Surviving Hepatitis C in AZ Jails, State Prisons, and Federal Detention Centers.

Surviving Hepatitis C in AZ Jails, State Prisons, and Federal Detention Centers.
The "Hard Time" blogspot is a volunteer-run site for the political organization of people with Hepatitis C behind and beyond prison walls, their loved ones, and whomever cares to join us. We are neither legal nor medical professionals. Some of us may organize for support, but this site is primarily dedicated to education and activism; we are fighting for prevention, detection, treatment, and a cure for Hepatitis C, particularly down in the trenches where most people are dying - in prison or on the street... Join us.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

And the World Changed: Mass Clemency for Christmas.

I'm taking Davon Acklin's family to prison today to see him for Christmas and may not be blogging much until tomorrow. Will thus leave you all with the wise words of another to contemplate and dream on: a marvelous holiday essay for all the prisoners and their loved ones out there, printed last year in the Huffington Post...

Blessings to all. Be safe and well this day.


What I Want For Christmas: Mass Clemency

Jacob M. Appel

Bioethicist and medical historian

Posted: December 23, 2009 09:41 PM

The United States Constitution and the laws of most states permit the President and governors to issue pardons and commutations, a prerogative frequently exercised during the winter holiday season. Unfortunately, with a few laudable exceptions, our chief executives have displayed considerable stinginess--and even outright political cowardice--in exercising this remarkable power.

President George W. Bush drew criticism from liberals for only pardoning 189 individuals and commuting 11 prison sentences during his eight years in office, but Bill Clinton cut short a merely marginally better 61 prison terms and pardoned only 3
96 convicts. Most of those pardoned each year have committed small-stakes crimes in the distant past such as selling bootleg whiskey or passing bad checks. Others, like Dan Rostenkowski and George Steinbrenner, are politically well-connected. It often seems that the principal purpose of these rare reprieves, much like the pardoning of a Thanksgiving Day turkey, is to make the pardoning politicians appear generous and affable to the electorate.

Yet with the United States now boasting the highest inc
arceration rate in the world -- more than 1 in every 100 Americans in currently behind bars -- our nation is long overdue for a mass clemency of non-violent felons and those unlikely to re-offend. Such a collective pardon and commutation would reunite hundreds of thousands of families, save billions of dollars in incarceration costs, and might foster a national spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Few American politicians have dared to issue mass clemencies in the past. Andrew Johnson's grant of amnesty to former Confederate soldiers and Jimmy Carter's pardon of Vietnam-era draft evaders are likely the two largest acts of blanket forgiveness -- and both helped to heal our national wounds after periods of great division. Former New Mexico Governor Toney Anaya and ex-Illinois Governor George Ryan both deserve credit for commuting all of their state's death sentences to life terms. However,
our current political leaders -- in both parties -- far more often appear afraid to ask for broad or bold clemencies.

John McCain's drive to secure a pardon for African-American boxer Jack Johnson -- convicted in 1913 of violating the Mann Act for his relationship with a white woman -- embodies this problem. Don't misunderstand me: I am all for pardoning Johnson, and Ethel Rosenberg, and Sacco & Vanzetti, and righting as many of the mo
ral miscarriages of history as possible. However, I would much rather free the thousands of non-violent offenders serving long sentences under the draconian Rockefeller drug laws in New York State. So here's my Christmas wish: Each chief executive should order a special panel to determine, as quickly as possible, which prisoners either have a history of extreme violence or pose a high risk of re-offending. Those meeting neither criteria should be transitioned home as quickly as possible.

The advantage of a mass clemency is that it can be framed in terms of social policy and a spirit of charity, rather than the merits of any specific inc
ident. That is not to say that there are not thousands of individual cases worthy of attention. In Michigan, for example, Shontelle Cavanaugh has now gone nearly five years without a trial for smothering her infant during a psychotic break -- a calamity compounded when the local prosecutor withheld video footage of Cavanaugh at the height of her psychosis. Governor Granholm could order this unfortunate woman's release. And there is the tragic case of Michelle Collette in Massachusetts, whose own trial judge blasted the severity of her seven-year sentence for possession of 14 to 28 grams of illicit oxycodone -- an injustice that could be rectified by Governor Patrick. But by focusing on these individual cases, as compelling and heart-wrenching as they may be, one risks losing sight of the greater cruelty of denying human beings liberty long after they pose any meaningful threat to society.

An individual pardon focuses on the nature of the crime. A mass pardon allows us to transcend questions of right and wrong. Unlike an individua
l grant of clemency, which often suggests that a miscarriage of justice has occurred, a mass clemency avoids the controversial issue of whether justice has been served and focuses on the question of whether it furthers any ethical purpose to perpetuate the punishment. One could simultaneously pardon Scooter Libby and all of the undocumented immigrants detained on identity-fraud charges while still avoiding the political hot potato of endorsing their specific conduct.

While an individual pardon may appear to be a slight to crime victims, who also merit our recognition and empathy, a collective pardon doe
s not mitigate the respect that we should accord these victims' suffering. Moreover, a one-time mass clemency does not undermine the deterrent effect of stiff criminal penalties, because no potential offender is ever going to break the law in the hope that a second, future mass clemency will free him if he is arrested.

One of the glaring -- yet too often overlooked -- failings of contemporary America is that we have become a nation obsessed with justice and retribution. We claim to be The Land of the Free, yet we have lost sight of what it means to be imprisoned: denied liberty and access to one's family, subjected to isolation and violence and u
nspeakable boredom. We have come to believe, in the most pernicious way, that people should get what they deserve. What a sea change it might be in our public discourse and our civic life if we focused instead upon mercy and forgiveness. A merciful and forgiving culture might find itself with less anger, less social disruption, and even less crime. If we liberated only half of our prisoners, we could spend the billions of dollars saved educating children, or providing substance-abuse treatment to addicts, or training mental health workers -- breaking the cycle of neglect that sets future prisoners on their initial trajectory toward misconduct.

I am not naive enough to believe that all of our prisoners should be freed. Some individuals are truly unfit for reintegration into society. No rea
sonable person would argue that Charles Manson or Scott Roeder or admitted Al Qaeda terrorists should be sent home for the holidays. Fortunately, the majority of our more than two million prisoners are not fanatics and sociopaths. Many are good people who have exercised poor judgment. They have the same hopes and dreams as ordinary, free Americans, but they now squander their lives behind bars because our prison-industrial complex has gone haywire. They are, in short, the meek and wretched who the Biblical Jesus -- whether literal or figurative -- would want us to remember in our holiday prayers.

Will the White House read this column and decide upon a mass clemency? Unlikely. Such a bold step might make President Obama truly worthy of his Nobel Prize, and win him the praise of history, but political leaders of all stripes think in t
erms of poll numbers. I suspect that a mass clemency could be sold to the American public -- particularly as more and more Americans find their own loved ones imprisoned -- but I understand that to attempt such a courageous step requires a leap of considerable faith. I am more optimistic that, if enough people clamor for a mass clemency, one inspired state governor -- possibly a lame-duck chief executive without a political future -- will consider such a dramatic and compassionate act. If that happens, and the social order does not crumble, other political leaders may have the courage to follow. In the interim, I can only hope that the government lawyers assembling last-minute pardons lists, possibly as I write this, remember that each name they add to their clemency register is another flesh-and-blood human being who will be able to spent the Christmas holiday with his or her family.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Phoenix Ho-Ho-Homes Not Jails.

Was hoping to make a cool Christmas card for my friends while down on W. Washington early this morning, on the public sidewalk right outside of Phoenix City Hall. Experienced some "chalkus interruptus", however, so this was about the best I could pull off...

I did get some pretty good cop-watching footage, at least. And the nice Phoenix Police officer (he was really very gentle while restraining me) who placed me in "investigative detention" went ahead and filed a complaint for the "Graffitti Detectives" to investigate and determine if charges should be pursued, which is a good thing.

I could have easily cleaned that up and avoided the possibility of prosecution, but I'm tired of the confusion and harassment. I have the cards of detectives who have given me their blessings, but my safety and liberty are too often at the whim of each cop who has a different idea of what "criminal damage" constitutes. I'll fight it out in court.

Note that I switched out my cowboy hat for an elf cap this week, in keeping with the holiday spirit. I think that's why I was in cuffs while being questioned - my mental status was being assessed. Both the costume and the message (and my occasional chuckling to myself) seemed to alarm the police more than the potential that I was actually being destructive.

I was a little worried when we headed towards the car, but his handcuff key was hanging from the ring in the ignition - he was just getting ready to set me free.

Well, here you go - every picture tells a story, as they say...

Love and Power, to all my friends and comrades struggling to survive out there.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sweet Solstice: Conspire, Phoenix.

God bless the Phoenix Anarchists
for giving me a canvas for my holiday cards this year...

Not a single cop harassed me :)

Sweet Solstice 2010: Homes Not Prisons.
Conspire Worker-owned Art Collective.
3-year birthday bash
, Garfield St. Sidewalk Chalking.
December 10-12, 2010.

Ian the Vedge's dog, "Kitchen"

Sweet Solstice Children: Sophia and Rain

Sweet Solstice/Sweet Justice: Hot Tea.

Love and Power to all out there.

Be safe and well,
and forever young and free -


Sorry to be so late on this (yes, I'm back-posting) -
I've just been busy mailing hard copies to prisoners and other friends...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Have a Heart 4 AHCCCS Transplant Patients

FRANCISCO FELIX: Father of 4 beautiful girls.
Hepatitis C AHCCCS Patient on Liver Transplant Waiting List.
Needs $500,000.
Car Wash today and Tomorrow.


My friend
Julie Acklin and I spent a few hours today with the friends and family of Francisco Felix, a Hepatitis C patient in need of a liver transplant. He actually had a match donated to him by a family friend who passed away in November, but he couldn't afford the $200,000 tab - and the state refused to step up to pay it.

Francisco is one of 98 patients in our state (now 97, I believe, with Mark Price's death) who lost funding this fall for their desperately needed organ and tissue transplants through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS - Arizona's name for Medicaid, which is less and less accessible under our compassionate conservatives). Several of the links I've embedded in this post will help you find out who voted for and against the cuts, but I can tell you it was pretty much a party-line thing. A week or so ago I protested at the Capitol and blogged on this issue, too (see "Bury My Heart in An AHCCCS Patient").

13-year old Carlos Olivas, Jr
. (above, with Jessica Felix) also hit the Capitol to protest and has been everywhere fund-raising recently. I met him at the car wash today, and he's an amazing kid. Read the CNBC story about him if you need some inspiration to stop talking and take action for these folks. He's pretty humble about it, but as I understand it, he's single-handedly raised nearly $2,000 for the cause so far. Really, all those kids out there today were heroes; just a few (including Francisco's daughters) are pictured here.

The AZ Senate Democrats have filed a bill to restore the transplant funding, but they aren't the ones in control of the state legislature - the Republicans are, so lobby the Governor and your lawmaker for it hard, reminding them that it's our money they're depriving Arizona's families of, not theirs.

Anyway, the occasion today was a yard sale and car wash being held to raise money for Francisco, who will now need about $500,000 for his transplant and related expenses. A lot of people turned out, but I don't think we raised enough. In fact, I'm sure we didn't.

There will be another fundraiser for him tomorrow as well, so please bring your dirty cars, a little cash, and some rich friends or Republican legislators to support the cause.

It's being held from 7am-3pm at the entrance to Acclaim Charter School at 7624 W. Indian School Rd., on the West side of Phoenix between 76th and 77th Ave.

The easiest way I found to get there from my place on Central and Roosevelt was to hop on the I-10 going West, take the 75th Ave exit North, and head up to Indian School Road, where you'll make a left, going West again. About 1/4 mile down the road you'll see a ton of eager children on your right (probably waving hot pink signs) imploring you to wash your car. Turn in it even if it's already clean.

While you're waiting for your vehicle shop at NAPA Auto Parts (the guy there threw his support behind this whole thing), hit the yard sale for things you might (or might not) need, buy a Francisco Felix t-shirt, or mosey on to the back of the lot to pick up a couple of tacos. If you're really brave, turn your clean car over to me and the kids to have your back window painted. The photos throughout this post should give you an idea of what I mean.

If you can't make it tomorrow, don 't worry - you can still give to Francisco's fund. In fact, that's all I really want for Christmas, so if you really love me, go to the NTAF and donate today.

Thank you in advance for your support.

Feliz Navidad, mis amigos y amigas.

(hope I got that right... Love to all.)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Georgia Prisoners transform dialogue on Civil Rights: Strike update.

"Prisoners are people, too..."

AZ State Capitol Complex/Wes Bolin Plaza, Phoenix.
(Thanksgiving, 2009)

The above chalking was my holiday gift to the prisoners maintaining state grounds who had to clean up after me last year once I discovered this form of free speech was legal. Feel free to download and distribute - I've made postcards out of it to mail to prisoners, politicians and media alike in the past year. It's still a good present.

The following update comes from the Black Agenda Report yesterday, via Claude at the Freedom Archives' Political Prisoner News list-serve. Both are awesome sources of information about prisoner rights and activism.

Members of the public should continue to call the Georgia DOC numbers below - let them know we're still watching, and that we expect these prisoners to be treated with respect. The rest of us could learn something from their courageous resistance to the brutality and violence of incarceration in America.


By The Editors
Created 12/15/2010 - 14:40
Submitted by The Editors on Wed, 12/15/2010 - 14:40
Story by Bruce A. Dixon, audio interview by Glen Ford

Georgia prisoners who began a courageous, peaceful and nonviolent protest strike for educational opportunities, wages for their work, medical care and human rights have captured the attention of the world. Black Agenda Report intends to closely cover their continuing story. Glen Ford recorded a conversation with activist Elaine Brown and one of the striking inmates in Georgia on Wednesday, December 15.

Updated story on the strike and support efforts of the newly formed Concerned Coalition to Protect Prisoner Rights below the fold. (hit the Black Agenda Report and click the flash player below the article to listen to the interview).

GA Prison Inmate Strike Enters New Phase, Prisoners Demand Human Rights, Education, Wages For Work

Story by Bruce A. Dixon, audio interview by Glen Ford

The historic strike of Georgia prisoners, demanding wages for their labor, educational opportunities, adequate health care and nutrition, and better conditions is entering a new phase. Strikers remain firm in their demands for full human rights, though after several days many have emerged from their cells, if only to take hot showers and hot food. Many of these, however, are still refusing their involuntary and unpaid work assignments.

A group that includes relatives, friends and a broad range of supporters of the prisoners on the outside has emerged. They are seeking to sit down with Georgia correctional officials this week to discuss how some of the just demands of inmates can begin to be implemented. Initially, Georgia-based representatives of this coalition supporting the prisoner demands included the Georgia NAACP, the Nation of Islam, the National Association for Radical Prison Reform, the Green Party of Georgia, and the Ordinary Peoples Society among others. Civil rights attorneys, ministers, community organizations and other prisoner advocates are also joining the group which calls itself the Concerned Coalition to Protect Prisoner Rights.

Prisoners have stood up for themselves, and the communities they came from are lining up to support them. Today, at a ground breaking for a private prison 300 miles southeast of Atlanta in Millen GA, residents of that local community opposed to the private prison are greeting the governor and corrections brass with a protest. They will be joined by dozens more coming in from Atlanta who will respectfully urge state authorities to talk to the prisoners. We understand that one person there has been arrested. Black Agenda Report will have photos and footage of that event on Thursday.

The broad-based Concerned Coalition to Protect Prisoners Rights fully supports the heroic stand of Georgia's prisoners. “This isn't Attica,” one representative of the coalition explained. “No violent acts have been committed by any of the inmates involved. We hope state corrections officials will be as peaceful and respectful as the prisoners have been, and start a good faith dialog about quickly addressing their concerns.”

Right now, the ball is in the hands of state corrections officials, and reports are that in some of the affected prisons, authorities are fumbling that ball, engaging

“They transferred some of the high Muslims here to max already,” one prisoner told Black Agenda Report this morning. “They want to break up the unity we have here. We have the Crips and the Bloods, we have the Muslims, we have the head Mexicans, and we have the Aryans all with a peaceful understanding, all on common ground. We all want to be paid for our work, and we all want education in here. There's people in here who can't even read...

“They're trying to provoke people to violence in here, but we're not letting that happen. We just want our human rights.”

The transfers are intended to deprive groups of leadership and demoralize them. In some cases they may be having the opposite effect, stiffening prisoner morale and making room for still more leaders to emerge.

“The prisoners insist that punitive transfers are an act of bad faith, the opposite of what we should be doing,” said Minister Charles Muhammad, of the Nation of Islam in Atlanta. “The coalition supports them and demands no punitive transfers, either within or between institutions, and absolutely no transfers to institutions outside Georgia.”

Members of the public should continue to call the prisons listed below, and the GA Department of Corrections and the office of Georgia's governor, Sonny Perdue. Ask them firmly but respectfully to resolve the situation non-violently and without punitive measures. Tell them you believe prisoners deserve wages for work and education. Ask them to talk to prisoners and the communities they come from. It's simple. With one in twelve Georgia adults in jail or prison, parole or probation or other court and correctional supervision, prisoners are us. They are our families. They are our fathers and our mothers, our sons and daughters, our nieces and nephews and aunts and uncles and cousins.

Most prisoners will be back out in society sooner, not later. It's time for us all to grow up and realize that warehousing, malnourishing, mistreating and abusing prisoners does not make us safer. Denying prisoners meaningful training and educational opportunities, and forcing them to work for no wages is not the way to do. It's time to fundamentally reconsider prison as we know it, and America's public policy of mass incarceration.

Bruce Dixon and Glen Ford are reachable at bruce.dixon(at) and, respectively. Black Agenda Report intends to provide ongoing coverage several times per week of the ongoing struggle of Georgia prisoners.

The Georgia Department of Corrections is at and their phone number is 478-992-5246

Macon State Prison is 978-472-3900

Hays State Prison is at (706) 857-0400

Telfair State prison is 229-868-7721

Baldwin State Prison is at (478) 445- 5218

Valdosta State Prison is 229-333-7900

Smith State Prison is at (912) 654-5000


Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

Questions and comments may be sent to

Monday, December 13, 2010

Resist Abuse and Conditions of Confinement: Solidarity with Georgia's Prisoners.

Where have I been the past few days? (Sleeping or hanging out at Conspire, I guess.) Hooray for the Georgia Green Party for posting the prisoners' Press Release!!! I'm re-posting it here because it's both historic and phenomenal.

Do we have any political parties with similar guts in AZ? Our prisoners are suffering, too.

Anyway, this is how it began, folks - the massive prisoner resistance to conditions of confinement in Georgia. I'll be posting updates soon (here's a quick one - the fight goes on!).

Arizona prison families and friends: keep in close touch with your loved ones and talk up what's going on at Prison Talk and all the blogs. I'm hearing that surveillance, strip searches, and over-all security has been dramatically stepped-up in recent days, and yards are being locked down for "no apparent reason"....well this is the reason. I bet it's happening all over the country - nothing freaks out jailers more than non-violent resistance and reasonable demands.

Those sixteen women at Perryville who protested being locked down in September all got cuffed up and put into detention as soon as we stopped paying attention, by the way, and the whole yard (Santa Cruz) was screwed for quite some time. Those women still are, really. I originally posted on the Santa Cruz women's protest here, but recently edited it out because I had given too much credit where it wasn't due (to the General Counsel at the ADC). I planned to revise it (and will soon) - I just didn't want my correspondents to get into even deeper trouble. There are still a couple of posts from that month about Perryville conditions (both before and after the protest). I even tried to get Oprah out there.

We need to keep a close eye on both the Georgia resistance and the Arizona Department of Corrections (and all the county jails) reactions - they're going to do whatever they have to in order to make every prisoner look mean and violent to justify their own brutality, if need be - don't believe the BS for a minute if things do get ugly. Call those numbers in Georgia, please, to tell them those prisoners better not get hurt - let them know they'll be held accountable for their crimes, too.

As for this place: if you're hearing real bad stuff from your loved ones locked up here in Arizona, don't just hit the chat rooms and leave it at that: put your complaints in writing to the ADC's General Counsel, Karyn Klausner, and copy it to your legislator, if you think you can trust them not to do something stupid. Follow up with their office, however it turns out; just make a point of addressing the ADC's general counsel directly with serious (urgent health/safety) concerns - and call her people if you don't get a response in a reasonable period of time.

Don't bother with the Governor's staff or the Office of Constituent Services at the ADC, by the way, unless you're talking about visitation hassles, mail being delayed, the cost of phone calls home, etc. Even if your complaint is about upper administration at the prison or guard harassment and you haven't had success at the warden's level, they'll still just pass it back to the people you're complaining about (with the message for them to "deal with it", basically) and someone may get hurt. The legal team at the ADC is there to keep the state from getting sued, so they would be inclined to exercise better judgment, in my unschooled assessment. Here's the ADC's Constituent Services' handbook for friends and family, though, so you know what their standard procedure is for families to address concerns (it's even been updated within the past month).

Prisoners should really file formal grievances about their mistreatment, if they dare to - if they're being threatened, placed in danger, or otherwise retaliated against, report that in your letter to the ADC attorney, or feel free to contact me and we'll strategize about your options - just know that I have no legal training and I'm learning all this from other families as we go.

I include that disclaimer because even legitimate, responsible resistance to the state can be especially dangerous to people in prison - I also have no friends in high places, politicians in my pocket, vast sums of money (I barely scrape by) or other ways of protecting people. I can't promise success; I am an antagonist more than I am a diplomat, so consider what strategies you want to employ carefully.

All I can really offer is what I've gleaned from my experience as an advocate for people who are homeless or imprisoned (including someone I love), the visibility of my blogging and street activism, and the power of a growing network of prisoners and their loved ones - including those presently in litigation with the ADC, some for wrongful deaths. I'm a community organizer and do believe that together we are strong - but no one is invincible (including the state...).

The Day the Fascists Came to Town
November 14, 2010. W. Jefferson/4th Ave., Phoenix, AZ

original photo: Robert Haasch
chalk art/post-photographic rendition: Margaret J. Plews

You may also want to contact Donna or James Hamm at Middle Ground Prison Reform
for some advice - they do have some legal connections and experience, and have been at this longer than I have. I suspect Donna is far more of a diplomat than I am. They should be your first resort, actually - I'm usually the last resort for prisoners - mostly the poorest ones. Their address is 139 East Encanto Dr. Tempe, AZ 85281. Phone: 480-966-8116.

In any case, make sure the prisoner him/herself feels as if these are issues worth fighting for - even this fight in Georgia isn't just about cigarettes - it's about respect, and dignity, and autonomy for people who have been stripped of all. We should be focused on their health and sanity and civil rights, not just their leisure and privileges; they will pay for your activity and support the most. Be mindful, though, that she/he has no expec
tation of privacy (nor do you) when you communicate about these things - all calls and mail can (and probably will) be monitored. It can be a difficult balance to get their direction and consent while not making them a target. Sometimes I have to go with "I trust you" after making sure they know what the possible ramifications may be.

That said, here's the ADC contact info you need (Karyn's really going to love me for this):

Karyn Klausner
Office of the General Counsel
Arizona Department of Corrections
1601 West Jefferson St.
Phoenix, AZ 85007
(602) 542 1532

If you send a copy of any of that documentation to me, though, I'll put it in the hands of the ACLU and the Department of Justice - with or without identifying you and the prisoner, as he/she wishes (if it's not possible to consult them on that privately, I'll hold back names for now).

The ADC website has policies posted on it, by the way, and my sites have a Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook and an even more comprehensive Jailhouse Lawyer Manual. Explore them all so you know what you're talking about. Don't just take my word for everything - or theirs.

Here's the main contact info for the AZ state legislature:

Arizona State Senate/
House of Representatives
Capitol Complex
1700 West Washington
Phoenix, AZ 85007-2890
(toll free) 1-800-352-8404

And here's the main event. I'll try to stay on top of this now.

------From the Georgia Green Party-------

GA Inmates Stage Historic One Day Prison Strike Today

By Bruce A. Dixon

In an action which is unprecedented on several levels, black, brown and white inmates of Georgia's notorious state prison system are standing together for a historic one day peaceful strike today, during which they are remaining in their cells, refusing work and other assignments and activities. This is a groundbreaking event not only because inmates are standing up for themselves and their own human rughts, but because prisoners are setting an example by reaching across racial boundaries which, in prisons, have historically been used to pit oppressed communities against each other.


The action is taking place today in at least half a dozen of Georgia's more than one hundred state prisons, correctional facilities, work camps, county prisons and other correctional facilities. We have unconfirmed reports that authorities at Macon State prison have aggressively responded to the strike by sending tactical squads in to rough up and menace inmates.

Outside calls from concerned citizens and news media will tend to stay the hand of prison authorities who may tend to react with reckless and brutal aggression. So calls to the warden's office of the following Georgia State Prisons expressing concern for the welfare of the prisoners during this and the next few days are welcome.

Macon State Prison is 978-472-3900.

Hays State Prison is at (706) 857-0400

Telfair State prison is 229-868-7721

Baldwin State Prison is at (478) 445- 5218

Valdosta State Prison is 229-333-7900

Smith State Prison is at (912) 654-5000

The Georgia Department of Corrections is at and their phone number is 478-992-5246

This is all the news we have for now, more coming.

One in every thirteen adults in the state of Georgia is in prison, on parole or probation or some form of court or correctional supervision.


Press Release


Thousands of Georgia Prisoners to Stage Peaceful Protest

December 8, 2010?Atlanta, Georgia

Contacts: Elaine Brown, 404-542-1211,; Valerie Porter, 229-931-5348,; Faye Sanders, 478-550-7046

Tomorrow morning, December 9, 2010, thousands of Georgia prisoners will refuse to work, stop all other activities and remain in their cells in a peaceful, one-day protest for their human rights. The December 9 Strike is projected to be the biggest prisoner protest in the history of the United States.

These thousands of men, from Baldwin, Hancock, Hays, Macon, Smith and Telfair State Prisons, among others, state they are striking to press the Georgia Department of Corrections (?DOC?) to stop treating them like animals and slaves and institute programs that address their basic human rights. They have set forth the following demands:

A LIVING WAGE FOR WORK: In violation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude, the DOC demands prisoners work for free.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: For the great majority of prisoners, the DOC denies all opportunities for education beyond the GED, despite the benefit to both prisoners and society.

DECENT HEALTH CARE: In violation of the 8th Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments, the DOC denies adequate medical care to prisoners, charges excessive fees for the most minimal care and is responsible for extraordinary pain and suffering.

AN END TO CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENTS: In further violation of the 8th Amendment, the DOC is responsible for cruel prisoner punishments for minor infractions of rules.

DECENT LIVING CONDITIONS: Georgia prisoners are confined in over-crowded, substandard conditions, with little heat in winter and oppressive heat in summer.

NUTRITIONAL MEALS: Vegetables and fruit are in short supply in DOC facilities while starches and fatty foods are plentiful.

VOCATIONAL AND SELF-IMPROVEMENT OPPORTUNITIES: The DOC has stripped its facilities of all opportunities for skills training, self-improvement and proper exercise.

ACCESS TO FAMILIES: The DOC has disconnected thousands of prisoners from their families by imposing excessive telephone charges and innumerable barriers to visitation.

JUST PAROLE DECISIONS: The Parole Board capriciously and regularly denies parole to the majority of prisoners despite evidence of eligibility.

Prisoner leaders issued the following call: No more slavery. Injustice in one place is injustice to all. Inform your family to support our cause. Lock down for liberty!?

Contacts: Elaine Brown, 404-542-1211,; Valerie Porter, 229-931-5348,; Faye Sanders, 478-550-7046

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bury my Heart in an AHCCCS Patient

I felt strong enough for the first time in weeks to go out chalking today, so headed up to the Capitol Complex and Wes Bolin Park, one of my favorite spots to practice my free speech (That's 17th Ave I'm on, between W. Washington and W. Jefferson, right across the street from the legislators and governor's office buildings. The media and visitors and legislative aides all cross that sidewalk from the parking lot to get over there).

Kids were all over the place singing Christmas
Carols, and naturally curious about what I was writing about. So I told them about the people who are so sick that their insurance plans wouldn't cover their most critical medical treatment, and how they needed the state to pay their medical bills through the AHCCCS program - which the Arizona republican governor and legislature, the ultimate compassionate conservatives, decided isn't going to pay for their organ transplants anymore.

Then I told the kids that if Governor Brewer doesn't restore that funding, those people will die. I even named some of them:
Coach Tiffany Tate, a cystic fibrosis patient who needs a double lung transplant, Randy Shepherd, a father of 3 who needs a heart transplant, and Francisco Felix, a survivor - so far - of the deadly damage of Hepatitis C. His dying family friend even tried to give him her liver, but AHCCCS still wouldn't pay for the transplant.

I didn't mention "Death Panels" to the kids, though - I thought what I told them was heavy enough already.

In the meantime, someone called the Capitol Police on me ( they always do), assuming that what I was doing was a crime. They all know my name now, but wanted to see some ID anyway - and tried to convince me that my conduct was, in fact, against the law - they just weren't going to arrest me because I was technically in the territory of the Phoenix Police.

One of the guys was actually pretty nice about trying to intimidate me in to leaving (not this one above - he was really hostile to me when I was caught alone by him on Halloween night). I was actually pretty much done for the day, but stayed long enough to argue with the cops that not only was my mode of expression not criminal (I keep it on the ground and on city sidewalks), but that the vigor with which the state solicits the poor to harvest our organs upon our death, while justifying why we or our loved ones aren't deserving of receiving transplants in life is truly criminal.

They didn't put up much of a fight on that one.

Here's the finished product - not the greatest picture, but you get the gist...

I signed it "future organ donor against Brewercare."

Happy World Human Rights Day

Future Organ Donor Against Brewercare

Today is International Human Rights Day. This would be the perfect time for Brewer to call a special session of the legislature to pass a bill that would restore the cuts to AHCCCS funding for transplant patients - including liver transplants for people with Hepatitis C.

I find it deeply disturbing that as an Arizona citizen living in poverty, my own organs would be harvested by this state only to be doled out to the privileged few. Clearly the poor are still good enough to be preyed upon, but not worthy enough to be saved...

Is that really what Republicans stand for here?

On that note,
I'm dropping this $7 check off at the Capitol Executive Building for the Governor today. Read the article below for an explanation...


Patients Desperately Needing Transplants Share Stories

They call on governor to restore AHCCCS cuts

Published : Tuesday, 07 Dec 2010, 5:16 PM MST

PHOENIX - Doctors, transplant patients and Democratic lawmakers blasted what they refer to as "BrewerCare" Tuesday, calling for Governor Jan Brewer to restore the money slashed from the state's Medicaid program AHCCCS.

A news conference was held at the state Capital. Among those in attendance were four people waiting for transplants for themselves or their loved ones, and called for Brewer to do something now before its too late.

Four Arizona families in need of transplants issued an emotional plea. A woman with cystic fibrosis, a father of 3 who needs a heart transplant, a man with hepatitis C and cancer, and another man who needs a heart transplant, had their stories told.

Surrounded by several Democratic lawmakers, they called for Jan Brewer to restore the money slashed from the state's transplant program.

"If the state budget were the average American salary, the cost to restore the funding would be $7. $7 to save people's lives," says Democratic Rep. David Schapira.

House Republican Jon Kavanagh says the decision to cut certain transplants was based on incomplete data that showed low success rates. He says he's still waiting for a report.

"I have the data summary here from the group of doctors including Mayo, saying significant survival rates, but they never gave us the number, they never gave us the data, we need facts," he says.

Democrats want the governor to call a special session, or use federal stimulus funds to cover the cost. However, a spokesperson for the governor's office tells me that funds were used already for job creation, education and public safety. He says even if the funds were available, they wouldn't cover the costs necessary.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

HIV+ Prisoners and World AIDS Day

Yesterday was World AIDS Day - sorry I slept through it. I haven't been well lately. Will try to make up for it through the year.

Here's some info from the AZ Department of Health Services on HIV/AIDS, which also touches on Hep C co-infections. It needs to be updated.

On the national front, this is the latest from the ACLU Blog of Rights:


On World AIDS Day, Fight Ongoing Discrimination Against HIV-Positive Prisoners

At the beginning of this year, three states — Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina — continued to segregate its prisoners with HIV from the rest of the prison population.

In March of this year, we were thrilled to report that Mississippi saw how unjust and draconian that policy was, and integrated prisoners with HIV with the rest of the prison population.

Now, Alabama and South Carolina remain the two holdout states who refuse to integrate prisoners with HIV with the rest of the prison population. Prison officials in those two states contend that segregation is necessary to provide medical care and to prevent HIV transmission. But as an ACLU/Human Rights Watch report released earlier this year points out, the other 48 states that have integrated prisoners with HIV into the general prison population have demonstrated that appropriate inmate education, classification, and risk-reduction programs have proven to be effective HIV prevention tools. And time and again, public and correctional health experts agree that there is no medical basis for segregating prisoners with HIV within correctional facilities.

As a result of this irrational fear-based policy, prisoners with HIV in Alabama in South Carolina face stigma, harassment and systematic discrimination that amount to inhumane and degrading treatment. They're forced to wear armbands or other indicators of their HIV status, to eat and even worship separately, and are denied equal participation in prison jobs, programs and re-entry opportunities that smooth the transition back into society. In fact, South Carolina is the only state in the union to prohibit prisoners with HIV from participating in work release programs. (Alabama finally allowed prisoners with HIV access to work release programs in 2009 in response to the ACLU’s advocacy.)

In June, the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division sent a letter to South Carolina prison officials demanding they end their segregation policies and give those prisoners access to programs and services such as job training and other reintegration programs. South Carolina did not comply with the deadline the DOJ set forth in the letter; it's possible a civil rights lawsuit is in the pipeline.

As the entire country struggles with budget deficits, states are looking to save money by incarcerating less people. This is done mostly by keeping parolees from landing back in prison, which is accomplished by providing the kinds of rehabilitative services that Alabama and South Carolina continue to deny prisoners with HIV, such as education and work release programs.

Alabama and South Carolina: What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mental illness in Arizona's state prisons: Chuck Ryan on the carpet, again.

The following is a cross post from Arizona Prison Watch and the Prison Abolitionist blogs, to give those of you who have been following the concerns about Hep C in Arizona's Department of Corrections' facilities some context.

Sorry for the redundancy, my Facebook friends who are already getting feed, and those of you picking up my other tweets.

To those of you for whom this is all news, follow the links for more background.


The following was posted to another site on Friday, November 19, 2010 by the former AZ Department of Corrections deputy warden who was interviewed by Channel 12 this summer and called for Chuck Ryan to resign. It's being reprinted here with Carl's permission. 

As some of you may know, one of the corrections' officers unions also called on the governor to fire Ryan in a letter of no confidence two weeks ago. I shouldn't have to point this out, but prisoners aren't the only ones behind bars at heightened risk under current conditions. The front line staff also have good reason to be concerned.

Needless to say, none of us are making friends in Arizona's high places. In fact, since the people we're antagonizing have badges and guns on their side - as well as the keys to the prisons - it would help if the public and media really watch our backs out here.

Other witnesses to the institutionalized neglect and abuse of prisoners with mental illness in Arizona are urged to contact the US Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division; send them what you know and request that they initiate a CRIPA investigation before the next ADC suicide or homicide goes down. If you need to you may remain anonymous while doing so.