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

Friday, February 22, 2013

Deaths in Custody: Watching Tony Die.

Most readers familiar with the crisis of violence and despair in Arizona's state prisons in recent years  are aware of the story of Tony Lester. If you aren't please watch Wendy Halloran's emmy-winning investigation at the top of this page on KPNX/Channel 12 News / PHX. They have a follow up episode coming up tonight, February 22, at 10pm...


Tony was sentenced to 12 years in prison in May 2010 for hurting two ex-girlfriends who tried to prevent him from cutting his own throat when suicidal and psychotic on his 23rd birthday. He had been struggling increasingly with symptoms of mental illness, which went untreated until the crisis that sent him to jail instead of a psychiatric hospital.  There they found him to be so severely mentally ill that it took over a year to restore him sufficiently to sanity to prosecute him as if he'd been sane all along. Then it took another nine months for him to recover from the trial enough to be sentenced. 


This state is exceptionally cruel.

Once sent off to prison, despite recommendations from the judge that he be placed in a special mental health treatment setting, Tony's illness still wasn't treated properly. He was left to suffer in prison without his anti-psychotic medications while his paranoia mounted. He was placed on a general population yard where he was soon confronted by the Warrior Society, a prison gang which informed him he wouldn't be allowed to live safely on the yard, in part, due to being a known bi-sexual. Tony's assault convictions had been tagged as domestic violence, which was another big strike against him...

Violating each other in our honor is not how to reduce violence against women, by the way, gentlemen. It diminishes us all.

Not surprisingly, facing 12 years like this, the next opportunity Tony had to cut his own throat - when handed a razor by DOC staff - he was sure to do the job right. He was no doubt fearful that what the other prisoners had in mind for him was far more traumatic than any death he could bring on himself. 

When Tony was discovered by AZ DOC staff, they just stood by and watched him die...




Tonight Wendy Halloran will be following up on this story with some of the footage of the last minutes of Tony's life, while five corrections' officers stood around and watched him bleed out. Please watch KPNX Channel 12 PHX Friday Feb 22 at 10pm, then send your comments to connect@ad.gannett.com.

Let Channel 12 know we need to see more of what's happening behind prison walls, because what happened to Tony isn't the exception  - this kind of deliberate indifference to - rather, outright contempt for human life is all too common at the AZ DOC. The suicide and homicide rates in state prisons doubled once Chuck Ryan took over, and haven't abated yet. Something is seriously wrong in there.

Ask them to look into the other deaths in custody, the practicality of a new supermax prison, the problems with privatizing the health care services for prisoners, and so on. Le tthem know there's an audienc eout here or that stuff, or the tone they'll hear from the community when they cover a prisoner's suicide will be left at "good riddance - give them all rope!". Let's not let those kinds of people dominate the dialogue on life and death for the most vulnerable in prison. Please watch the show AND give feedback.

Monday, February 18, 2013

AZ DOC: Resisting prison violence (REVISED).

So, this is what you call anarchism in action: I found an unmet need in my community where the voices are most marginalized, and figured out a way I can help meet it. I don't have an organization behind me or a board of directors that govern me - I just got up one day and put together a blog. That brought letters from prisoners and calls from families who helped me see better inside those places, and made me try to figure this mess out in order to help them. I have no college degree or special training: I feel responsible to act as a witness now to such abuse.  We need to being willing to push the boundaries of what we usually think of as our responsibilities as community members. That means knocking on a lot of other doors when the state or police power you think should be addressing these problems closes their door in your face at the mention of human rights. 
Anyone can do this, by the way. If your community or neighbor is suffering and you can't find the answers around or among you, look within you, and give what you have to share with the rest of us. 



The letter below is my response to a slew of requests lately regarding the continued increase in prison violence, and the numbers of AZ state prisoners seeking a safe place to do their time. It's a revised version of one I wrote in October, so discard previous copies, if you have one, please.

While most of the letters I get about protection are like those I characterize below, I also hear from prisoners who are explicitly anti-racist and being persecuted by the gangs for refusing to abide by their racist rules, from prisoners who are mentally ill and just can't navigate the nuances of yard politics, from gay and trans men who are being told they don't need PS because being openly gay doesn't subject one to a statewide threat of violence and extortion (the New Mexican Mafia has something different to say about that), and from men who witnessed and testified to horrible crimes, thank god, in order to put the perpetrators away - then got labeled as snitches in prison as a result. The stories are diverse and complex and often reflect what I see as a strong spirit of resistance to violence and racism - and these men are literally fighting for their lives. If you can reach out and help any of them, please do.

At the end of the following letter I'll embed links to those resources I most often send to AZ state prisoners in the process of seeking protective segregation (also known as the 805 process, named for the DOC policy number). They are not to substitute for the qualified opinion of a criminal justice/legal professional. But it's stuff they need to know. 

We have a real need for a community-based prison law library - a core group out here that meets once a week who helps get basic info to prisoners like the stuff posted below - otherwise these guys have to depend on the DOC for all their legal resources, which is one reason the conditions are so bad. If anyone wants to help organize something like that, let Peggy know at arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com

My apologies to the women out there needing protective segregation as well - I only get these requests from the guys, so my letter, this time, went out directly to them.


------------

February 2013

AZ State Prisoners:

I’m sorry some of you have been waiting awhile to hear back from me; my Dad was ill and I had to head back home for awhile - I’m an immigrant from Michigan. Anyway, this is an update to the October PS letter I put out - though not much has changed. All of you I’m addressing right now are applying for protective custody - or have been turned down and will need to appeal or apply again.  All that will really do is keep you in detention longer, though, and may result in more tickets for refusing to house. There’s a logjam in the system - the PS yards are full and the DOC isn’t approving anyone right now, that I can tell, without an attorney on board - or otherwise, the clear ability to fight them.

I’m still not the DOC’s most-loved activist, by the way. In January I organized friends of prisoners and family members of those who have died under this administration to chalk the walk at the Federal Courthouse in PHX with all the names of Ryan’s dead.  And I’ve been pretty aggressive about confronting the violence on the yards. It’s really out of sight. But I don’t think the DOC will turn down your case just because I stick up for you anymore.

So, I’ll keep writing Central Office about the more compelling cases, if you ask, but don’t expect that to win your argument for you - in fact, it could still be a kiss of death, so think of me as a last resort. I can’t step in the ring on your behalf, like an attorney can, anyway - if you can‘t afford one, you’ll need to do it yourself. Other then send you some material to study, all I can really do is be a witness and tell others - in my blogs and the federal courts, if need be - what transpires in your struggle. But you need that - someone to preserve and share evidence that DOC administrators and decision-makers are aware of the danger you face, which I need to keep hearing about in order to communicate to them. I can write about your fight for other pris0ners and their families to learn from, as well. Things have gone desperately awry in the state prisons in recent years, and the larger public needs to know that, too

Before I go any further, though, make sure that if you have ANY way of hiring a professional like Donna Hamm to help you, do so. She is at Middle Ground Prison Reform, 139 E. Encanto Dr. Tempe, AZ 85281. Your family can call her at 480-966-8116. That said, if you‘re stuck with me and your own wits, it will be a long uphill fight, from what I see now, and you face the biggest risks. They may disrupt my work more if I get to be too effective or obnoxious, I suppose, but what you can do through the courts, if you master it, is more important, so you are the bigger threat, if you can figure this system out. Once informed, you scare Power even sitting quietly in the hole in nothing but your shorts. Remember that.

Most of you have been told you are being denied PS in part because you haven’t been assaulted yet. I need copies of the denial form the DOC gave you saying that. Ask the librarian for DO 902 - Access to the Courts. Attachments A&B, if I don’t send them, are what you need - ask for the “Rights of Prisoners, 4th ed.”  to start with - it‘s huge, so scroll the table of contents and get the sections you need most. Look for Farmer v Brenna for the standard of indifference in a case about a transgender prisoner. Let me know if they want to bill you for photo-copies to keep on person, and how you deal with that if you’re indigent. Whenever you can send me your paperwork from the DOC refusing to help you access legal materials, please do. Just let me know if you’ll need it back.

Some of you have been denied PS because DOC asserts that you don’t face a documented statewide threat (even though you are being persecuted for being gay, or are in trouble with the New Mexican Mafia all over the place). The DOC also likes to say that your claims are just self-reported, as if you aren’t under any real threat unless the yard leaders personally sign a written death warrant for each of you on gang stationary.  You also need to read “Farmer v Brennan.” In the meantime, I’m working up some bullet points to help you guys fight those claims a little better.

I’m impressed by the number of those of you who just said no to the racism and violence when invited - or ordered - to join in.  Some of you witnessed - and testified to - horrible crimes: that doesn‘t make you a “snitch“, in my book - though even snitches don‘t need to be silenced with violence.

Most of you are in the 805 process for the same reason - a yard leader or gang member looked at your police report and for any number of reasons decided you were “no good”, giving you the choice of 1. leaving the yard (PCing up) 2. Assaulting someone and joining them or 3. Being assaulted or killed yourself. There are a lot of things wrong with the logic behind that particular strategy for recruiting gang members, by the way. I’m trying to figure out the most tactful way to point that out - without getting myself killed, that is.

According to the yard leaders these days, the police report is the standard by which someone who is otherwise undesirable is able to be identified. The truth is, however, the guy you really need to be worried about took the fifth when he was nabbed by the cops and made a sweet deal with the prosecutor later - not so much the guy who shit his pants when he was put into cuffs and confronted with his crimes - often that at least tells you who has a conscience. So that whole method of finding out who can and can’t be “trusted” to share a prison yard with is fundamentally flawed.

Which tells me the whole police report test isn’t really meant to see who can be “trusted” - it’s just an excuse to put the green light on guys who wont immediately bend to the authority of the gang, and to give the new recruits target practice. So who are the gangs ending up recruiting this way? A lot of jerks who go ahead and “clear their names” by lowering their own moral standards even more and assaulting fellow prisoners they have no business messing with - that‘s who makes up these gangs. I wouldn‘t call one of those guys a brother. As far as I’m concerned, most of you guys are pretty noble for saying no to that crap.

Besides, you’ve already been judged and sentenced for your crimes - most of you far too harshly. There’s no need for other prisoners to further the punishment - THAT’s complicity with the state and the cops, as far as I’m concerned. Those gangs should be showing solidarity with the struggle of prisoners, based on their espoused ethics,  not adding to the misery.

People  interested solely in pursuing their own profit, at whatever cost to others, are sociopaths. That seems to characterize the behavior of prison gangs, too - they have nothing to do with resisting the state - they strengthen it, instead. The state is all about it’s own needs too, not “the People’s” but at least it tries to manipulate people into being loyal before they threaten to kill them. There is a show of state defiance by gangs, but they rule the yards with the consent of state power to divide and conquer prisoners - and addict and terrify you - so you can’t effectively mount resistance against your captors for the conditions of your confinement. Otherwise, prisoners would be organizing across race and putting an end to some of the bullshit the DOC perpetrates on you.

There will come a time when the norm on GP prison yards will be closer to the one you seek in PS, but that will only be after a fight - your fight, not mine. It may be up to you guys, not the state, to undermine the authority of the gangs by providing collective safe harbor for others who resist them in the meantime. Just how to do that right now, I don’t know. This is not the way it has to be, though. An empire protected by an army of men recruited specifically because they have no integrity is vulnerable to men of conscience. And the state is vulnerable to those who are armed with knowledge of the law.

Most of you guys have got the first one down - you’ve already said no to hurting more people or compromising who you are as a way to survive. You may take a beating in more than one way in prison, but you can come out of there whole and proud of who you are, nonetheless - which is the only way to win, since the whole goal of prison - from the dehumanization to the constant threat of violence - is to break you as a potential revolutionary, not make you stronger and more articulate and critical of the state upon release to your home communities - which desperately need your help, by the way.  Learn to fight by the rules now as practice for when you get home, so you can help your people fight back effectively as well.

Anyway, I respect those of you who have resisted the gangs because you reject their politics and tactics, and to those of you who just want to get out of alive - that’s okay too. I will do whatever I can to help you in your struggle not only for personal protection but for a more safe place for all to do their time. Detention cells and specially designated yards should be reserved for the few thugs - in orange and brown alike - who ruin it for everyone, not the other way around. The exile of prison is bad enough punishment - once you get there, GP should be where you guys are free to work, participate in programming, and so on without abuse and harassment following you - not where the real criminals just refine their predatory skills until they get unleashed again on the rest of us.

How I can be most helpful, though, in helping to change that culture, is yet to be seen. Be mindful that if you correspond with me and raise a fuss about your rights you‘ll be in the doghouse with the DOC, and if the gangs ever find this letter we’re all in trouble with them and the state together - they will reach out and touch me for this, no doubt, so be careful where you let this fall.

As for your fight with the state, here’s some of what seems to be helpful - in my non-qualified, illegal opinion:

Read the actual DOC policies about the 805 process (or STG validation and debriefing, if that applies to you instead). Follow them to the letter, and go through with an appeal even if you think it’s pointless - that‘s called exhausting your administrative remedies. This is your chance to inform the people you may ultimately have to sue of the danger against you, and their chance to respond before it results in further harm or goes to court. Give it a good faith effort on your part, but make your argument a compelling legal one, not an emotional one. And expect at this point to have to go through this process several times, at least - PCing up, waiting in detention, being denied and moved to another yard, being threatened again or assaulted, and beginning the 805 process all over.

Save and collect evidence supporting your claim that you need protection from an identified statewide threat. This includes anything from threatening kites to signed statements by other prisoners willing to testify about real prison life - like how the proliferation of cell phones means that everyone is targeted as a snitch or gay or “no good” on every yard in the system, now, within days of arriving. Or how the higher level yards are run by yard leaders, not by the guards, and what evidence you may have that the DOC is well aware of that fact - like a sergeant going out to negotiate your safety directly with a yard leader instead of starting the 805 process, or guards making deals with the leaders on the side.

Copies of statements you give the DOC about criminal activity, as well, is evidence that you are in danger - but don’t have that stuff in your property, or some porter will snatch it and then you’ll really be in trouble. If the DOC says you need to provide them with copies of your police reports yourselves and you just can‘t get them, write down the reference numbers and where they can be obtained and tell them they are responsible for assuring that those are in your 805 file, if they doubt your claims about their contents, as it isn’t safe for prisoners to have them in one’s possession in prison.

Build a parallel file of evidence and copies of 805 requests, responses, and appeals with someone you trust out here - preferably the loved one who will have standing to sue if you are killed or incapacitated, and will need the evidence you have to do so. Any HNR’s, incident reports, or other documents you have the pertain to harm you sustained as a result of an assault are important too. The DOC is known for rifling through property to find and destroy documentation that could be used against them.

Note the dates of major incidents - like assaults or the initiation of your 805 request - as well as locations, the names of officers who may have obstructed your attempt to file an 805, the names and titles of officials up the chain of command who denied you protection, names of witnesses to assaults or threats made against you (including doctors who treated you), etc. You will need all that later, if you have to sue in court for your safety.

Get a copy of the National Lawyer’s Guild Jailhouse lawyer’s Handbook. It’s not the same thing I send you chapters from - it’s more of an overview of all the stuff you need to know about fighting for your rights. They will send it to you for $2 (stamps, check, money order). Write to them (or have a loved one do so) - they have to mail it directly to you from the NLG:

National Lawyers Guild / 132 Nassau Street, Rm 922 / New York, NY 10038

Have your loved ones write letters to the Department of Corrections making the same kind of legal argument that you do when you apply for your 805, showing that they are aware of what evidence you have for your claims, and make sure they send the letters certified. If they email me I can send them the same materials I send you guys, so they know just what you need to know to fight the state. They really need to read “Farmer v Brennan” too. My phone number is 480-580-6807 (that’s for your families: do not call me on a contraband cell, please…). My email address is arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com.

The best people to include in their correspondence to the DOC appear to be; Charles Ryan, Director; Dawn Northup, General Counsel; Stacey Crabtree, Offender Services; and the Warden and DW of your prison. They don’t need to threaten anyone with a lawsuit right away or make accusations that the DOC is intentionally trying to get you killed - just have them state your argument clearly, emphasizing the statewide nature of the threat against you and the expectation that you do not have to be assaulted  (again) or killed before they take your safety seriously.

The address to AZ Department of Corrections is 1601 W. Jefferson St., Phoenix, Az 85007.

If they put the following people in the cc (they need to note at the bottom that’s what they’re doing so the DOC knows it) and send us all copies, it may help to at least let the DOC know you have other witnesses, in case something does happen to you: James Lyall, ACLU-AZ (PO Box 17148, Phoenix, AZ 85011); Middle Ground Prison Reform (139 E. Encanto Dr. Tempe, AZ 85281); and if you want to keep me in the loop, Arizona Prison Watch (PO Box 20494, PHX AZ 85036). Just remember I’m an antagonist. If they have an attorney they should put them in the cc too.

Let me know each step of the way what’s happening, including if anyone is obstructing your efforts to access the 805 process, legal information or the courts. I can’t give you legal advice, per se - you’re going to have to find a lawyer for that - but I can send you information and ideas if you’re going to wing this yourself.

If you need the Jailhouse Lawyer chapter on safety still, or info on the PLRA, write to me. If you need info on how to file a civil suit yourself in Arizona, write to the US District Court nearest you, and ask how to file a section 1983 complaint on your own behalf - they, not me, know how to do it right:

Sandra Day O'Connor U.S. Courthouse
401 W. Washington Street, Suite 130
Phoenix, AZ 85003-2118  

Evo A. DeConcini U.S. Courthouse
405 W. Congress Street
Tucson, AZ 85701-5010

If you’re waiting for something from me and think I forgot you, write to me again - I’m sorry, it’s not because of anything you’ve said: I’m just really swamped, and your letter may have been buried on my desk three weeks ago. If so, only a new one will bring you back to my attention. If I don’t get back to you - if no one from this address does - then the state will have managed to shut me down somehow. Hopefully they won’t have snatched my computer and files, too, and someone from my end will still be able to follow up with you. But don’t hold your breath if my side goes silent one day - once they come for me, I’ll probably be tied up for awhile. Not that I’m doing anything criminal - just that the state doesn’t like people who help prisoners help themselves.

That’s why it’s important for you to learn what you can about your legal rights yourselves. People out here aren’t reliable for one reason or another, and no matter what anyone else does on your behalf, if the state thinks you won’t be in a position to actually fight for your rights in court, they won’t prioritize your safety or welfare. They’ll take all the guys who have lawyers and know what they’re talking about first, and put you back in GP for another round or two - or three or four.

So, that’s a lot for you to think on.  I’m sorry to those of you with poor vision - I need to conserve. I wish I had better news. I’m still developing a new strategy for dealing with this, and will let you know what other thoughts or resources I come up with if you keep me current with your address. Don’t send me stamps by the way - I’ve been told those are now contraband, and since my correspondence will likely be under increasing scrutiny, I don’t want to get anyone into any trouble.

Please keep me posted on your cases, and watch each others backs. In any event, don’t stop writing, or your stories won’t get out. That’s what the DOC wants, is to isolate you again and keep their dirty little secrets in-house. Don’t let them win.


Take care,


Peggy Plews


PS:  I have a friend helping me handle your correspondence now - Margie Diddams. Look for her letters. She’s good people.

(families at least read the TOC and chapter 1 of this manual if you can, then decide which chapters from the whole thing to send in. I'm only posting links to the ones I use the most)
(more compact than the above manual, and you can orger one for only $2 from the NLG - they must send it to the prisoner from their HQ - or print this PDF version up and mail it in to prison yourself)
Columbia Human Rights Law review Article posted by Just Detention International about the case law regarding a transsexual prisoner in part re: whether or not a prisoner must be assaulted before the threat is taken seriously, how deliberate indifference by the prison authorities is defined and established, etc.
Prisoners should ask the AZ DOC for a copy of this, just to learn how the "law library" access works and how responsive they are. They should document any resistance they get from the DOC to accessing a copy of this case and file a grievance, if necessary, about their access to the courts being hindered, and send me copies of their documentation. If they can't get a copy of this case from the DOC, though, print it up from here.

It's best for prisoners to write the courts directly for this information. They need to establish a relationship with the court themselves if they plan to file a civil rights suit, and they should be getting instructions from there first, not other sources, as to how to proceed - the court will make sure their paperwork is complete and current as well. But above are the links to what the District Court of AZ has posted that prisoners need to ask for; if you are helping someone, you need to know all this too.
ACLU-AZ Complaint form for prisoners (to send in after you have appealed and been denied PS. Even if they can't help, they need to know what's going on)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Arizona Prison Watch Newsletter: February 2013



Dear AZ Prisoners...

Just wanted to update you all on what's been happening out here lately – and some of what's been happening in there. Forgive me if I'm all over the map with this one, but I want to get this out to you all in time for Valentine's Day, so I won't be doing much editing.

First, as many of you know, I was out of town for most of the holidays and am only now catching up to folks. If you wrote to me and your letter came back undeliverable, I apologize - my PO box is just having problems, so be persistent and try again. If you're waiting to hear back from me on something, write to me again – it will bring your file to the top of the pile, and sometimes letters get lost – just don't think I'm ignoring you for some reason – I don't work that way.

While I was out of town I had a lot of help keeping up with stuff here from a couple of friends, including one who has stayed on to help me on an on-going basis – Margie Diddams. She's pretty cool and I trust her implicitly; if she answers a letter from you to me or AZ Prison Watch, rest assured she probably chatted about it with me first. We do a lot of good strategizing together. She's my more organized half, too, so if you have a really complex situation or a lot of paperwork, you'd better hope she's the one on top of it.

One of the things Margie's helping me work on is confronting the high rate of homophobic and transphobic violence behind bars. As many of you know, my good friend Kini Seawright's son, Dana, was murdered at Lewis in July 2010 by the West Side City Crips for being gay (and for loving a Mexican while Black). Since then, I've received a lot of correspondence from prisoners subjected to violence due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Because there are so many intersecting issues they deal with that affect others, when root causes for violence against minorities are addressed, other societal violence tends to abate as well, so this is in everyone's interet in the long run. Therefore, if you or a loved one behind bars is LGBT (or, as I tend to identify myself, just plain Queer) get in touch with us and become part of a more collective effort to change things in there.

I've also been working to build support in the community for the women of Perryville. The Sun City West Valley NOW (National Organization for Women) Chapter had me speak there in November and is really interested in figuring out how they can help women prisoners with health care and conditions of confinement. Don't pass up this chance - If there are any women in Perryville willing to risk institutional harassment for reaching out to them, please ask the NOW women how prisoners can become members (or start your own chapter) at:

Sun City/West Valley NOW, 10015 W Royal Oak Rd #256, Sun City, AZ 85351.

Now, let me just remind you all that I'm no lawyer, nor is Margie. She's still a student (albeit a radical like me), and I'm a college drop-out. I'm a prison abolitionist and human rights activist who happens to blog, which has resulted in quite a bit of contact with state prisoners and their families over the past few years, which compelled me to try to figure out how to help with some of your dilemmas. The best we can do is give you access to things that will empower you to help yourselves. This is our own little way of fighting back against hetero-patriarchy and state violence and all that crap, which is one reason our help comes to prisoners and their families for free. If you have money, though, don't settle for Margie and me – get professional help.

Good intentions alone can sometimes really screw people up, so make sure you access whatever other resources you can if you need help fighting the state- they are pretty formidable.

On to the other news: I'm sure you all know by now that Wexford has bailed on their contract to provide medical care to you all, so Corizon will be taking over beginning March 1. All I can say is that I'll be surprised if it's much of an improvement, so you need to keep arming yourselves with knowledge of civil rights law.

Please be filling out medical grievances per policy (check to see if it changes after March 1, too) if your HNRs aren't being responded to; don't just fill out new HNR's repeating yourselves. The prison library is supposed to give you access to the DOC policy manual, but write to me if they don't cooperate (and send me their note of refusal, so we can nail anyone violating your access to the courts).

Ask your librarian for the DO 902 policy. Look at Attachments A and B. From B, request the packets for filing Section 1983 civil rights complaints, as well as for the rules and forms to file civil actions in state court. You need those documents so you know what they'll be asking you to do later with the grievances you're filing now. It's not enough for the courts to see that you simply wrote grievances – they need to be relevant to the civil suit itself, if you have to go that far to get action from the DOC or medical.

Your grievances show the judge that you had a complaint and made a good faith effort to get the prison administration – all the way up the chain of command - to hear and respond to it BEFORE anyone gets sued. So if you do end up suing after exhausting your administrative remedies, you should still be asking for pretty much the same remedy over the same grievance you started out with in your first inmate letter to your COIII about it. Be clear describing your issue and reasonable in your requests for relief (including disciplinary action against errant officers, compensation for medical care, etc.)

From DO 902 Attachment A, ask your librarian for the Rights of Prisoners, 4th Ed, too – see what they let you see of it, anyway. You may have to pay for them to print up pages for you to keep on you – let me know how they deal with that if you are indigent.

Don't leave it to your family to get action from Central office for you – but if you have family who can raise hell for you, give them my info and I'll help them strategize dealing with the DOC. Just be mindful that no matter what they say or even if they bring an attorney into it for you, you must be filling out those grievances per policy.

On to more news: On January 25, David Fathi from the ACLU-National Prison Project argued in front of US District Court Judge Neil Wake that parsons v. Ryan should be given class status and allowed to proceed as a class action suit. Wake pretty much gave our side a hard time, expressing both annoyance and skepticism, arguing with David about the merits of the case itself (since he already set guidelines about solitary and food rations in recent county jail complaints, for example) instead focusing on the issue at hand...but what do I know about the law? Anyway, he was taking it all under advisement and we're still waiting to hear his decision.

By the way, about that Botulism at Eyman – don't believe everything you hear: the first batch for sure wasn't hooch. The guys say they were coerced into saying it was before they would be provided medical attention, and will be filing suit. If you were affected by the second batch, get a lawyer. Botulism is so incredibly rare that it's like lightning for it to strike twice in the same place...which means there's something fishy going on there.

Please tell me how you manage keep your head up, a smile on your face, or your soul intact through all you must survive in there, my friends. And let me know if yours is a story I can share with others, as well. In the meantime, take care of eachother and yourselves.

Hang in there,

Peg

Monday, February 11, 2013

Native youth assautled by Snowbowl supporter: OK with FLAG police.

So: Racist Flagstaff cops let a Snowbowl supporter assault those kids without holding them responsible for such - surprise, surprise. I know those kids - they're awesome drummers and committed activists. They're not only the future of the movement for Indigenous Rights, they are the NOW. And they wouldn't have been inciting anyone to violence.

As for this Officer Radliff and the Flagstaff Police: It sounds like you folks are saying it's okay for people to physically assault Indigenous children in your town now if they don't agree with the message to not desecrate a site that is holy to them. Is that right? Is it okay for me to come to Flag to assault random skiers' children because I don't want anyone to patronize Snowbowl? That would be treated as terrorism, no doubt - not because of the violence involved, but because the economic target has more value to Flagstaff than the children who live in or visit your city do - especially the Native ones.

----from protectthepeaks.org----

Native Youth Drummers Attacked by Snowbowl Supporter at City of Flagstaff Ski Event
Saturday, February 9, 2013
CONTACT: protectpeaks@gmail.com www.protectthepeaks.org
*Video will be posted soon.
photo(11)
Flagstaff, AZ — As part of a weeklong call for actions, more than 50 people gathered in downtown Flagstaff for an Idle No More flash mob round dance to support protection of the holy San Francisco Peaks.

The protest, which coincided with Dew Downtown, a City of Flagstaff sponsored event in partnership with Arizona Snowbowl, was organized to address Snowbowl ski area expansion and snowmaking with treated sewage.

In an apparent effort to prevent conflict between Dew Downtown and the Round Dance, protest organizers were invited to speak on the music stage at Heritage Square and then sing a song between bands. Rudy Preston, a long time advocate for the Peaks, was handed the microphone at 5:00pm to speak about the dangers of recycled toilet water snowmaking. He spoke about 5 minutes to a mixed crowd of Dew Downtown attendees and Idle No More Round Dancers. He invited the crowd to join in the Round Dance and offered literature for people who would like more information. Drumming for the Flash Mob Round Dance began at that point and a majority of the crowd joined in.

Rudy Preston
Rudy Preston

idm-ptp
“This is a very divisive issue in our community and I was thankful for the opportunity to speak to a crowd of people who probably did not agree with my views and I hope that some of them will question if skiing on recycled toilet water is a wise decision. Even if it were to bring a few dollars to an already cash-strapped town it is not worth the risk to anyone’s health and wellbeing.” said Rudy Preston, websteward at TrueSnow.org.

When the dance was finished an impromptu march left the square and went towards the main Dew Downtown ski run area. Flagstaff police stopped the marchers from entering the area stating that Dew Downtown organizers had a permit and the protesters weren’t allowed onto the sidewalk. The march then stopped at the entrance to Dew Downtown and the protesters began chanting and singing songs.

Danny Blackgoat, a Dine’ (Navajo) from Black Mesa exclaimed, “This is how real snow is made!” as he gestured to the sky at the snow that was falling all around.

danny-blackgoat

The group chanted, “Protect Sacred Sites, Defend Human Rights!”, “No Desecration for Recreation, Protect the Peaks!” and “No Poop Snow!” when a lone Snowbowl supporter began yelling racist remarks, profanity, including the words “die” at the protesters.

The group formed a circle and were closing the protest with the American Indian Movement song when the apparently inebriated Snowbowl supporter rushed into the circle of protesters swinging her arms and tore through a large banner, pulling it from the people holding it and smashed it on the ground. She then pushed further into the circle and assaulted two young Dine’ who were singing and drumming. After punching at them, she grabbed at the drums and tried to break them.

“I feel if the roles were reversed it would have been a different outcome,” said Leslyn Begay, Dine’ mother of the 11 & 13 year olds that were assaulted. “If I attacked a caucasian child I would have gone straight to jail. This white female attacked us and knocked their drums out of their hands and may get away with it. Its racism. The cops refused my request to arrest her for assault. They gave her a disorderly conduct ticket but refused to charge her with assault or jail her for her actions against my kids.”

In response to the attack, police officer Jim Radloff said, “you may offend some people with your messages… it was her [the attacker’s] freedom of speech.”

A few of the protesters quickly reacted and pulled the attacker away from the boys and she attempted to leave the area. A few people followed her while someone alerted the police.

The police determined that the woman had been drinking and was charged with disorderly conduct and released. Many of the eyewitnesses were very upset that she was allowed to just walk away and even though she was witnessed to have been punching and swinging at everyone in her path, the police did not feel that there was enough evidence to charge her with assault.

Officer Radloff with the City of Flagstaff defended his decision when asked why she was not arrested by stating, “the outcome will be the same either way, she will be summoned to court.”

When pressed on the fact that numerous people watched the attacker assault multiple people, he said he would include that in his report and let the city attorney decide if there was enough evidence to charge her with assault.

Officer Radliff did not seem to believe one boy when he told the officer that the woman had hit him. In fact if he was surrounded by at least half a dozen people who witnessed the event insisting that she be charged with assault, it is unclear if the attacker would have even received a disorderly conduct charge. Though Officer Radliff did ultimately state “she was clearly disorderly.”

Many witnesses to the attack were visibly shaken that she was allowed to just walk away with a ticket.

More info and background at: www.truesnow.org, www.protectthepeaks.org.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Democracy NOW: Mumia, the Long Distance Revolutionary...



----from Democracy NOW! FEB 1, 2013---

Mumia Abu-Jamal: "The United States Is Fast Becoming One of the Biggest Open-Air Prisons on Earth"


In a rare live interview, Mumia Abu-Jamal calls into Democracy Now! as the new film, "Long Distance Revolutionary," about his life premieres in New York City this weekend. After 29 years on death row, he is now being held in general population at the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution – Mahanoy. "How free are we today, those who claim to be non-prisoners? Your computers are being read by others in government. Your letters, your phone calls are being intercepted," says Mumia Abu-Jamal. "We live now in a national security state, where the United States is fast becoming one of the biggest open-air prisons on earth. We can speak about freedom, and the United States has a long and distinguished history of talking about freedom, but have we exampled freedom? And I think the answer should be very clear: We have not." In 1982, Mumia was sentenced to die for killing Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. He has always maintained his innocence and is perhaps America’s most famous political prisoner. In 2011, an appeals court upheld his conviction, but also vacated his death sentence. It found jurors were given confusing instructions. [includes rush transcript]

Guest: Mumia Abu-Jamal, former death row prisoner. For decades, Abu-Jamal has argued racism by the trial judge and prosecutors led to his conviction for the killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Last year, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals set aside his death sentence after finding jurors were given confusing instructions that encouraged them to choose the death penalty rather than a life sentence.

Monday, February 4, 2013

COURTWATCHING the COPS: Chrisman Murder Trial 2013



A child's plea on the walk outside the fundraiser for Richard Chrisman held by his buddies with the 
Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA - the slimy uniformed police officer's union in our fine town) 
after he was finally fired for murdering Danny Rodriguez the previous fall (PHX, April 2011).


UPDATE!!!!

The trial of former PHX Police officer Richard Chrisman for the October 2010 murder of Danny Rodriguez has again been postponed. It should begin March 13, 2013 at 8:30 am. As always, though, check the criminal case history files for Richard Chrisman, and go over the case calendar, or call the Maricopa Superior Court's criminal case info line (602-506-8575).