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, March 19, 2011

Queer Injustice: Preying on GLBT prisoners.

I don't know how sentencing judges can live with themselves sometimes, knowing that over 1 in 10 incarcerated children are sexually abused within the first year, guaranteed - and that over 40% of women prisoners are abused by guards. Now that's the real "truth-in-sentencing" that judges and prosecutors need to be made to speak aloud every time they decide to put another vulnerable person behind bars. Then I assure you we'd see both prison and sentencing reform happen in a heartbeat: those are some of the people we need help from the most to push it all through - and right now they're the ones who resist it the most.


Queer Injustice: The Widespread Sexual Abuse LGBT People Face in Prison
By Kay Whitlock and Andrea Ritchie and Joey Mogul, Beacon Press
Posted on February 25, 2011

The following is an excerpt from Queer (In)Justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States, edited by Joey L. Mogul, Andrea J. Ritchie, and Kay Whitlock (Beacon Press, 2011).


Since sexual violence is one of the principal weapons of policing and punishing perceived sexual deviance and gender nonconformity on the outside, it may come as no surprise that it’s wielded to even greater effect in the highly controlled and violent environment of modern prisons. Roderick Johnson’s case and similarly horrifying experiences of countless other incarcerated queers illustrate the ways in which sexual violence allows prison authorities to control the queered prison environment as a whole.

Studies indicate that as many as one in four female prisoners and one in five male prisoners are subjected to some form of sexual violence at the hands of prison staff and other prisoners. Numbers vary depending on the methodology used in a study or survey, and many victims do not report instances of sexual violence they endure be- cause they fear retaliation, stigmatization, and isolation. Others fail to report assaults because they have become inured to it after years of abuse and forced sexual encounters. Consequently, reported instances of sexual violence represent only the tip of the iceberg.

The most recent surveys completed by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) extrapolated that 60,500 incarcerated adults or 4.5 percent of the prison population were sexually abused in 2007 alone, while 3,220 or 12 percent of youth incarcerated in juvenile detention centers were sexually violated by a staff member (10.3 percent) or another youth within the first twelve months of their admission.

While sexual violence is, in many respects, part of the daily prison experience for many inmates–whether they are victims, perpetrators, or forced observers—LGBT people are disproportionately targeted by staff and prisoners. It is now generally accepted by prison officials, experts, sociologists, and prison advocates that prisoners and detainees who are, or perceived to be, gay, transgender, or gender nonconforming are more likely to be sexually assaulted, coerced, and harassed than their heterosexual and gender-conforming counterparts. One study of six male prisons in California in 2007 found that 67 percent of the respondents who identified as LGBT reported having been sexually assaulted by another inmate during their imprisonment, a rate that was fifteen times higher than the rest of the prison population.

The first national survey of violence in the penal system, conducted by the BJS in 2003, found that sexual orientation was the single greatest determinant of sexual abuse in prisons, with 18.5 percent of homosexual inmates reporting they were sexually assaulted, compared to 2.7 percent of heterosexual prisoners. Additionally, it appears that rape victims of all sexualities are subsequently framed as gay and thereby become targets for further violence. According to Bryson Martel, imprisoned in an Arkansas prison for a narcotics-related offense, “You get labeled as a faggot if you get raped. If it gets out and then people know you have been raped, that opens the door for a lot of other predators. Anywhere I was, everybody looked at me like I was a target.”

Sexual violence is often used as a tool by staff and prisoners to enforce gender roles and conformity. A male prisoner’s rank in the hierarchical world of prisons is measured by traits stereotypically associated with masculinity, including physical strength and physique, ability to commit acts of violence and self-defense, and the nature of the offense that led to incarceration. As in larger society, masculinity is privileged while traits stereotypically associated with femininity, synonymous with weakness, are devalued. According to Donaldson, “The prison subculture fuses sexual and social roles and assigns prisoners accordingly . . . in my experience confinement institutions are the most sexist (as well as racist) environment in the country, bar none.”

Consequently, transgender women and men who are or perceived to be gay or effeminate find themselves at the bottom of the prison hierarchy, and as such become the targets of sexual abuse. According to Bella Christina Borrell, a transgender woman, “Female transgender prisoners are the ultimate target for sexual assault and rape. In this hyper-masculine world, inmates who project feminine characteristics attract unwanted attention and exploitation by others seeking to build up their masculinity by dominating and controlling women.”

As Alexander Lee, Donaldson, Ristroph, and others suggest, the way to maintain one’s “manhood” in prison is to dominate weaker, less powerful prisoners. Consequently, many prisoners, including some who are openly gay or gender nonconforming, may engage in ruthless acts of sexual or physical violence in order to avoid becoming victims of violence themselves. Femininity is not solely ascribed, and punished, based on sexual orientation or gender nonconformity in male institutions; it can also be associated with youthful age, diminutive size, lack of prior prison experience, and the nonviolent nature of one’s offense, rendering other “gender-nonconforming” prisoners likely targets for sexual abuse and victimization.

The case of Roderick Johnson highlights ways in which penal officials often are complicit and collaborate in sexual violence against prisoners, particularly LGBT prisoners. In some instances, guards promote and foster sexual violence between inmates in order to regulate the prison environment. This creates a system where prison staff are gatekeepers, all too often using sexual violence as a management tool by either allowing or prohibiting it as they wish.

For instance, according to TGJIP executive director Miss Major, who was incarcerated in a state facility in the late 1970s, transgender women were classified as mentally ill and therefore generally housed in the prison infirmary. Prison officials would at times take them, highly medicated with psychotropic drugs, and place them in cells with violent or troubled male inmates for the night. According to Lee, “A Louisiana prison guard described the situation inside as ‘sex and bodies become the coin of the realm,’ where prison staff trade sexual access to some prisoners for favors from other prisoners.” Guards may also promote coercive sex to recruit informants, in exchange for payoffs, or to destroy the leadership of an articulate prisoner.

The sexual assault and abuse of women, including lesbians and gender-nonconforming individuals, in women’s institutions has not prompted the same degree of attention and outrage as sexual violence in men’s prisons. Yet “sexual abuse and assault of prisoners by prison staff is commonplace and pervasive.” It appears that, compared to male prisoners, incarcerated women are more likely to be sexually abused by staff than by other prisoners. One study completed by sociologists Cindy and David Struckman-Johnson found that “41 percent of women prisoners, compared to 8 percent of the men who responded to surveys were victimized by prison staff.” Amnesty reports that “lesbians and other women who are seen to transgress gender boundaries are often at heightened risk of torture and ill- treatment” and that “perceived or actual sexual orientation” is “one of four categories that make a female prisoner a more likely target for sexual abuse.”

Furthermore, women, including transgender women, suffer from additional forms of sexual degradation and harassment from penal officials who routinely subject them to excessive, abusive, and invasive searches, groping their breasts, buttocks, or genitalia, repeatedly leering at them while they shower, disrobe, or use the bathroom, and generally, in the words of Human Rights Watch (HRW), creating an environment that is “highly sexualized and excessively hostile.” Vicki, a transgender woman, informed SRLP that prison guards “frisk as [a] means of harassment, with all their friends watching. After frisking me they say, ‘I need a cigarette now.’” Some transgender women reported being subjected to strip searches and frisks four to five times a day.

Often such searches are conducted merely to satisfy a guard or medical staff’s curiosity regarding a person’s genitalia, but ostensibly justified as necessary for determination of appropriate placement in sex-segregated facilities. Victoria Schneider, a transgender woman arrested for prostitution in 1996, was subjected to an un-necessary and degrading strip search in the San Francisco County Jail that included an inspection of her genitalia while she was forced to bend over and cough.

In 2002, a transgender woman of color held at the same facility was ordered by a sheriff to “strip naked, masturbate, and show him her body and dance for his arousal.” According to Judy Greenspan, cofounder of Trans/Gender Variant Prison Committee (TIP) in California, transgender men also “face a lot of oppression on the part of guards . . . When they’re strip-searched, many FTMs [female to males] who have had their breasts removed or take hormones are put on display. It’s psychological brutality and they’re demonized.”

Beyond violent sexual assault, both men and women prisoners also must often submit to nonconsensual sex acts with guards or with other inmates for safety, to be free from disciplinary punishment or further harassment, or in return for drugs, commissary items, or other survival needs.40 For example, a gay inmate in a male institution who described himself as “a free-world homosexual that looks and acts like a female” reported to HRW that he had no choice but “to hook up with someone that could make them give me a little respect . . . All open Homosexuals are preyed upon and if they don’t choose up they get chosen.” As Sunny, a transgender woman in a male prison in New York, told advocates from SRLP, “If you’re not fucking somebody, you’re gonna get fucked by everybody.”

The response Roderick Johnson received to his repeated pleas for help illustrates how indifference to the plight of queer prisoners often shown by penal officials derives from beliefs that gay men and trans- gender women, particularly those of color, are sexually degraded, inviolable, and more likely to be sexual predators than victims. Ac- cording to Linda McFarlane, deputy director of JDI, “We’ve heard multiple times about officers openly expressing a belief that gay and transgender inmates cannot be raped, that they deserve to be raped due to their mere presence in the environment, or that if they are raped it’s simply not a concern.”

Carl Shepard, a gay Mississippi man serving time for larceny and a narcotics offense, who was anally raped by his cell mate during a prison lockdown, tried to report the rape to a unit administrator, a major, and a warden. “When those three were questioning me, they actually made fun of me. The major said that I was gay, the sex must have been consensual. He said I got what I deserved.” Shepard had previously been denied medical attention even though he was bleeding from his anus. Timothy Tucker, a gay HIV-positive man raped by another male inmate in a federal prison in Virginia, reported, “After I was raped they asked me if I had learned my lesson . . . [Guards] said that since I am gay I should have enjoyed it.” An inmate in Florida told HRW, “I have been sexually assaulted twice since being incarcerated. Both times the staff refused to do anything except to lock me up and make accusations that I’m homosexual.”

Prisoners and inmates who report sexual violence not only fail to receive protection, they are frequently subject to retaliation from penal officials and other inmates for reporting the abuse. For instance, LGBT victims of sexual violence are often written up for violating the rules banning consensual sex, which leads to disciplinary action. In many institutions, when a prisoner reports he or she was raped, they are placed in solitary confinement under the pretense that penal officials are providing them protection during the investigation. Instead, it sends a message to inmates that reporting the assault will only lead to further punishment. Inadequate grievance procedures also make LGBT prisoners who report the sexual violence vulnerable to future attacks.

Amnesty states that “very few [abuses] are reported because of the tremendous stigma involved and because the life expectancy of a ‘snitch’ behind bars is measured in minutes rather than days.” As one legal advocate informed SRLP, “My clients have been punched, choked, thrown against walls, threatened with murder, framed with contraband . . . and threatened with all of these acts in retaliation for receiving a letter or a visit from me or my colleagues or for filing a grievance.”

The grim reality is that even though prison policies prohibit all sexual activity and violence, in practice prison officials not only allow and count on forcible sex, but use it to reinforce their own authority. Not only is forcible sex currency in prisons, but the prison system itself is predicated upon it. As a result, sexual violence is an entrenched and intractable feature of prison life. Defying efforts to suppress sexuality altogether, it serves the dual purpose of simultaneously queering prisons and punishing queerness and gender deviance. And because prisons are deemed to be queer spaces, it also serves to produce and strengthen queer criminal archetypes.

Support AlterNet by purchasing your copy of Queer (In)Justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States through our partner, Powell’s, an independent bookstore.

Joey L. Mogul is a partner at the People’s Law Office in Chicago and director of the Civil Rights Clinic at DePaul University’s College of Law. Andrea J. Ritchie is a police misconduct attorney and organizer in New York City. Kay Whitlock is a Montana-based writer, organizer, and consultant working for progressive social change.

Friday, March 18, 2011

AZ Prison Rape: Survivor Resources.

From Just Detention International, some resources for survivors of prison rape in Arizona.
Hit their site for a sample letter and talking points to AG Holder about the problems with the Prison Rape Elimination Act standards before the April 4, 2011 deadline. They need to be much stronger than the AG is proposing.



Arizona Sexual Assault Network
1949 E. Calle de Arcos
Tempe, AZ 85284
Office: (480) 831-1986

Arizona Sexual Assault Network (AzSAN) works to identify and address sexual violence issues through a collaborative statewide public/private network of professionals, individuals, and organizations who are committed to the fight against sexual violence. AzSAN promotes an understanding of the dynamics of sexual violence and the strategies that will be successful in combating the issue. At local, state, and national levels, AzSAN works to encourage new and effective responses to sexual violence. AzSAN can provide information and referrals to survivors and direct them to member agencies or service providers in their geographic area.

Catholic Community Services in Western Arizona
690 E. 32nd Street
Yuma, AZ 85356
24-hour Hotline: (877) 440-0550

Catholic Community Services (CCS) in Western Arizona serves survivors of sexual assault in Yuma and La Paz Counties. CCS provides crisis intervention and information and referrals to survivors of sexual assault behind bars who contact the 24-hour hotline, but due to funding restrictions, CCS cannot offer ongoing support such as counseling or case management to survivors with felony convictions. All services are free and confidential.

Catholic Social Services Counseling Program
140 West Speedway, #130
Tucson, AZ 85705
Office: (520) 623-0344

Catholic Social Services is a division of Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona, Inc. The Catholic Social Services Counseling Program provides individual, couples, family, and group mental health counseling to adults and children in the office or in clients' homes. Most services are provided out of the main office near downtown Tucson, but services are also available from a satellite office in South Tucson and a branch office in Nogales, Arizona. Support groups are formed and arranged based on the needs of the community. The CSS Counseling Program staff includes bilingual Spanish/English counselors as well as counselors who specialize in post-traumatic stress disorder. Counseling fees are based on a sliding scale. The $10.00 registration fee can be waived for clients in financial need.

Kingman Aid to Abused People
P.O. Box 1046
Kingman, AZ 86402
Office: (928) 753-6222
24-hour Hotline: (928) 753-4242

Kingman Aid to Abused People (KAAP) provides comprehensive services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence and other crimes in Kingman, Mohave County, and adjacent areas in the Northwestern corner of Arizona. Supportive services include a 24-hour crisis hotline, emergency shelter, residential program, crisis counseling, legal advocacy, case management, and a children’s program. All services are free and confidential.

North Country HealthCare/Northern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault
2920 N. 4th Street
Flagstaff, AZ 86004
Office: (928) 213-6112

North Country HealthCare provides healthcare, including counseling and support groups, to the residents of Flagstaff, Seligman, Ash Fork, Grand Canyon, Winslow, St. Johns, Springerville/Eager, Holbrook, and Kingman. NACASA does not operate a 24-hour hotline, but local law enforcement contact the Northern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault (NACASA) to administer medical/forensic examinations (Code R Kits) by specially trained sexual assault nurse examiners. Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) and pregnancy prevention medications are provided to survivors as part of the exam. North Country also offers crisis counseling as well as other behavioral health services to survivors of sexual assault. North Country offers a sliding scale fee for services and will provide healthcare to survivors of sexual assault regardless of their ability to pay.

Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation
375 S. Euclid Ave.
Tucson, AZ 85719
Office: (520) 628-7223
Toll-free: (800) 771-9054

The Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation (SAAF) provides direct services to people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. These services include: case management, peer counseling, support groups, wellness and complementary therapies, emergency financial assistance, medications assistance, transportation, dental services for those who qualify, and advocacy. SAAF works with and provides these direct services to prisoners with HIV/AIDS in the Arizona State system prior to discharge and after their incarceration.

Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault
1600 North Country Club Road
Tucson, AZ 85716
Office: (520) 327-1171
24-hour Bilingual Crisis Line: (520) 327-7273
Toll-free 24-hour Bilingual Crisis Line: (800) 400-1001
TTY Hotline: (520) 327-1721
TTY Hotline Hours: Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm

The Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault (SACASA) is the oldest and largest sexual assault service provider in the state of Arizona and the only agency serving Tucson, Pima County, and southern Arizona. SACA offers comprehensive, specialized services to children, youth, adults, and families who have been affected by any type of sexual violence, including rape, incest, molestation, and sexual abuse. SACASA’s services for survivors of sexual assault include: advocacy, crisis intervention, specialized mental health services, prevention education, and professional training. The Crisis Services Program provides immediate and comprehensive intervention, care, advocacy, education, and referral services to survivors, secondary victims, and community members throughout southern Arizona. SACASA provides long-term, comprehensive mental health services for primary and secondary victims and survivors of recent and past sexual trauma who are eligible. All services are free and confidential.

425 East Seventh Street
Tucson, AZ 85705
Office: (520) 624-1779
TDD: (520) 884-0450
24-hour Anti-Violence Crisis Line (English/Spanish): (520) 624-0348
Toll-free 24-hour Anti-Violence Crisis Line (English/Spanish): (800) 553-9387

The Wingspan Anti-Violence Project (AVP) is a social change and social service program that works to address and end violence in the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. The AVP provides free and confidential 24-hour crisis intervention, information, support, referrals, emergency shelter, and advocacy to LGBT victims/survivors of sexual assault and other types of violence. Additionally, Wingspan offers extensive outreach and education programs. All AVP services are available in English and Spanish. Se ofrecen todos los servicios de AVP en espaƱol.


Human Rights Advocate Service
P.O. Box 5842
Tucson, AZ 85703
Office: (520) 358-4685

Human Rights Advocate Services provides services to inmates in Arizona who are victims of sexual assault while incarcerated. Services provided free of charge include: basic legal research, investigative services, public records searches, federal freedom of information act requests, Arizona public records act requests, and attorney referrals. Inmates should send a short letter stating their concern and what help is requested. Supporting documents should not be sent.

Lambda Legal: Western Regional Office
3325 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1300
Los Angeles, CA 90010-1729
Phone: (213) 382-7600
Fax: (213) 351-6050

Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people, and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work. Western Regional Office provides services for those who are located in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Help Desk Hours (Pacific Standard Time):
Mondays: 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Tuesdays: 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Wednesdays: 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Thursdays: 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Friday: 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

If Help Desk staff are busy helping other callers, your call will be routed to the Legal Help Desk voicemail. Please leave the following information: name, state, contact info, best time to reach you, and a brief message outlining your legal inquiry. A Help Desk staff person will return your call.

It is usually most efficient for Help Desk callers to contact Lambda Legal by phone. If you are in a place where you are not able to make long distance calls, Lambda can make an appointment to call you. If you are absolutely unable to call, you may e-mail the organization at or write to the addresses above.

State Bar of Arizona: Lawyer Locator and Referral Resources
4201 N. 24th St., Suite 200
Phoenix, AZ 850166288
Office (Maricopa County): (602) 252-4804
Toll Free (OUtside of Maricop County): (866) 482-9227

Southern Regional Office:
270 N. Church Ave., Suite 100
Tuscon, AZ 857012215
Office: (520) 623-9944

The State Bar of Arizona is a non-profit organization that operates under the supervision of the Arizona Supreme Court. The Bar regulates approximately 13,000 active attorneys in Arizona and provides education and development programs for the legal profession and the public. The Bar and its members are committed to serving the public by making sure the voices of all people in Arizona are heard in our justice system. To search for at attorney in the state of Arizona, use the Lawyer Locator on the State Bar of Arizona website or contact the State Bar via mail

Maricopa County Bar Association
Office: (602) 257-4434

Pima County Bar Association
177 N. Church Avenue, #101 Tucson, AZ 85701
Office: (520) 623-4625

Both the Maricopa and Pima County Bar Associations provide information on lawyers or legal service providers who offer low-cost, no-cost, or self-help services. Some low-cost and no-cost resources require you to meet certain income or other qualifications before services can be provided.

Self-Service Center, Maricopa County Superior Court
101 West Jefferson, 4th Floor
Phoenix, AZ
Office: (602) 506-7353

The Self-Service Center provides citizens with plain-English instructions, forms, and assistance for a variety of legal procedures. The Center also maintains a list of lawyers willing to advise self-represented individuals on a per-hour, non-retained basis.


Criminal Investigation Unit, Office of the Inspector General
Arizona Department of Corrections
1601 W. Jefferson
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Office: (602) 542-1160

The Arizona Department of Corrections, Office of the Inspector General is comprised of various units responsible for the overall policing of the prison system through criminal, administrative, and background investigations; intelligence gathering; prison audits and policy; and maintenance of fire and safety standards. The Criminal Investigations Unit is responsible for investigation of all crimes that occur within the state’s prisons, as well as investigations of inmate protective segregation cases.

Protect ALL American prisoners from rape.

From Prison Fellowship, a good summary of the damage that Holder's proposed Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) standards may do. This is really disappointing - especially the rule that exempts immigration facilities from having to comply with the law.

Why in the hell would the feds say it's okay for immigrants in detention facilities to be raped?! That's hideous! Most women in ICE prisons are pregnant by rape. The entire Latino community should be up in arms with us - where is Puente (you can help by asking them to look into this / (602) 314 – 5870)? Look at some of these articles:

Please follow the links below (and here) to submit your comments on the proposed PREA standards before the April 4 deadline.



(This links to a brief sample letter and one-step submitting to the DOJ
about the proposed PREA standards)


Attorney General Weakens Prison Rape Standards


Dear friends,

Attorney General Eric Holder has significantly weakened the standards proposed by the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission to combat prison rapes. Without strong standards to hold prison officials accountable for ending prison rape, inmates will continue to be victimized by sexual predators. The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that 124 adult and juvenile inmates are sexually assaulted in US prisons every day.

There is still time to convince the AG to put teeth back in the standards, but you have to act quickly. Letters commenting on the AG's changes to the standards are due by April 4. I hope each of you will write the Attorney General and express your outrage that the process Congress established to enact tough standards has resulted in weak and ineffective protections. Go here to write the Attorney General today.

Here are just a few of the ways the Attorney General weakened the standards:

Allows Cross Gender Pat Downs

The Bureau of Justice Statistics has found that a significant number of sexual assaults begin with aggressive pat downs by officers of the opposite sex. This is such a major problem that most prison systems and jails prohibit pat downs by officers of the opposite sex absent exigent circumstances. The Commission banned them unless there is a bona fide emergency. Yet, the Attorney General’s standards allow cross gender pat downs.

No Prison Rape Standards for Immigration Prisons

The Attorney General ruled that immigration prisons (ICE) do not have to comply with any of the prison rape standards. Horrible rapes and assaults have occurred in ICE prisons. Yet, the AG has exempted them from the standards. If Mr. Holder felt that the DOJ did not have authority over the ICE prisons, he should have asked Congress to give him that authority, and Congress would have done it with no hesitation. Remember, the original Prison Rape Elimination Act was passed unanimously by both houses of Congress when the DOJ clearly had authority over immigration. Under the AG's rule, tens of thousands of foreign detainees are subject to sexual predators, and there are no standards to hold authorities accountable for protecting them.

Prison Systems May Audit Themselves

For standards to be effective, prisons' compliance should be audited by an outside organization. The Commission's standards required: that all facilities be audited; that audits must be conducted at least every three years by independent and qualified auditors; that the auditors have access to all parts of facilities and all documents; and, that the audits are made available to the legislature and the public.

The Attorney General allows agencies to audit themselves with no guarantee of access to facilities and documents. He suggests that random checks might be instituted in place of individual audits of every facility. He also suggests that audits might be required only if cause is shown. That is a recipe for disaster. "If it isn't counted, it isn't done" is a reality in every bureaucracy, and prisons are no exception. The AG’s revisions of the standards make an accurate monitoring of compliance with the standards very hard to accomplish, allows possibly biased auditors and allows the results to be hidden from the public.

No Need To Actually Protect Inmates - Having a Plan is Enough

The Commission's standards require a Zero Tolerance Policy, and that it be enforced in each facility to provide a basic level of safety for inmates. The AG also requires a Zero Tolerance Policy, but he removes the requirement that it be enforced and substitutes a requirement that the prisons outline its approach to prevention. There is no requirement that the plan be enforced; only that they have a plan. The AG does not require that inmates actually are protected, but only that there be a plan to do so. And what is the consequence if the plan is not implemented? Well, they have to develop another plan. This is not a standard at all, but merely a call for planning.

Estimated Costs Are Grossly Inflated

The Prison Rape Elimination Act wisely provided that the Attorney General shall not establish a national standard ‘‘that would impose substantial additional costs compared to the costs presently expended by Federal, State, and local prison authorities.’’ Congress didn’t want a “runaway” commission to impose absurdly expensive requirements on prisons such as mandating that all prisons be replaced with new construction. However, the AG has significantly exaggerated the costs of complying with the Commission’s standards.

For example, they interpreted standard PP7 to require electronic surveillance. That is not what the Commission’s standard requires, and it is clear from the record that our standards did not mandate that. The proposed standard merely says that electronic surveillance should be considered as one method of protecting inmates. By misinterpreting the standard, DOJ inflated the upfront costs to 24x the actual costs. Take out the amount caused by their erroneous interpretation (which they admit is 96% of the upfront costs) and the total upfront cost is reduced to a $260 million, out of a total of $70 billion spent on prisons this year. That is, to start complying with the Commission’s standards it will cost prisons and jails a mere .00371 of total spending on prisons – or less than 4/10ths of 1%. For the AG to say that this amounts to “a substantial cost” compared to the costs of all prisons is laughable.

Why Would the AG Weaken the Standards?

It is difficult to imagine that an Attorney General with so much experience in the justice system would not understand the magnitude of rape in our prisons, and would underestimate the damage in human terms caused by our prisons’ failure to protect inmates from sexual aggression. So, why would Eric Holder propose to weaken the standards? The explanation I have been told by people close to the professional staff at DOJ is that the career employees were planning to recommend only minor changes to the Commission’s standards. However, the “political people” took it out of their hands and caved in to pressure from the unions that represent prison employees. It appears that with an eye toward 2012, the unions held sway. If that is true, it is a sad day for the Department of Justice and a very sad day for inmates who will continue to be prey to sexual predators.

A telling comment on the AG’s proposed standards came from a question by a renowned expert on prisons, “On the day after the new standards go into effect, what will the Federal Bureau of Prisons have to do that is different than what it does now?” Shockingly, the DOJ employees could not think of a single thing.

The former members of the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission will hold a press conference on March 23 to express their strong opposition to the changes the Attorney General has made to their recommended standards. These diverse commissioners, who spent several years studying the scandal of prison rape and learning the best ways to prevent it, are united in urging the public to join them in opposing the weakening of the standards.

There is still time to press the Attorney General to change course and adopt stronger standards. Federal law allows the public to submit comments until April 4. Please go to our website where you can send a letter to the Attorney General immediately.

No prison sentence, no matter how heinous the crime, includes being raped. It is our responsibility to protect those who cannot speak for themselves.

In His service,

Pat Nolan
Vice-President, Prison Fellowship


Justice Fellowship Prison Rape Page

Justice Department’s proposed rules

National Prison Rape Elimination Commission Standards

National Prison Rape Elimination Act law


Spread the Word

Talk with your family and friends about why we must combat rape in our prisons and jails.

  • Correctional facilities across the country struggle to protect the men, women, and children confined within their walls. Approximately 60,500 sexual assaults occur in our state and federal prisons each year. This is roughly 4.5 percent of the U.S. prison and jail population. More inmates report sexual abuse from prison staff than from fellow inmates. (Sexual Victimization in State and Federal Prisons Reported by Inmates, 2007, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2007)

  • No matter how bad the crime, just punishment never includes rape.

  • Because the government removes offenders’ every means of self-defense when they enter prison, the government has an obligation to protect these vulnerable people.

  • Corrections administrators are responsible to create prison cultures with zero tolerance for prison rape. Administrators must clearly communicate with their staff that all rape is unacceptable. Staff must be trained on how to prevent inmate-on-inmate rape and inmates must be trained to know their rights under the law to report and prosecute sexual assault. (Strategies to Prevent Prison Rape by Changing the Correctional Culture, National Institute of Justice, 2008)

  • Far too many prison staff who rape inmates are not prosecuted because inmates are too scared to report the assault or prison officers do not care. Prisons must create effective processes for inmates to report assault and must investigate and prosecute all incidents. (National Prison Rape Elimination Commission Report, 2009)

  • The damage done by prison rape does not stay behind bars. The disease, the psychological damage, and the desire for revenge caused by prison rape come back to plague our communities when prisoners are released. (Addressing Sexual Violence in Prisons, The Urban Institute, 2006

Justice Roars: Crimes Against Nature law is a crime against us all.

86 the silence;

86 the violence.

Sex Worker Rights
Are Human Rights.

Remembering Marcia Powell.
International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers
December 17, 2009

from our friend Jordan Flaherty at the blog Justice Roars: The Louisiana Justice Institute...


Justice Department Report, Released Today, Calls Louisiana's "Crime Against Nature" Law Discriminatory

Thursday, March 17, 2011

An earlier version of this article originally appeared on

Eve is a transgender woman living in rural southern Louisiana. She was molested as a child and left home as a teenager. Homeless and alone, she was forced to trade sex for survival. While still a teenager, she was arrested and charged with a Crime Against Nature, an archaic Louisiana law originally designed to penalize sex acts associated with gays and lesbians.

Now Eve is one of nine plaintiffs fighting the law in a federal civil rights complaint that advocates hope will finally put this official discrimination to an end.

This legal action comes in the context of increased scrutiny from the federal government over the conduct of the New Orleans Police Department. A US Justice Department investigation of the NOPD, released today, found "reasonable cause to believe that patterns and practices of unconstitutional conduct and/or violations of federal law occurred in several areas," including "racial and ethnic profiling and lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) discrimination." The report specifically mentioned Louisiana's Crime Against Nature law, calling it "a statute whose history reflects anti-LGBT sentiment." The report also concluded that investigators "found reasonable cause to believe that NOPD practices lead to discriminatory treatment of LGBT individuals."

Punishing Women

Eve, who asked that her real name and age remain confidential, spent two years in prison. During her time behind bars she was raped and contracted HIV. Upon release, she was forced to register in the state’s sex offender database. The words “sex offender” now appear on her driver’s license. “I have tried desperately to change my life,” she says, but her status on the database stands in the way of housing and other programs. “When I present my ID for anything,” she says, “the assumption is that you’re a child molester or a rapist. The discrimination is just ongoing and ongoing.”

Eve was penalized under Louisiana’s 205-year-old Crime Against Nature statute, a blatantly discriminatory law that legislators have maneuvered to keep on the state’s books for the purpose of turning sex workers into felons. As enforced, the law specifically singles out oral and anal sex for greater punishment for those arrested for prostitution, including requiring those convicted to register as sex offenders in a public database. Advocates say the law has further isolated and targeted poor women of color, transgender women, and especially those who are forced to trade sex for food or a place to sleep at night.

In 2003, the Supreme Court outlawed sodomy laws with its decision in Lawrence v. Texas. That ruling should have invalidated Louisiana’s law entirely. Instead, the state has chosen to only enforce the portion of the law that concerns “solicitation” of a crime against nature. The decision on whether to charge accused sex workers with a felony instead of Louisiana’s misdemeanor prostitution law is left entirely in the hands of police and prosecutors.

“This leaves the door wide open to discriminatory enforcement targeting poor black women, transgender women, and gay men for a charge that carries much harsher penalties,” says police misconduct attorney and organizer Andrea J. Ritchie, a co-counsel in a new federal lawsuit challenging the statute.

A media-fueled national panic about child molesters has brought sex offender registries to every state. But advocates warn that, across the U.S., these registries have been used disproportionately against African Americans and other communities of color, and are often used for purposes outside of their original intent. Louisiana, however, is the only state in the U.S. that requires people who have been convicted of crimes that do not involve minors or sexual violence to register as sex offenders.

In 1994, Congress passed Megan’s Law, also known as the Wetterling Act, which mandated that states create systems for registering sex offenders. The act was amended in 1996 to require public disclosure of the names on the registries and again in 2006 to require sex offenders stay in the public registry for at least 15 years.

Megan’s Law was clearly not targeted at prostitution. However, Louisiana lawmakers opted to apply the registry to the crimes against nature statute as well, and at that moment started down the path to a new level of punishment for sex work. “This archaic law is being used to mark people with modern day scarlet letter,” says attorney Alexis Agathocleus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, another party in the lawsuit.

People convicted under the Louisiana law must carry a state ID with the words “sex offender” printed below their name. If they have to evacuate because of a hurricane, they must stay in a special shelter for sex offenders that has no separate facilities for men and women. They have to pay a $60 annual registration fee, in addition to $250 to $750 to print and mail postcards to their neighbors every time they move. The post cards must show their names and addresses, and often they are required to include a photo. Failing to register and pay the fees, a separate crime, can carry penalties of up to 10 years in prison.

Women and men on the registry will also find their names, addresses, and convictions printed in the newspaper and published in an online sex offender database. The same information is also displayed at public sites like schools and community centers. Women—including one mother of three—have complained that because of their appearance on the registry, they have had men come to their homes demanding sex. A plaintiff in the suit had rocks thrown at her by neighbors. “This has forced me to live in poverty, be on food stamps and welfare,” explains a man who was on the list. “I’ve never done that before.”

In Orleans Parish, 292 people are on the registry for selling sex, versus 85 people convicted of forcible rape and 78 convicted of “indecent behavior with juveniles.” Almost 40 percent of those registered in Orleans Parish are there solely because they were accused of offering anal or oral sex for money. Seventy-five percent of those on the database for Crime Against Nature are women, and 80 percent are African American. Evidence gathered by advocates suggests a majority are poor or indigent.

Legal advocates credit on-the-ground organizing and the advocacy of the group Women With A Vision (WWAV) for making them aware of this discriminatory law. WWAV, a 20-year-old New Orleans-based organization, provides health care and other services to women involved in survival sex work. “Many of these women are survivors of rape and domestic violence themselves,” says WWAV executive director Deon Haywood. “Yet they are being treated as predators.”

Plaintiffs Tell Their Stories

Ian, another plaintiff in the legal challenge to the Crime Against Nature statute, was homeless from the age of 13, and began trading sex for survival. When an undercover officer approached him and asked him for sex, Ian asked for money. “All I said was $50,” he says, “And they put me away for four years.”

In prison, Ian was raped by a correction officer and by other prisoners, and like Eve, he contracted HIV. Now, he says, potential employers see the words “sex offender” written on his ID and no one will hire him. “Do I deserve to be punished any more than I’ve already been punished?” he asks. “I was 13 years old. That’s the only way I knew how to survive.”

Hiroke, a New Orleans resident and another plaintiff in the suit, spoke on a call set up by advocates. “I had just graduated from high school and was just coming out as transgender,” she says. Hiroke was arrested and convicted while still a teenager. As she began to describe her experience, Hiroke’s voice began to shake. “I was being held with men in jail at the time…” she began. Then there was silence on the line. Holding back tears, she then apologized for being unable to continue.

The Louisiana legislature recently passed a reform of the Crime Against Nature statute, but for the vast majority of those affected, the change makes little to no difference. Although the new law takes away the registration component for a first conviction, a second conviction requires 15 years on the registry, and up to five years imprisonment. A third conviction mandates a lifetime on the registry. More than 538 men and women remain on the registry because they were convicted of offering anal or oral sex, with more added almost every day.

The legal challenge to the Crime Against Nature law, called Doe v. Jindal, has been filed in Louisiana’s US District Court Eastern District on behalf of nine anonymous plaintiffs. It was filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights, attorney Andrea J. Ritchie, and the Law Clinic at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. The anonymous plaintiffs include a grandmother, a mother of four, three transgender women, and a man, all of whom have been required to register as sex offenders from 15 years to life as a result of their convictions for the solicitation of oral sex for money.

Sex Worker rights: End discrimination!

Remembering Marcia Powell.
Sex Worker Outreach Project / Arizona Department of Corrections Protest.
International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.
December 17, 2009.

At UN, US Says No one Should Face Discrimination For Public Services, Including Sex Workers

For Immediate Release


Stacey Swimme

Sienna Baskin, Esq.

(877) 776‐2004 x. 2 (646) 602-5695

March 9th, 2011- According to their statement in response to the UN’s human rights evaluation, the US agrees that “…no one should face violence or discrimination in access to public services based on sexual orientation or their status as a person in prostitutioni.” This marks a rare occasion in which the US is addressing the needs of sex workers as a distinct issue separate from human trafficking. Sex workers have unique needs that aren’t adequately addressed by federal trafficking policy. Sex workers are hopeful that this will present a new opportunity to work with anti-trafficking efforts to address mutual human rights concerns.

"People in the sex trade have been marginalized and stigmatized when seeking public services, including through law enforcement. This is a big step forward to acknowledging sex workers’ human rights." Kelli Dorsey, Executive Director of Different Avenues said.

Over the past year sex workers and their families, sex workers’ rights groups, human rights advocates, and academic researchers have engaged in an unprecedented advocacy collaboration. “It has been crucial to bring together the perspectives of a wide range of communities including immigrant and LGBT groups in order to illustrate the depth of human rights violations experienced by sex workers in the United States,” says Penelope Saunders, Coordinator of the Best Practices Policy Project, who worked with the Desiree Alliance to send a shadow report to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). These initial efforts resulted in Recommendation 86 and the formation of a group called Human Rights For All: Concerned Advocates for the Rights of Sex Workers and People in the Sex Trade (HRA).

HRA had support from more than 125 organizations in urging law makers to accept Recommendation #86, part of the report of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which called on the US to look into the special vulnerability of sex workers to violence and human rights abuses. “We were long overdue for the United States to take the needs of sex workers seriously, particularly the need to stem violence and discrimination,” says attorney Sienna Baskin, Co-Director of Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center in New York.

"Human beings cannot be excluded from accesible services because they work in economies outside of society's accepted norms,” explains Cristine Sardina, co-director, Desiree Alliance. “The fact that the U.S. has acknowledged the recommendation in full speaks to the current administration's willingness to recognize the abuses sex workers have been subjected to for too long. We look forward to working with this administration".

Sex workers say the issues they face are complex and more work will have to be done to protect against human rights abuses. “Sex workers who are transgender or people of color face the most violence and it's important that we continue to realize and work towards ending that, this is a good first step.” Said Tara Sawyer, who sits on the Board of Directors of the Sex Workers Outreach Project USA.

On Friday March 18th Sex Workers will stage demonstrations in cities across the country to celebrate adoption of Recommendation #86. “The U.S. has finally acknowledged that sex workers face issues separate from those of human trafficking victims,” said Natalie Brewster Nguyen, an artist and member of the Sex Workers Outreach Project of Tucson who is organizing the demonstrations on the 18th, ”Now we need to demand that steps be taken to address the issues that will actually improve the daily lives of sex workers.”

For more information on this story or the upcoming March 18th demonstrations, please contact Stacey Swimme at or (877) 776-2004 x. 2

86 the Violence Against Sex Workers!

Take direct action to support sex worker rights today!

Stop the Violence. Stop the Fear.

See us Here.

Mothers and daughters and
Teachers and lawyers and
Songs within our souls.

Brothers with dreams, and
Trans with means,
And a light inside us that grows.

Each have a story

With sadness and glory
Trying to make our way through

When the judgment fades,

And the hate abates,
We'll be standing right beside you.
Will you be standing beside us too?

Stop the Violence. Stop the Fear.

See us Here.


This year, the United States participated in a Universal Periodic Review (UPR) – a process set up by the Human Rights Council at the United Nations to assess the level of human rights in each country. The U.S. received more than 200 recommendations and must now decide to accept or reject each recommendation. Recommendation 86 called on the Obama Administration to “…ensure access to public services paying attention to the special vulnerability of sexual workers to violence and human rights abuses.” This is the first time the US has been internationally called upon to address its insensitivity to the long-neglected issues faced by sex workers.

To capitalize on this momentous opportunity, sex worker support and advocacy organizations from all across the country have organized to move government officials to agree to accept the recommendation. As a part of our organizing efforts we have reached out to sex worker groups, academics, policy makers, community organizations, funders and NGO’s around the globe and received unprecendented levels of support. (See the amazing list of folks who have signed our call to action below.)

On March 18th, the U.S. will go to Geneva to announce to the U.N. which recommendations they will accept and which they will reject. "86 THE VIOLENCE," a multi-city performance art action represents the culmination of sex worker advocacy efforts. We believe we have an opportunity to achieve high levels of media attention, which opens the door for us to let the world know in one solid, united voice, that violence and human rights abuses will no longer be tolerated in our community.

If the government accepts the recommendation, this action will serve as a celebration for having our nation’s first major political promise to address the needs of sex workers. If they do not accept the recommendation, then this action will serve to spark a fire of outrage that will be fueled by media and all of the supporters that have come out to champion the cause. Either way, we believe the more sex workers and allies we can motivate to participate in this action, the more media attention we will receive, and the greater the likelihood that we can alter the conversation and public perception about sex worki in this country.


Join us in this public action performance on March 18th!

SWOP, Sex workers and allied organizations all over the country will be standing up and stripping down for recommendation 86!

Here's what you do:

1. Check if there is already a key organizer in your city. If there is no key organizer, email us, and we'll list YOU as the key organizer!

Key organizers will be contacted by our media team to help you identify media outlets in your area, and follow up.

If you are a key organizer, pick a location for the action that we can list on the website, and a contact name, number, and email address

"86 the violence" will take place at noon PST, 1pm MST, 2pm CST, and 3pm EST on March 18th, 2011 for 86 minutes!

2. Enact "86 the violence."

-You need AT LEAST one person to be a TARGET and one person to be SUPPORT/ INFORMATION. More people are better, 3 TARGETS and a few SUPPORTS are best to protect everyone involved.

-TARGETS dress up as shown in the video here . Draw a red bullseye somewhere on your body. Be as close to naked as is legally allowed on the street in your city, or that you are comfortable with. Tie red fabric around your eyes, your mouth or your hands. These three ties are symbolic and can mean many things about lack of access, silence, and invisibility. Infuse them with your own meaning.

Install the TARGETS on the street, in a park, or in any public place. TARGETS symbolically or verbally ask passerby to help us “86 the violence.” this can be done by silently holding out a cloth that passerby can use to wipe the target off your body, or verbally asking.

-SUPPORT may dress in any manner classic to the sex worker rights movement. Wear red, carry red umbrellas, and have at least one or 2 umbrellas with the number 86 painted on the top. Print out the information we have HERE: literature to hand out to passersby and lyrics to our song. Perhaps keep the information to hand out in an upturned red umbrella.

3. The final action of the performance is to remove or cut off the red cloth, wipe off the targets, and leave the red cloth in the shape of the number 86 on the ground.

4. Take photos. Document the hell out of it, and send your documentation to us. We'll be making a montage of videos and photos to take to press as well.

notes: if staying installed in one place becomes and issue (a cop tells you to leave, or threatens you) make sure your group knows what it wants to do. We recommend taking the whole production on a walk. You can simply walk down the street slowly, to avoid loitering. The 86 minutes need not be in one place. We recommend wearing the smallest amount of legally allowed clothing (in many places, this is a thong, underwear or T-Strap and nipple covering). We recommend that ALL TARGETS wear the same amount of clothing/covering for continuity and gender alliance.


Organizations that have come out in support of accepting the recommendation:

Action pour la lutte Contre L'ignorance du SIDA (Democratic Republic of Congo)
AIDS Action Baltimore
AIDS Foundation of Chicago
AIDS Project Los Angeles
American Medical Students Association
Americans for Informed Democracy
Amnesty for Women
American Jewish World Service
Aniz, Inc.
Asocijacija za Borbu Protiv Side (Association against AIDS, JAZAS, Yugoslavia)
Association of Nurses in AIDS Care
Bay Area Sex Worker Advocacy Network
Best Practices Policy Project
Black Communities' Process (PCN)
Center for Anti-Violence Education
Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)
Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE)
Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program (CLPP), Hampshire College
Collectif pour le Developpement Economique, Social et Culturel Integre (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Desiree Alliance
Different Avenues
Erotic Service Providers’ Legal, Education and Research Project
Four Freedoms Forum
Harm Reduction Coalition
Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (HIPS)
HIV Prevention Justice Alliance
HIVictorious, Inc.
Housing Works
Human Rights Watch
International Community of Women Living with HIV and AIDS Global (ICW Global)
International Committee for the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe
International Rectal Microbicide Advocates
International Women’s Health Coalition
JJJ Association (Hong Kong)
Madonna e.V. (Germany)
Malcolm X Center for Self Determination
Nashville CARES
National Minority AIDS Council
Nigerian Diversity Network
Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project
Public Interest Project, US Human Rights Fund
Population & Development Program, Hampshire College
Religious Institute
Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS)
Scarlet Alliance (Austraila)
Sex Worker Forum (Botswana)
Sex Workers Action New York (SWANK)
Sex Workers Outreach Project (Chicago Chapter)
Sex Workers Outreach Project (Las Vegas Chapter)
Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP National)
Sex Workers Outreach Project (NYC Chapter),
Sex Workers Outreach Project (Seattle Chapter)
Sex Workers Outreach Project (Tucson Chapter)
Sex Workers Project, at the Urban Justice Center
Sexuality and Gender Working Group, Human Rights Network
St. James’ Infirmary
Syndicat du Travail Sexuel (STRASS) (France)
Tais Plus (Kirgizstan)
TAMPEP (European Network for HIV/STI Prevention & Health Promotion among Migrant Sex Workers)
U.S. Positive Women's Network (PWN) a project of WORLD (Women Organized to Respond to Life-threatening Disease)
Women of Color United
Women’s Network for Unity
Women’s Network for Unity (Cambodia)
Women's Organization Network for Human Rights Advocacy
Women’s Re-Entry Network
Women with a Vision
x:talk (London)

Academics who have come out in support of the recommendation:

*Laura Augustin, Ph.D.; Author, Sex at the Margins
*M. Jocelyn Elders, M.D.; 15th U.S. Surgeon General
*Elizabeth Bernstein, Ph.D.; Assistant Professor, Womens’ Studies & Sociology, Barnard College, New York, New York
*Barb Brents, Ph.D.; Professor of Sociology, University of Las Vegas, Nevada
*Wendy Chapkis, Ph.D.; Professor of Sociology, Director of Women and Gender Studies, University of Southern Maine
*Deborah Cohan, MD, MPH; Associate Professor
Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of California, San Francisco; Medical Director, Bay Area Perinatal AIDS Center; Associate Director, National Perinatal HIV Hotline
*Melissa Ditmore, Ph.D.; Consultant, Research and Rights-Based Programming
*Shari L. Dworkin, Ph.D., M.S.; Associate Professor, Dept. of Social & Behavioral Sciences; Director, Sociology Doctoral Studies Program; Affiliated Faculty, Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS); Affiliated Faculty, Global Health Sciences, University of California, San Francisco
*Smarajit Jana, MD; Principal, Sonagachi Research and Training Institute, Kolkata, India
*Jessica Fields, Ph.D.; Associate Professor, Sociology,Research Faculty, Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality
*Valerie Jenness, Ph.D.; Dean, School of Social Ecology, Professor, Department of Criminology, Law and Society, Professor, Department of Sociology, University of California, Irvine
*Kamala Kempadoo, Ph.D.; Professor, Department of Social Science, York University, Toronto, Canada
*Gail Kligman, Ph.D.; Professor of Sociology, UCLA, Director, Center for European and Eurasian Studies
*Kari Lerum, Ph.D.; Associate Professor, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, Adjunct Professor, Women Studies, University of Washington, Bothell
*Jill McCracken, Ph.D.; Assistant Professor, Rhetoric, Department of Languages, Literature, and Writing, University of South Florida St. Petersburg
*Alice M. Miller, J.D; Visiting Senior Research Scholar, Robina Foundation Fellow, Yale Law School
*Penelope Saunders, Ph.D.; Director, Best Practices Policy Project
*Svati P. Shah, Ph.D., MPH; Assistant Professor, Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
*Kate Shannon, Ph.D., MPH; Assistant Professor, Dept of Medicine, University of British Columbia; Director of Gender & Sexual Health Initiative, BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, Vancouver, Canada
*Lara Stemple; Director, Graduate Studies, Director, Health and Human Rights Law Project, UCLA School of Law
*Dallas Swendeman, Ph.D., MPH; Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior; Center for Community Health; Global Center for Children and Families; Center for HIV Identification, Prevention & Treatment Services
*Juhu Thukral, Esq.; Co-Founder and Former Director, Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center New York, New York
*Stephanie Wahab, Ph.D.; Associate Professor of Social Work, Portland State University, Portland, OR
*Carole S. Vance, PhD, MPH; Assoc. Clinical Professor, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, New York
*Ronald Weitzer, Ph.D.; Professor of Sociology, George Washington University, Washington, DC

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Hitting Home: International Women's Day.

"Thank you Neuro ICU: We Heart Mom."

Those of you who get these blogs automatically fed to them will recognize that this is a revision of an earlier post. I'm still working this stuff out, and just wanted to clarify where I'm at these days...

This was the thank you that I left on the sidewalk last night at Scottsdale
Healthcare's campus on Osborn, where my mother is being treated for an extremely aggressive form of brain cancer. We thought she may have had one or more stroke last month because she suddenly lost her vision in her left eye and began falling a lot, but the CT scan in the ER at the time barely even showed the shadow that consumed her right occipital lobe within just weeks; Mom was diagnosed with a sinus infection and put on antibiotics instead of being sent for an MRI.

Had she not fallen and incurred a new head injury last week, Mom's tumor may no
t have been discovered in time to do surgery. It has yet to be seen whether or not the surgery was in time to save her life or prevent her from prolonged misery. Because this particular cancer is so devastatingly quick to kill, they're starting her on both radiation and chemo even though they removed all visible traces. I guess no matter how good your surveillance, people and equipment are, by the time you see it again it's generally too late. This is what killed Ted Kennedy.

Some folks may be wondering why I'm still running a
round protesting and chalking the town while my mom may well be dying - I think I'm just trying to hold on to normal life as best I can through this; I'm afraid that if I put it down I may not be able to pick it up again for a long time. Besides, Mom isn't dying - she's fighting for her life. One of the reasons is so she can continue to be a part of mine. That means I need to keep living it.

My art and politics are a part of me, anyway, not activities I do in my free time. I won't be able to maintain my same level of activism, though - or prisoner sup
port. My mail is flowing again, and I'm back up to my neck in letters from people in trouble. I'll write a post begging the community for more help on that count soon - after which, my blogs may well fall silent for awhile. If you try to contact me from here on out with little initial success, just be persistent. I've got my hands full now, but I'm not planning on going anywhere; I'll still help if I can do so, however this turns out. Mom would want me to.

In the meantime, if you have any good energy to send into the universe for Mom and the people treating her, please do. She's not only a primary source of my own social conscience and fire, but she's generously supported my unpopular causes over the years, even when she barely had enough to live on herself. She's the person that my prisoner friends ought to be thanking and praying for the most today - she helps keep me going when I risk succumbing to both poverty and despair, so that I in turn can be there for them. She is who makes most of my work possible. She saved my life, in fact.

So, my mom, Jean Boatman, is my Woman of the Year. She's a retired teacher from Fountain Hills, and a member of the current school board there. She's actually a registered Republican and has been an officer of the Mayflower Society (yes, I'm a Pilgrim) - but don't let that fool you. She's really an insurgent liberal and lives somewhat vicariously through my radical politics (which the people who love and respect her know already, so her "cover" isn't really blown). Please think good things for us - and do something pro-active to stand up for collective bargaining, public education, and health care rights this week.

Finally, I hope it dawns on Mom's community as they learn of her extraordinary medical needs that if the Republican and Tea Parties had their way right now, she would have been left to die like those AHCCCS transplant patients - and all the other Medicaid patients the state wants to cut off of medical care (but is more than willing to shell out $20,000+/year to imprison). Mom's life would be no less worth saving if she had no health insurance than it is now. Why is anyone else's?

Send that message to the the chair of the Az House Death Panels - also known as the Appropriations Committee - if you're a friend of my mom's. He's the man that Fountain Hills chose to represent their interests: John Kavanagh. Since most teachers are struggling to survive out there - and a lot of kids are hurting, too - I'd say he's doing a lousy job of representing anyone but the rich in that town.

He can be reached at:

John Kavanagh
AZ House of Representatives
1700 W. Washington
Room 114
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Phone Number: (602) 926-5170
Fax Number: (602) 417-3108

"Give my Taxes to AHCCCS:
Health care is a human right."

Get well card for Mom/1st Amendment lesson for AZ students.
Arizona State Capitol/Wes Bolin Plaza.