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

Sunday, March 7, 2010

AZ LEGS: VOTE the Child-abusing Bums Out.

Actually wrote this a couple of days ago, but dropped it in my draft bin because I haven't been able to really finish anything coherently lately.  Anyway, cleaned it up just a little. Here it is.

Here's an excerpt of the document from AHCCCS (10/9/09) expressing concerns about the long term economic consequences of canceling the Kids Care program, or making it less accessible to economically marginal, struggling families. From that report:

"...According to Kaiser’s Arizona has the 5th highest rate of uninsured children in the nation (for 2008). If this program is eliminated, AHCCCS estimates that Arizona would move to the third highest rate in the nation and would have over 18% of children between 0-18 uninsured.

The Institute of Medicine notes that uninsured children are more likely to be hospitalized for preventable conditions and for missed diagnoses of serious or life-threatening conditions. These avoidable costs are shifted to hospitals and providers as uncompensated care, and to the public as a hidden tax through increased premiums. .."

I can't believe any of these legislators are really getting that much support from their constituents for these cuts - at least, not the constituents they affect directly. A few noisy, selfish Tea Partiers with plenty of time on their hands. Boy, those people are so anti-American in their rhetoric about their rights, and their policy demands - they really do stink like white supremacists, misogynists, and generally mean-spirited people. 

It's really disturbing that legislators are hopping on their bandwagon and affirming the values they espouse, which is that in America, the right of the "person" to profit far exceeds any rights of anyone to access health care. In fact, the Corporate "person" has far more rights than many human beings when it comes to protecting their interests in US courts.

I would think there would be some kind of legal challenge Arizona citizens could raise to the AZ Republican Party/Legislative Caucus' absolute refusal to consider the needs or hear the voices of those who are typically Democratic party voters - the poor, minorities, working class. In fact, by totally ignoring the appeals and concerns of the Democrats on these budget cuts, I think the Republican leadership in both the house and senate has been engaging in explicit efforts to deprive the majority or people in Arizona of their right to be represented - to be considered - in the crafting of new legislation or the termination of life-sustaining resources.

The recent party line votes getting some of the more racist and fascist bills through committees these past two weeks has been troubling, as we know that there's a much wider chasm where the Republicans have been polarized within their own circles - this feels a bit like 1994 - god spare us from another Contract on America, please. We're still helping the wounded and burying the casualties from all that bad legislation Gingrich's congress wrote and Clinton's sorry, cheating ass signed off on: PROWA, NAFTA, AETA, PLRA, etc. Boy did he ever do a lot of damage as president. And he failed to release all the political prisoners - freeing only a token handful compared to the friends and elites who received pardons from him, like Rich.

There are so many more people, now, with wrongful convictions' claims dragging for years through the courts as they grow old in prison - missing the best and most productive years of their lives by being exiled and isolated from their families and communities; others in for acts of economic desperation are missing critical opportunities to earn the money they need in order to take care of their kids, pay the restitution/court fess/jail expenses they're responsible for, and build up some financial security for later years. Most people in prison want to be self-sufficient citizens able to survive on what the market will pay them - but we've institutionalized so many other sanctions against "criminal" and "drug offenders" in society that we place huge barriers in the way of them being able to be successful from here on out.

The reality of freedom after prison is that ex-cons - felons - are going to get turned away from all sorts of job opportunities, denied emergency shelter or program enrollment in some cases, hassled by their POs to jump through more hoops or go back to bringing in money for the state or prison corporation, either through their cheap labor or their consumerism (they're gouged at the canteen; it's a racket). And if they're on probation, they're just as likely to get violated and jailed for falling behind in restitution even if they're otherwise doing well, as they are to get sent back to prison for new and violent crimes. 

The machinery this legislature crafted was designed that way - the restitution program in Arizona is exponentially punitive, not producing anything remotely like "restorative justice" processes in our community. It sets offenders up for crushing, impossible debt, and encourages victims to be vindictive.

The State will never invest the necessary resources to fully support re-entry programs that actually reduce recidivism, and to allow for the community to create more alternatives to incarceration when a member commits an offense against another. The primary objective of restorative justice, to simplify it, is to help communities, survivors, and even perpetrators of violent crimes heal from the trauma of the violence the accused's conduct visited on everyone, as well as to reduce the risk of the real bad guys hurting anyone else.

The challenge is to do it without coercion, and as a collective to confront the ones among us who don't uphold - don't even recognize - their own responsibility to keep the peace and protect the vulnerable, as well as those among them who have an explicit and dangerous self-serving agenda. There are very real criminals that need to be segregated from society right now for our own protection. Some are already in prison; some are high in the offices of power. It's the ones in power - the law-abiding citizens with guns - that we need to be concerned about, lest we wake up to find one morning that our nation is once again being driven by by demagogues...

Since those folks don't give up power without a fight, doing this without coercion is going to be tricky, to say the least. But since I really have no power with which to coerce anyone, that seems to be where I'll have to start.

I think I may have some burned bridges to rebuild. Hmm.

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