I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Racist, Criminal Lawmakers

I'm a little slow on the draw because I've been with family these past couple of weeks, but I just came across this info about SB1175, and had to pass it on. For this you have to go to a friend of mine's blog: here. She's really on top of the immigration issues; reading her blog was how I found out about this bill.

Here's the conservative response and legislative strategy (bookmark that page - very interesting site - glad they blog too).

It should come as no surprise that Republican legislators are pushing through more racist legislation like SB 1162 was. No wonder we need so many more private prison beds. Criminalizing immigrants is big business, especially in Arizona.

The implications of SB 1175 - this latest bill Pearce got through the senate are, of course, more racial profiling, inappropriate arrests, private detention facilities, overcrowded local jails, and missing family members. Any Latino not carrying proof of citizenship would be vulnerable to arrest and detention as a "trespasser" (which would be redefined under state law to specify undocumented persons. So much for AZ tourism, I would think). Since Latinos are presumed guilty on sight (especially two or more together), I can't imagine they'd be set free once arrested unless they fought the trespassing charge and showed actual proof of their citizenship to the court.

This is what Pearce thinks should be done with law enforcement resources? Chase trespassers down public streets? Arrest people who left their identification at home?

They can't just keep criminalizing people for being brown and think we won't see it for what it is. It's racist.

Check out this article too, about halfway down - they also want to send people to prison who might "harbor" an illegal immigrant for a sentence of 5 years. This is like the 1850 fugitive slave act. This is insane. It's like accusing abolitionists of sedition and hanging them.

So, let me sum up the bigger picture. Arizona's experiencing huge budget shortfalls - partly because we have so many people in prison, and we're going to criminalize undocumented persons further, while also throwing those who help them - say, get them to a physician when they find them dying in the desert - into prison. We're going to have to build a lot more cells just for the civil disobedience that invites.

Not everyone harboring immigrants would go to prison, of course. That's where the prosecutor's "discretion" comes in. Only the "political" people will go to prison; those who know something about the immigrant activist network but won't cooperate. And they'll end up in isolation in a maximum security hellhole, justified by this law being passed around under the radar. (Community organizers are serious security threats in prisons.)

I think if these bills go through then citizens from all over the state will have to leave their ID at home, take the 5th, refuse to post bail, and start filling the jail cells - make them prove that we aren't citizens instead of offering evidence that we are. Are we not already presumed innocent? They can only hold and prosecute so many of us. It would be a citizen's nullification of the legislature's last-minute blindside.

This is such a strange state, I must say. Very mean-spirited, the politics are. I'm at a loss as to how they think they can ultimately keep so many people down. This state isn't turning Blue, like they fear - it's going to be Green and brown soon, and we're going to raise a rainbow flag over the capitol building and then throw down with the scared straight liberals about whether or not all the queers can finally get married.

Those of us not in the legislative brawl will begin bringing prisoners home.

Lucky for men like Pearce (who will likely live to see Arizona progressives in power), most of us think that even old racist, sexist pigs have the right to food, health care, shelter and other life-sustaining resources. We wouldn't just hang him out to dry because he was old and broke and did so much harm in his lifetime.

Someday maybe he'll learn a little something about mercy and grace. We will certainly have to if we really aspire to tear down prison walls.

But I'm not going to hold my breath and wait - that man and too many of his colleagues feed on hate. And I've already seen what this state does to non-citizens and prisoners - we leave them to die in the desert and criminalize those who would try to help them. I'm beginning to see where that ethic grows from - the one that turns big profits on false promises and fear; getting paid by the head for people it disappears for months and years.

Do we know anything about the good senator's investment portfolio, by the way? Maybe we should check out the whole slate of senators that voted for SB 1175. Investments and campaign contributions: Someone's got their hands in deep with the private prison industry. Or - like Sheriff Joe - has a budget that depends on the number of bodies ICE will pay to detain. Hmm.

So, again, follow Chaparral's blog for the info on immigration legislation. This is where we should put on the brakes. This guy went way too far.

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