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

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act

UPCOMING EVENTS


December 10: International Human Rights Day
December 15: Fifth Special Legislative Session Begins
December 17: International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (Tucson Memorial Service).
December 18: SWOP-Tucson Demonstration at the Arizona Department of Corrections, Phoenix.
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 Well, it's about time the feds did this. What's the DOJ doing with Arizona? Just screwing around with Sheriff Joe? He's history. Fix the damn jails and prisons, already. People are dying. Who's suing on behalf of Marcia and all the other women out here?
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NY Times Editorial: Protection for the Vulnerable---stepping up the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act

Protection for the Vulnerable
Published: December 3, 2009

The federal government is stepping up enforcement of an important law — the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act — which authorizes the Justice Department to sue prisons, jails, mental institutions, nursing homes and other facilities that violate the constitutional rights of the confined. In New York State, the department has already intervened three times this year to try to improve protections for vulnerable people.

Earlier this fall, the department threatened to sue New York’s juvenile justice system unless it agreed to correct barbaric conditions and abusive practices at some facilities. It has involved itself in a lawsuit brought against the state on behalf of thousands of mentally ill adults who are being isolated from the community, in clear violation of sound medical practice and federal law.

In a “letter,” actually a 40-page report, to Westchester County made public this week, the Justice Department detailed abusive conduct by guards at the Westchester County Jail in Valhalla.

The jail came under federal scrutiny in 2000 after a guard kicked a mentally ill man into a coma. The injured man later died, and the guard was convicted and sent to prison. The Justice Department inspected the jail last year, and the new report found that some conditions violate the inmates’ constitutional rights.

The investigation relied in part on videotapes that corrections officers made of their encounters with inmates in order to protect themselves from charges of abuse. In this case, federal officials say, the tapes showed them repeatedly injuring or needlessly inflicting pain on inmates. According to investigators, the officers obscured what actually happened by filing inaccurate incident reports. Supervisors who could have uncovered the abuse by viewing the videos seem not to have done so.

In what investigators described as a typical case, officers justified placing a woman in restraints and spraying her with mace by describing her in the incident report as out of control and “very combative.” The report says the tape shows an officer driving the woman’s head into a wall, while other officers wrestled her to the floor, applying handcuffs and leg restraints. An officer then sprayed her face with mace. The report also cites pronounced deficiencies in medical care at the jail. And, as is often the case in jails and prisons, the Westchester facility’s care for mentally ill inmates is said to fall far short of constitutional standards.

Westchester will need to make sweeping reforms to bring its jail into compliance with federal law and basic standards of decency. If it fails to do so, the Justice Department should sue the county to force those changes.
A version of this article appeared in print on December 4, 2009, on page A34 of the New York edition.

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