Thank you so much for this article. As one who hears daily from prisoners and their families and fights with the DOC about prisoner health care and safety, I can atttest to the unconstitutional - the outright inhmane - standard of medical care in AZ prisons. From the deliberate indifference to pain and suffering of cancer patients to the brutal, degrading treatment dished out to the traumatized and mentally ill, the conditions of confinement under DOC director chuck ryan are horrendous.
Ryan's reputation for running the cruelest system in the country actually invites some pats on the back from thick-headed legislators here, but from the junk laws and sentencing guidelines we pass to the implementation of our penal system, arizona is exceptionally stupid on crime. What is the logic behind depriving prisoners of access to the resources they need to be rehabilitated while subjecting them to the rising violence, trauma and terror that has caused AZ prison homicide and suicides to double under Brewer's adminstration? We are simply inflicting further injury on already-damaged people.
Chuck Ryan seems to implement policy based on his contempt for prisoners and desire to punish rather than his duty to try to rehabilitate any of his priosners so tey are safe to be released back tot he community. He is an embarassment to other law enforcemnt professionals in arizona, many of whom don't subscribe to his ideology. He doesn't seem to know what "evidence-based practice" is, or why it's so important to invest public resoures in corrections programs that are actually proven to increase parolee success and public safety.
For example, despite the fact that 75% of incoming prisoners are identified as having problems with addiction or alcoholism, and the growing epidemic of hepatitis c in the prison system (being spread by the obscene abundance of heroin and lack of access to clean needles behind bars) - only 4% of all state prisoners even got substance abuse treatment last year. That's unacceptable. In their 5-year plan the DOC claims not to have enough funding to increase the numbe rof prisoners to more than 300 a yea rwho get treatment, either, for lack of resources despite a billion dollar budget. the problem isn't alack of money, tohugh - it's the failure to spend it responsibly. Instead of fully funding programs to help prisoners transition to the community again, the DOC actively convinced the legislature to take money out of an account for those kinds of services and put it into the building fund to support the construction of their new $50 million supermax to warehouse people in.
In fact, the state is facing a class action suit not only for gross medical neglect, but also for their illegal use of administrative segregation (i.e solitary confinement, which the DOC denies they ever use) to manage the symptoms of priosners with serious mental illness in the current supermax facility. If some of the folks currently filling those cells don't belong there to begin with, why build another one?
The only explanation I can see for tha new supermax - other than the financial incentives all the obvious beneficiaries have to push this through - is that chuck ryan wants this monstrosity to stand as a monument to his brief reign as the DOC's king-baby. I think it's criminal for the public to have to pay for him to fulfill that immature fantasy, especially while other state DOC's are shutting down prisons AND bringing down crime rates by redirecting resources to supporting the reintegration of prisoners in their communities. If Jan Brewer had any real courage or common sense she would fire DOC director ryan immediately and reconstruct the entire system based on contemporary models of crime reduction and the rehabilitation of offenders.
FYI - handful of California prisoners at CCA's LaPalma Correctional Center in Eloy are protesting over the integrity of the Kosher program there, which has been completely degraded under the current LaPalma administration of Jim MacDonald. CCA has no comment thus far - nor does Dennis Deconcini, who I would have though would be concerned baout anti-semitism in his prisons...Anyone think fellow AZ Regent/CCA Board member Anne Mariucci will care about the violation of her prisoners' religious rights? http://arizonaprisonwatch.blogspot.com/201…
Dennis DiConcini's and Ann Mariucci's service on the CCA board while serving as AZ Regents is a huge, disturbing conflict of interest, since corrections dollars are in competition with education funding in this state. Furthermore, poor and minority youth underrepresented in educational settings continue to be over-represented in the criminal justice system. How can we trust that either of these two regents will fight to rectify that while their interests lie in the continued incarceration of these youth as well as the detention of vast numbers of immigrants? DiConcini's adamant insistence on remaining on the CCA board is especially troubling - he has no insight into his own corruption. Shame on them both.
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