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.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tough on Crime MCAO prosecutes William Franklin Hughes III.

Maricopa County Superior Court House (March 11, 2011)

Just so folks know, William Franklin Hughes III plead guilty last week to one misdemeanor charge of indecent exposure and one misdemeanor charge of criminal damage. He was originally up on 5 misdemeanors and 2 felonies, so I guess you could say that they cut him a deal. Considering that William was assaulted repeatedly in custody and has evidence of a serious mental illness, though, I think the Maricopa County Attorney's Office should have cut the guy loose after he took that beating. This stuff can accumulate on one's record and come back around again to haunt you, so it's never really a "favor" when they pursue prosecutions of people for the symptoms of their mental illness instead of divert them out of the CJ system altogether, though. They really stick it to people with a mental illness in this town, and they do it with a smile.

The folks I saw ten or fifteen years ago cycling in and out of county jails and shelters are now going to prison because they didn't get adequate
public mental health care and they racked up such a record of misdemeanors living on the streets, not because they became more hardened criminals. That's how they end up doing 27 months for prostitution, like Marcia Powell, in the first place. That's pretty pathetic; hardly a sign of an evolved society.

That's $20,000 a year we're willing to put into incarcerating each mentally ill citizen - more, since we tend to put them in high security settings - but we aren't willing to invest it in keeping them from suffering from the symptoms for their illness and poverty. William was having such a rough time the night before he was even assaulted that his judge didn't think he was competent to stand trial, though - if he had been, she probably would have released him on bail at that time. I have no idea why the MCAO thinks he was criminally competent the night he was arrested; I don't think people with mental illness are really getting due process in this place.

William, if you're out there, please sue the hell out of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, or they'll keep doing to others what they did to you. I wish I had the satisfaction of at least knowing that you managed to moon the cops or something while you were being taken down, too.

Let's see if the MCAO is really "tough on crime" or just on the people: will they let MCSO Detention Officer Kevin Gerster walk with misdemeanors now, after beating Hughes up? They already let the guy slide by not charging him with class 6 felonies under ARS 13-3623, which is supposed to protect vulnerable adults. And will Alan Keesee even get charged for his assaultive behavior? As far as I know, he's still on paid leave from the MCSO.

Stay tuned...Gerster's final pre-trial management conference is May 18 at 8:45am, in front of Judge Verdin. Trial is on May 25 at 8am.

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