Retiring "Free Marcia Powell"
Thanks for visiting. Peace out - Peg.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
To deprive it of oxygen.
To shame it.
To mock it.
With our art, our music, our literature,
our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance,
our sheer relentlessness,
and our ability to tell our own stories..."
Monday, October 26, 2009
Public Schedule For Governor Jan Brewer
Week of October 26, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
• 9:00 a.m. – Governor to Speak at the 16th Annual Statewide Conference on Homelessness
Black Canyon Conference Center
9440 North 25th Avenue, Phoenix
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
• 12:00 p.m. - Governor to Attend Fifth Annual Arizona County Supervisors Association Legislative Summit – Bill Signing Ceremony
Pivot Point Conference Center at Hilton Garden Inn
310 North Madison Avenue, Yuma
Friday, October 30, 2009
• 10:45 a.m. – Governor to Speak at Grand Re-Opening of the Arizona Military Museum – Bill Signing Ceremony
Papago Park Military Reservation, Arizona Military Museum
5636 East McDowell Road, Phoenix
• 1:15 p.m. – Governor to Attend the Induction Ceremony for the Class of 2009
Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame
552 North 40th Street, Phoenix
(Here we go folks: ASU's Homecoming Parade!!!)
Saturday, October 31, 2009
• 10:00 a.m. – Governor to be Grand Marshal
University Drive & McAllister Drive, Tempe
I've been under the weather pretty much since getting back from Nevada ten days ago, and a few of you have contacted me since I'm a week behind now in blogging and getting to most of my 200 emails. I was last seen publicly, I believe, trying to maintain consciousness at a MAG meeting Wednesday. Sorry to bail on everyone. It took me 30 minutes once I made it to the car to get myself together enough to drive home. Needless to say, I missed Police Brutality resistance actions around town the following day. If anyone blogged on them or has some photos to post, let me know.
Anyway, to those of you who dropped me a line or noticed I'd been idle, thanks for your concern. I'm catching up on some sleep and putting a few pounds back on, and should be back on Hayden lawn to Free Marcia Powell soon.
In the meantime, I see that quite a few folks have passed through here to Marcia's site from all over the world - Marcia has friends in Amsterdam who have come through with some photos already - where's the UK? Where's Germany? Where's Caracas? Manuel - I need you.
Where's the rest of Arizona for that matter? You guys all have plenty of chalk, you know the story, you get the strategy. There's a whole class full of students studying prisons at ASU right now - what are you guys up to? I know you're doing something - you can't have listened to three hours of what's happening at Perryville and not do something. Fill me in.
We need some artists to put together a set of picture postcards to haunt all our public officials with - we're heading into an election year. I know there's already a few good ideas ready to go - don't wait for me to show up. I need a couple more days to recuperate.
Just send me the photos as soon as you can - and if they're really good - like you manage to make Marcia and those women at Perryville somehow visible in the background of a shot of Goddard or Thomas (signs, signs, everywhere are signs...), send them to the media too.
So, please stay on it, folks. I haven't retired or anything - I'm just getting back into shape for what's going to be a sustained campaign. We still have a lot of work to do.
See you soon.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Once a prison is built, the state must keep it full. This is particularly true of privately operated prisons, whose contracts explicitly stipulate 90% occupancy. New prison construction reduces our opportunities to have a meaningful discussion on sentencing reform. We need fewer prisons and more treatment and diversion programs.
2. Eliminate so-called truth in sentencing laws or reduce the percentage of time inmates must serve.
During the tough-on-crime '90's, many states passed truth in sentencing laws that eliminated the use of parole. In Arizona, prisoners sentenced under these laws must serve 85% of their sentence, regardless of their efforts toward rehabilitation or their real risk to the public. Many other states are now revisiting these laws and lowering the minimum percentage that prisoners must serve.
3. Amend mandatory minimums for drug and other low-level offenses.
Many drug offenders are sentenced under mandatory minimum sentences, which remove discretion from judges by mandating the terms people must serve. Most drug offenders are non-violent and would be better served in treatment programs, which are cheaper and more effective.
4. Re-think harsh DUI sentences.
While no one would argue against keeping drunken drivers off the road, prison sentences without meaningful treatment do virtually nothing to address the problem of DUI. Instead of spending $21,000 per person per year on incarceration, these offenders would be better served in community-based alcohol treatment to address the issues that led to their alcohol dependency.
5. Establish alternative sentencing programs and expand use of diversion programs that work.
There are hundreds of effective alternative sentencing models in other states. Plus, there are programs already in place in some cities in Arizona, such as Drug and DUI Courts, and programs that are on the books but are underused, such as work release programs. These programs have proven to be successful at reducing recidivism and are far less costly than incarceration.
6. Reduce the number of probation revocations due to technical violations.
About 20% of all admissions to the Department of Corrections are people who committed technical violations of the terms of their probation. These are not people who commit new crimes. These are people who missed an appointment with their probation officer or tested positive on a drug test. Probation departments can develop new programs to hold violators accountable for their actions without having to return them to prison. Another option is "shock incarceration," where violators are returned to prison for a short period (120 days), but then put back on probation in the community.
7. Improve the treatment and educational services provided to prisoners while they are incarcerated.
Our recidivism numbers would be significantly lowered if prisoners were provided with the skills and services they need to become productive citizens. Simple warehousing that ignores the root causes of crime commits us to a never-ending cycle of incarceration and wastes millions of tax dollars every year.
8. Provide well-funded re-entry services to released inmates.
Most prisoners are sent out the prison gates with no more than a check for $50 that they have no means of cashing. Widespread discrimination against people with felony convictions makes it very difficult for former prisoners to find stable housing and decent jobs. People with drug convictions are barred from receiving public assistance or Section 8 housing. As mentioned above, many of them did not have an opportunity to effectively address their addictions, abuse histories, or lack of education while incarcerated. Is it any surprise that so many of them return to prison?
should be saved for strategic Freewayblogging.
Pictured are Friends of Marcia's from Las Vegas to the Netherlands,
taking time out to show solidarity with AZ abolitionists.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Those folks have a lot to do with the mess we're in today - dishing out the old "law and order" election year rhetoric that has us spending more on warehousing and killing prisoners than we're willing to spend on educating our youth: that's shameful for both Democrats and Republicans (who, I'll remind folks, are not the only two options out there).
This year we need to set the campaign agenda ourselves. They've already begun with their public appearances and comments - all we need is for a few people to turn up at each event - Republican and Democrats' events alike -and make the AZ prison industrial complex The Issue for every single one of them.
Haunt them at every campaign stop with the ghost of Marcia Powell. It can be totally legal; even low key. Just be visible and frank, take a picture or video, and send it in.
Are they building more prisons? Why not let the elderly and dying go?
Is the prison population going to grow in their vision for Arizona - or will it shrink, along with the number of uninsured and hungry seniors, veterans, and kids?
Do they support privatization of corrections or correctional health services? Will they auction off our family members to the lowest bidder?
Where are their investments in Arizona's future going to be made: education, or incarceration?
Hey Thomas: why do you ignore evidence of innocence and leave people in prison you know perfectly well don't belong there? We don't need more people in power in this state who can't admit a mistake.
Letters to legislators, the gov, and the media need to go out now too. Unless you need or assure confidentiality, copies of such correspondence should generally be posted on some publicly accessible website or it gets buried - send your letter to me, and I'll put it up and let whomever you sent it to know it's on the net for viewing. Then it'll be read even if it's lost in the mail.
Some of you can start up blogs too, you know. Or go to Arizona Indymedia and post an article or picture of your own. Check out what this blogger in Delaware is doing to bring the Department of Corrections front and center in the 2010 campaigns.
Don't settle for the heads of a few prison guards. Now is the time to deconstruct Arizona's carceral regime. Force an intelligent public dialogue before the primaries - no more slogans: we want real change.
Friday, October 9, 2009
The follow-up to the Times Editorital is a good example of what a lot of well-educated people could be doing. The authors below make the direct link between the abuses of that law by prison officials, and the deplorable conditions in American prisons today.
If Congress doesn't pass the Prison Remedies Act before they head full on into their 2010 campaigns, I think we should make it the number one campaign issue.
Thanks to Lois at the Real Cost of Prisons Project for passing this on to us. Perhaps in the meantime the draft legislation could be used as the foundation for new state legislation to remedy prison abuse.
Letter to the Editor: Abuse of Female Prisoners
Published: October 2, 2009
To the Editor:
Re “Prisoners’ Rights” (editorial, Sept. 24):
You are right to call for legislation amending the Prison Litigation Reform Act. We sued on behalf of female prisoners in the New York State prison system who reported that they had been sexually assaulted by staff members, and have been appalled to spend the last six years litigating whether these 17 women — each of whom bravely complained of her abuse to departmental officials — exhausted their administrative remedies sufficiently to satisfy the law.
As a result, New York State has been able to avoid addressing the prison system’s longstanding failure to protect female prisoners from sexual abuse, allowing more and more women to be victimized.
The Prison Litigation Reform Act was sold in Congress as a measure against frivolous litigation, but has served in reality to prevent the redress of the most serious violations of prisoners’ human rights. The time has come for reform, or better yet, repeal of the law.
New York, Sept. 24, 2009
The writers are lawyers with the Prisoners’ Rights Project of the Legal Aid Society and lawyers for the plaintiffs in Amador v. Andrews.
Editorial - NY Times
Published: September 23, 2009
In 1996, Congress passed a law that made it much harder for inmates to challenge abusive treatment. It has contributed significantly to the bad conditions — including the desperate overcrowding — that prevail today.
The law must be fixed.
Times Topics: Prisons and Prisoners
In the name of clamping down on frivolous lawsuits, the Prison Reform Litigation Act barred prisoners from suing prisons and jails unless they could show that they had suffered a physical injury. Prison officials have used this requirement to block lawsuits challenging all sorts of horrific conditions, including sexual abuse.
The law also requires inmates to present their claims to prison officials before filing a suit. The prisons set the rules for those grievance procedures, notes Stephen Bright, the president of the Southern Center for Human Rights, and they have an incentive to make the rules as complicated as possible, so prisoners will not be able to sue. “That has become the main purpose of many grievance systems,” Mr. Bright told Congress last year.
In the last Congress, Representative Robert Scott, Democrat of Virginia, sponsored the Prison Abuse Remedies Act. It would have eliminated the physical injury requirement and made it harder for prison officials to get suits dismissed for failure to exhaust grievance procedures. It would have exempted juveniles, who are especially vulnerable to abuse, from the law’s restrictions.
The bill’s supporters need to try again this year. Conditions in the nation’s overcrowded prisons are becoming increasingly dangerous; recently, there have been major riots in California and Kentucky. Prisoner lawsuits are a way of reining in the worst abuses, which contribute to prison riots and other violence.
The main reason to pass the new law, though, is human decency. The only way to ensure that inmates are not mistreated is to guarantee them a fair opportunity to bring their legitimate complaints to court.
This and other news about women and mass incarceration can be found at www.realcostofprisons.org/blog/
Thursday, October 8, 2009
There's really a lot that can be done, on all different fronts - not all of it has to involve hanging banners or charging the prison gates.
Study groups investigating UC-Irvine Professor Mona Lynch's new book, "Sunbelt Justice", could do a review of it and contextualize the current crisis for the rest of us.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
MORE FOR THE POOR:
FREE MARCIA POWELL!!!
End AZ PRISONER ABUSE!
FREE MARCIA POWELL!!!
FREE MARCIA POWELL!!!
PRISONER HEALTH CARE NOW!
No More cages
No more PRISON deaths
Solidarity With Perryville Prisoners!!
PRISONS DON’T WORK.:
Free Marcia powell!!
Arizona Department of Corrections:
The other important thing to do when people want to know what "Free Marcia Powell" means, is to ask: What would it take for our community to be the kind of place in which Marcia Powell could have lived both safe and free? And are we willing to do to what it takes for the prisoners - and potential prisoners - still alive today to have the options we didn't give her? That may be where we can do the most pushing - on the governor, legislature, and courts for comprehensive system reform.
Nothing should be planned or decided without the active involvement of prisoners and their families, though. The only thing worse than no reform is bad reform that is passed without being informed by those affected the most.
We know a lot of the answers to our dilemmas about our bulging jails and prisons already - most states have begun moving in a progressive direction with legislative and administrative reforms.We're just so fixated on hurting people as punishment; we have nothing left for rehabilitation, recovery, job placement, public health care, or anything to address some of the more personal or individual issues that prisoners are grappling with. Will we be willing to change what it is we pay for, knowing that it will pay off? Or will we continue to seek retribution and cause pain even though we know it doesn't work?
The link below is from my good abolitionist friend in the Netherlands, the first FREE MARCIA POWELL post other than mine.
Marcia Powell was a prisoner of the State of Arizona when she was left in an outdoor cage in temperatures exceeding 107 degrees for four hours last May and fell into a coma. The Director of the Department of Corrections took her off of life support eight hours later, believing - from her criminal record - that she was alone in the world.
She essentially was. She was a drug-addicted, mentally ill prostitute serving 27 months for offering a cop a blow job. Her next-of-kin didn't even want to claim her body.
They've been investigating Marcia's death for the past 4 months. A 3,000 page report is now back. 16 employees were disciplined; five fired. None of those held responsible were the director, a smart man who I believe knows full well what goes on in those prisons. If he doesn't, then he's more clueless than I thought. Maybe that's better than being complicit.
In any event, very little appears to have changed policy-wise, except for misters and shade in the cages now, and a box on a clipboard for guards to check that they see someone in the cage breathing every half an hour. No information on what the officer suicide and prisoner arson protest were all about after Marcia's death - the media has completely forgotten that. No talk about the overcrowding that has them using outdoor cages as holding cells, lobbies and "recreation" areas in the first place, and "boats" on the floor as beds.
It would seem as if the use of those cages to punish people (which the director says was not the case here) has been going on at all the prisons for years - formal complaints were made just two years ago, which neither then-Director Schriro nor then-Governor Napolitano (of Homeland Security fame) bothered to do anything about.
THEY could have prevented this death, if they had acted then. I have a few more choice words for them than I've even had for Director Ryan. They could have put an end to the cages and responded to abuse complaints with something other than "motions to dismiss" in court.
But they didn't. Prisoners just don't make up a very powerful voting bloc - one reason to restore their civil rights. And they are seldom encouraged to exercise their voices. If they were, this would have been headed off long ago.
The ADC should make good use of this opportunity now to radically transform their culture, policies, and facilities, because the next catalyst for such change will otherwise be another tragic death or horrendous criminal abuse. At present, however, they appear to be trying to shake this off and reassert themselves as champions of public safety; good old Law and Order.
They couldn't even protect a woman dying outside their window the desert sun, in a cage that only they had the keys to. Short of making sure the prison doors are locked when they leave, how could they possibly protect the rest of us?
Upon accepting a recent allotment of $50 million for employee salaries - which was conveniently and ceremoniously awarded before the abuse report came out - the director thanked the good governor on behalf of all his "brave" and "hard-working" officers. Not a penny was mentioned for prisoner rights, facility improvements, health services - nothing. Just more money for more guards to abuse more people that more judges are going to put away for the pettiest things that aren't worth paying $26,000 a year/prisoner just to get the satisfaction of vengeance or the illusion of social control out of.
Send a few more kids to college, instead. Build more affordable housing. Expand outreach to people who are homeless. Alleviate a little bit of suffering, instead of imposing more.
Not a word from the governor's office - except confidence in the director's fine work - about Marcia's final hours.
So, I know you're scattered out there, freewaybloggers; I don't get your list-serve anymore, but there's a few wars going on still, and this is one of them. I know you're still at work, and I need your help. I know it'll take some time to build momentum, but someone has to start it. Just one extra sign every time you go out. Taggers, I want to see your art. Anarchists - well - you all know what to do already. Do your thing.
My international comrades - it would be awesome if you could locate Free Marcia Powell next to major tourist destinations and take pictures. Then we could make postcards and send them everywhere.
Just don't anyone break the law, now. I wouldn't advocate something like that. There are plenty of legal places to put signs and graffiti. And don't stop until we do.
Please photograph and post everywhere possible, as usual. Send me pictures as well and I'll put them on my blog. Hammer the national media with them. It'll get people asking who she is, then Googling, discovering, reading, weeping, wondering, and maybe even writing to their newspapers and legislators and prosecutors and judges. Thye need to be insisting on AZ Department of Corrections transparency and public involvement, more contact between prisoners and the community, smarter sentencing practices, and laws improving - not eroding - prisoner rights and prison standards.
Like Marcia's Law. It has yet to be written. I think a committee of parolees, prisoners and their family members should be the ones who write it; the administrators and legislators who should have been on top of this a long time ago should revisit their own ethical codes and stated missions.
It needs to be a law which protects and empowers prisoners - including giving them the right to organize - not one which just gives a handful of the well-behaved more privileges and the public a prettier view. It has to have real teeth, and real funding.
And it should be the toughest prisoner rights law in the country, one which every prison activist wants their state to emulate.
Maybe we can get it into the criminal justice reform bills Congress is working on. Senator Jim Webb is the man to talk to about that.
We still have to take this monster apart, of course. Until we can do the job, however, we need to make sure that prisoners can survive their sentences - and then do everything possible to keep them from going back inside.
But first things first.
Crank it up a notch.
If my blogs disappear or I tell you to stop before the campaign achieves it's objectives (more will be added), assume someone is just twisting my arm. You're all "autonomous units", and are able to follow the news. You'll know when it's time to come in.
It took almost an hour after life support was turned off for Marcia to die, as her organs slowly shut down. In America, we're even kinder to the people that we execute than that.
Please Free Marcia Powell.
Don't let them bury her in the desert again.
As does Janet.
I do hope New York is paying attention, since that's where Schriro's headed to next.
Here's the link to the letter Donna Hamm at Middle Ground wrote Governor Brewer after the abuse report came out last week. It's worth a read. She also gives a synopsis of issues with the prisons arising from Marcia's death that still need to be addressed - these might be helpful. She's more willing to give Director Ryan a chance than I am, but I suspect they know each other better. We don't all sit at the same table. All I want to do at this point is upend it.
That's why we need people like Donna. I count on people in the middle to be there when I push hard from the left, because the process can burn bridges. We do still need a few diplomats. Fortunately, I don't have to be one of them. I even try to keep my distance so as not to reflect badly on them. They are not my co-conspirators; I suspect that I'm seen as something of a loose cannon that blew into town.
Middle Ground has done a lot of important work, and can be a useful resource. If you want a more rounded picture of what's happening here or want to support prison reform in a less radical way, look at what other advocacy strategies are being employed. Not all prison activists are as far left as I am. Check out Middle Ground.
This banner appears to have been placed just outside the perimeter of a prison.