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

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Perryville Prison Deaths in Custody: Forrest Day, 19.

UPDATED 2/2/2012:  

The answers to those of my questions below which can be derived from criminal and court records are in this new article by the Arizona Republic. I'm choosing not to re-print it here because the article positions Forrest's behavior problems in a way that seems to justify her being sent to prison in the first place...like she was just a "bad girl". I don't accept that premise. She acted out the way children do when troubled...and troubled children, in my book, do not belong in adult prison.

So, if you plan to contact either the judge or prosecutor in this case, do check out the AZ Republic article linked to above to see just the surface of what they were looking at, through the eyes of the criminal justice system. Before you make up your mind what to write, though, read the note below from this friend of Forrest's family as well...

    

  Forrest Day, at 16.


UPDATED (9/31/12): 

At the age of 16, despite being too young to be trusted to drink, drive, smoke, vote, or even get away with skipping school, Forrest Day was prosecuted as an adult for the death of her 8 month old baby. As recounted in the article below, she put her son in the bathtub then got distracted elsewhere in the house by writing poetry - behavior characteristic of a child. It's not even as if she went out partying and left him home alone, beat or shook him, or even filled up the tub.

It doesn't appear that Forrest was even accused of intending to hurt her child. You don't have to will a person harm in order to be charged with negligent homicide, of course, though I suspect they hit her so hard to begin with in order to coerce her into a plea deal on the felony child abuse charges - which I also think were a stretch in this circumstance. 

This case may not be entirely a matter of Andrew Thomas' office overreaching again, though. It looks like the state law requires prosecutors to file charges in adult court when certain felonies and violent crimes are involved - when that happens, though, it appears as if that court then has discretion over where the case is heard.

In any event, Forrest's prosecutor was Suzanne E. Cohen. Her office with the Maricopa County Attorney is at: 301 W. Jefferson St., Phoenix, AZ 85003. She's just applied to be nominated as a judge, so this would be a good time to write to her about her take on charging children like Forrest as adults (according to the DOJ's research, it doesn't reduce crime). She just helped prosecute the Baseline Killer and got a few death sentences, so there's a good chance she could end up on the Superior Court bench in the next couple of years. 


Forrest was sentenced to probation, and then to prison, by Michael Kemp, a judge from Juvenile Court. I can't tell from the records who actually made the decision to let the state prosecute her as an adult, though. If you have questions about why he did what he did and what he thinks about charging children like her as adults - kids with no criminal record or intent - direct them to him. He can be reached at:
 
Northwest Regional Center (NW)
14264 W. Tierra Buena Lane
Surprise, AZ. 85374
(602) 372-9400


Within less than 6 months of being charged, facing decades in prison if convicted on both counts, Forrest pled guilty to class 3 felony child abuse. Here's the news article on her plea. In return, the state dropped the homicide charges and she was sentenced to 7 years of probation; upon entering her plea she was sent home with her parents and essentially ordered, ironically, to resume the life of a "normal" teenager. 



For those of you who have never been on probation or parole, it's not as easy as you may think to abide by. Forrest violated hers within a year, just before her 18th birthday. I don't know what she did to get into trouble with the court - she apparently wasn't charged with a new crime. She did get pregnant again, though, and wanted to keep her unborn daughter - forbidden by the judge. She was only allowed to see her at the hospital once she was born.

Forrest was committed to the custody of the AZ Department of Corrections on November 10, 2010, soon after having her second child. For breaking her probation, Kemp gave her 3 1/2 years in state prison on the original child abuse conviction. For neglecting her child at the age of 16, the rest of us condemned her to live - and die - with the guilt and stigma of killing her son as if she had intended to. We just can't seem to dole out enough punishment in Arizona to satisfy the electorate here, and it looks like we're letting the legislature get away with refusing to address sentencing reform again this session, so we do share some responsibility here...


Sadly, Forrest committed suicide on January 27, 2012 at Perryville Prison on the maximum security yard, Lumley. She was only 19 years old. Hers was one of three prison suicides last week, in fact; she was the youngest. Our condolences go out to Forrest's parents and other loved ones. I can't think of anything more devastating than surviving the loss of one's child.

This weekend a friend of Forrest's family left a comment at the bottom of another post, speaking to the beautiful soul she knew her to be, that is better placed here: 


-------------from Arizona Prison Watch--------------


Tina Schwindt has left a new comment on your post "Criminal Damage and Deaths in Custody: Letter to t...":

"I am a close personal friend of the Day family and I want to thank you for trying to bring this tragedy to the people's attention. Forrest wasn't a bad person, she had a lapse in judgement, just like millions of other 16 year old kids do every day. She was funny, kind, loving, artistic and so much more. I believe that the state wanted to use her as an example to other young mothers and it backfired horribly. This young girl never should have been put behind bars in an adult prison with the women who actually committed murder freely and willingly. She did not take her babies life intentionally, it was just a horrible accident. 

Accidents happen every day to a multitude of people, for instance the mother whose 2 year old baby got out of the house 4 years ago and tumble onto Thomas road and was hit and killed by a car. The mother had several children and didn't notice the baby gone until it was too late, but she never got charged for any crime. 

I want people everywhere to know that Forrest was an amazing young woman who wanted to go to culinary school to make her life better, but she will never get that opportunity now. I also wanted to say that Forrest gave birth to a beautiful baby girl right before she was incarcerated and the baby is the spitting image of her mommy. The family has custody of the baby, and I can only imagine that they feel very blessed by this wonder born from tragedy. Thank you so much for letting me speak my mind. You are doing a wonderful thing here!"


 
----------from the Arizona Republic archives (2009)--------
 

Police: Teen mom was writing poem when baby drowned






A 16-year-old Avondale girl facing felony child abuse and negligent homicide charges was distracted by writing poetry while her 8-month-old son drowned in the bathtub, according to a police report.



Forrest Day, pleaded not guilty at her arraignment Wednesday, following her indictment on April 23. Day will be tried as an adult and is due back in court June 18.

 

Day's son, Elijah James Day, drowned about 3:30 p.m. Feb. 21 after she set him down in the bathtub, turned the water on with the drain unplugged and left the room, according to the Avondale police report.



Day told investigators she was looking for a towel but got sidetracked with poems she was writing, the report states. After checking on Elijah after about five minutes, she said she went into her bedroom, saw her poetry book and started reading some old poems. She said she was gone for about 20 minutes this time.


Day said she went from her room to the living room, to her sister's room, and then outside on the back porch trying to find a quiet place to write. She eventually went into her parents' bedroom and closed the door behind her, according to police documents.


Day's 9-year-old brother and his friend were playing video games in the living room when the friend heard the water running in the bathroom and told her brother. Her brother went to the bathroom and found Elijah floating face down in the water.


He pulled him out of the water and yelled for his sister, the report says. Day tried CPR but when it didn't work, she took him across the street to a neighbor's house. The neighbor called police and administered CPR until police arrived.


Elijah was unresponsive to attempts to revive him, according to the report. He was airlifted to St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, where he was pronounced dead at 4:36 p.m.



Day was "hysterical and crying," the report states. She told police she gave Elijah a bath almost daily but this was the first time she left him alone in the bathtub.


She faces one count of Class 2 felony child abuse, a dangerous crime against children; and one count of negligent homicide, a Class 4 felony.

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