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

Friday, November 27, 2009

Arizona is a police state. Arpaio is just one cop.

If the FBI and DOJ nail this guy, I will send them a thank you card and offer them dinner myself. In the meantime, they should be dropping commandos into Arizona to rescue minority and oppositional citizens from the whole political slate he's aligned with (Thomas, Pearce, et al), before they do anyone else further harm. What's going on in this state - including the way our legislators conduct business - is criminal.

Sheriff Joe is actually the least damaging of them all, I think. It's the men writing laws and prosecuting them that trouble me. Being arrested is no small inconvenience, even if the charges don't stick. It ties up an activist's time and may limit our voice; it's an intimidation tactic, at the very least. But there's not much even Sheriff Joe can do if the law has no teeth or the prosecutor thinks the case has no merit. He may be the main attraction, but Sheriff Joe is hardly the source of the problem. His racism and failure to deal with real crime in Maricopa County are devastating to migrant communities and families, but to most citizens, even some protesters he arrests, he's a petty clown whose time is almost up. 

 Andrew Thomas, however, strong-arms the vulnerable into plea bargains using the threat of sentence enhancements (agree to three or you'll end up with 20) despite their claims of innocence, and buries innocent people in prison for years at a time, too arrogant to evaluate new evidence in his possession that should free them. He's the one we need to really grill about his agenda as Attorney General, and his plans for decreasing mass incarceration and protecting prisoner rights. I suspect that in his vision for Arizona, though, more people will be criminalized and in prison, and more communities will have prisons as their economic foundation. Our entire future will be increasingly invested in incarcerating people ... look at how the business leaders of Wickenburg and Winslow talk about the prisons and inmates - they don't even consider those they will incarcerate as human. They certainly won't be members of their community.

 That's who we will become, if we don't change the direction of this state: people most concerned with how they can profit from the plight of other human beings...I think they do that because they really believe that justice in America is fair. It's racist and classist and self-interested to its core.


Private Citizens: Joe Arpaio Targeted Us, Too

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio Accused Of Abusing Power

POSTED: 10:33 pm MST November 25, 2009
UPDATED: 9:34 am MST November 26, 2009

In the weeks since 5 Investigates aired its story on allegations that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is abusing his power, more people have come forward to say they, too, were targeted.
Politicians, county employees and private citizens claim the sheriff launched investigations into their personal lives after they criticized him.Terri Leija, who is chief of staff for Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, said she is under criminal investigation because of her employer.“They’re trying to scare me to go after my boss,” she told 5 Investigates.

Leija has not been charged with a crime.“I walk around some days thinking, ‘How is this allowed to be happening?’” she asked.Susan Schuerman, deputy administrator for Supervisor Don Stapley, echoed this sentiment.“I don’t have any criminal history,” Schuerman said. “Why I should be tainted is outrageous." Schuerman said the investigation makes it difficult for her to come to work.“This has been an absolute nightmare,” she said.

Her boss, Stapley, was indicted on 118 charges relating to the nondisclosure of a variety of land deals, business associations and business assets.At the time, the county supervisor said he was falsely accused. Fifty-two of the charges were thrown out in August, and prosecutors requested the rest be dropped in September.Three days after the request was made, deputies arrested Stapley on 100 new counts -- 93 felonies and seven misdemeanors.

Two men who set up Stapley’s legal defense fund said they were targeted, too. 5 Investigates agreed to withhold their names as they feared retribution.The day the fund went online, sheriff’s deputies showed up at all of the “trustees’” homes, asking whether they were promised anything from Stapley in return for their efforts.The deputies stayed until 11:30 p.m. in at least one case, the men said.“I was intimidated,” one said. “I started questioning whether I should have stepped forward and helped Don out … in his time of need.”

 When confronted by 5 Investigates reporter Morgan Loew after refusing multiple requests for an on-camera interview, the sheriff denied the allegations.“I don’t see any pattern,” Arpaio said. “We investigate thousands of people -- my office does -- thousands of people. We’re doing our job, and it doesn’t matter what political background or occupation or profession.” Nevertheless, the FBI is investigating the abuse-of-power claims, sources said, and some of those interviewed by 5 Investigates confirmed they spoke with FBI agents.

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