The 'Friends of Marcia Powell' are autonomous groups and individuals engaging in prisoner outreach, informal advocacy, and organized protest and direct actions in a sustained campaign to: promote prisoner rights and welfare in America; engage the Arizona public in a creative and thoughtful critique of our system of "justice;” deconstruct the prison industrial complex; and dismantle this racist, classist patriarchy...

Retiring "Free Marcia Powell"

As of December 2, 2010 (with occasional exceptions) I'm retiring this blog to direct more of my time and energy into prisoner rights and my other blogs; I just can't do anyone justice when spread so thin. I'll keep the site open so folks can search the archives and use the links, but won't be updating it with new posts. If you're looking for the latest, try Arizona Prison Watch. Most of the pieces posted here were cross-posted to one or both of those sites already.

Thanks for visiting. Peace out - Peg.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

MCSO Brutality and Sunbelt Justice: getting what we "deserve"?

Maricopa County Sheriff's Office detention officer Kevin Gerster, seen in video in the previous post assaulting already-restrained mentally ill prisoners made his $36,000 bond and is out of jail already.

Bet he didn't get cuffed, shackled, bagged and beaten by our beloved defenders of public trust and safety during his brief stay. His jaw probably wasn't broken by some thug with a badge while he was in 4-point restraints in the jail's psychiatric wing. I doubt anyone will be sending an armed intruder to his home to slice up him and his loved ones, either. He's actually pretty fortunate that most of us don't endorse his brand of "justice", and that the cyber-bullies who applauded him following the news articles about his crimes are all just as cowardly as he is.

Gerster's next court appearance is Monday, December 6, 2010 at 8:30am at the Maricopa County Central Court Building at 201 W. Jefferson St in Phoenix on the lower level. Anyone who cares about real justice should be there to make sure that not only the cops, but also the courts and prosecutors are held accountable, too.

No word yet on when his colleague, officer Alan Keesee, will be arrested and arraigned. It does not appear as if any of the officers who witnessed the assaults and did nothing (or even those who helped restrain the victims) are being charged. Nor is any of the MCSO leadership, of course.

During his press conference about Gerster's arrest Arpaio seems to justify that conduct by stating "being a detention officer is a difficult job". The Lower Buckeye Jail's chief of custody, Jerry Sheridan, goes on to attribute the assault of the most recent victim to him "mouthing off".
I don't believe there's ever a case in which violence is justified by mere insult - especially coming from a mentally ill person already bound in chains - but for some reason law enforcement officers seem particularly inclined to think it does.

The Maricopa County Sheriff Office's history of human rights' abuses suggests that Officer Gerster's disposition to repeatedly assault helpless people was fostered by his boss and the workplace culture Arpaio has cultivated there. Savagery and criminal misconduct by law enforcement agents of the MCSO is a well-established pattern and practice - one which this state's deluded electorate sadly seems to embrace.

For those of you who missed it, the PHX New Times did a thorough investigation in 2007 of how the MCSO treats prisoners: Inhumanity Has a Price. Read it and weep. I did. As of the time that article was written, the Maricopa County jails - under Arpaio - had already killed 11 prisoners in as many years as a direct result of violating their constitutional rights. For all you right-to-lifers who think the jails just house rapists and murderers who "deserve whatever they get": the death toll included the unborn child of a woman who hadn't even been convicted of anything yet.

By contrast, according to the MCSO website page dedicated to their fallen officers, "In the Line of Duty", since 1994 two officers died in car accidents and one died by gunshot. To hear the rhetoric that keeps justifying the massive build up of weaponry, the round-ups of "criminal aliens", and the brutality they display towards all those dangerous characters they throw in the local lock-up, you'd think the deputies were being slaughtered out there. According to the Goldwater Institute, Arpaio and his crew aren't even going after the real bad guys, though. It's actually the rest of the public that's in danger of getting killed by the MCSO.

Sunbelt Justice in the title of this post, by the way, is a reference to a very worthwhile read about crime and punishment in Arizona. Pick it up before the next legislative session, and recommend it to State Senator Ron Gould, the new chair of the AZ Senate Judiciary Committee. He has a lot to learn.

Again, if you care at all about the abuses of power occurring here, show up for Kevin Gerster's next hearing, stay tuned for Alan Keesee's (check for court records on both here, once they're posted, or call the criminal court office at 602-506-8575), and show the rest of this community that at least some of us won't stand for it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Arpaio's cowardly deputies brutalize prisoners.

Look close - the guy in the MCSO uniform brutalizing the prisoner is really a criminal. The only real shocker here is that other cops actually reported these two thugs (what big brave men to beat up mentally impaired people in chains), and they've both been charged with assault.
One is even in jail (the other, for now, gets "paid administrative leave"). I think stepping on a handcuffed person's neck constitutes assault with intent to murder, frankly. It's certainly a reckless disregard for human life.

I suspect the criminal charges are to make the good Sheriff look like these goons are an exception to an otherwise professionally run outfit that never violates people's rights - and to distance him from liability in the civil suit sure to follow. Of course, if he had charged and arrested Gerster - or even fired him - when he broke the first prisoner's jaw (in June), this poor kid could have been spared the trauma of his abuse.

Unfortunately, according to the Arizona Constitution, the victim here doesn't even have the rights of other victims because he's "in custody for an offense" (check it out yourselves). Likewise, if he was killed in this assault, his family wouldn't have the legal standing of other murder victims' family members, either. It's no wonder cops here feel so free to violate their prisoners. That means we become less than human once we get arrested - even if the cop with his hands on us is the real criminal.

Think about that.

Shame on all the legislators, the state's prosecutors, and the victims' rights groups that endorsed that provision. I think that law encourages this kind of behavior, and the state of Arizona should be sued by every victim of this kind of violence for not extending equal protection to all of us regardless of whether or not the state has us in custody when we're beaten or killed by its agents.

Imagine how many others the MCSO has brutalized in Sheriff Joe's jail that no one ever hears about - especially when it comes to the mentally disabled. By the time they get back into court (after nine months of being berated, beaten and "restored to competency") they plead guilty to whatever they've been charged with just to escape the kind of mental health "care" - even if it means years in prison for something they didn't do or weren't competent enough to be culpable. I see it happen far too often
. That's coercive plea bargaining and the ultimate subversion of justice.

More another time - I'm too disgusted and enraged. From the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office to the Phoenix PD to the AZ Department of Corrections, there are way too many violent criminals with badges and guns and keys. I hope our new county prosecutor and state Attorney General have the ethical foundation and guts to nail them all.

I guess we'll see.

I don't buy the Sheriff's distancing act, here. Not only is this not a "rare occurrence";
this kind of sickness spreads from the top down.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mental illness in Arizona's state prisons: Chuck Ryan on the carpet, again.

This was posted to another site on Friday, November 19, 2010 by the former AZ Department of Corrections deputy warden who was interviewed by Channel 12 this summer and called for Chuck Ryan to resign. It's being reprinted here with Carl's permission.

As some of you may know, one of the corrections' officers unions also called on the governor to fire Ryan in a letter of no confidence two weeks ago. I shouldn't have to point this out, but prisoners aren't the only ones behind bars at heightened risk under current conditions. The front line staff also have good reason to be concerned.

Needless to say, none of us are making friends in Arizona's high places. In fact, since the people we're antagonizing have badges and guns on their side - as well as the keys to the prisons - it would help if the public and media really watch our backs out here.

Other witnesses to the institutionalized neglect and abuse of prisoners with mental illness in Arizona are urged to contact the US Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division; send them what you know and request that they initiate a CRIPA investigation before the next ADC suicide or homicide goes down. If you need to you may remain anonymous while doing so.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Arizona: Mercy, Mercy Me...

Davon's clemency board hearing was yesterday - the decision to turn him down was clearly made before we walked into the room, however. The chair made only passing reference to the thick stack of mail that had arrived in support of Davon's application, and cut me off when I was speaking on his behalf. He made a special point of reading things into the record to justify their determination against him. The county attorney's office can be expected to oppose such applications, but they went out of their way, it seems, to damn him - which was precisely what the board needed and asked for. Not that I'm accusing them of any impropriety - I'm sure they did what they felt was right - just as I'm doing. We just come from different places, and they don't know Davon like I do. As evidenced by their decision yesterday, They don't know him at all.

Pardons in Arizona have nothing to do with mercy or grace, by the way - or even justice for that matter, even when sincere people try to deliver it. Look at what our good governor did to Bill Macumber, the innocent man who has already spent 35 years in prison for murder and may well die there. Convinced beyond any doubt that his conviction was based on perjured testimony and manufactured evidence, the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency unanimously recommended him for a full pardon, which would have gone into effect if Brewer had simply left it alone for 90 days. Instead she quashed it, in the interest of her kind of "justice". Affirming Bill's innocence would have implied his ex-wife's guilt. As she worked for the Maricopa County Sheriff's office at the time she framed him, I suspect Brewer was doing someone with history there a favor. But what do I know?

Sadly, despite his story saturating the media across the country before November 2, the voters in Arizona elected that woman anyway.

As for Davon: the outcome of his hearing was no surprise, really - probably least of all to him - but it was still a disappointment; his little sister left the room abruptly in tears. We did, however, raise awareness about the prosecution of the seriously, mentally ill for their symptoms rather than their criminality, and built a network for prisoners with Hep C and their families. We also entered our objections to the prison industrial complex into the public record (that was the part I think they didn't want to hear). One of our legislators even turned out to corroborate Davon's mom's assertion that Arizona's prisoners aren't getting the medical care they need in there - and that came from a self-described "conservative Republican". I suspect he will pay a price for having done that, which is why I won't name him here. I doubt he would endorse my own take on the system, but he's still one of the few politicians I've ever met with real integrity. I can't think of a single Democrat in this state who would put themselves on the line like that for a convicted violent, crazed felon seeking mercy - much less another Republican.

I'm convinced that clemency boards exist largely to reinforce the illusion that the system we have of doling out punishment in our country is a "just" one that serves the best interests of society at large. By allowing room for pardons and commutations, we suggest that the legal system we live under, as a rule, delivers justice to criminals and victims alike, and that any abuse of power or injustice perpetrated by the state in the process is an exception that needs to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. If that was the reality, however, our prisons would not be packed almost exclusively with the poor - most of whom have the least ability to do great harm. In a truly just and morally evolved society it is the money-lenders, warmongers and rogue sheriffs of this land who would be doing time for exploitation, mass murder, and kidnapping - not making the rules the rest of us have to live by. They certainly wouldn't be retiring with honors and drawing down our collective dime.

But ours is neither a just nor a moral society - it isn't even a democracy. It is a capitalist republic in which the wealth and power of the few still depends on their ability to co-opt, terrorize, and restrain the many. We literally replaced our plantations with prisons when overt slavery went out of style. America's governments exploit and injure far more innocent and vulnerable people than all our lone criminals combined do. We've even made the perpetuation of victimization and crime an attractive, acceptable industry from which savvy investors can profit.

Thanks, everyone, for all your support through this. Stay with us, please - this fight is much bigger than one young man, and has only just begun. Keep an eye on what's happening with Davon for awhile longer - he went further out on a limb in the interest of prisoner rights and health care than any of the rest of us had to - and risks paying a much higher price now than the one extracted from him at sentencing. We'll see if he's allowed to keep his good time - and make it successfully through the 4 years of probation he has yet to serve -in light of his and his mother's public defiance. I guess we'll also see if the Arizona State Legislature shows any mercy for the honesty and courage of one of their own.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

No Nazis, No Hate: Ballad of Anti-Nazi Street Fighterz .

Many of these people who greeted the Nazis and battled the cops in the streets of Phoenix this weekend are my friends and comrades - all deploying a diversity of tactics. I stumbled onto this ballad on Facebook tonight - it had been viewed only 22 times on Youtube when I grabbed it.

It's explicit, perhaps - but nowhere near as offensive as the Nazis were - and the PHX PD.
The lyrics are pasted below. I tried to discern who the singers are with no luck - whoever it is that put this together is awesome. You all fucking rock.

Check out the report and photos from the rally at the Phoenix Class War Council's blog. They really nailed the cops.

Here are a few of my them free one of their comrades from the grips of the police!

Assorted pics and vid from Nov. 13, 2010 Anti-Nazi Resistance in Phoenix, AZ!

(Two Chords)

N stands for Nazi's
S stands for Scum
M stands for Meet you in the streets and..

hey hey ho ho the nsm has got to go
hey hey ho ho the nsm has got to go

this ain't no protest
this is resistance
to the cops
the nazi's
the homophobes
to the fascist
and the racists

N stands for Nazi's
S stands for Scum
M stands for Meet you in the streets and..

hey hey ho ho the nsm has got to go
hey hey ho ho the nsm has got to go

your pepper spray fuckin burns like shit
and your tear gas backfired cuz it was kicked
you tried to grab us but we worked together to unarrest
and we'll still resist

we didn't come to be a presence
we came to be a force
from the black bloc anarchists
to the immigrants
the indigenous
to the youth
the queer and trans
to the anti-fascists
we'll always take a stand

N stands for Nazi's
S stands for Scum
M stands for Meet you in the streets and..

hey hey ho ho the nsm has got to go
hey hey ho ho the nsm has got to go

when the Nazi's try to rally what do we do...
when the nazi's come to town what do we do....

we didn't come for the media
we didn't come to clown around
with our rage, our love, and diversity of tactics

No Nazis, No hate
Smash the racist state

No nazi's
no hate
smash the racist state

N stands for Nazi's
S stands for Scum
M stands for Meet you in the streets and..

Monday, November 15, 2010

SB 1070 Resistance: Stand up, Fight Back.

Support the SB 1070 Resisters

Maricopa Superior Court
Central Court Building
201 W. Jefferson
Phoenix, AZ

Tuesday at Noon

November 16, 2010

---------In from Puente------
Meet us at the Maricopa Court at noon on Tuesday November 16th as we support all of the freedom fighters who participated in civil disobedience on July 29th 2010.

Everyone who participated in civil disobedience as part of the day of non compliance will have their court hearing. WE MUST BE THERE TO SUPPORT THEM!!

Please come spread the word and bring your friends. Make banners bring your instruments and get ready to make some noise!!!

We will have special guest Zach de la Rocha from Rage Against the Machine joining us!

For more information email

The Girls Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest: Political Prisoners

This letter came in via the Phoenix Anarchists. Answer Lynne's call to support political prisoners and remember the Arpaio 5 next week. Grace Daniels gets sentenced and taken into custody by the MCSO on November 22. Check their blogspot for jail visiting info, and current news on Claire and Garyn - they're up next.

Be careful in there, Grace - don't let them give you more time. We're counting on you to come back and help lead the revolution.


For those who don't know [Lynne] Stewart is a 70 year old radical attorney who was imprisoned for staunchly defending her clients -- as a post-911 threat to other leftist and progressive attorneys to "back off"....

Buried Alive, But Fighting On

- A Letter to Friends from Lynne Stewart

In the best-selling Steig Larsson trilogy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, the heroine, Lisbeth Salander, a hardwired, brilliant young computer genius is shot and presumed to be dead, but is actually buried alive by the antagonist. He is a prototype of the cruel, greedy, misogynistic, exploiter.

She claws herself out of her premature grave and, indomitable and focused, defeats him. Finally by the end of volume three she has triumphed-using her own brains and, relying on her friends and comrades-over the entire corrupt corporate, governmental, military power structure that had been trying to oppress and suppress her, her whole life.

Thursday, July 15, Federal Judge John Koeltl attempted to bury me alive.

Acting for the Government and Judges of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, he sentenced me at their demand, to more than five times the term he originally thought "right and just." With his new sentence, of ten years, I am buried in the Prison Industrial Complex until I am nearly 80 years old, if I make it. But, believe me, I, like Lisbeth Salander, intend to lift the dirt off and, even if weakened and wounded, regain my voice and strength!

Like Lisbeth, I too will always fight back. Justice has been my life, and upholding the Bill of Rights, my joy to defend and utilize on behalf of the People. Since I am now reduced to asking everyone's support and help for personal problems, whether medical or designation of my prison, or other legal issues, I want everyone to know what's expected and to have immediate connection to the people who will continue to be responsible for me and getting the word out.

Along with that, I hope you will maintain contact if there is an opportunity where you live or at an event sponsored by your organization, to speak out about my current situation and highlight the injustice of increasing my sentence only to satisfy the most conservative judicial elements and feed the fear of the so-called war on terrorism.


1. Website, complete with sentencing minutes and submissions to the Court, articles, comment, letters, and upcoming events: www.lynnestewart.org>

2. Live persons: Ralph Poynter, 917 853-9759;

email: Lynne Stewart Organization: 1lawyerleft@gmail.com3.

Snail Mail: Lynne Stewart, #555304054, MCC NY, 150 Park Row, New York, NY10007, or Ralph Poynter, 1020 Dean Street, Brooklyn, NY 112164.


Medical: I still have a number of unresolved conditions-mysterious spot on my uterus to be checked (biopsy) for possible cancer, monitoring of bladder condition, a newly discovered kidney stone. My chronic problems undertreatment-diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol and assorted aches and pains and annoyances of aging! The Judge directed that I stay at MCC in NewYork City so that my doctor will continue to be responsible for my treatment. Our daughter, Dr. Zenobia Brown, will continue to consult with him.

Prisons: The Judge also directed that I remain at MCC during the pursuit of an appeal. He also recommended to the Bureau of Prisons that I be sent for imprisonment to Danbury FCI in Connecticut, about two hours driving, or on Metro North Rail line, from New York City. Visiting conditions will be much better and I will be able to see more of my family and supporters for longer periods in more ameliorative surroundings. Of course, the Bureau of Prisons is a law unto itself and if it decides I need to go elsewhere, the Judge's recommendation doesn't control. There are a limited number of women's prisons. They are in Minnesota, Florida, California, and West Virginia.

There is also the Federal Prison Hospital for Women in Carswell, Texas (near Fort Worth).

The Numbers: ten years equals 120 months; 87 percent Good Time Credit for Good Behavior equals 104.4 months; Already Served, equals eight months.Totaled out, it is approximately eight years. The last six to 12 months is usually served in a halfway house (but nothing about this case has ever been usual!) The Grand Total is 84 months more to go.

Where so we go from here legally?

Court-wise, we are still making decisions about Possibilities of Appeals, Campaigns for Commutation, Clemency, etc. Keep in touch with the Web Page.

There will always be issues for me. Incidentally, I mentioned at sentencing that I had volunteered to teach GED and Literacy in here, and had been turned down - BOP regulations. They have neither program, nor any education program for the women. The following Monday, a sign-up sheet was posted for...GED and Literacy classes, a first here according to long term prisoners!!! The classes have started. You never know what can work! I was also asked how much time I could give. We'll see.

Just as the establishment tried to finish off Lisbeth Salander by burying her alive, I too am trying to dig myself out. Give me an assist. Continue the work. That is most important to me. Join the ongoing campaigns for Justice for the Scott Sisters, MumiaAbu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace (of The AngolaThree).

Remember All the Political Prisoners. Write to them. Put a little something in their commissary.

Force the government to End the Imperialist Wars.

Fight Racism. Fight for Palestine.

Challenge the Politicians. Demand that they tell you where they stand on Me.

Resist! Resist! Resist! Resist! Resist!

My gratitude and boundless embraces for everything everyone has done.


Lynne Stewart
53504-054 MCC-NY 2-S
150 Park Row
New York, NY 10007

Liberty and Justice for Gladys and Jamie Scott

From: Nancy Lockhart

Your Calls-Emails and Faxes are Urgently Needed:

Jamie Scott has stated that she is going blind her vision is getting worse daily and she has NOT received glasses as of yet.

Call Gloria Perry and ask that she follow through with ensuring that Jamie Scott # 19197 receives glasses -
(601) 359-5155

Gladys Scott has informed me that the board of Pardons and Parole in Mississippi is wrapping their investigation up and will refer their findings to Governor Haley Barbour's office.

Gladys Scott #19142 has requested that we call, fax, snail mail and e-mail The Honorable Haley Barbour's office to request clemency. Please also request that the governor make provisions for the sisters to include that their civil rights are restored - *WITHOUT FELONY* records.

Make a toll free call to governor Haley Barbour at 877-405-0733

E-mail governor Barbour --

Governor Haley Barbour
P.O. Box 139
Jackson, Mississippi 39205
Fax: 601-359-3741

Email the governor's personal assistant - Dorothy Kuykendal

Last, National Action Network - Rev. Al Sharpton's organization - stated that a rally would be held at the beginning of December. After having their release forms by The Scott Sisters NAN has said that the date is postponed and has not given us any idea of their plans thus far. Please Call National Action Network's National Headquarters and inquire about their involvement to FREE THE SCOTT SISTERS!

Nancy Lockhart, M.J.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Community and Resistance, and Anarchy.

(I make post cards out of these photos and send them to media, politicians, bureaucrats, and resistance fighters to draw more attention to the cause...seems to be working so far.)

Signs at 1st Ave and Roosevelt greeting counter-protesters
coming in from the 202 and Light Rail.
Phoenix, 11/13/2010.

Intersection: Washington and Fourth Ave.
Sandra Day O'Conner Federal Courthouse, Phoenix. 11/13/2010.

Hey all,

I did plenty of advertising, but it looks like I actually failed to post the notice of today's Community and Resistance tour event at the Burton Barr Library, 2:30pm, with Jordan Flaherty (Katrina, Jena Six) and "Resistance Behind Bars' author Vikki Law. Here's a link to the Angloa 3 Newsletter's recent interview with Vikki.

I'll try to be better about this next time.

Chalking and clowning in front of Sandra Day O'Conner Federal Courthouse, Phoenix. Ringed by names of the dead. Phoenix, 11/13/2010.

The photos for this post all came from the gathering of anarchists before the Neo-Nazis arrived at the Sandra Day O'Connor Courthouse yesterday. Two demonstrators were arrested at the Anti-fascist counter protest to the Nazis, one reportedly targeted as he was leaving for throwing rocks at police during the action. The other was accused of throwing rocks at the Neo-Nazis. I chalked, as you can see, but left before the action started to head off to ASPC-Tucson. Stay tuned: nazi protest coverage is being posted to

Two of my favorite revolutionaries protesting racism and fascism.
Sandra Day O'Conner Federal Courthouse. Phoenix, 11/13/2010.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Brewer: Please sack Chuck Ryan.

This letter to Governor Brewer, received in a roundabout way from the Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association, confirms some of my suspicions. Way to go Tixoc and the ACPOA.

I'm glad they have as many problems with the falsification of records and shabby treatment of prisoners as I do. Their website is an interesting resource, and I imagine they probably have members who would willingly provide eyewitness testimony to institutional patterns of abuse, neglect and deceit to anyone investigating the ADC. Corrections' employee websites and blogs are the bomb. The ACPOA has had a running commentary from the president about the dictatorship of Chuck Ryan for quite awhile, and now they're bordering on insurrection. In fact, it looks like they're already there.

One problem, however, is that the appeal to sack Chuck Ryan goes to the very person who wanted him there to bully everyone into submission in the first place - this isn't just how Chuck runs his department, it's how Brewer runs the state. She asked that man to come run the ADC for a reason, so I'm not entirely optimistic that this appeal will make much of a difference with her - especially given her overwhelming victory in the elections. But it's still a message worth sending.

Good luck in your battle, folks. Let me know if I can help.


November 10, 2010

Governor Janet Brewer,

We, the Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association, represent all members of the Arizona Department of Corrections to include: correctional officers, correctional officer IIIs, correctional sergeants, correctional lieutenants, correctional captains,correctional nurses, correctional majors, non-uniform staff and many others that proudly serve the citizens of the State of Arizona. We respectfully submit this letter as our official notice regarding a majority vote of no confidence in Agency Director Charles Ryan.

We, the AZCPOA, write this letter with great hesitation, and only after much discussion and contemplation. We hesitate because we consider ourselves a team of professional, dedicated and educated individuals, and it goes contrary to our traditions to break the chain of command. We also hesitate because we fully believe that if this letter does not have the desired result, there will most certainly be retaliation. We will most certainly pay a high price for doing what we know in our hearts to be the right thing for the State of Arizona, its citizens and its employees.

Over the past year and a half, we have been disheartened by the actions of Director Charles Ryan. He has tested our willpower and confidence in his skill to adequately lead this agency. Under his leadership, staff morale has plummeted to depths never before seen at this agency. This is a direct reflection of our lack of confidence in Director Ryan as he has not taken any steps to improve the spirits of the members of this association or members of this agency. If anything, attitudes have continued to deteriorate within the department forcing an exodus of many well respected individuals and members of our Association.

Employee issues in question regarding the leadership qualities of Director Ryan include: lack of communication in the day to day operations of the agency where information is not disseminated through his subordinates who are responsible for ensuring compliance with polices and procedures. To illustrate this point, there are many unanswered questions regarding staff rotation and why the methodology is inconsistent from complex to complex with apparent disregard to employee needs and fairness.

Furthermore, the agency has experienced a large amount of disparate punishment for similar offenses in the past and suspect there are employees that are being targeted for political reasons or just purely disciplined on emotion rather than facts or evidence at hand. It appears the merits of the investigations have no bearing on the sanction imposed thus poor judgment is used to handle these matters. It is our opinion Director Ryan fosters an atmosphere of workplace bullying and intimidation of employees to maintain a micro management type of control over the agency.

There exists, within ADOC administration, a well-known pattern of obstructing the disclosure of hazards in time to prevent accidents, injury, illness, and deaths. Tragically, in these instances, danger is not "imminent" - it is past, and too late to respond. Employees are routinely ordered to falsify documents and when they proactively seek to report identified hazards, they face punishment and retaliation. Obtaining an accurate account of the range and extent of violations will be difficult from records alone. It is unlikely that ADOC will disclose information without well-planned intervention by authorities. There is no evidence of any health and safety program existing, even on paper. There is no identifiable health and safety officer or other person bearing that responsibility and essential training is lacking to assure staff can perform certain assigned tasks safely and equipped with appropriate equipment e.g. cell extractions, transports, etc.

The entire department is devoid of any active programs for: Fire Prevention, Hazard Communication, Respiratory Protection, Medical Surveillance, Record keeping, Ventilation, Emergency Evacuation Procedures, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Response, Training, or Education. Failure of ADOC administration to respond has resulted in secondary risks and complications - now endangering, not just the prison population and employees, but the public at large. Appropriate identification of risk requires your immediate intervention. Another day must not go by without initiating an investigation.

We as institutional line staff are expected to hold a very high standard within the institutions and community, we expect that our Director and his administrators to be held to the same standard of conduct and the same standard of punishment if those standards are violated.

In closing this matter, we would like to remind you that we are not troublemakers, malcontents, or disgruntled employees. We are members of the Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association who have given our hearts and souls to serve the agency and the State of Arizona. Our agenda is strictly based in the well being of the agency so that we may appropriately serve the communities that depend on us for public safety.

Based on these circumstances we tender this letter of No Confidence in Director Charles Ryan and ask that Director Ryan be removed from his position.


Tixoc Munoz
President and Executive Director
Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Leave No Veteran Behind: US Veterans in Prison, 2010.

The word on vets in prison is that a lot of them are dying these days. 65% of veterans in prison are over 55 years old. A good many of them are Vietnam War vets dying from the complications of Hepatitis C. Yeah, being a Vietnam era vet is a risk factor for the disease, though it's likely due to the high incidence of IV drug use in particular among vets of that generation. 

Interestingly, there doesn't appear to be a higher incidence of drug use among vets in prison than the rest of the prison population. That may not be saying much, though. Most people in prison are there for drug-related convictions.

The news on what our vets are in prison for is not good. Most are in for violent or sexual offenses. It's possible that veterans with lesser offenses are just being cut more slack in sentencing, concentrating the violent offenders among them in prison. The verdict on how PTSD affects this population is still out, but there's a clear correlation between military service and violent crime.

The US DOJ is overdue for a new statistical report and analysis. We've had over nine years of war, with soldiers going out on multiple deployments, since the last big study they put out in 2000. There's a particular need for an examination of women veterans in prison. Here's the 2007 press release on the DOJ's updated figures, nonetheless. Keep in mind it was from statistics gathered in 2004.

Here's the link to the UK's Howard League recent study on veterans in US prisons. It's also very informative. We really should be studying this more ourselves, though.

Remember our Buddies in Prison.
Seen over the Loop 202; Phoenix. Veterans' Day, 2010.


Bureau of Justice Statistics  
 SUNDAY, APRIL 29, 2007Contact: Stu Smith 202/307-0784 After hours: 301-983-9354


Veterans Older, Better Educated Than Other State and Federal Prisoners

WASHINGTON—There were an estimated 140,000 veterans held in state and federal prisons in 2004, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. State prisons held 127,500 of these veterans, and federal prisons held 12,500.

Almost all veterans in prison were male (99 percent). Among adult males in the U.S. population in 2004, veterans were half as likely as non-veterans to be in prison (630 prisoners per 100,000 veterans, compared to 1,390 prisoners per 100,000 non-veteran U.S. residents). The difference is largely explained by age. Two-thirds of male veterans in the U.S. population were at least 55 years old, compared to 17 percent of non-veteran men. The incarceration rate of these older male veterans (182 per 100,000) was far lower than for those under age 55 (1,483 per 100,000).

In 2004, the percentage of state prisoners who reported prior service in the U.S. Armed Forces (10 percent) was half of the level reported in 1986 (20 percent). BJS began surveying federal prisoners in 1991, and federal inmates showed a similar decline in reporting military service – from 20 percent in 1991 to 10 percent in 2004.

Despite the declining percentages of prisoners with prior military service, the estimated number of veterans in state and federal prison increased by more than 50,000 between 1985 and 2000. This increase coincided with a rapid growth in total prison populations. Since 2000, the number of veterans in prison has fallen 13,100 or 9 percent.

The average length of military service of veterans in prison was about four years, and six in 10 received an honorable discharge. The majority of veterans in state (54 percent) and federal (64 percent) prisons served during a wartime period, but a much lower percentage (20 percent of veterans in state prisons, 26 percent of federal) reported seeing combat. Vietnam-era veterans (36 percent) were the largest group of wartime service veterans in state prisons, followed by veterans of the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War (14 percent). Only 4 percent of the veterans in state prison had served since operations began in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Over half of veterans (57 percent) were serving time for violent offenses, compared to 47 percent of non-veterans. In particular, veterans (23 percent) were twice as likely as non-veterans (9 percent) to have been sentenced for sexual assaults, including rape. Among violent offenders, a higher percentage of veterans reported victimizing females (60 percent for veterans compared to 41 percent for non-veterans) and minors (40 percent for veterans compared to 24 percent for non-veterans).

Veterans were much older than other inmates; the median age of veterans in State prison was 45, compared to 33 for non-veterans. Veterans in state prisons were also more likely to be white (54 percent) than non-veterans in state prisons (33 percent). Veterans were much better educated than other state prisoners. Nearly all veterans (91 percent) reported at least a high school diploma or GED, compared to 60 percent of non-veterans in state prisons. College attendance was three times higher among veterans in state prison as well (33 percent compared to 10 percent of non-veterans).

Veterans were less likely to report drug use in the month before their offense (42 percent) than other state prisoners (58 percent). Veteran status was not related to inmate reports of alcohol dependence and abuse.

The report, Veterans in State and Federal Prison, 2004 (NCJ-217199), was written by BJS statistician Margaret E. Noonan and BJS policy analyst Christopher J. Mumola. Following publication it can be found at

For additional information about the Bureau of Justice Statistics please visit the BJS Web site at

The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), headed by Assistant Attorney General Regina B. Schofield, provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice and assist victims. OJP has five component bureaus: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the Office for Victims of Crime. Additionally, OJP has two program offices: the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy and OJP’s American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Desk and the Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART) Office. More information can be found at

Friday, November 5, 2010

Father, son, brother, friend: losing Mando Lugo (Updated)

(Update: November 4, 2010)

Armando is now listed by the department as being a victim of homicide, having apparently been strangled in the shower. The report I received, however, detailed more about how hard the ADC staff tried to revive him (they even took a video of officers performing CPR), how "diligently" they worked to write reports on his death, and how the Criminal Investigations Unit (CIU) went about examining the scene of his death than it did his actual murder - leading me to think that they have no clue what happened.

In fact, it's unclear that the investigation has even been completed, or where it was going. The CIU report on him is basically just a bunch of BS and filler - a more thorough investigation would have been done on a K-9 dog.

I hope the Lugos sue the state for everything they can - at least enough to support his children and grandson. The man deserves better than that - as does his family. All the prisoners do.

(Original post 10/13/10)

Armando Lugo, a prisoner at ASPC-Lewis/Morey Unit in Buckeye died on March 26, 2010 after being found unresponsive in the shower area. He was 36 years old at the time of his death, and more than halfway through a prison term for burglary.

I've requested records from the AZ Department of Corrections about the cause of his death, as it's been under investigation by their Criminal Investigations Unit since March, as far as I can tell. I expect to hear back from general counsel Karyn Klausner any day now, and will post what relevant information I find as soon as I have it.

Below is Mando's obituary from the Douglas Dispatch, followed by thoughts from just a few of the many loved ones he left behind...he was clearly a dear soul to a number of people. Our condolences to all for your loss.

------------from the Douglas Dispatch------------

"Armando Lugo passed away on March 26, 2010. Armando was born in Douglas on February 17, 1974 to David and Anita Lugo. Armando attended Douglas schools and worked as a Restaurant Manager most of his life. He was preceded in death by his Step-father Mario Manuel Sosa.

Armando is survived by his father and mother, David and Anita Lugo. His son; Armando Lugo, Daughters; Jasmine Ballesteros, Jaclyn Lugo, Grandson: Hector Manuel Madrid. His Brothers; Michael, Gabriel, and Mario (Diana.) Sister Gina (Juan). "

Armando is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Douglas.


ALBERTO DOMINGUEZ wrote on Apr 9, 2010 8:08 PM:

" Armando was a great person my condolences to michael ,gina ,and the rest of the family may god give you strength and peace god bless you all. "

Alma Villa Larios wrote on Apr 7, 2010 4:05 PM:

" OMG I just learned of Mando's passing! WOW he was a great friend in high school and will surely be missed. "

friend wrote on Apr 7, 2010 12:03 PM:

" Mando was a beloved friend of my family. He was known to love him family very much. Always looking forward to the day ahead. He will be missed. "

Porky and familia wrote on Apr 1, 2010 1:26 PM:

" I will always remember our school days and your great sense of humor. My condolences to your wife, kids, and familia. May you rest in peace. Until we meet again, amigo! "


Mando's family and friends are welcome to contact me (Peggy) at, or 480-580-6807 if there's any other information you'd like to add to this post, or if you'd like to organize with other families to change that place: this shouldn't ever have to happen again.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Suicide/homicide rates skyrocket at AZ Department of Corrections

I obtained prisoner death records last week from the AZ Department of Corrections, and the stats on suicides and homicides since Brewer took office are mind-boggling: they're twice the rate as they were when Janet was governor; this fiscal year (beginning July 2010) the suicides are on track for being three times the annual rate.

In no instance of the recent suicides has there been documentation that ADC staff had any culpability - though I've had more than one family member tell me that their mentally ill loved one had been taken off of their psychiatric medications in prisons before their suicide or homicide.
That sounds to me like a pattern of institutional neglect.

Anthony Lester's death remains a mystery to me, by the way - the ADC record detailing his death lists his injuries as self-inflicted (his jugular, his right wrist, and his leg were all cut with a razor) , but a document compiling the deaths for the year calls it a homicide. Tony's family was told it was a suicide - a "highly preventable" one, which they tried to warn the ADC he was at risk for. They have other information suggesting that he believed he was in imminent danger from a gang, though. Until I get confirmation to the contrary, I'm leaving him in the suicide category.

Tony suffered from schizophrenia, and was sentenced to more than a decade in prison due to two women being slightly injured trying to prevent him from cutting his throat
(both required band-aids at the scene) during a psychotic episode. He had to be restored to sanity before he could go on trial, of course. That's par for Maricopa County's treatment of people with mental illness who needed psychiatric hospitalization before or at the time of their "crime". If I could sick the DOJ on every responsible judge and prosecuting attorney, I would, because that's a violation of the Olmstead Decision, as far as I'm concerned. The Olmstead Decision was a Supreme Court verdict that determined that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires states to deinstitutionalize and place people with disabilities in the least restrictive setting possible.

Arizona, after 20 years of Arnold v. Sarn litigation, is still underserving the seriously mentally ill in the community. Here they're just criminally prosecuted for the symptoms of their illness and thrown into the most restrictive setting possible - state prison (often maximum security) - largely because the state lacks adequate outpatient and inpatient alternatives for individuals at risk of harming themselves or others (we spend it all on corrections instead. If ADC Director Ryan had any courage, he'd call that what it is and tell the state where to put their money and the courts where to stuff their convictions).

Why else would a judge give a man with schizophrenia three years for climbing a utility tower in a thunderstorm to be closer to God? Why would he even be prosecuted for that in the first place? I think they actually believed they were protecting him from himself. Sadly, Shannon Palmer ended up being murdered by his cellmate two years in.

The deaths by "natural causes" are also extremely young - go to the ADC's website, under ADC in the News, for death notices. There's an archive on that page, too. I suspect that it's complications from the effects of the Hep C virus that's killing people so young inside. I'll be analyzing the documents I obtained further to confirm that, and post it when I compile it all.

Here are the links for the APW posts about the more recent suicides:

Special Management Unit: Prisoner suicide at ASPC Eyman (11/4) - James Galloway

Prison suicide and gangs at Florence Central (10/01) - Duron Cunningham, Rosario Rodriguez-Bojorquez

Additionally, I missed a couple of suicides in my compilation that I didn't have info on until now:

Douglas Nunn 33 (8/29/09) - ASPC-Florence/Central

Patricia Velez 25 (4/28/10) - ASPC-Perryville/Lumley

All 3 of the women who have killed themselves in the past year and a half hung themselves and were housed in Lumley, where the maximum security yard is. All three were in their 20s. I don't know if Patricia had a mental illness or not: a psychological report was sealed by the court when she was sentenced to 7.5 years for aggravated assault and fleeing a law enforcement vehicle. Geshell and Sasha, the other two women from Lumley who killed themselves, did have evidence of a serious mental illness when sentenced.

Two of the men who killed themselves recently were both from ASPC-Florence/Central. The largest number of male suicides in any one prison have occurred at ASPC-Eyman, however.

Sometime in the next couple of days I'll break down the suicides and homicides by race and age, and tell you how they compare to stats for the overall prison population, as well as to rates in the general population. It seems to me that if all the violence boiled down to a gang war, the Aryan Brotherhood is winning.