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

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sheriff Joe's cowardly deputies brutalize prisoners.

The only real shocker here is that other cops actually reported these two, and they've both been charged with assault. One is even in jail (the other, for now, gets "paid administrative leave"). I think stepping on a handcuffed person's neck constitutes assault with intent to murder, frankly. It's certainly a reckless disregard for human life.

I suspect the criminal charges are to make the good Sheriff look like these goons are an exception to an otherwise professionally run outfit that never violates people's rights - and to distance him from liability in the civil suit sure to follow. Of course, if he had charged and arrested Gerster - or even fired him - when he broke the first prisoner's jaw (in June), this poor kid could have been spared the trauma of his abuse.

Imagine how many others the MCSO has brutalized in Sheriff Joe's jail that no one ever hears about - especially when it comes to the mentally disabled. By the time they get back into court (after nine months of being berated, beaten and "restored to competency") they plead guilty to whatever they've been charged with just to escape the kind of mental health "care" - even if it means years in prison for something they didn't do or weren't competent enough to be culpable. I see it happen far too often. That's coercive plea bargaining and the ultimate subversion of justice.

Unfortunately, according to the Arizona Constitution, the victim here doesn't even have the rights of other victims (which can include "entities" like neighborhood associations, corporations, etc.) because he's "in custody for an offense" (
recently reaffirmed by the AZ Court of Appeals in this decision; which I was tipped off to by Eric Manch's blog). Likewise, if he was killed in this assault, his family wouldn't have the legal standing of other victims, either. It's no wonder cops here feel so free to violate their prisoners. That would seem to imply that we become less than human once a cop arrests us - whether he's the real criminal or not.

Whatever happened to the state's duty to protect "vulnerable adults"?

Shame on all the legislators, the state's prosecutors, and the victims' rights groups that endorsed that provision (and the voters, since it was put there by referendum). Frankly, I think curtailing prisoners' rights when they're victimized encourages this kind of behavior, and the state of Arizona should be sued by every victim of state violence for not extending equal protection to all persons, whether or not the state has them in custody. The AZ Constitution doesn't even differentiate between pre-trial detainees and the convicted when depriving those "in custody" of their constitutional rights as victims, so it treats the guilty and those presumed to be innocent (and too poor to post bail) the same.

More another time - I'm too disgusted and enraged. From the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office to the Phoenix PD to the AZ Department of Corrections, there are way too many violent criminals with badges and guns and keys. I hope our new county prosecutor and state Attorney General have the ethical foundation and guts to nail them all.

I guess we'll see.

This kind of sickness spreads from the top down.

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