THIS BLOG is NOW RETIRED

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

David Rovics: We Are Everywhere

To my fellow activists now struggling through life - let this be a reminder that you are not alone and that we desperately need you here. All the injustice, grief, war, and human suffering calls for us to stay and do everything we can about it - you can't help us anymore when you're gone. Don't give up the fight - your last shred of hope may just keep someone else alive, too.
BLOG POSTS

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Prison Abuse Remedies Act


Here's something people can address if they want to do something on behalf of prisoners’ rights; it really is critical legislation:

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Prisoner's Rights

Editorial – New York 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.

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.

A version of this article appeared in print on September 24, 2009, on page A40 of the New York edition.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/24/opinion/24thu4.html?_r=2&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1253795565-dwZvrl0cXxICXFb9zg1jIw

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