photographed has even had a chance to place their one phone call.

Yet in examining the issue of mugshots - or, really, any matter of the ethics of privacy - should we really stick to the narrow question of whether one has a "right" to do something? Legal rights aside, is it the right thing to do?

"Right 2 Know" is the slightly too defensive name the Chattanooga Times Free Press has given to its own mugshot gallery. Just looking at those featured on its homepage when I last visited, the alleged criminals the public has an interest in seeing shamed include a young man accused of underage drinking, a woman accused of driving on a revoked license and a woman accused of driving under the influence. The information is "presented here as a public service," the paper assures, the photos "gathered from open county sheriff's web sites," showing the state to be a publishing partner (certainly calling into question the position of the "fourth estate"). In fine print, we're told that "people shown on this page have not been convicted of these crimes and should be presumed innocent until proven guilty." If they are found innocent and possess the right paperwork, the site will even take down the legally declared person's photo, though by that point the photo will have already been out there on the internet, where it might very well serve defamatory purposes long into the future.

"I believe that there is a way to strike a balance between public interest in information while really respecting folks' rights as individuals who have not yet been convicted of anything," said Zachary Norris, executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, which seeks to reduce the threat of incarceration facing communities of color. "And I don't think we're striking the right balance at all with the publication of these mugshots because, effectively, in that context the only information you're getting about someone is that they did something wrong."

The use of that information becomes an ethical question with which the journalism community must wrestle. "Recognize that legal access to information differs from an ethical justification to publish or broadcast," says the Society for Professional Journalists in its code of ethics. "Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity, even if others do."

However, this code is likely read almost exclusively by journalists working on stories about ethics in journalism - and when it comes to publishing the photos of the recently arrested, few seem to have given the issue much thought. Erin Madigan, a spokesperson for the AP, said decisions at the newswire "are made on a case-by-case basis," but neither BuzzFeed nor The Washington Post responded when I asked if they had policies in place governing the use of such photos.

"We're all human and we all make mistakes," Norris told me. But the availability of these photos works against our ability to identify with the humanity of those who've been arrested. "In addition to that, these mugshots can have real ramifications in terms of people's ability to get jobs, [and] real ramifications in terms of their public reputation," he said. Be one a naked profiteer or a publication ostensibly pursuing the public interest, publishing these photos at all only "adds to an already pernicious environment where poor people are disadvantaged by the justice system."

But what of the pretty ones? Though the consumption of mugshots tends to focus on the wacky and conventionally unattractive, lately there has been a noticeable uptick in attention paid to what social media has dubbed the "#FelonBae." Jeremy Meeks took Twitter by storm over the summer of 2014 with his dreamy blue eyes, which were posted on the Facebook page of local police in Stockton, California. "Hot mugshot guy," The Washington Post called him in a report on his first courtroom appearance, which noted, almost as an aside, that it wasn't all fun and games for the hottie: He learned that he could spend up to 10 years in prison on a gun charge. "But," the Post pointed out, "There are photos!"

"Felon bae" is a certifiable trend. "Meet Your New 'Hot Mugshot Guy,'" reported The Daily Beast a few weeks later when another man in California was arrested, allegedly for assaulting a Fox News cameraman.

"These good-looking criminals that circulate on social media that people trade, like cards - it becomes that, just another player card," Mariame Kaba told Truthout. "It's not actually a human being, at all, and it doesn't matter that these folks have been accused of a crime that hasn't been proven." They are, ultimately, more meat to be objectified, "with a complete and utter disregard for people's humanity."

The Tampa Bay Times even categorizes the bodies in police detention according to height, weight, age and eye color, allowing the alleged felon fetishist more options for sorting their potential "baes" than what's available on most dating sites.

However, there are select cases in which the state fights to prevent mugshots from ever seeing the light of day. When the Detroit Free Press sought to publish the booking photos of four cops convicted of accepting bribes and conspiring to deal cocaine, the US Marshals Service refused to release to them. That prompted a lawsuit and, in April 2014, a federal judge sided with the paper and its attorney, Herschel Fink, who argued, according to the Associated Press, that the public "has a legitimate interest in seeing who has been arrested and charged with a crime."

But what exactly is that interest, and does it matter who the arrestee is, or what the context of their alleged crime may be? As US Department of Justice attorney Galen Thorp argued - entirely out of the state's self-interest in this particular case - that just publishing a mugshot could inflict serious damage on a person. "An 18-year-old arrested for a federal misdemeanor who appeared in court, pled guilty, did community service, and had his or her record expunged, could find his or her booking photograph immortalized on the Internet for every would-be employer to see for many years to come," Thorp said.

Of course, if a mere photo of an arrest for a minor crime can do such damage to a person, it raises the question: Why book any teen, or anyone, over a nonviolent misdemeanor when that arrest could prove much more damaging to society in the long run - once brought into the legal system, one's chances of coming back are exponentially greater - than the alleged offense? And, the cynicism of the state's arguments aside, those who would further the ruining of someone's life should ask themselves: to what end?

Indeed, what is the point, even, of posting a bad cop's mugshot? Arguably, it could show that no one is above the law - but of course, that principle is patently untrue: A black teen who kills a dog gets 23 years in prison while a white cop who kills a black teen, as a rule, gets maybe a paid vacation.
"I'm against posting people's mugshots just categorically," Kaba told Truthout. "If I don't believe the mugshots of people without power have meaning or purchase, then I don't think mugshots of people in power have meaning or purchase," she said. Desiring vengeance - to see one's enemies humiliated - may be understandable, but it's not a healthy basis for a system of justice or a desire to which we ought to cater. "It's the same kind of performance and spectacle that I think doesn't actually lead to what we want," said Kaba, "which is a redress of whatever it is that happened or, in some expansive way, justice."

This is not to say that publicizing who has done harm in a community is without merit. The power of social sanction, of shunning those who have violated community norms, is in many ways a more powerful and effective mode of accountability than just locking someone up for an arbitrary period of time where, instead of learning healthier behaviors, anti-social behavior is only reinforced.

"Particularly in the early 1960s to the mid to late-1970s, many feminists used to post posters around their community of rapists to alert other people and let them know what was happening, on the one hand, and to basically out and shame that person who has harmed people," Kaba said. "And I can understand that. I can see the value in having that as a warning to other people."

But the photos being posted today are overwhelmingly not those of people who are actively causing harm, but of people whose alleged offenses don't deserve to even be lumped under the same heading of "crime": nonviolent drug offenders, for instance, and disproportionately the poor and people of color. Posting their photos without any context but that provided by the state doesn't make us safer, but serves only to reinforce racist assumptions of criminality.

How do we move forward, past a practice of constant visual criminalization? Many advocates argue that public records should remain public, upon request, but barring local law enforcement from dumping these photos online is a demand that chills no one's right to free speech.

We also must actively hold those who fetishize mugshots accountable. "I think that we should be calling out these entities that are making a spectacle of folks and making profit of them in ways that don't jive with our idea of justice and common decency," Norris said. There's no reason why "ethics in journalism" should be the sole domain of video-game addicts who wish only to drive feminists away from their toys. So long as they purport to have them, editors should at least be forced to think about the ethics of what they are doing when they expose powerless people to the online judgment and ridicule of a global readership. And when journalists are forced to reflect on their role in the state-sanctioned system of shaming-by-mugshot, they may even reconsider their practices.

"I really don't think that the role of a community newspaper is to punish or embarrass anybody," said Ben Carlson, general manger of The Anderson News in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. At least, he added, it shouldn't be: Eight years after the paper first began publishing the booking photos of those accused of driving under the influence of alcohol, Carlson announced it would do so no more. In an editorial noted by the Society of Professional Journalists, Carlson argued that the press shouldn't be in the business of adding "a level of punishment, or at least embarrassment, beyond what is imposed by a judge."

None of the mugshots The Anderson News published went viral (nor had any effect on local DUI rates), but Carlson saw the impact his small-town Kentucky paper was having on the lives not just of those arrested, but on their families too. A child whose parent is in the paper is going to hear about it at school, effectively collectivizing the shame. As one father told the SPJ, "I deserved everything I got," but his innocent teenage sons were the ones who "got rode over pretty hard" by their classmates when his mugshot hit the press.

Those with much bigger platforms from which to name and shame ought to think carefully about how they use that power, what they are actually accomplishing when they wield it and whose interests are really being served.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

AZ DOC Budget Hearing report: Day 1.

Here's the word from Day 1 of the AZ Department of Corrections' / 2015 AZ LEG budget hearings, as told by the AZ Republic. Glad to hear there is some resistance to more private prison beds. Thanks for catching that, Craig. See yesterday's post for advocacy tips and the people at the AZ LEG who need to be contacted...

Some Arizona lawmakers skeptical of another private prison

State Corrections Director Charles Ryan made his pitch Tuesday for a new 3,000-bed private prison, but some members of a legislative budget panel were skeptical, with one asking him to cut spending to free up money for education.

Ryan, whose proposal has the support of Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, told the Senate Appropriations Committee that the state needs more prison beds to combat current overcrowding and accommodate a projected increase in inmates.

Ryan's staff told lawmakers that despite a decline in inmates the past few years, more are now violating their probation and being remanded into custody. Ryan projects the state will house an additional 80 inmates a month for at least the next two years, so he is seeking another medium-custody prison.

Ryan's private-prison request is part of Ducey's $1 billion fiscal 2016 spending plan for the state Department of Corrections. The proposed budget, which runs the entire state prison system, is $52 million more than that of last year's. Corrections is one of the few agencies that received a spending increase in Ducey's austere budget plan, which must account for a decline in state revenue.

No action was taken Tuesday on the request to add a seventh private prison. Six private facilities across the state now house about one-sixth of the state's roughly 42,000 inmates.

Democrats Olivia Cajero Bedford and Steve Farley of Tucson challenged Ryan to put inmates in county jails, where they said there are plenty of vacancies.

"It would be better to give our money to the counties, which are struggling, rather than a for-profit prison," Farley said.

County sheriffs, including Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, have said they would be happy to take additional inmates from the state, and could do it at a lower cost than private prisons.

But Ryan said county jails are not equipped to provide work, education and treatment programs offered at state-run and private prisons.

Ryan also got pushback from Sen. Kelli Ward, R-Lake Havasu City, who said Ryan needed to cut spending.

"My constituents would like to see us prioritize teachers and kids over criminals," Ward said.

Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, defended Ryan during the hearing and is among the proponents of private prisons who say the state saves money through them because operators must build the facilities and absorb startup costs. Each facility typically is turned over to the state many years later.

Private-prison operators recoup their startup costs over time by charging a higher rate to house inmates than state facilities.

Ryan and his staff were the only ones allowed to speak before the Senate committee, which took no action on the proposal. The panel is expected to vote on a series of agency spending bills later in the session.

Critics, however, in the past few days have voiced opposition to Arizona funding another private prison.

Arpaio, the Grand Canyon Institute's think tank and a coalition of groups called the Arizona Justice Alliance said funding another private prison would waste tax dollars.

The Grand Canyon Institute, a Phoenix-based centrist organization, projects the state will pay close to $1.5 billion during the next 20 years to operate the new private medium-security facility.

The institute said its research shows Arizona has one of the highest incarceration rates in the country, which drives up costs for taxpayers.

The 1,000-member Arizona Justice Alliance said the state could lower its corrections budget by altering its truth-in-sentencing law for non-violent offenders. The state requires all offenders to serve about 85 percent of their sentences.

County sheriffs say the state could save more money by asking counties to house drunken-driving offenders who are serving sentences of less than a year in private prisons.

There is no surefire way to determine whether cost savings occur with private prisons because the 2012 Republican-controlled Legislature repealed a law that required the DOC to compare state and private prison costs.

Prior DOC studies showed it was less costly to house inmates in state-run facilities.

Arpaio contends county jails and state-run prisons are more efficient and have better trained officers than private prisons.

"History will show that our employees and Corrections employees have higher standards," Arpaio said. "This should not be a money-making operation."

Private prisons accept only the physically and mentally healthiest inmates, which lowers operating costs. The private companies do not house the most violent and dangerous prisoners, who are in state-run close- and maximum-custody facilities.

The private-prison industry has posted significant nationwide profits. Three operators run the half-dozen Arizona facilities.

In 2013, Corrections Corporation of America nearly doubled its profits to $300 million on nearly $1.7 billion in revenue. The company's chief executive was paid nearly $3.3 million, according to CCA's Securities and Exchange Commission filings. The company will announce its 2014 earnings on Feb. 11.

GEO Group, another publicly traded company, has not reported its 2014 earnings. In 2013, the company made $115 million in profits on $1.5 billion in revenue and paid its chief executive $4.6 million.

Management & Training Corp. is privately held and does not disclose its earnings.

The Corrections Department will make a similar budget presentation to the House Appropriations Committee at 2 p.m. today.

Corrections budget
Gov. Doug Ducey proposes to increase spending by $52 million for the Department of Corrections. General-fund spending in fiscal 2015 was $996 million, while the fiscal 2016 proposal is just more than $1 billion.

Private prisons
Arizona has six private prisons. Here are their locations and operators:
Florence (medium custody), GEO Group.
Florence-West (minimum custody), GEO Group.
Phoenix-West (minimum custody), GEO Group.
Kingman (minimum/medium custody), Management & Training Corp.
Marana (minimum custody), Management & Training Corp.
Eloy (medium custody), Corrections Corporation of America.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Advocacy tips for AZ DOC BUDGET HEARINGS this week!

Dave Wells is an Economics professor at ASU, and a damn good thinker, as liberals go. Here's his take on the budget hearings for the AZDOC this week. If you have loved ones in state prison, pay attention. The Grand Canyon Institute identifies itself as a "centrist" thinktank, and is totally not connected to Arizona Prison Watch, nor did they issue the AJA bulletin below.

For my part, I'd suggest that folks with loved ones at stake contact the Governor, who just re-appointed DOC Director Chuck Ryan, here. Register your concerns about the direction of the AZ DOC these past five years. Ask for a new audit of the department by the Inspector General to determine the actual impacts of prisons and health care privatization. Tell your own story.

Find your legislators here, and lobby them hard to de-privatize the prisons, call Chuck Ryan on the carpet, and conduct an investigation into the growing violence and neglect on his watch, as well as the actual impacts of privatization (death rates, average age of death, re-incarceration rates, etc).

The Arizona Justice Alliance's recommendations for impacting the budget hearings this week follow the GCI post below.

from the grand canyon institute

Press Release
CONTACT: Dave Wells, Ph.D.
Research Director, Grand Canyon Institute
(602) 595-1025 ext 3

Ducey’s Private Prison Proposal would cost $1.5 billion—alternative options save the state more than $500 million over two decades.
PHOENIX —Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Apario is right; Arizona does not need 3,000 more medium security beds through a private prison contractor. Arizona has the sixth highest incarceration rate in the country-and the highest in the Pacific and Mountain West region.  High incarceration rates cost taxpayers and don’t necessarily bring added public safety, but do bring added costs.

On Tuesday and Wednesday this week key committees in the House and Senate will hear the Department of Corrections Budget proposal, including $5.3 million to begin funding toward 3,000 new medium-security beds.  Says Dave Wells, research director of the Grand Canyon Institute, “The $5.3 million is a down payment on $100 million in planned expenditures on those through fiscal year 2018, and their annual cost will be in excess of $70 million.  The nature of contracts with private prisons will require that the state spend that amount each year for the next 20 years, regardless of whether or not those beds are filled. In other words, this is a $1.5 billion proposal, not $5.3 million.”

The Ducey administration argues we have a current short-fall in medium security-beds, except unnecessary state policies drive up our prison population.

In March 2012, The Grand Canyon Institute released its report “Reducing Incarceration While Maintaining Public Safety: From Truth in Sentencing to Earned Release for Nonviolent Offenders.”   Report author, Dave Wells, Research Director for the Institute, noted “Arizonan is the only state in the country that requires nonviolent offenders, regardless of risk or programs they complete while in custody, to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence behind bars.  That’s neither cost effective nor best practice.  Arizona can learn from other states that have moved toward earned release with appropriate community supervision and drug treatment and save between $30 and $73 million annually while maintaining public safety. Over 20 years that’s more than $500 million and possibly in excess of $1 billion in savings.”

The report gave three ways to approach reducing sentences which could impact up to one-fourth of those currently incarcerated by enabling them to more quickly earn release to supervised probation with in many cases needed drug treatment at far lower costs.  Such actions would free up space, if more medium-security beds were needed.

Arizona would be wise to follow the concerns of the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice which in November 2014 released 18 proposals designed to “avert 98 percent of the anticipated growth in the prison population, avoid the need for 2,551 prison beds, and save taxpayers at least $542 million over the next two decades.”
The Grand Canyon Institute is a centrist think-tank founded in 2011 which works to elevate economic analysis of public policy in Arizona.

Links to Resources:
Copy of the 2012 Grand Canyon Institute Report:
Response to County Attorney Objections to an op-ed based on the 2012 Report:
Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice Report:
                                                 -----------------from the AJA---------------


Gov. Ducey's budget for FY2016 proposes 3,000 new medium-security for-profit prison beds—beds we don’t need. The Governor’s budget estimates that these new beds will cost taxpayers over $100 million over the next three years.

Corrections is already the third largest state agency budget, absorbing 11% of General Funds. Corrections’ total budget for FY2015 is over $1 billion. Yet Arizona’s recidivism rate is between 40-50%. Since recidivism means future crime, our prisons are clearly failing in their mission to preserve public safety.

Arizona’s budget priorities are completely misaligned. Historic underfunding of K-12 and deep cuts to higher education shortchange our kids and make Arizona less attractive to businesses. The state’s failure to care for the poor or treat substance abuse and mental illnesses only serve to undermine public safety.

Fortunately, new prison beds are totally unnecessary. The Department of Corrections has the authority to release thousands more prisoners every year into a Transition Program. This program saved Arizona Taxpayers over $1 million in 2014 alone.

And changes in Arizona’s criminal justice policies, such as Truth In Sentencing, could allow the state to potentially save over $200 million per year. These types of reforms have been undertaken in most other US states—including very conservative ones—and these states have seen greater drops in crime than Arizona has.
The Arizona Department of Corrections will present its budget to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees next week. They need to hear from YOU today!

Take Action!


Tell them NOT to approve the new prison beds and instead invest $100 million in the things that truly make us safer!

Governor Doug Ducey:
(602) 542-4331 (Maricopa County and Phoenix)
(520) 628-6850 Tucson
(602) 542-1381 Fax

Senate Appropriations Chair: Sen. Don Shooter, (602) 926-4139,

House Appropriations Chair: Rep. Justin Olson, (602) 926-5288,

Suggested Talking Points:

1. 3,000 more medium security prison beds are overly expensive and unnecessary:
a. These new beds would cost Arizona over $100 million in just the first few years.
b. The Arizona Department of Corrections claims it needs the best due to population growth. But ADC’s own records show that the increase in prison population may be due not just to more people entering the system, but also to prisoners staying longer. The number of people being released decreased by 7.5% between 2009 and 2014, while at the same time the average length of a stay in prison has increased by 19%.

2. The Department of Corrections’ funding should be tied to realistic performance standards similar to those expected of other state agencies.
a. The Arizona Department of Corrections reports that its recidivism rate is 42%. However, ADC also reports that 48.8% of inmates have served time in the Arizona prison system before.
b. Recidivism is basically future crime. If the purpose of Corrections is to preserve public safety, Arizona prisons have a 40-50% failure rate.

3. There are effective alternatives either currently in place or being proposed that would make the new prison beds unnecessary.
a. The Transition Program allows all non-violent prisoners to be released after serving 85% of their sentence. In 2012, the program saved taxpayers $1,038,224. Yet even after statutory changes expanding eligibility and an ADC review of its criteria and procedures, the program is being underutilized.
b. A modest adjustment of Truth in Sentencing laws would potentially allow for the release of 9,500 people, with a potential cost savings of $207,493,375 per year.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Chuck Ryan's legacy: Gangs and rapists rule the AZ DOC.

#CHUCKCHUCK #DARTHryan #DarkSideRyan  #FireChuckRyan" 


hope @dougducey has the balls to deal with this guy Ryan...

As many folks who follow this site are aware, a prison teacher was stabbed and raped at the AZ DOC a year ago; the court hasn't dismissed her case yet, thank god. Hopefully her suit will be a small vindication to those of you who haven't been able to hold the AZ DOC's feet to the fire on this issue - and a great use to those of you who are currently litigating on these issues, as well. This remark from the victim about who bears responsibility for the high level of violence in AZ prisons bears paying attention to, especially if you've lost someone to it:

"The attack raised questions about prison security after reports showed she was put into a room full of inmates with no guards nearby.

Authorities said Harvey had lingered behind after others left the room, then repeatedly stabbed the victim with a pen before raping her.

In a September interview with the AP, the woman said she primarily blamed Corrections Director Charles Ryan for putting her in danger. She said rampant understaffing meant no one checked on her while she was in the classroom."

Surviving the violence is a serious issue at the AZ DOC, as far as prisoners and the parents of prisoners, are concerned, too - like those of Neil Early, mudered at ASP-Kingman last month. Prisons are run by state and gang violence, and are thus inherently unsafe institutions to live or work in. But Arizona's are also grossly short-staffed (presumably so we can divert more money to the pocketbooks of out-of-state profiteers), so employees and prisoners alike are often left to fend for themselves. With plenty of blind spots to allow the prison heroin traffic to readily flourish (which sedates the masses, you see), the most vulnerable are easy prey.

That explains, in brief, why one union for AZ correctional officers, the Arizona Corrections  Association, has asked Judicial Watch to intervene due to the high incidence of assaults on officers under Ryan's tenure. In fact, Here's the AZCPOA 2011 letter of no confidence in Charles Ryan's leadershipNote how the AZCPOA letter in that second link makes references to documents being routinely falsified and officers being punished for reporting security concerns.

Here is a list of links to other AzPW posts about prison safety, specifically for those of you helping someone fight the AZ DOC for protection from gangs, bad debts, racists, homophobes, or certain death out on the GP yards.

Follow the links above, and hold Chuck Ryan accountable for your loved one's safety by addressing him here: Be sure you put your legislators in the cc line - they fund his department, even though the governor is his boss. Don't bother with Ryan's subordinates, unless they are actually helping you. Send all your communications about the danger your loved one faces to his in-box, and insist on confirmation that it's been received.

Meanwhile, if you cant print and send them the things they need yourself, tell prisoners to write to Phoenix ABC at PO Box 7241 / Tempe, AZ 85281. They should ask for info about the issue they're dealing with: folks at the ABC will send self-help articles about their rights, copies of relevant policy, etc. PHX ABC may also be reached via email at Or find them on Facebook here.

Finally, here is the list of attorneys I'd send you to if you needed help suing the AZ DOC. None of them asked to advertise with me, by the way - I put this together for you, not for them: 

-------------from the AP/East Valley Tribune-------------

Arizona wants lawsuit filed by raped prison teacher tossed

Posted: Monday, February 2, 2015 12:42 am

PHOENIX (AP) — Lawyers for the state of Arizona will urge a judge on Monday to dismiss a civil-rights violations lawsuit filed by a Department of Corrections teacher who was raped by a convicted sex offender in a prison classroom.

The lawsuit blames corrections employees for failing to establish proper security and the department's health care provider for improperly assessing prisoner Jacob Harvey's mental health. That allowed the then-20-year-old convicted rapist to be classified as a relatively low-risk offender and gain access to the classroom on Jan. 30, 2014.

A federal judge will hear arguments on the state's request to dismiss the case Monday. A deputy attorney general wrote that the teacher routinely worked in classrooms at the Eyman prison complex in Florence, and there is always a risk of assault when working with prisoners. He wrote the case should be dismissed because the teacher can't show the defendants had actual knowledge of or willfully ignored impending harm.
"By being placed in a classroom at the complex, the officers were not placing plaintiff in any type of situation that she would not normally face," deputy attorney general Jonathan Weisbard wrote.

The victim's lawyer says there is nothing normal about his client being placed unguarded in a classroom with convicted sex offenders.

"To the contrary, the complaint alleges in substantial detail (and plaintiff will prove) that there is nothing 'normal' or 'routine' about a teacher being left alone in a room for nearly ninety minutes with six or seven sex offenders and special needs inmates, including at least two who were convicted of violent sexual crimes," attorney Scott Zwillinger wrote.

The woman, who is not being identified by The Associated Press because she's a sexual assault victim, also is suing prison health care provider Corizon Health Inc. Lawyers for Corizon also are asking that the case be dismissed and deny wrongdoing.

A claim the woman made against the state before filing the lawsuit sought $4 million.

The attack raised questions about prison security after reports showed she was put into a room full of inmates with no guards nearby.

Authorities said Harvey had lingered behind after others left the room, then repeatedly stabbed the victim with a pen before raping her.

In a September interview with the AP, the woman said she primarily blamed Corrections Director Charles Ryan for putting her in danger. She said rampant understaffing meant no one checked on her while she was in the classroom.

"Safety's got to come before everything, and there's just this attitude that we have the number of staff we need because we say we do," she said.

A prison spokesman called the rape "a cowardly and despicable crime, for which the inmate is rightfully facing prosecution" and said safety is always paramount.

Harvey is awaiting trial on rape, assault, kidnapping and other charges. He has pleaded not guilty.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Ghosts of Doug Ducey: JANUARY 2015 State Prison Deaths

#CHUCKCHUCK #DARTHryan #DarkSideRyan  #FireChuckRyan" 


The first month of the new year was not kind to Arizona's prisoners, at least three of whom died in the first week by their own hand, and one of whom was brutally murdered. What follows are death notices for January 2015. The AZ DOC seldom updates the public with information about a cause of death unless there's a compelling demand from media for it - and all they are inclined to tell us about at times like these are their dead prisoners crimes and punishments. If you have any information on any of these individuals' lives or their deaths, or are a loved one who needs assistance, please feel free to contact me. Peggy Plews


January 1   ASPC-Lewis       SUICIDE      Donald Condra, 51, ADC #233190

January 5   ASPC-EYMAN  SUICIDE      Bernard Stewart, 47, ADC #277366

January 5   ASPC-EYMAN  SUICIDE      Justin Reif, 24 ADC#244623

January 6   ASPC-Florence   UNK           James Haley, 50 ADC#075188

January 7   ASPC-Perryville  UNK           Carolyn Thompson, 67 ADC#038274

January 14  CACF (GEO)     UNK          Craig Aubert, 46 ADC#278241

January 19 ASP-Kingman  Homicide      Neil Early, 23, ADC #250396 

January 31 ASPC-Perryville  UNK        Cheryl Smith, 54 ADC#288162

23 year old Neil Early
Murdered at ASP-Kingman, 
on a minimum security yard.

This was the AZ DOC's Director's statement about suicides on his watch after two guys killed themselves the same day, in the same prison. What I've seen is that Ryan's AZ DOC's methods of "suicide prevention" and "suicide watch" are so brutal and humiliating, with mentally ill prisoners in particular sustaining such emotional and physical abuse, that its no wonder more aren't sent home dead. This really sounds like Ryan is trying hard to look on the bright side of being mediocre ("average") about suicide prevention and response. I wouldnt find it acceptable, myself, if my own kid was inside - by not offering drug abuse treatment and mental health care where needed, Corizon is cutting corners where Ryan lets them, making a profit at the most severely impaired prisoners' expense...


“The Department of Corrections is dedicated to the safety and security of the general public, ADC personnel and the inmates in our custody.  Any inmate self-harm attempt is taken seriously and is thoroughly investigated.

This department has a goal of zero inmate suicides, and while one suicide is one too many, data from the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics indicate that ADC’s rate of inmate suicides was approximately 17 per 100,000 from 2001-2012 (the most recent annual data available).  This is nearly identical to the overall rate for the entire state population. 

This data also shows that in terms of prison systems, 21 states had a higher rate than Arizona, 27 had a rate below, and one has the same rate as ADC. This places Arizona’s rate in alignment with national average. 

In 2009, ADC instituted enhanced measures to address this issue. Those strategies include an integrated approach to mental health and suicide prevention that combines environmental, programmatic, operational, training and staff considerations. This begins for every inmate upon arrival at ADC where they are assessed for any mental health, medical and dental issues.

Specifically, ADC has instituted additional inmate programming to address mental health and self-esteem concerns, enhanced officer patrol procedures to ensure ongoing observation of inmates in max custody units, made facility modifications such as enlarging cell windows to increase visibility and communication between inmates and staff, modified recreational enclosures to increase group contact and promote socialization, replaced individual classroom enclosures with secure desk chairs for programming classes, and installed televisions for self-paced inmate programming.”

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Inmate Deaths by Year and Cause
*FY 2015 as of 01/05/2015
**Actual inmate population as of 01/05/2015
Includes ADC and Contract Beds
ADP – Average Daily Population (for Fiscal Year)
Cause of death figures are subject to change based on official medical examiner reports, which may be issued in a subsequent month.