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

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thomas and Arpaio: The un-Lawmen Chasing Down Illegals.

Thomas is really a fool to keep tossing his lot in with Arpaio's. 

Comments on this one are embedded in the text in italics. Outrageous things are in red. Who needs a legitimate reason to detain someone in this state - detain me long enough and I'm sure you'll justify arresting me, too.  The Sixth Amendment is void in Arizona, as are the First, the Eighth, and the Fourteenth. In fact, the only constitutional rights I'm certain are enforced here - especially in Maricopa County - are the right of white supremacists to buy and stockpile guns for their militias, and the one which gives states the right to enslave their "duly convicted" prisoners.

I'm telling you folks - this is ground zero of the civil rights movement. It's unfolding here and now, and unless we seize the agenda and dialogue for the 2010 campaigns, it will be a competition to see who (dems or republicans) can be nastier to immigrants, more brutal to women charged with economic crimes, more abuse to addicts and people who are mentally ill, more neglectful of the most vulnerable - least politically cuddleable - among us. They'll rehash the old "law and order" rhetoric until our brains go numb and forget that they arguing for us to send an immigrant burglar, for example - a non-violent thief - to state prison at a cost of at least $26,000/year instead of doing time served and deporting him without further adieu (or cost).

I am not impressed by a politicians' presence at a cancer fundraiser, nor do suspects of petty crimes - or smuggling themselves - who end up dying in their jails convince me that these two guys (Thomas and Arpaio) are real "crime-fighting heroes". 

Frankly, I would be very much impressed to see some of our legislators spend time actually go into the prisons to hold hearings for prisoners to speak out on conditions there, as California did for their women prisoners appealing for better health care. If any of our elected officials fail to do that on their own initiative this fall, then they have nothing with any credibility to say - nor any sound basis to be casting votes - about the prisons or jails.

In which case, they leave us to come up with increasingly creative ways of educating them - and compensating for where they have grossly misinformed and misled the public - ourselves.


Arpaio vows to press on with immigrant sweeps

Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Tuesday promised that his deputies will continue to enforce immigration law despite the lack of a contract with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency that authorizes immigration enforcement on the streets and in the jails.

The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote today on a new agreement that would authorize deputies to continue an immigration-enforcement program in Maricopa County jails.

However, Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox said Tuesday that she would ask the board to table the vote until federal immigration officials signed off on the agreement, in accordance with county policy.

"There's a possibility it could get continued," she said. "It's probably 50-50 right now."

Arpaio said he would continue enforcing immigration law on the streets thanks to an opinion from County Attorney Andrew Thomas that allows suspected illegal immigrants to be charged as co-conspirators in their own smuggling. Sheriff's officials said deputies also would rely on a provision of the federal criminal code that allows local law enforcement to detain someone for "brief warrantless interrogation" where circumstances indicate the person could be in the country illegally. 

(Fine, guys -PUENTE and COPWATCH and the rest of the honest people in this community will be there, witnessing and testifying that Arpaio and Thomas are co-conspirators in the racial-profiling, harassment and civil rights abuses of thousands of Latinos. The Goldwater Report says a lot already about Arpaio and Thomas’ real records on serious crime here - a link to that report is to the left on this page. And Thomas has the file of at least one innocent woman sitting in prison on his desk, but is too cowardly to admit a mistake and petition the court for her freedom. He’s the last guy we need climbing any ladders here – Peg.)

"I am free of the federal government," Arpaio said. (like Alabama’s Bull Connor or Gov Wallace declared their autonomy from enforcing civil rights legislation or prosecuting real hate crimes, when they felt the more important priority was harassing and arresting poor people of color who dared resist the status quo…)

The decision to remove part of an agreement that authorized street-level immigration enforcement from deputies but allow such enforcement to continue in the jails was a political ploy from Washington, D.C., Arpaio said.

A local ICE spokesman said the agreement Arpaio signed was pending until the Oct. 15 signing deadline.
Since 2007, the Sheriff's Office has operated under an umbrella agreement authorizing the street-level enforcement and jail operations, but ICE officials announced in July that all the contracts with local law-enforcement agencies were under review. Federal officials have come under pressure from civil-rights, labor, religious and pro-immigrant groups to end the program, known as 287(g), because of racial-profiling fears.

Arpaio said he was prepared to sign a new umbrella agreement, which stressed a focus on enforcing immigration laws only in cases of serious crimes. But an ICE official presented the sheriff with a contract that would authorize the operations only in the jails.

A canvass of agencies in the U.S. with both street-level and jail-enforcement agreements indicated that ICE's decision to remove the street-level provision with the Sheriff's Office was unique.

At a news conference Tuesday, Wilcox and local immigration leaders called for the federal government to abolish the local-enforcement agreements altogether.

"Immigration laws are complex," said Danny Ortega, board chairman of the National Council of La Raza. "ICE should be in the jails doing that job."

The two arms of the ICE agreement have yielded results that vary widely, with the jail operation detaining nearly 30,000 suspected illegal immigrants and deputies on the streets arresting about 1,900 suspected illegal immigrants who aren't suspected of other crimes.

The agreement Arpaio signed means deputies shouldn't be able to conduct immigration screenings on the street and will have to take suspects to ICE, where federal agents can determine if the people meet the criteria for detention and removal.

Arpaio vowed to continue the crime-suppression operations, promising a sweep in two weeks.

The interaction with ICE during the last sweep could give insight into the practical impact of Arpaio losing the street-level agreement. When sheriff's posse members and deputies descended on Chandler in July, federal immigration agents would not take custody of nine suspected illegal immigrants who were not suspected of other crimes.

The new ICE task-force agreement includes provisions that detail the types of immigrants and severity of crimes agents should target, starting with offenses such as murder and kidnapping in Level 1; moving to property crimes in Level 2 and leaving a broad category of undefined "other offenses" in Level 3.

Republican U.S. Rep. Trent Franks from Arizona and Texas Rep. Lamar Smith issued a statement supporting Arpaio's theory that the ICE agreement was political.

"Instead of launching a politicized attack against a local law official who has yielded great success with the 287(g) program, the Obama Administration should replicate the success we have experienced in Maricopa County in other areas that are desperately in need of similar solutions," the joint statement read (that shows they are either clueless or complicit, most likely the latter – in either event, both are dangerous men to have in Congress).

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