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

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Arpaio's "Jail Enhancements" fund

Editorial: Cash should be for jails, inmates, not parties, trips

The Arizona Republic

Aug. 11, 2009

"Every year, Arizona's 15 county sheriffs receive a small, but not insubstantial, allocation from the state to make improvements to their jails.

It's called the Jail Enhancement Fund. And, according to a report by The Arizona Republic's Yvonne Wingett and Craig Harris, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio often uses the fund to actually enhance his jails.


Other times - about 28 percent of the time, specifically - Arpaio uses it for training of his officers, as well as for pretty much any purpose he deems worthy, which, in fact, appears to be precisely the purpose for which the fund is intended. Pretty much anything the sheriff thinks is worthy, is worthy.

Over the years, Arpaio has used the fund to staff training trips to the Walt Disney Yacht Club Resort in Florida. And to the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville. And, of course, to Las Vegas resorts. And to Bourbon Street hotels in New Orleans. And for staff-appreciation parties.

Some observers have expressed serious criticism of how Maricopa County uses the fund - a total of $5.5 million last year, $1.7 million of it going to Maricopa County.

A former lawmaker who helped pass the legislation in 1982 erupted at a hearing about the staff-appreciation parties and the out-of-state trips that the fund paid for. In Gila County, where the jail-fund money is used for things like handcuffs, toilet paper and supplies for indigent inmates, the sheriff said his operation doesn't "subscribe to that" kind of spending.

But the guidelines as written and revised in 2001 give county sheriffs extraordinary latitude in spending from the fund. And, heaven knows, few politicians, state or county, dare get between Joe Arpaio and his sense of entitlement to taxpayer funds.

Arpaio's chief of custody, Gerard Sheridan, argues passionately that his office carefully meets the fund-spending guidelines. Fine. But how about this:

The sheriff has three projects totaling just north of $200,000 that he has delayed for lack of funds. One is an $80,000 drinking-water chiller for the sector of Tent City known as Con-Tents.

Sheridan and the sheriff argue that those projects are not "enhancements" but maintenance and, so, must come from a different pot of money.

Really? Who, exactly, tells Sheriff Joe Arpaio how to spend money? To enhance the miserable lives of sweltering prisoners in the sheriff's tents, why not - just this once - push the envelope and try paying for cool water out of the Jail Enhancement Fund?

And then, let's see who tries to stop the sheriff."

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