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, October 28, 2009

Beware the Scary Criminals who Make the Laws...

Gearing up already with the "scary criminals -v- the law-abiding citizens" talk for the 2010 campaigns, I see. If judges are putting prostitutes in prison for 27 months for blow jobs, I think there are probably a few prisoners in this state who could be released without posing a huge threat to society. In fact, it seems to me we'd all be better off swapping out some of them for the real criminals who drove us into this recession. 

I don't think the politicians in this state quite get it yet: people have been losing their jobs, homes, families, and lives - many or the first time needing a safety net that Arizona's been swiftly decimating. How many citizens are going to keep believing that it's worth $26,000 a year to brutalize women like Marcia Powell, while at the same time the governor cuts funds to the services that might have helped her safely stay off the street?We're just going to keep putting our people in cages?

It's long since time, by the way, to rewrite the criminal codes of this state - the prisons are already bulging at the seams with people whose most grievous crime is being poor. And as for Perryville, we should be storming the gates rescuing the women from that place.

Anyway, this is the article from the Eastern Arizona Courier that set me off today: note how important it is to keep the prisons open to support the local economies in these troubled times.
ADOC cuts would close Fort Grant prison

Budget cut options submitted to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer by Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles L. Ryan include closure of the Fort Grant Unit of the Arizona State Prison-Safford and an admonition that deep budget cuts at ADOC would require rewriting the state’s criminal code.

“The rewriting of the criminal code and releasing thousands of prisoners is neither realistic nor in the best interest of public safety,” Ryan wrote. “Releasing thousands of prisoners because of the budget deficit will place the public at risk and is akin to turning our backs on the law-abiding citizens of Arizona.”

If the Arizona Legislature and Brewer proceed with deep budget cuts to the state’s prison system, a savings of $153,368,700 would result, according to Ryan’s estimates. This a fraction of the nearly $4 billion shortfall the state anticipates over the next two years.

Barron Marson, ADOC spokesman, emphasized that the budget cuts submitted by Ryan are not a proposal. Instead, they are a response to Brewer’s request of all state agencies for budget reductions that could trim 15 percent from their spending plans.

ADOC’s reduction options included closing state prisons or several units within state prisons, including the Fort Grant Unit.

“The closures of 15 prison units will economically devastate the Arizona communities (where they are located),” Ryan said in his response to Brewer’s request.


Other budget-cutting measures would include releasing more than 13,000 inmates, a reduction in force of more than 1,500 prison employees and cuts to prison programs.

A 15-percent budget reduction would also include moving prison inmates who are serving sentences of one year or less to county jails. This would require legislative action to change the state’s criminal code, Ryan said.

New legislation would also be needed to release inmates with a felony class of 4, 5 or 6 after they serve 25 percent of their sentences. The current law allows felons to be released after serving 85 percent of their sentences.

“The impact of this change would jeopardize public safety, and ADC cannot support it,” Ryan wrote.

As state officials contemplate cuts throughout state agencies, the ADOC has vacancies that it cannot fill due to budget constraints. These include 199 corrections officers, 65.5 health-care personnel and 392 “other” corrections workers, according to Ryan’s report.

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