24 July 2005

Maricopa County, Arizona

The following is copied directly from Jon's Jail Journal.

You live there? This is how your money is being spent. Go visit Jon's site, or Mothers Against Arpaio. I see from this article at Intellectual Conservative.Com that people are becoming aware that abuse is happening, but can't defend that awareness by saying exactly how it's going on. The article goes on to quote what it says are very low figures for inmates injured whilst resisting prison officers - it completely ignores abuses and lack of health care that are not related to insubordination.

Sorry to throw this at you on a Sunday morning, but it has churned my gut. We would condemn a third world country and boycott it, for less.

Lest We Forget

“The mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs nor a favoured few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately by the grace of God.”
Thomas Jefferson

It’s the one-year anniversary of my transfer from Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s jail-cum-cesspit to the Arizona Department of Corrections. Since being moved I’ve kept track of conditions at Arpaio’s gulags via Linda and Pearl – the two founder members of Mothers Against Arpaio – who have provided me with testimonies from inmates and inmate family members. Here’s a small sample of sorrowful words taken from the testimonies.

“…my fiancĂ© committed suicide in Madison Street [jail] on December 28, 2004.”

“My brother…came into contact with what they call ‘Durango Rot’, a foot fungus. They refused him medical treatment for this until one toe became so large with disease that it literally exploded.”

“One lady who was in the holding cell with me…[her] uterus fell out while in the tents. She was holding it and told the sheriffs….[she was told] it was not an emergency and she could push it back in.”

“…my son has suffered constantly with anti-Semitism. He has been beaten tormented and denied medical care after a beating by a detention officer…. He suffered two hemiated discs and nerve compression in his back. He is suffering from reccurring staph infections…. He has had heart surgery due to a staph infection that attacked one of his valves. His body is covered with scars due to these infections eating away at his skin.”

“…a very close friend of mine was beaten into a coma, by other inmates in Madison Street Jail, and nearly died. Still today, he can barely walk.”

“My daughter…at Estrella [jail]…contracted an infection…. She may lose her leg; they took her [to hospital] with an open wound, a good 8 inches long, 2 inches wide cut almost to the bone and tissue….”
“…my daughter…saw a woman pepper sprayed because she had been asking and asking for medical help.”

“My son…has been beaten (resulting in broken ribs, bruises, cuts)….The jail is overheated, overcrowded and infested with bugs and lice. Sheriff Joe has NO RIGHT…to run his jail as a NAZI CONCENTRATION CAMP!”

“Our grandchildren’s father died while in the custody of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Our grandchildren…are without a father now because of the horrific conditions that Eddie was subjected to.”

“…his tents aren’t saving tax dollars, they are making Joe rich…. His justice will come just like Hitler’s and the rest of the Third Reich.”

It seems to have been business as usual for Sheriff Joe Arpaio. His empire has expanded; a record level of presentence detainees is being subjected to institutional crimes such as the ones these testimonies graphically describe. The taxpayers footing the bill for Arpaio’s scheme have been rewarded by Phoenix becoming an epicentre of crime. So many arrests and convictions are occurring that the State of Arizona has to export prisoners to other states for want of bunks in the overcrowded prisons.

I have never witnessed a greater threat to society than Joe Arpaio enriching himself from the sweat and blood of the downtrodden. His gluttony has corrupted what should be sacred public work. How many more American citizens must be tortured or killed before Joe Arpaio is stopped? How can American politicians who espouse international human rights allow the Arpaio beast to run wild in their own backyard? How can George W. Bush scold other countries about international human rights violations when Sheriff Joe Arpaio is on his Steering Committee? The hands of American leaders may be tied when it comes to fixing problems on foreign soil but surely they have the power to prevent American citizens from being murdered, tortured, and sexually abused in Maricopa County’s jails. Why aren’t America’s leaders proving their commitment to fight international human rights violations through actions not through shallow words? Until Sheriff Joe Arpaio is removed it seems that there will be an expanding stain on America’s soul.

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