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.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Cancer in Custody: Benny Joe Roseland, 59, is dying to save us money...

 UPDATE AUGUST 1, 2013:  Just sent this email out today...

Arizona Prisonwatch    Thu, Aug 1, 2013 at 9:30 AM

To: CHARLES RYAN , Richard Pratt , abiggs@azleg.gov, dgowan@azleg.gov 
Cc: jescamilla@azleg.gov, lotondo@azleg.gov, lpancrazi@azleg.gov, chcampbell@azleg.gov, David Fathi (ACLU National Prison Project), Daniel Pochoda (ACLU-AZ), Donald Specter (prison Law Office), Justin Scalise (Corizon Health), Jennifer Alewelt (Arizona Center for Disability Law), "Halloran, Wendy" (CH12/KPNX)

All four of you in the primary address here should be ashamed of yourselves for this prisoner's needless suffering and looming death - which appears to be due to a pattern of neglect over the course of Chuck Ryan's administration. This is why Parsons v Ryan is in play.

Sen. Biggs and Rep Gowan: a lot of people expect you to show some leadership and do something about Mr. Ryan and Mr. Pratt, if the good Governor won't. Someone else needs to turn that place around before we meet the next Benny Joe Roseland, or Tony Lester, Anthony Brown, Nelson Johnson, Marcia Powell, Forrest Day, Lasasha Cherry, Jerry Kulp, Ferdinand Dix, Carlo Krakoff, Huberta Parlee, Joseph Venegas, Brenda Todd, Susan Lopez, Jesse Cornejo, Daniel Porter, Duron Cunningham, Jesse Cabonias, or any number of Jan Brewer's ghosts whose wrongful deaths in prison I can detail for you, having read their DOC records and survivors' claims myself. The indifference some of them suffered was quite deliberate, and sometimes even criminal, in my book.


Sen Pancrazi and Reps Otondo and Escamilla: Please represent Benny's interests to the people responsible for his welfare, and make sure he gets the same palliative care you would want for your own brother or son if they were imprisoned in this place. I know his life gives something to your communities by virtue of being warehoused, and thus counted, in your districts. I honestly don't know if he has anyone else to fight for him. He can be reached at:



Benny Joe Roseland #124449,
ASPC-Lewis/Health
PO Box 70 
Buckeye, AZ 85326


I've promised Benny I will amplify his voice in the service of for those who will never be heard as they suffer and die, so we'll be posting from him to both blogs until he can no longer write to us. His death is representative of the "state savings" Arizona realizes by shortcutting on prisoner health care. Benny can be the poster boy for a campaign championing the "rights" of private corporations to profit from the erosion of our collective humanity in this state, too.


Mr. Pratt: I'd appreciate a run-down of what hospice services there are in your prisons, particularly those you plan to offer to Benny. Are prisoners trained to care for eachother, like some other state have done? They often care for their sick and dying anyway - might as well give them the right tools. And please don't let his pain meds get cut off again like everyone else's has been, or he might have to turn to heroin like the rest to self-medicate. Most prisoners can get a quick fix from the gangs more easily than tylenol from a Corizon nurse these days...but surely that isn't news to you.


Mr. Scalise: I'll be requesting Benny's records as soon as the ROI he wants to fill out is given to him and processed, which I'm sure the DOC or your company's staff will assist him with doing promptly.


Someone else please forward this to the governor - I'm not sure she ever gets my messages; I'm certain she doesn't want to hear them, though I would hope that she'd agree that it's not only more civilized, but also more fiscally responsible to assure that prisoners are offered a community standard of medical care from the moment they are committed to state custody, regardless of who signs their physicians' paychecks.

Especially in light of the Hep C epidemic behind bars and the numbers of seriously mentally ill people we have criminalized in AZ, responsible prison medicine is also essential for the sake of public health and safety. Since 95% of state prisoners eventually do come back to us, we'd rather they not  emerge from isolation cells in psychosis, or return just to die in our streets and expose the community to even more infectious disease.


Thank you all for your attention to this prisoner's basic needs and human rights. Gitmo has nothing on AZ DOC when it comes to deprivation of America's prisoners.

Regards,

Margaret Jean Plews


-------original post (july 27, 2013)------- 


. The following letter came to me recently from ASPC-Lewis/ Barchey Unit: this is what deliberate indifference at the AZ DOC sounds like, before the death notices are posted. Benny is soon to become another Ghost of Jan Brewer's...another human being whose life may have been saved, but for the contempt routinely shown prisoners by the state of Arizona.

The author is a long time correspondent of mine, and a reliable source of information. He's writing on behalf of fellow prisoner  Benny Joe Roseland, who wanted his story told so others may perhaps be spared similar suffering. Benny's experience is not uncommon, unfortunately, and spans the period of time when DOC was providing their own health care (when the class action suit over neglect was initiated), then Wexford, and now Corizon. 

Benny - thank you for this, my friend; your story will not be forgotten. I'm so sorry for what it cost you, though. Blessings to you for some measure of comfort and peace as you prepare for your final journey Home...

To friends and family helping loved ones in the AZ DOC fight for health care: See these blog posts below and/or contact Peggy Plews - I'm no attorney, but will  do whatever I can (480-580-6807 or arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com).




--------








ASPC-Winslow guard beaten: Risks grow under Chuck Ryan.

 AZ DOC Central Office, Phoenix (June 2012)

There are many reasons the AZ House minority leader has called for DOC director Chuck Ryan's resignation - the escalating violence under his watch is one. AFSC-Tucson is also calling for more oversight. Gangs run the yards, drugs are rampant, the prisons are erupting in race riots, and there's a class action suit for gross medical negligence in the prisons and abuse of the mentally ill with isolation (where they have been killing themselves at twice the rate in other states). 

AZ DOC officers should join others concerned about prison violence, staffing morale, etc and fight back - call for Chuck Ryan to resign, and a competent administrator to be appointed. The union issued a vote of no confidence and called for Brewer to sack him once before - what's changed since then, except a few more people are hurt and dead? 

Contact me at arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com with your thoughts. 


-------from KPHO / CBS CH 5 / Phoenix-------------

Arizona corrections officer brutally beaten by inmates

Posted: Jul 24, 2013 6:50 PM  
Updated: Jul 25, 2013 1:25 PM

FLAGSTAFF, AZ (CBS5) - 

The long-time boyfriend of a female corrections officer at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Winslow said she was brutally attacked by two prisoners while escorting more than 50 unrestrained inmates by herself.

The officer, identified only as Officer Benavidez, is hospitalized after recently undergoing facial reconstructive surgery after the attack.

Benavidez's boyfriend of 20 years, Bill, only wanted to tell us his first name for fear of retaliation. He said there is no doubt in his mind the two men who attacked her were trying to kill her.

"Officers found a hit list in there with her and four other people's names on it," Bill said.

Bill told CBS 5 News on Friday a phone, as well as drugs, were confiscated from an inmate on a tip that came from Benavidez, a six-year law enforcement veteran.

A few hours later, prison officials confirmed two men attacked Benavidez, while more than 50 other inmates watched.

"The first one hit her and knocked her out. He climbed on top of her and continued to pound her head.
There was another one, and he started kicking her," Bill said.

DOC officials said there were more than 160 security staff assigned to the Kaibab Unit of the prison Friday night, but Bill said that number is misleading.

"There may have been 160 spread out in the entire prison guarding the fence or whatever. But there were 19 officers in her unit," Bill said.

Bill said understaffing isn't the only problem officers face. Drug use is rampant.

"We're not talking about simple stuff. It's heroin. It's a killer itself being fed to killers," Bill said.

Bill told CBS 5 News that state officials have kept problems like this under wraps for too long.

"I want stuff in that prison changed, before someone else is standing here like this," Bill said.

A Department of Corrections spokesman confirmed the case is under investigation, but wouldn't go into specifics about the attack...

AFSC-Tucson calls on Brewer to pull her head out of the sand.







all photos by Mahatma Hemry 
art of protest and post-development rendering by Margaret J Plews





 
That title is my own paraphrase (and my art, above) - the folks at AFSC-Tucson are more diplomatic. They do great work. If you need to talk to anyone about prison privatization, solitary confinement, or other prison reform issues in AZ, talk to them. In the meantime check out some of their resources. The report on Solitary Confinement in AZ, "Buried Alive" is pretty powerful. And Check out the Stopmax Campaign




"Help Wanted"
AZ DOC Central Office: Phoenix 
(July 24, 2013)

AFSC-Tucson Contact info:

Caroline Isaacs or Matt Lowen
American Friends Service Committee-Tucson

103 N Park Avenue, Suite 111
Tucson, AZ  85719
520.623.9141


LIKE them on FACEBOOK

Follow their Blog: Cell-out Arizona at the Tucson Citizen


I'd also encourage people to call the governor's office this week to urge her to fire Chuck Ryan, among other things. The DOC is going to need a major overhaul and intensive public oversight - better yet, let's just abolish the thing while we have the chance... 

Enough vulnerable people have died giving that guy a chance to prove he can be as big a bully as Terry Stewart was.  Stewart was brutal - which is how AZ voters like their paid thugs - but Ryan is just an embarrassment to the Governor's office, with all the death row and mentally ill prisoners killing themselves and languishing in Supermax, gangs running the yards, race riots breaking out, sexual expolitation and abuse, a class action suit over pervasive neglect, skyrocketing violence, and so on. She might need us to point those items out to her, though. Chad Campbell's 10-point letter was pretty good, though it missed the race riots.

The AZ Governor's contact info:

The Honorable Janice K. Brewer
Arizona Governor
Executive Tower
1700 West Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007


Phoenix Office: (602) 542-4331 
Tucson Office: (520) 628-6580
In-state toll-free 1-800-253-0883  
(outside Maricopa County only)

Finally, don't forget to contact your legislators, or those of your loved one in prison. Tell them your story, and ask them to intervene if your family needs help with the AZ DOC. I'm not the one that will open doors for you there. By involving them more personally as champions in your struggle with the DOC, you humanize this crisis while educating them onn the realities of dealing with the AZ DOC, which also helps those prisoners who have no one left out here to speak on their behalf. It involves vulnerability, but I think most legislators will be quite respectful of your privacy, frustration, rage, and grief...




AZ State Legislature
1700 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85007
HOUSE:
602-926-4221
SENATE:
(602) 926-3559
Toll Free: 1-800-352-8404


Please, whenever you feel safe sharing your letters to legislators, I'd love to post some of them. I also need to know who is and isn't responding supportively to you in the house or senate, so please keep me posted at arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com


----from the Tucson Weekly----------


AFSC Ask Guv to Establish Prison Oversight Committee, Investigation

Posted by Mari Herreras

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 at 1:54 PM

Yesterday, House Minority Leader Chad Campbell called for the immediate resignation of Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan. Today, the American Friends Service Committee has asked Gov. Jan Brewer to create an oversight committee over the ADOC.

The Phoenix Democrat has been a vocal advocate for prison reform and private prison issues alongside AFSC. His call for Ryan's resignation follows a recent Buckeye prison inmate death.

“Director Ryan has exhibited a pattern of mismanagement and a lack of leadership resulting in an unsafe corrections system in our state,” Campbell said in a press release. “Under his direction, our corrections system has wasted tax dollars, jeopardized people’s lives and damaged the state’s credibility.”

Campbell said he's seen reports that Arizona's prison suicide rate was 60 percent higher than the national average between the years of 2010 and 2012.

“In addition to this, the attempt to cover up what happened to an inmate allowed to bleed to death in front of prison guards is a gruesome consequence of Ryan’s negligence," Campbell said, adding that he believes Ryan has failed to properly supervise private prison contracts, such as a private facility in Kingman, where three inmates escaped in 2010 and committed murder and armed robbery. “Following this incident, Ryan admitted that the DOC didn’t properly monitor this facility. This is a community safety issue."

Campbell also said that private prisons cost more than state-run prisons and the DOC has failed to hold the private prison companies accountable for the terms of their contracts with the state. He complained that the state awards contracts in a manner that is not transparent and seems indicative of cronyism. An example of this occurred earlier this year, when the DOC terminated a contract with Wexford Health Sources, a private company that provided healthcare for inmates statewide.

“The (DOC) contracted with a company that has a controversial record of service. In fact, one of Wexford’s employees exposed more than 100 people to hepatitis C in a prison in Buckeye,” Campbell said. “The DOC terminates that contract and replaces Wexford with Corizon, another company surrounded by controversy that also happens to have ties to people who are close to the governor. This situation reeks of patronage.”

And Campbell used the taxpayer argument—specifically, that for-profit, private prisons are misusing taxpayer money.

According to Campbell, last year, Republicans repealed a state law in the budget requiring a comparison of state and private prisons every two years to ensure that private prisons were providing the same quality of services as state prisons at a lower cost. DOC Per Capita Cost Reports compiled over five years consistently show that the state is losing money on private prisons, and security audits show serious safety flaws in all of Arizona’s for-profit prisons, including malfunctioning cameras and alarm systems.

In a letter to Brewer, the AFSC asked the governor that the oversight committee they are asking for be meaningful and independent.

“Such an oversight committee would allow for better institutional transparency and substantial responses to grievances of inadequate medical and mental health care within the ADC facilities,” says AFSC Program Director Caroline Isaacs.

Here is the AFSC letter to Brewer:

http://posting.tucsonweekly.com/images/blogimages/2013/07/24/1374698796-afscryanoversight7-24-13.pdf



 


AFSC also asked that Brewer investigate the charges against Ryan and determine whether he is fit to serve.

Isaacs points out that while it is important to hold ADC Directors accountable for the gross failings of their tenure, “putting a new Director into an old and failed system won’t change the outcome.” She added, “Ryan’s failures reveal a total lack of public oversight over our prisons.”

The oversight committee that AFSC Arizona proposes in the letter to Brewer must have the ability to hold the ADC accountable in a meaningful way, and must include individuals outside of the framework of political influence.

In the letter, AFSC cites overuse of solitary confinement in maximum-security units, a reliance on private for-profit prison companies, and lack of adequate medical and mental health care as prime examples of the need for such oversight. It reads, “[T]he numerous issues raised in Rep. Campbell’s letter are extremely serious, costing taxpayers millions of dollars and undermining public safety as well as the safety and health of prisoners and corrections staff.”

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

AZ DOC Central Office: "Help Wanted". Ryan should still resign...or be fired.

I spent the morning with freinds protesting outside the AZ DOC's Central Office today...



 






More photos to come; you can also find my art on Facebook


After protesting at the DOC my friends and I visited the AZ Capitol Executive Tower to drop off Marcia Powell's cage (above) for Governor Brewer, to whom it was addressed as a gift from the Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ and the Friends of Marcia Powell. I drew the names of the dead on the back of that cage, too, inside the letters that formed the five foot high message: "Dear Mr. Ryan: Please stop killing people." (Can't believe I don't have a photo, but someone else got the shot). 

Security was very cooperative, but the Governor's staff seemed a little perpelexed when they came down to pick up the package from me; I did make a point of telling them it was a gift of both art and history, but they just looked stunned. They appeared to be dragging it on the elevator to head upstairs as we were leaving, though, so here's hoping she got the message and it didn't just end up going straight into the recycing bin.

If you're the loved one of an AZ state prisoner, or otherwise find yourself compelled to care about the disaster unfolding in the AZ Department of Corrections, please thank Gannett (which owns KPNX/CH 12 Phoenix and the Arizona Republic) for covering this - which has thus far been totally missed by the rest of the AZ media, sad to say (except the folks at the Tucson Weekly, today, with a follow-up story...see next post for their response). 

The treatment of our prisoners - truly the most vulnerable among us - reflects so profoundly the level of our society's spirtual maturity and capacity to alleviate victimization in the first place, that I don't know how they can ignore what's going on in the prison, except that such introspection can be painful and doesn't anlways attract viewers or sponsor - especially not in Arizona, I would imagine

That said, after watching the following clip, please send comments/appreciation to Wendy Halloran at KPNX and Mary K Reinhart at the AZ Republic at connect@ad.gannett.com, and encourage them to keep reporting on the AZ DOC.

From Channel 12/KPNX in Phoenix, July 23, 2013 6pm news.




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

Campbell calls for Arizona prison chief to resign

 
The Republic | azcentral.com  
Tue Jul 23, 2013 6:42 PM
 
A key lawmaker is calling on the state’s prison chief to resign, citing a high prison suicide rate, security failures, inadequate medical care and inappropriate ties to the private-prison industry.

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, a longtime critic of the Department of Corrections and private prisons, said his call for director Charles Ryan’s resignation was prompted by the suspected homicide last month of an inmate at the Lewis state prison complex in Buckeye.

“Director Ryan has exhibited a pattern of mismanagement and a lack of leadership resulting in an unsafe corrections system in our state,” Campbell said in a statement. “Under his direction, our corrections system has wasted tax dollars, jeopardized people’s lives and damaged the state’s credibility.”

Campbell, who is considering a run for governor in 2014, said Ryan has failed to plug holes in prison security, stem criminal behavior by corrections employees, properly manage private-prison contracts and ensure adequate health care for inmates.

Bill Lamoreaux, a spokesman for the corrections department, said Ryan and other agency officials have responded to Campbell’s concerns and provided “detailed information on ADC’s operations.”

“Earlier this year he was even invited to tour ADC correctional facilities so that he could gain a firsthand understanding of the Department, its employees and operations,” Lamoreaux said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, Representative Campbell did not respond to ADC’s offer.”

Gov. Jan Brewer’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Brewer appointed Ryan to lead the agency in 2009.

Under his tenure, the state has privatized inmate health care and now faces a class-action lawsuit alleging that the department provides inadequate medical, dental and mental-health care to inmates. Also under Ryan, two murderers escaped from a private prison near Kingman in 2010, leading to a nationwide manhunt and the deaths of two people. An internal investigation blamed human error and lax monitoring of the private-prison contract.

Republic reporter Craig Harris contributed to this article.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

AZ House Leader: Time for DOC Director Ryan's resignation.

Central Office, AZ Department of Corrections (PHOENIX. November 2010)
  chalk art by Margaret J Plews                                                          photo: PJ STARR

(updated 2:46pm 7/23/2013) 

I don't necessarily expect Jan Brewer to care what the House Democrats think or to fire Good Old Boy Chuck Ryan, but the rest of the legislature should really be looking seriously at how badly he's mismanaged the AZ DOC - that's a billion dollars a year of state money he handles, after all - not to mention the public trust. 

of course, this isn't the first time anyone has questioned Chuck Ryan's leadership....

Resign, Director Ryan: Former Deputy Warden breaks the silence.

Brewer: Please sack Chuck Ryan.

The prisons of Chuck Ryan: Arizona's other death row.

Rep Campbell calls for DOC Oversight hearings; former DW Toersbijns weighs in

 

Still, the governor should care as well, though, since these are all her ghosts...
 
 The Ghosts of Jan Brewer
AZ State Capitol, Phoenix (April 3, 2013)
 
 
  and don't forget all the race riots and other disturbances, not mentioned below...

In any case, this is the day - the whole week - that the families of prisoners should be contacting their legislators, and the legislators responsible for the prisons your loved ones are in. Watch KPNX / CHannel 12 PHX tonight at 6 and 10pm. Then tomorrow please contact your legislators or those of the prison your loved one is in tomorrow with your own story. Forward that email to KPNX CH 12 news at connect@ad.gannett.com with your thank you to them for their coverage.

If you don't mind forwarding a copy to me as well, I'm at arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com


   
-From the website of the AZ House Democrats--

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Campbell calls for immediate resignation of Arizona DOC Director Charles Ryan

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX –


House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24), is calling for the immediate resignation of Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan.

“Director Ryan has exhibited a pattern of mismanagement and a lack of leadership resulting in an unsafe corrections system in our state,” Campbell said. “Under his direction, our corrections system has wasted tax dollars, jeopardized people’s lives and damaged the state’s credibility.”

Campbell’s action follows the recent death of an inmate in a Buckeye prison.  Suicide and homicide rates occurring within Arizona prisons have earned the facilities negative attention in the past.

“We’ve seen reports that Arizona’s prison suicide rate was 60 percent higher than the national average between the years of 2010 and 2012,” Campbell said. “In addition to this, the attempt to cover up what happened to an inmate allowed to bleed to death in front of prison guards is a gruesome consequence of Ryan’s negligence.”

Campbell said he believes Ryan has failed to properly supervise private prison contracts. He points to the inmate escape from Kingman as an example.

“In 2010, three inmates convicted of violent crimes including murder and armed robbery, escaped a privately operated state prison in Kingman,” Campbell said. “Following this incident, Ryan admitted that the DOC didn’t properly monitor this facility. This is a community safety issue.”

Campbell said private prisons cost more than state-run prisons and that the DOC has failed to hold the private prison companies accountable for the terms of their contracts with the state. He also said the state awards contracts in a manner that is not transparent and seems indicative of cronyism. An example of this occurred earlier this year, when the DOC terminated a contract with Wexford Health Sources, a private company that provided healthcare for inmates statewide.

“The Department of Corrections contracted with a company that has a controversial record of service. In fact, one of Wexford’s employees exposed more than 100 people to hepatitis C in a prison in Buckeye,” Campbell said. “The DOC terminates that contract and replaces Wexford with Corizon, another company surrounded by controversy that also happens to have ties to people who are close to the governor. This situation reeks of patronage.”

Campbell thinks using tax dollars on mismanaged facilities is unacceptable.

“We are wasting taxpayer money on mismanaged facilities,” Campbell said. “That is especially true with the for-profit, private prisons. They are not saving the state money.”

Last year, Republicans repealed a state law in the budget requiring a comparison of state and private prisons every two years to ensure that private prisons were providing the same quality of services as state prisons at a lower cost. Department of Corrections Per Capita Cost Reports compiled over five years consistently show that the state is losing money on private prisons, and security audits show serious safety flaws in all of Arizona’s for-profit prisons, including malfunctioning cameras and alarm systems.

 “For years, Ryan has showed that he is incapable of properly handling his position. Arizonans deserve better. He should resign immediately,” Campbell said.

Reasons to call for Director Ryan’s resignation

1.       Security failures. A recent audit by the State Auditor General found disturbing security violations at state prisons, including broken perimeter alarm systems that staff ignored and a failure to keep an inventory of keys.

2.       Personnel problems.  News reports have indicated that there is low morale at state prisons and that employee turnover is very high. The Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association submitted a letter of “no confidence” regarding Director Charles Ryan.

3.       Criminal behavior.  The Arizona Department of Corrections Inspector General has documented hundreds of acts of criminal conduct by DOC employees, including DUI and domestic violence.

4.       Pattern of mismanagement and lack of leadership. One examples of mismanagement is the awarding of the medical care contract to Wexford, then rescinding that contract and re-awarding it to Corizon. Both companies have faced controversy and accusations of poor medical services.

5.       Conflict of interest.  The Department of Corrections has close ties to the private prison industry as well as private health care providers.  One example is Chuck Coughlin’s relationship with Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), which has a contract with the state to provide private prisons. Coughlin has a well-known relationship with the governor, who appointed Director Ryan to his position. Another example is Director Ryan’s ties to Terry Stewart who works with Advanced Correctional Management, which lobbies for private prison expansion, as well as Stewart’s work with Corizon, which was eventually awarded the statewide contract to provide health care to inmates.

6.       High suicide rates. Suicide rates at state prisons were 60 percent higher than the national average between 2010 and 2012.

7.       Poor medical care. Inmate medical care has been severely neglected. Egregious examples of inmates being given grossly inadequate health care have been outlined in the class action lawsuit against DOC.

8.       Abuse and neglect of inmates. There has been a pattern of abuse and neglect of inmates, including Marcia Powell who died after being left outside in the sun for many hours and Tony Lester who was allowed to bleed to death in prison while correctional officers watched and did nothing to help him.

9.       Private prison problems.  In addition to the conflict of interest noted above, Director Ryan has also failed to properly manage private prison contracts and supervise the private prisons.  The inmates escaping from Kingman is one example of his failure to oversee the private prisons. Additionally, private prisons often cost more than state-run prisons, and DOC has failed to hold the private prison companies accountable for the terms of their contracts with the state.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

ASPC-Tucson Death in Custody: Patrick Hoppes, 48. Suicide.




This man has incredibly sad eyes, I imagine 
from looking at the next decade of his life 
in the worst prisons in the country 

Other than the DOC notice below, I only know that Patrick was found at his job site at the Pima County Animal Shelter yesterday.

If anyone knows anything else about Patrick's life or death, please contact me.

Condolences to Patrick's loved ones. 
Please get an attorney to find out what happened.
I'm always here if you need me, too: my name is Peggy Plews
I document the struggles of Arizona's state prisoners, whenever I can.
I also help them and their survivors fight back. 
reach me at:
480-580-6807 





Thursday, July 11, 2013

Heroes in Custody: Prisoner Wildland Firefighters.

gisela creek riverbank, AZ (march 2013)


This story below was just recently published at the Big Round Table, a worthy site for new works. "Burn" goes up here in partial tribute to those 19 Hot Shot Crew members lost by Prescott in the Yarnell Hill fire not long ago - as well as all the brothers and sisters who risk their lives fighting fires and disaster still, wading through the violence and grief of some of the worst moments of our lives. Wherever you lay your head at night, and whatever color you wear under your suit, thank you and blessings to you all. You should all be honored for your service. Here is the only remembrance the DOC has on their website...

http://www.azcorrections.gov/Memorial/History_Remembrance_Bachman.aspx

What follows is just a few excerpts of BURN - hit the Big Roundtable for the whole thing. This blogger here also has some interesting remarks about the writing of the story, from the author herself. 

Thanks for remembering these deaths in custody, Jaime, and for helping their survivors tell their stories...


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


Burn

The Big Roundtable

June 23, 2013 




"...At 12:30 in the afternoon on Monday, June 25, 1990, lightning flashed above the Tonto National Forest near Payson, Arizona, about 100 miles northeast of Phoenix. It started a fire just south of the Mogollon Rim. Within an hour, the fire had spread over five acres. By 4:15 p.m., more than 100 acres of manzanita brush, scrub oak, and old-growth ponderosa pine had been consumed in what was by then called the Dude Fire, named for Dude Creek, where the lightning had touched down and ignited the blaze. Propelled by brisk winds, the flames moved fast. Initial attack crews were called in. Helicopters dangled collapsible canvas buckets from sturdy cords and dipped them into nearby lakes and ponds to gather thousands of gallons of water and dump it on the fire. Air tankers dropped bright red slurry, a fire retardant. Neither had much effect. At 6 p.m., the U.S. Forest Service called in 18 wildland fire crews, each made up of 20 team members, from across the state and beyond, to help suppress the Dude Fire. One was a crew of inmate firefighters from the Arizona State Prison at Perryville.

Seventeen inmates from Perryville’s minimum-security San Pedro unit served on the fire crew. The men ranged in age from 22 to 39. Among them were Joseph Chacon, 25, and Curtis Springfield, 24, who had both been convicted of aggravated assault; Geoff Hatch, 27, who had been in prison since 1984, charged with theft and burglary; and James Ellis, who was 34 and serving a 20-year sentence for manslaughter. Their bosses were correctional officers Larry Terra, 30, and Sandra Bachman, 43. A third crew boss, Dave LaTour, would later arrive separately.

The inmates and staff were certified Type II wildland firefighters. Type II crews have less experience than Type I Interagency Hotshot crews, which are made up of career and part-time firefighters who live and work together throughout the fire season. The Perryville crew was trained according to standards established by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, no differently than the civilian crews that battled forest fires throughout the West. But civilian Type II firefighters at the time earned between $7 and $8 an hour and, with overtime included, could make enough money in six months to spend the rest of the year on the beach, as some of the younger ones did.

In contrast, Perryville crew members earned between 40 and 50 cents an hour. The pay didn’t matter to them. Neither did the inherent risks of the job. Wildland firefighting is brutal, sometimes dangerous, work. Heart attacks and burnover—in which fire overcomes a crew, forcing them to take cover in portable fire shelters until the flames pass—are among the most common causes of death, the former brought on by extreme physical exertion. But the inmates weren’t focused on that. They considered it a privilege to fight fire, and a spot on the crew was coveted. Good behavior inside the prison had earned them the opportunity to get past the razor wire and the gates and the floodlights that loomed above the Perryville complex, way out there in the middle of the Sonoran Desert northwest of Phoenix.

For sure, the job beat doing other people’s laundry or slapping together bologna sandwiches in an institutional kitchen. Plus, it offered the chance to spend weeks at a time camped out in sleeping bags under the stars, with steak and pork chops for supper at the campsite. But there was something else that made the work special, as good for the soul as it was for the stomach: In prison, the men had to wear all orange, all the time. Yet dressed in the firefighting uniform—yellow flame-resistant Nomex jackets, olive green pants, lace-up leather boots, and hard hats—no one could tell that the men were prisoners. And to the people whose homes or land or lives the men saved, they weren’t felons. They were firefighters. Heroes. They commanded respect...


...“Get out!” yelled firefighter Edison Notah, of the Navajo crew.

Positioned just south of Perryville, Notah was able to see through the tree canopy. The fire was blowing up. A column of superheated clouds mixed with smoke and burning debris towered above the forest. The column was later estimated to be 40,000 feet tall and six miles wide. It collapsed when colder air suddenly burst downward, pushing the fire through the dry, dense undergrowth that choked the forest floor. Arizona was in its third year of drought, so the fuels were bone-dry. Sixty-mile-per-hour winds moved the fire over and down the ridge from the west to the east side of Walk Moore Canyon. The Perryville crew was directly in its path...



....The Navajo crew made it out. But when the fire jumped the line meant to keep it at bay, the Perryville crew was separated into two groups. Nine crew members made it to Control Road, where they climbed onto the back of a pickup truck that was waiting to get them out. The rest of them were trapped.

Eleven crew members—10 men and Bachman—turned around and ran back up the canyon, about three-tenths of a mile, away from Control Road, and deeper into the forest. A black, rolling fireball of dense smoke and superheated air barreled downhill. It looked like a monster, or a demon, some thought, and was unlike anything they’d ever seen. The fire was otherworldly. Its size and sound were terrifying. A 100-foot wall of flame rose behind the crew. It roared like a steam engine. There was nowhere to escape.

LaTour ordered the crew to deploy their fire shelters. Made of aluminum foil bonded to fiberglass cloth, these individual-size tarps are designed to both reflect and absorb high heat. Breathable air is trapped inside. The crew members had no choice but to lie beneath the shelters facedown on the forest floor. They’d been trained to slip their arms and legs into straps sewn into the corners of the tarps to hold them securely against the ground. They knew to position their feet toward the fire. They would let the flames roll over the shelters, then wait there until it was safe to come out.

Donald Love, 30, deployed his shelter first, near the dozer line. To the left of Love was Curtis Springfield. Below Love and to his right was William Davenport. One of the youngest men on the crew, Springfield also had the shortest sentence, seven and a half years on a conviction for aggravated assault, which he began serving in 1986, just two months shy of his 20th birthday.

James Denney and Bachman kept running. As they ran, Denney helped Bachman pull her shelter from her pack. It was hard to get to with leather gloves on. Denney then got into his shelter alongside Davenport and LaTour. Bachman was on the ground and in her shelter soon after, next to James Ellis, Geoff Hatch, and Alex Contreras.

About 60 feet downhill from the group, Joseph Chacon lay underneath his shelter. Greg Hoke waited out the firestorm in his shelter, 400 feet from Chacon. He’d made it the closest to Control Road. The wind was so fierce his shelter flipped over.

“We’re going to make it,” LaTour told the crew members near him. “Stay calm. Stay in your shelters. Stay on the ground.” He reminded them to keep talking to one another. “We’re Perryville. We’re tough. We’re gonna make this. We’re gonna be okay,” he heard those close to him say. During a deployment, talking is supposed to ease anxiety. But it was hard for crew members to hear one another as the fire ripped through the canyon. The flame front came in three waves, each just a few minutes apart. From inside the shelters, bright orange flames were visible through pinholes in the seams. When hot wind from one of the flame fronts lifted LaTour’s shelter, smoke and debris rushed in, and he was burned.

LaTour soon heard screams mixed with the sound of rushing wind and flame. The fire was so fast and conditions so extreme that some of the crew members weren’t secure inside the tents. When they had first spotted the fire, it was 75 feet away, at best, and that gave them just one minute to get inside their shelters before being overcome by the flames.

A hot, flaming branch fell onto Davenport’s shelter and burned his legs. Denney abandoned his shelter and ran toward Chacon, near the dozer line. Chacon pulled Denney into his shelter and tried to protect him by lying on top of him. Both were later found dead.

Ellis left his shelter. He walked to the creek bed, near Hoke, who was still tucked safely inside his tent. “I’m hurt bad,” Ellis said. “My shelter didn’t work.”

Meanwhile, Springfield’s lungs burned from inhaling hot gases and smoke. He, too, got out of his shelter. “I can’t take it anymore,” he said. He stumbled toward Love’s shelter then back to the dozer line, which is where he died..."

read the whole story here....

http://www.thebigroundtable.com/stories/burn/

 

Monday, July 1, 2013

AZ DOC Deaths in Custody: Loving Christian Frost

The Ghosts of Jan Brewer: Justice for Victims in Custody.
 AZ Attorney General's Office, PHX: Crime Victims' Rights Week (April 2013)

Once in awhile, after a prisoner dies, I hear from a loved one. This weekend I received the following email from an old friend of Christian Frost's - a correspondent of 17 years. She had just heard the news of his death, and gave me permission to share her thoughts.
 
As some of you may recall, Christian was murdered at ASPC-Tucson in February.  I believe it was on Cimarron, one of the more violently-run yards I hear from.

To Christian's family, and anyone else who's lost a loved one in the AZ DOC:  you're going to have to sue for the truth. Don't take their word for it, especially if they say "there was nothing we could do." The homicide and suicide rate in the state prisons doubled under Chuck Ryan - that means one of every two might have been prevented under a different administration. Gangs are in control of 3 and 4-level prisons - they decide if you're allowed to walk the yard; some guys have to pay "rent" just to stay alive. Guards have been paid to look the other way during beat downs, some of which get carried away. Security measures are poor and officers have complained about being silenced when they identify security lapses. Riots have broken out across the system. Heroin is flowing through the state prisons like never before; minimally adequate medical care is nearly impossible to come by; some officers are inadequately trained...there are so many problems in these prisons today that you just can't take it for granted that "nothing could be done" to prevent this knd of tragedy.

The Attorney General's office can't be trusted, either, by the way. They don't protect citizens from the state - they defend the DOC in civil rights cases. If you've lost someone unexpectedly in prison, please get your own lawyer and find out what really happened. No matter how deep your grief or how messed up your life, you only have six months to file the notice of claim against the state. Don't let them slide...there are more lives yet at stake.


Condolences to Christian's loved ones, and all those who have survived a death in custody. If anyone out there has any answers as to what happened ot this fellow, or needs help coping with such a tragedy, I can be reached at arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com or 480-580-6807. My name is Peggy Plews.

Thanks to Rosie for sharing this email...


  The Ghosts of Jan Brewer: Justice for Victims in Custody.
 AZ Attorney General's Office, PHX: Crime Victims' Rights Week (April 2013)


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

Sat, Jun 29, 2013 at 2:11 PM

Hello Peggy,
My name is Rosie and for 17 years I have known Mr. Frost. 
We never met personally, but we always managed to keep each other updated with our lives through correspondence.

I received a letter from Christian's mother yesterday informing me of his untimely demise back in February.

It was so bittersweet to receive. I know that Christian did not have very long left until he would be released. I, myself, was planning to somehow make my way to Arizona to perhaps welcome him home to his freedom.

Peggy, I am pained, but perhaps not so much as his family is. I'm not sure if you have met with them and/or spoken with them. from the letter I received, they were desperate to get any sort of insight from me, but i have no answers for them.

I have read a little from your blog, hence where I got your email from. I read about the violence that continues within the prison and that got me a little worried. Is that what happened to Christian? Did he somehow upset other members of a group of gang that led to his death?

It was really hard to take in. I was shocked, and almost didn't believe it was true. I took to the internet to maybe find something about his situation.... and i found it all to be a very real nightmare.
 

The news reports all said the same few paragraphs; the population of readers leaving judgmental and un-feeling comments. It hurt to read, but the lenses of humanity do not far extended outside their own circle of knowledge. Let them have their cake and hope they never come across a friend or family to fall under their own mistakes, like Christian.

I finish this by saying thank you for coming to his defense. I saw that you posted some very nice comments of a few of the news sites that reported his story... because his story is definitely unique.

Christian was 21 when he made an erroneous error in judgement one nite that led to a series of events that landed him prison. It was not willful intent to ever hurt anyone, and that is the one characteristic that people fail to see: being human and having flaws. He made a huge mistake that tore him deeply apart.

He was one the best human beings I had ever known. He was branded a law-breaking inmate by the Arizona DOC, a scumbag by society, but a warm, kind soul who cared for others very intensely by myself. I need for everyone to know that- especially his family.

Thank you for your time in reading this. I did this mostly so I can remind myself of the greatness I felt in having Christian in my life. I am trying my hardest to not dwell on the way he died, but the heart he had in the way he lived.

Rosie I.