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.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wickenburg and the Real Cost of Prisons

Will Wickenburg be Suckered into CCA's Pocket?

Sorry to be out again so long folks - prolonged illness and some very unusual problems for a week now with my internet connection. Hmm. Quest can't figure it out, and they have no idea how long they might take to do so. Therefore, I'm blogging from the Fair Trade Cafe in downtown Phoenix today.

Just found this article about the CCA and Wickenburg in my box - it came via the guys at Private Corrections Insitute - they specialize in exposing and stopping prison privateers moving in on vulnerable communities like this. Their website is a great resource. So is the site for the Real Cost of Prisons Project: hit the blog, too. These folks have the goods on what prisons really do to places: they corrupt communities. Look at the dialogue already - they dehumanize us all. 

The newspaper article is framed completely to push the prison as an economic advantage, as if they were fronting directly for the CCA - an incredibly evil institution that subsists on the incarceration of masses of people. A close look at Wickenburg politics may reveal some timely contributions to certain people and groups, as is the case at the level of the state legislature, where they're talking about privatizing the whole state system.

It's extremely disturbing, but it's classic politics and prison sales nonsense during down times, and somehow makes sense to ordinary Americans on the surface: let's lock a bunch of poor folks up here -"criminals" - to give other poor people stable jobs. Most Americans just don't comprehend the decay of our prison systems and the seriousness of the criminalization crisis. We lock people away for lifetimes, feeding them as little as possible -with hardly any thought anymore these days of anything but the expense or economic benefits to society of what essentially constitutes subjecting our fellow human beings to enduring torture. We don't even try to do anything called rehabilitation anymore beyond what is necessary for show -we just punish and brutalize people. In fact, when they complain - even when they raise their voices to claim their innocence - we just strip them further of their rights to be protected from the abuses of power that are central to the "successful" operation of such places. 

I  picked up Mona Lynch's book, Sunbelt Justice, finally, by the way. People need to read it - especially if they're considering a prison in their community. It's all about the history of "corrections" in Arizona, if you can call it that, and how our politics around crime and punishment have evolved. I think once folks understand what's going on - once they realize that no one is untouched by men who steal from school children to promote their campaigns of fear on the backs of the poor, minorities, migrants, and deviant women(like myself)- I think they'll start seeing these guys in a more clear light. Of course, Thurgood Marshall thought we would have evolved beyond the death penalty once we were enlightened about how unjust, racist, and classist it is in application. We know all that beyond a shadow of a doubt, now, and still we execute.

Who are we, anyway? 

I think if we fail to answer that question assertively, as a people, we will be defined by those who vote for men like Joe Arpaio and Russ Pearce, and in increasing numbers - as is economical and convenient - we will passively, ignorantly, be criminalized. We have prisons planned fifty years into the future: why can't we plan to give future generations a world that doesn't need to depend on prisons for order and justice - and good jobs, of all things - to begin with? Is it not worth the effort to visualize it or the struggle to bring it into existence? Isn't it even worth trying?

I think it is.

Good luck to the resistance in Wickenburg - let us know if there's anything we can do.


Arizona: CCA wants a 3,000-bed prison

November 4, 2009

By Janet DelTufo, Assistant Editor

Wickenburg’s Economic Development Partnership is currently negotiating with two large corporations in hopes of bringing both to the Forepaugh area for the purpose of creating new jobs.

The partnership has set its sights on Rail America (the Arizona/California Railroad), which would build an intermodal industrial/rail park, and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), which would build a private prison.

Comprised of representatives from private businesses, the purpose of the partnership is to find and attract economic development for the Town of Wickenburg.

The partnership is not unanimous in its thinking regarding the direction of the group, and it is somewhat split on the idea of a prison in Forepaugh.

However, partnership chairman and former mayor Ron Badowski said the creation of jobs is what Wickenburg needs now and for its future.

“Visitors and tourists are not going to pull the town out of the financial problems it is facing at this time,” Badowski said. “We need growth, and we need jobs. Both of the projects would provide jobs, and the prison could provide jobs nearly immediately.”

Both projects will require help from the town, but not funding though local taxpayers. The partnership has applied for a $3.5 million grant, which would need to be accepted by the town and then turned over to the rail project.

The grant money is needed to build two roads from U.S. Highway 60 to the railroad tracks and to build a rail spur from the tracks to a warehouse area.

Badowski said the railroad project will take a number of years before it reaches its full potential. It would be built on 1,450 acres, and a number of entities would be established, such as a water and sewer district and a port authority.

Badowski again asked members of the public to contact their state representatives and request that the federal government award the $3.5 million Tiger Discretionary Grant (incident No. 090917-000086) to the Town of Wickenburg.

The prison, a 3,000 bed medium security prison, could be open as soon as 2011. Badowski said CCA would like to arrange a lease agreement with the town on 78 acres of town-owned property located about a third of a mile north of U.S. Highway 60. That property is 15 miles from the traffic light at Tegner Street and Wickenburg Way.

Badowski said CCA would like a no-payment type of lease, which would mean the town would not receive any rent monies. Badowski said that is not an unreasonable request.

“I don’t really see a problem with this, because so far the town has not made $1 on that property,” Badowski said. “This project would generate jobs, generate sales tax, revive the housing market and generate $500,000 in real estate taxes to the school district.”

Badowski said that not everyone in the Forepaugh area has been polled, but a number of property owners have provided positive responses regarding the projects.

“Some people are very happy,” Badowski said. “They expect their property values to increase and some see a potential commercial benefit as well.”

A number of partnership members, several Wickenburg Town Council members, and a number of other community leaders are expected to take a tour of CCA’s prison in Eloy later this week.

If a deal is eventually struck for the prison, it is not yet known which state will contract with CCA to house inmates.

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