AFSC-TUCSON: AZ DOC's DEATH YARDS

For Kini Seawright, and all the other women who gather crying tears that fill a million oceans...

Parsons v Ryan is now a certified CLASS ACTION!!!

As many of you know, under the current administration of Governor Jan Brewer the suicide and homicide rates among state prisoners doubled almost immediately, and has persisted over the course of the past four years, on the watch of Arizona Department of Corrections' Director Charles Ryan. On March 6, 2013, "Parsons v Ryan" , the civil rights lawsuit filed last year by the ACLU and Prison Law Office, among others, against Ryan and AZ DOC Health Services Director Richard Pratt on behalf of 14 state prisoners was certified as a CLASS ACTION!!!! That means every prisoner in the state is now a litigant.

Thank you not only to all the legal staff who brought it this far, but also to Wendy Halloran, KPNX, and the families who have survived the horrors of prison violence in this state with a resolve to make sure that the gross indifference to human life at the AZ DOC kills no more.

FREE MARCIA POWELL: NO HUMAN INVOLVED

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

ASP-Kingman's Deaths in Custody: Neil Early, 23.

UPDATE (1/25/15 3:20pm) 

I've heard from Neil's family since the post below, and they confirm he was murdered at ASP-Kingman/Cerebat. The AZ DOC should have cracked down on ASP-Kingman over the proliferation of drugs and violence there after the escape of John McClusky and friends, but by the sounds of things, it all only got worse once the spotlight was off this private prison.

Neil's mom has posted this message on her facebook, and has asked folks to share it far and wide.



 



(Neil Early 7/11/1991-1/19/2015)

We are the parents of Neil Early who was murdered in the Kingman Prison on Monday 1/19/15. Neil was only 23 years old. There are many untruths going on and we want to clarify a few details.

Neil wasn’t a bad man, misguided, but he wanted to do the right thing. He was in prison, doing 5 years and had 15 months left on his term. He was convicted of Drug Paraphernalia and Conspiracy to Commit Retail Theft. This meant that he stole some video games from two different stores and resold them for money. Stupid yes, but he shouldn’t have to die for a mistake he was already paying for. 


He now will never be a son again, a big brother, a cousin, or a father to his child. The family needs to know what happened to him! This should not be covered up! We are understandably very angry and need answers. He shouldn’t have had a death sentence for his mistakes!

The family is requesting anyone with ANY information please contact us:

Email: NeilEarly@bcaz.com

Website: NeilEarly.bcaz.com

The Early Family
PO Box 1138
Black Canyon City, AZ 85324



Original Post (1/21/15)  

Arizona state prison officials have kept the recent death of 23 year old ASP-Kingman prisoner Neil Early on the down low since it happened. My condolences to the family; I hope you sue - that's the only way you'll ever get to the truth. You sure can't trust the AZ DOC to get at it for you. Contact me if you don't know where to start: Peggy Plews at arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com or 480-580-6807. 

I'd also like to hear from anyone else who can fill in the blanks - all I don't know about this kid's life, his dreams, and such that I can't find out from the AZ DOC website; I know there was more to him than what meets the eye. Send me a better picture, too, if you can.



Folks at Prison Talk suggest that Neil's death was a homicide, but none of the media outlets have reported it as such, and the DOC has nothing on their site (though his AZDOC profile has been updated to show he passed away.) Sadly, it appears he was having trouble with substance use in custody, up until shortly before his death. His judge did recommend he go to Marana facility for substance abuse treatment when he was sentenced. It's a shame they think (or pretend as if) people actually get any care in prison. They should have taken one look at him and known he would be prey in there, instead. It's time we stop sending non-violent offenders like him to prison on minimum mandatory sentences. That could be done this year, if the legislature had the will. 

Here's what AZCENTRAL.COM has to say this am:

 ------------------




An inmate's death Monday at a private prison near Kingman has prompted an investigation from the Arizona Department of Corrections, according to a statement from the agency.

Neil Early, 23, was serving a sentence for two counts of organized retail theft and drug paraphernalia charges from 2011 in Maricopa County.

Early was sentenced to a 5-year prison term in May 2012 after having previously served less than a year in 2010 for for theft charges.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Arizona Prison Watcher: January 2015

ARIZONAPRISONWATCHER 
JANUARY 2015 
 please distribute behind bars at the AZ DOC
Downloadable   Link to page 1      Link to page 2 

Margaret J. Plews, Editor
ARIZONAPRISONWATCH.ORG
PO Box 980404
Ypsilanti, MI 48198
arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com
480-580-6807

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 to Michigan 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.

To fight the AZ DOC by reading up on their policies, your civil rights as prisoners, how to sue them yourself and such, contact the Phoenix Anarchist Black Cross. You can also report human rights violations to them. They’ll try to send you the info you need to fight back. This is a group of people I trust who have supported my work the most; they organized this ABC chapter specifically to carry it forward. Most are prison abolitionists/ anarchists like me, so you can bet your mail with them will be monitored, maybe even messed with by DOC. If you dont give a damn though, there are some pretty cool folks to correspond with and they’ll send you whatever info they can to help you fight the state...Just be careful about getting too radical in your own rhetoric with SSU reading - its so easy to get carried away when you find like-minded folks who want to hear your voice. You could become a politicized prisoner and end up buried in a lonely hole for the next decade, labeled an anarchist or some kind of extremist yourself. That could follow you, too, out the gate. Most of you would be best off if you simply state your issue and stick to the business at hand if you need some kind of resource from them. Their addy is Phoenix ABC PO Box 7241, Tempe, AZ 85281

Next up is my colleague 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.

If you need to follow up with me, please feel free - my addy is above. I’ll try to get back with you in a reasonable amount of time, just please keep my current situation in mind - I don’t have much ability to print and mail stuff right now, I have no leverage with the DOC, and I’m seriously distracted. If I fail to respond, please just write again to remind me - and know it wasn’t anything personal.

Take care, all.

Until all cages are empty, and all are free -


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

Corizon HealthScare: Meet me in St. Louis...


The article below was posted from the AP to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch today. This was the comment I left for their readers: 

Corizon has been nothing but disastrous to Arizona state prisoners, ignoring too many to death and leaving their families devastated. We've had a whistleblower speak out and a class action lawsuit here (Parsons v Ryan), exposing how evil they are - as well as numerous protests by prisoners' loved ones and interviews with survivors, but it has been to no avail. 

Some think that's due to Good Old Boy Terry Stewart's influence in AZ (he's the former AZ DOC director - Chuck Ryan's mentor - now in bed with the folks at Corizon Healthscare), but I can't explain why other states still have contracts with them. Voters should really scrutinize things closely if their jails or prison systems are going with these folks and renewing contracts year after year, there's probably something dirty going on that keeps them sucking your tax dollars up for their profits at the expense of some of your most vulnerable citizens. Stop the privatization all together, if you can. It doesn't deliver what it promises, and you'll end up paying more after too many die in the end.

Posted as Peggy Plews

God only knows why the new governor, Doug Ducey, has retained Chuck Ryan after the embarassment his administration was to Brewer - must have something on that guy, too. It's like the whole Republican party here just dug their heads in the sand when it comes to the AZ DOC, though, not just the chiefs. Their mascot should be an ostrich, not an elephant. Elephants are, after all, thoughtful, compassionate, and wise...

By the way, if you're fighting these bastards on behalf of a loved one at the AZ DOC, follow the links to these older pieces, but be sure to be current on the relevant AZDOC policies (Department Orders) and send them the right copies - the docs and links in these old posts have probably expired.

 Corizon's Cruel and Unusual Greed: Follow the Money with Prison Legal News

Corizon and the AZ DOC: Prisoners & Families, Know Your Rights.

 

Corizon's deliberate indifference: fighting back.

 

artwork is mine....


------------from the St Louis POST-DISPATCH--------
St Louis Post-Dispatch
Janaury 20, 2014 


Months after he landed in Florida’s Manatee County Jail, Jovon Frazier’s pleas for treatment of intense pain in his left shoulder were met mostly with Tylenol.

“I need to see a doctor!” he wrote on his eighth request form. “I done put a lot of sick calls in & ya’ll keep sending me back and ain’t tell me nothing.”

Four months later, after Frazier’s 13th request resulted in hospitalization and doctors diagnosed bone cancer, his arm was amputated, according to a lawsuit by his family.

But the cancer spread. Frazier died in 2011 at age 21, months after his release.

As an inmate, his medical care had been managed not by the county sheriff’s office that runs the jail, but by a private company under contract.

That company, Corizon Health Inc., is under growing pressure after the loss of five state prison contracts, downgrades by analysts and increasing scrutiny of its care of inmates held by some of its largest customers, including New York City.

Corizon, responsible for 345,000 inmates in 27 states, including Missouri, is the country’s biggest for-profit correctional health provider, but it’s just one of many firms vying for billions of public dollars spent on prisoner care.

Corizon was established in 2011 when privately held Valitás Health Services Inc., the Creve Coeur-based parent of Correctional Medical Services Inc., acquired America Service Group Inc., a Tennessee-based provider of prison health services.

With corporate headquarters in Brentwood, Tenn., Corizon touts Creve Coeur as home to its operational headquarters.

For-profit prison care raises questions about ceding public responsibilities to private companies. It turns, though, on a thornier issue: How do you ensure care of people who society mostly would prefer not to think about?

Inmates “are still human beings. I think some people forget that, I really do. They’re somebody’s child,” said Shirley Jenkins, Frazier’s grandmother.

PRIVATIZED CARE

States spend $8 billion a year, a fifth of their corrections budgets, on prison health care, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts and the MacArthur Foundation. Local jails spend millions more.

Some critics fault the idea of privatizing the job.

“The problem is a structure that creates incentives to cut corners and deny care to powerless people that have no other options,” said David Fathi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project.

Others say deficiencies with prison care go beyond whether it is privatized.

“I don’t have a great love for private health care ... but I don’t think that they’re the source of the problem,” said Dr. Marc Stern, former health services director for Washington state’s prisons. Stern, who once worked for a Corizon predecessor in New York state, issued a 2012 report criticizing the company’s care of Idaho prison inmates while serving as a court-appointed expert.

“I think the problem is how much money and effort we are willing to put into correctional health care,” Stern said.

Some critics, though, say Corizon is notably problematic.

“We get letters from prisoners about medical care not being provided, and the list is endless. And it’s increased tremendously since Corizon took over,” said Randall Berg, executive director of the Florida Justice Institute, who represents inmates petitioning for care.

Corizon says it strives to provide quality care.

“We are always troubled by any questions on the care provided to our patients and view this as an opportunity to reconfirm our commitment to operational ethics and professionalism,” company spokeswoman Susan Morgenstern said in a written statement. The company declined to answer questions.

The criticism surrounding Corizon isn’t new. Correctional Medical Services, or CMS, which later became Corizon, was the main subject of a 1998 Post-Dispatch investigation of for-profit prison health care providers. Looking at CMS and other firms, the investigation found more than 20 cases nationwide in which inmates died as a result of alleged negligence, indifference, understaffing, inadequate training or cost-cutting.

In 2012, Corizon was sued for alleged medical missteps in the death of Courtland Lucas, an inmate in the St. Louis jail. He died May 25, 2009, from complications of a heart problem, congenital aortic valve stenosis, while under the care of CMS. The lawsuit was settled in the fall of 2014, but the terms were not disclosed.

Corizon’s struggles are widespread.

Its care of the 11,000 inmates at New York City’s Rikers Island is under “comprehensive review” by officials, who say they are concerned about problems including at least 16 deaths since 2009.

Arizona hired Corizon last year to replace Wexford Health Sources Inc. after its care came under fire. But an advocacy group warned that “if anything, things have gotten worse” in state prisons. Arizona and the ACLU recently reached a settlement calling for more monitoring of inmate care.

Meanwhile Corizon has lost long-standing prison contracts in Minnesota, Maine, Maryland, Tennessee and Pennsylvania since 2012. Auditors in three states documented problems, including slowness to address poor recordkeeping and inmates’ urgent requests for off-site care.

Corizon, which generated $1.4 billion in revenue in 2013 and is owned by a Chicago private equity firm, has battled stiffening competition. In recent months, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s have downgraded Corizon’s holding company, citing financial underperformance, contract losses and competition that has squeezed profits.

The connection between Corizon’s contract losses and questions about the quality of care it provides is not clear.

But the challenges are evident in Florida, where a year after the state privatized prison care and awarded Corizon a $1.2 billion contract, news reports point to rising inmate deaths. If the company does not address substandard care, the state’s corrections commissioner wrote to Corizon’s CEO in September, Florida may begin withholding payment.

In Minnesota, an audit last year found that inadequate communication between prison staff and Corizon doctors during overnight hours “may have been a contributing factor to inmate deaths.”

But in announcing Minnesota’s change of contractors, the corrections commissioner said Corizon had provided “excellent” service. In a written response to questions, the state corrections department said its decision was not related to the audit. It would not comment on inmate deaths.

Corizon’s work in local jails also has come under scrutiny.

In October, Volusia County, Fla., officials questioned Corizon executives about lawsuits and its financial stability before voting unanimously to switch contractors. The hearing was held in the shadow of a lawsuit filed locally by the family of Tracy Veira, an inmate who choked to death in 2009 in a cell where she was supposed to be under watch while detoxing from painkillers.

A nurse working for one of the companies that merged to form Corizon saw an ailing Veira in the jail’s clinic the afternoon before she died. She told a supervisor the inmate looked as if she needed hospitalization, but Veira was instead sent back to her cell, according to an affidavit filed in the case.

When the commissioners questioned Corizon’s executives, there was no mention of Veira. But Commissioner Deb Denys said she was mindful of the case, scheduled for a July trial.

“I think everybody was,” Denys said. “Sometimes you don’t state the obvious.”

Jennifer Mann of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Confronting deliberate indifference: Parsons v Ryan settlement reached.

 EDITED OCT 14, 2014 3:48pm


This first press release is just in from the ACLU of Arizona. I think the DOC is getting off easy without having a public trial, but it saves money and time to do this instead. They were definitely going to lose...

The second press release is from the head of the AZ DOC, Charles Ryan, the guy who was named in the suit. Sounds like he won the lawsuit or something. These are vastly different accounts of the settlement. My bet is that the AZ DOC put the most spin on their version, but it concerns me that they say the following:


" “This is positive news,” said ADC Director Charles Ryan.  “On the eve of trial, the plaintiffs in this case have essentially agreed that the department’s current policies and practices, along with recent enhancements to programming opportunities, adequately addresses the plaintiffs’ concerns relating to constitutional healthcare and conditions of confinement for maximum custody and mentally ill inmates. "

AND:
 
" ADC will monitor its own compliance, thus avoiding costly court oversight, and the Plaintiffs’ attorneys, through record review and on-site tours will confirm compliance, as well."

Say what??? No way!!!

I'm going to have to read the settlement docs myself and get back to you all with another analysis..



----------


Arizona Agrees to Major Improvements in Prison Health Care, Crucial Limits on Solitary Confinement in Landmark Settlement


For Immediate Release
October 14, 2014


CONTACT:

Alexandra Ringe, American Civil Liberties Union, media@aclu.org, 212-549-2666
Steve Kilar, ACLU of Arizona, skilar@acluaz.org, 602-773-6007
Don Specter and Corene Kendrick, Prison Law Office, dspecter@prisonlaw.com and ckendrick@prisonlaw.com, 510-280-2621

PHOENIX – The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Arizona, the Prison Law Office, and co-counsel today filed a settlement agreement in their class-action suit on behalf of more than 33,000 prisoners in Arizona’s state prisons. Under the settlement, the Arizona Department of Corrections must fix a broken health care system plagued by long-term and systemic problems that caused numerous deaths and preventable injuries. The settlement will also allow prisoners in solitary confinement who have serious mental illnesses to have more mental health treatment and time outside their cells, and will make other critical reforms in prison conditions.

“The Arizona Department of Corrections worked with us on a settlement that shows a commitment to protecting prisoners’ physical and mental health,” said David Fathi, the Director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project. “We hope other states will now find ways to provide adequate medical, mental health, and dental care to their prisoners.”

“The Arizona Department of Corrections has agreed to changes that will save lives,” said Don Specter, Director of the Prison Law Office. “This settlement will bring more humane treatment for prisoners with serious health care needs, and the potential for their conditions to improve rather than worsen.”

The settlement in Parsons v. Ryan requires the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) to meet more than 100 health care performance measures, covering issues such as monitoring of prisoners with diabetes, hypertension, and other chronic conditions; care for pregnant prisoners; and dental care.

The settlement also requires ADC to overhaul the rules for prisoners with serious mental illnesses in solitary confinement. Instead of spending all but six hours a week in their cells, such prisoners will now have a minimum of 19 hours a week outside the cell, and this time must include mental health treatment and other programming. ADC must also restrict guards’ use of pepper spray on these prisoners, using it only as a last resort when necessary to prevent serious injury or escape.

The settlement provides for ongoing monitoring and oversight by the prisoners’ lawyers to make sure the state is complying with its terms.

The groups filed the federal lawsuit in 2012, challenging years of inattention to the health needs of state prisoners and improper and excessive use of solitary confinement, resulting in serious harm and unnecessary deaths. Judge Neil V. Wake of the U.S. District Court in Phoenix certified the case as a class action in March 2013, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed that ruling in June 2014. Last month, the groups filed reports by nationally recognized experts in corrections and in medical, mental health, and dental care, showing system-wide problems with the prisons’ health care and excessive use of solitary confinement.

In addition to the ACLU and the Prison Law Office, other attorneys on the case are Perkins Coie, Jones Day, and the Arizona Center for Disability Law, which is also a plaintiff in the case.
aclu.org/prisoners-rights/parsons-v-ryan

For information about the ACLU’s National Prison Project:
https://www.aclu.org/prisoners-rights

For information about the Prison Law Office:
www.prisonlaw.com

For information about the Arizona Center for Disability Law:
http://www.acdl.com/

---now for the official state version----


ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
1601 W. JEFFERSON
PHOENIX, ARIZONA 85007
(602) 542-3133
                 

                      

JANICE K. BREWER                                                  CHARLES L. RYAN
GOVERNOR                                                                            DIRECTOR
For more information contact:
Doug Nick
dnick@azcorrections.gov
Bill Lamoreaux
blamorea@azcorrections.gov

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Parties reach settlement agreement
and seek to vacate Parsons v. Ryan trial


PHOENIX (Tuesday, October 14, 2014) – The Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) has reached a settlement agreement in collaboration with the ACLU, Prison Law Office and ACDL prior to the pending trial.

The parties have agreed to approximately 100 performance measures applicable to medical, mental health, dental and conditions of confinement.


“This is positive news,” said ADC Director Charles Ryan.  “On the eve of trial, the plaintiffs in this case have essentially agreed that the department’s current policies and practices, along with recent enhancements to programming opportunities, adequately addresses the plaintiffs’ concerns relating to constitutional healthcare and conditions of confinement for maximum custody and mentally ill inmates.

“In regards to those issues, the settlement notwithstanding, it’s unfortunate that the plaintiffs continue to use rhetoric such as ‘solitary confinement’ to describe housing for some inmates.  No such confinement exists in our institutions.  The Department of Corrections has always followed nationally-accredited standards for housing single-cell inmates that include requirements for natural daylight and contact with others, and out-of-cell time.


“Additionally, it should be noted that Arizona’s inmate mortality rates, including incidents of suicide, are within the national average for corrections departments.  In 2012, the most recent year for which statistics are available, Arizona reported 215 deaths per 100,000 inmates, compared to the national average of 254 per 100,000.  Additionally, Arizona averaged 17 inmate suicides per 100,000, which is in line with the national average of 16 per 100,000.


“By avoiding a costly trial, the Department saves significant resources that can be further directed towards continuing to provide constitutional healthcare and structured programming to support successful community reintegration.  This is especially relevant in light of the fact that despite the state of California spending nearly $18,000 per inmate for health care costs due to two decades of litigation by the same plaintiffs in the Parsons case, California is still under court supervision and the inmate mortality rate there exceeds that of Arizona. 
By contrast, Arizona spends nearly $3,800 per inmate in health care costs.

ADC will monitor its own compliance, thus avoiding costly court oversight, and the Plaintiffs’ attorneys, through record review and on-site tours will confirm compliance, as well. ADC, through its contracted vendor, must meet specific compliance thresholds at its facilities. Within two years, monitoring of performance measures automatically terminates when those performance measures meet agreed-upon thresholds.  ADC can petition the court to terminate the entire settlement agreement after four years.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Solidarity with the women of Perryville: Never Surrender.

UPDATE September 30, 2014 7pm: I'm sorry, there's still no news on how this prisoner is faring. But if you pray, please send one up tonight for her and her kids, because no matter how this turns out, its going to be a tough one...





Last week, a dear friend of a dear friend was reported to have ended her life on Santa Cruz yard in Perryville prison. Over the weekend I learned a little about the kind of blessing this woman has been in the lives of  her friends and fellow prisoners, and determined to do something special to help remember her by.  As of yesterday morning the DOC still hadn't posted her death notice, and her record on line only showed that she was sent out  to the hospital on  9/25. Sometimes the DOC is pretty slow on those, though, and I was pretty sure of my sources. So, first thing Monday morning I hit Central Office to build a memorial for her and the other women who have died from suicide or gross neglect under the Brewer/Ryan administration. There are quite a few, some whose names and stories I don't even know. Some stories  I am all too familiar with, though, like that of the beloved Gloria Rogers, whose suffering I'll write about more in due time...




I returned home to process the photos from that action to find a shred of hope in a Facebook message, however: word from a friend of hers that she is apparently on life support, which explains the silence from the DOC. A hush has now fallen across the pages where she was being mourned, as all are now holding their breaths and saying their prayers for her recovery right now.

No one in this  woman's life saw a suicide attempt coming, by the way - she had just been returned to prison in August, having relapsed since her parole last year. She had just done a decade behind bars, and was now looking a six more years in prison, away from her family, as was her partner in crime. But she was tough, and seemed like she could handle it. She was certainly plagued by her addictions, but those who contacted me about her didn't know of any serious mental health history that would suggest she was at risk for this. They felt completely blindsided, and devastated. Many successful suicides occur without clear warning, though.

Out of respect for her privacy and that of her family's, I'll defer naming this good soul until she recovers enough from this trauma to give her permission or tell her story herself - or until the DOC posts a death notice, if it turns out she passes away. Until then, those of you searching for what happened to your friend on Santa Cruz last week should just keep good thoughts in your hearts for her - she may yet be holding on. And be sure to take advantage of this time of uncertainty about her fate to tell those you love how much they mean to you - especially if they are struggling now, or in exile. You never know if you'll have the opportunity to do so tomorrow.
 


Finally, those of you who are  struggling yourselves with thoughts of ending your life because you're in or are facing prison: chances are, there are people in your life who need you nonetheless - they need you to make it through this, or your death will haunt them forever. And there may be others down the road you can help if you can figure out how to survive your ordeal now.  So, please don't take yourself out - study your rights, and become a thorn in the DOC's side instead. Whatever you do, don't do their dirty work for them.


I'm attaching the images from yesterday's memorial to this post - with apologies to the women from Perryville who received misinformation and probably had to clean up after me. I pray I never have cause to write that name on the sidewalk again. The Ghosts of Jan Brewer number far too many already...



If you need help dealing with your own mental health crisis or that of a loved one, THE NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE is a free, 24/7 service that can provide suicidal persons or those around them with support, information and local resources.

800-273-TALK (8255)