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JULY 21, 2011: Peg's Blogs on Hiatus...

As many friends and regular readers know, I've been dealing with a lot in my personal life, lately, while my workload has continued to grow. Rest assured that I'm in the best of company, and getting by with a little help from my friends. Still, I need to take a break and focus on centering myself. That means this site will be neglected even more than it has been.

Until I'm able to get a grip on blogging regularly and thoughtfully again here (or until someone else steps in to anchor the site), I encourage people to check out Carl Toersbijns' blog (he's a former Deputy Warden for the AZ Department of Corrections, and while not an abolitionist, he's a strong advocate for the prisoners with mental illness, and for broad-based prison reform in AZ). You may also want to drop in on Middle Ground Prison Reform's site for news.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Truth-in-Sentencing, Arizona: one in ten youth will be sexually abused the first year in juvenile prison.

This is profoundly tragic. This kid was in state prison for shoplifting and drug use - that's a real problem, given who the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections touts as their main customers: "the worst of the worst young criminals in the state." I have yet to see any of the real bad guys get abused in prison, but we shrug off reports like this one as if they're freak accidents and only the criminals we love to hate get hurt badly. Thank god the judge let the kid go home after all this.

Judges should be ordered to read aloud at sentencing the risks they expose each child to if they plan to lock them up - beginning with the one in every ten kids who will be sexually abused the first year they're in the system.
Then when a child is raped or suicides in custody, the judge should be held civilly liable for the risk they knowingly, explicitly subjected them to as part of their punishment.

The judiciary can't possibly think that juvenile detention centers are really therapeutic rehabilitation facilites to send children to - which is why the AzDJC calls places like Adobe Mountain "Safe Schools", instead of what they are: child prisons. It makes the prospect of committing a child there more palatable to the well-intended. They're really prison prep schools, though, and come complete with gangs, drugs, and sexual abuse - as well as child-size prison uniforms, stark cells, handcuffs and shackles.

We just pack a bunch of naive, emotionally impaired kids in with a few real disturbed thugs to justify keeping those places open at all, then indoctrinate them into a culture that leaves them few options for roles and self-image to choose from outside of the criminal justice paradigm populated by distinctly-defined "criminals", "victims", and cops.

Most children who have been criminalized and institutionalized are also survivors of abuse already, and grow up with unresolved trauma issues that lead to self-medicating with drugs - and then prison again. It is not uncommon for their involvement with the juvenile justice system to be the greater source of trauma than their adolescent participation in crime was, though.

This kid, for one, was hardly safe - and the truth is that when this kind of thing happens it hardly ever hits the press, so the public is lulled into thinking that violence in the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections is not the rule. Prisons RUN on violence and the threat of it to coerce compliance, though, people. They are authoritarian police institutions - do not send children there and expect them to come out healthy. If they do, they are the exception to the rule, not the other way around.

Sentencing practices should be closely monitored for all critical outcomes - not only recidivism, but suicide, homicide, further victimization, sexual exploitation: once we start treating kids like criminals, we seem to stop caring about all other aspects of their lives but whether or not they remain criminals...nurturing little but prison culture, stigmatization, and a negative self-image in the process.

Don't believe them for a minute when they tell you they have to be like that because of the serious pathology of their youth - the worst are still out getting away with it. The kids the AzDJC really have the most of are the ones who got caught and were too poor to swing their own attorneys - a good many of whom were low-level, non-violent drug offenders who just kept relapsing on probation, and everyone knows that a bunch of the kids we throw into juvie should have gone through mental health treatment, not the criminal justice system - and would have but for the lack of funds for public mental health services in this state. Those kids couldn't get into a residential treatment program unless they were first criminalized (that must be a violation of the Olmstead Act) - and then they ended up in prison instead.

So, this article is for those who still believe that "criminals deserve what they get in prison." Folks who really believe that do these kids the greatest harm through their deliberate indifference to their suffering - as do the bureaucrats who do damage control by distorting the gravity of their plight behind the best of bars.
When the AzDJC faced the threat of privatization last year, they and the officers' unions chose to appeal not to our collective sense of responsibility to help these kids, but to our fear of them instead, arguing that private companies can't safely handle the highly dangerous young criminals they have in their care. Public safety would be compromised, they argued - never mind how it would affect the welfare of our criminalized youth. I even heard one guy refer to the escape at Kingman (as if the lack of state oversight had no bearing on the outcome) - suggesting that young state prisoners would be busting out and killing everyone if they could.

But the murderers and sociopaths they have in custody aren't the ones getting screwed - it's the kids like this one below and Presley Austin who represent the incoming tide...
AzDJC Director Mike Branham should be the one out in front on this telling the public how bad these places are for such youth, that there's no way to make the prison system "work" for most of them, and that we should be directing our resources into other kinds of services for them before they hit the child prisons.

The problem with committing our children so readily to the care of the state, is that it tends to place its own survival over the best interests of the people its machinery was constructed to serve in the first place. Mike could have embraced an abolitionist vision and steered the entire agency towards dissolution, redirecting resources back to their prisoners' home communities to decide how best to teach their youth the nuances of justice, and to cultivate a better sense of social responsibility than our current reliance on these archaic institutions has done thus far.

Thank you, Judge
Aragón, for exercising compassion and taking responsibility for correcting your orders. Someone should fire that prosecutor - especially if he's the one who coaxed the judge to send that kid up river in the first place. He was some kind of dangerous, alright...

Why can't these places keep their prisoners safe?


Release is ordered for boy, 16, after attacks in custody
Kim Smith / Arizona Daily Star
March 5, 2011

A Pima County Juvenile Court judge who sent a 16-year-old boy to the Catalina Mountain School last December ordered his release Friday after learning the boy may have been repeatedly stabbed with a pen one week last month and sodomized the next.

Judge Gus Aragón ordered the boy placed on probation until his 18th birthday in March 2012, said Assistant Pima County Public Defender Terri Pones.

"I am ecstatic," Pones said following the hearing.

According to court documents filed by Pones, Aragón sent the boy to the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections in December after the drug-addicted boy repeatedly violated probation.

The boy had been adjudicated delinquent for stealing candy and soft drinks from a Marana park concession stand, Pones said. He also has drug convictions.

On Feb. 3, a teacher overheard the teenager's roommate tell another roommate the teenager had been stabbed in the throat, arm and rib cage with a pen two days prior, according to the documents. The teenager told his mother and corrections officials he was afraid of retaliation and he'd overheard other teens talking about assaulting him again.

The boy and his mother were assured he would be housed by himself, staff would supervise him on a more individual basis and someone would always be "shadowing him," Pones said in the court documents.

On Feb. 15, the teenager was taken to Northwest Medical Center after being sodomized by a roommate and forced to perform a sexual act, Pones said.

After being discharged from the hospital, the teenager was sent to Adobe Mountain in Phoenix for his safety, making it difficult for his family to visit him, Pones said.

Because of the assault, Pones said the boy's "treatment needs have now far exceeded" those he had in December and he ought to be released so he can receive treatment in the community.

David Berkman, Pima County's chief criminal deputy attorney, said prosecutors asked Aragón to schedule a hearing on the allegations once the corrections department completed its investigation, but he declined to do so.

"It appears he accepted what they said," Berkman said.

Prosecutors objected to the boy's release, Berkman said, and may ask for another hearing on the matter, depending upon the results of the investigation.

Laura E. Dillingham, director of communications for the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections, said the investigation is ongoing.

Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or

Black girls and the Prison Industrial Complex.

School-to-prison-pipeline links:

• ACLU Racial Justice Program page on Challenging the School-to-Prison Pipeline at

• NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. page on School to Prison Pipeline at

• Charles Hamilton Houston Institute page on Redirecting the School to Prison Pipeline at

• Juvenile Law Center at

• Southern Poverty Law Center page on School-to-Prison Pipeline at

• Dignity in Schools Campaign site with links to research as well as tools specifically for parents, students, community organizers, and educators, at

• Advancement Project site specifically for grassroots advocates challenging the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track at

New American Media Ethnoblog

By Rachel Pfeffer, Mar 15, 2011

African American girls and young women have become the fastest growing population of incarcerated young people in the country. Efforts to stop mass incarceration focused on black girls are almost nonexistent in government policy, the media, foundations and academia.

Recently, the Thelton Henderson Center for Social Justice at the University of California, Berkeley’s Boalt Law School took the bold and necessary step of organizing a day-and-a-half free event titled, “African American Girls and Young Women and Juvenile Justice System: A Call to Action.”

The beauty of this conference was the focus on black girls and the passionate energy to create a path for action among the participants.

Academics and activists, among them formerly incarcerated African American girls and young women, gathered together from across the divides of class, age, race and place to talk about what we know about these young people, their interaction with the criminal justice system--and what we are going to do about it.

Sociologist Nikki Jones of UC Santa Barbara, and Meda Chesney-Lind, University of Hawaii opened up the conference with a look at the statistics.

“No”, said Jones, “Black girls are not committing more crimes, even though they are being incarcerated in record numbers.”

“I’ve been studying this for decades,” said Chesney-Lind. She added, “We have never seen these kind of numbers before. National policies like zero tolerance are responsible for the school to prison pipeline. And a dual justice system that treats white girls differently from black girls is disproportionately impacting African American girls.”

She continued, “In 2008, we knew the arrest rate in California was 49 out of every 1,000 for black girls, 8.9 per 1,000 for white girls and 14.9 per 1,000 for Latinas.”

The cause of the over criminalization of African American young women is best understood by looking back through the lens of American history and the ideological construction of black criminality.

“The shackles of slavery endured into other eras, including convict leasing systems and chain gangs,” said Prisicilla Ocen, a professor at UCLA’s Critical Race Studies.

“In order to sustain these systems, de-humanizing stereotypes of black women were created to maintain the difference between white and African American women,” she said. “Black girls are still dealing with racial and gendered stereotypes that were used to justify punishment.”

Ocen continued, “These historical stereotypes laid the groundwork for the creation of a dual criminal justice system – one where African American women and girls are treated differently for the same behaviors.”

Many participants saw the treatment of African American girls in the justice system as criminal with little accountability. “Adults are committing crimes too; this is part of the story that needs to be told,” said Barry Krisberg, Research and Policy Director at UC Berkeley’s Earl Warren Institute on Law.

Krisberg went on, “Once in the criminal justice system, African American girls are treated with brutality, so much emotional and sexual abuse. We are violating African American girls’ human rights everyday in all 58 counties of California. Where are the lawsuits? Where is the accountability?”

The breadth of the problem seems overwhelming, yet no one at the conference seemed daunted. The resolve in the room at Boalt Law School was palpable and the ideas for action began to flow. Formerly incarcerated participants, who work at the Center for Young Women’s Development (CYWD), and other formerly incarcerated African American girls will lead these efforts. They are the experts.

For the past 17 years, young women at CYWD have been leaving jail, the street economies and gangs to work for self healing, social justice, policy change and a meaningful place in their communities.

“The call to action is the task before us—there are a number of things we can do,” said Lateefah Simon, activist and executive director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights San Francisco.

“The Henderson Center can provide institutional support for African American Leaders, who are engaging in the criminal justice system. We can convene all the judges, we can organize ourselves locally and nationally to focus on African American girl,” said Simon. “Yes, let’s do that--we want our girls to be free.”

There is room for everyone to have a meaningful part in efforts to stop the over incarceration of African American girls or young women. For more information about how to get involved in this effort please contact:

Rachel Pfeffer is the founder of the Center for Young Women’s Development and currently on the Advisory Board. For more information

The Home Front and Queer Youth.

There’s No Place Like Home: Families Are an Essential Support for LGBT Youth

Center for American Progress

February 25, 2011

“With a targeted strategy, and a lot of attention, we can build a child welfare system that addresses the needs of the LGBTQ population,” said Bryan Samuels at a CAP event February 7 on the importance of family support of LGBT youth. Samuels, commissioner for the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, was joined on a panel by Dr. Caitlin Ryan, director of the Family Acceptance Project, or FAP, and Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Jeff Krehely, CAP’s Director of LGBT Research and Communications, gave welcoming remarks. Immediately following, David Hansell, the assistant secretary of the Administration for Children and Families, spoke about the role of government in ensuring acceptance and equality for LGBT youth.

A series of highly publicized suicides by LGBT youth last fall punctuated the need to address bullying in schools, a problem endemic in communities across the country. “Ostracism is one of the worst thing kids can experience,” Hansell said in his remarks. “It eats away at their self-esteem, and they become less able to resist bullying. And that’s why there is a coordinated effort going on across government to try to prevent the coercive effects of bullying, and to imbue young people with the self-confidence to stand up against those who try to intimidate them.” Evidence of the government’s resolve can be found in the Affordable Care Act, which makes it easier for LGBT individuals and same-sex couples to access healthcare, as well as in efforts to make adoption viable for same-sex couples, Hansell argued.

For many LGBT youth, bullying doesn’t stop in the schoolyard. These youth find themselves equally vulnerable to humiliation, intolerance, and even violence in the one space that at the very least ought to offer refuge: the home.
No one denies the horrible effects that bullying from peers can have on the mental health and self-esteem of young people, but recent research conducted by FAP suggests that the effects of intolerance in the home may be even worse.

Typically, Dr. Ryan explained, families are removed from the care equation: “The inclination is not to engage the family, but automatically to exclude the family because families are seen as unsupportive at best and volatile or potentially dangerous at worst.” The work of FAP, however, offers a new framework for family engagement and looks to ways in which families can be educated about the consequences of rejecting their child.

Indeed, FAP research demonstrates the alarming consequences of family intolerance of LGBT youth. Dr. Ryan stated that, for instance, HIV incidence increases drastically with higher family intolerance levels: “LGBT young people who experience a high level of family rejection … during adolescence are more than three-and-a-half times more likely to be at high risk for HIV infection as a young adult. That risk is about cut in half for families that express moderate levels of rejection.”

The research found similar trends with respect to depression, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and suicidality. In each of those categories, LGBT youth who experienced high levels of rejection were considerably more prone to self-destructive behavior. Engaging family in the discussion, and educating them about the consequences of rejecting their child, is therefore paramount to ensuring the mental and physical well being of LGBT children.

On the panel discussion, both Minter and Samuels stressed that Dr. Ryan’s research should inform policy decisions regarding LGBT youth.

“If we really want to address the problems facing LGBT youth, we also need resources and policies that are focused on keeping these young people in their families [and] in their communities. … that’s the way we’re going truly protect future generations,” Minter stated.
He continued, “I think the most hopeful and inspiring aspect of Dr. Ryan’s research, to me, is that they’ve developed family intervention programs that really work, and that have shown us that the goal is eminently achievable.” More funding for research efforts such as those undertaken by FAP and the increased availability of materials and programs to educate families about the importance of accepting LGBT children can help make substantial improvements in the lives of LGBT children across the country. Those interested in learning more about FAP’s findings can access their research here.

See also: *
Families Matter by Shannon Minter and Jeff Krehely

To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Megan Smith (health care, education, economic policy)
202.741.6346 or
Print: Christina DiPasquale (foreign policy and security, energy)
202.481.8181 or
Print: Raúl Arce-Contreras (ethnic media, immigration)
202.478.5318 or
Radio: Anne Shoup
202.481.7146 or
TV: Andrea Purse 202.741.6250 or
Web: Erin Lindsay
202.741.6397 or

Friday, March 18, 2011

EXILE: Incarcerated LGBT Youth.

Another decent post from the folks at Solitary Watch - the embedded articles/reports are worth reading, too.


LGBT Kids in Prison Face Rape, Beatings, and Isolation
Solitary Watch / July 13, 2010
by Jean Casella and James Ridgeway


“Across the United States, the brutal and dysfunctional juvenile justice system sends queer youth to prison in disproportionate numbers, fails to protect them from violence and discrimination while they’re inside and to this day condones attempts to turn them straight,” writes Daniel Redman in a powerful article on LGBT youth behind bars, which appeared last month in The Nation.

LGBT youth reportedly make up 15 percent of the juvenile prison population, and report 12 times as many sexual assaults as straight youth do. In addition to being raped, beaten up, bullied, and shunned, these kids often end up in solitary confinement. Redman writes:

Sending LGBT victims of violence into isolation, instead of punishing their attackers, is common practice across the country, even though a federal court has held the practice to be unconstitutional and the American Psychological Association opposes it. And once the youth are put on lockdown—whether to punish or to protect—they miss out on crucial educational opportunities. In 2006, a bisexual youth in California petitioned the court to be removed from his facility because staff members had kept him in isolation for twenty-three hours a day. At 20 years old, he had missed so much schooling that he was only halfway to his high school diploma.

Besides using isolation to purportedly protect queer youth, guards also use lockdown as punishment. “We had one kid who wouldn’t go to school because he was afraid” of the other youth in the facility, says Wesley Ware [of the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana]. And because he was on the mental health unit, a certain amount of social interaction was required as part of his rehabilitation program. For refusing to leave his cell, he was put on lockdown for noncompliance, and his chances for release diminished yet again.

Often, queer youth face as much hostility from prison guards as they do from peers. When a youth faces bullying or violence from another kid, staff can be reluctant to intervene. “The staff views it as [the kid] deserves it, or he’s asking for it—so they don’t intervene or they’ll egg it on,” Ware says. They view it as “good for the kid—gotta teach him and have it beat out of him. Then when the gay kid finally breaks, then he faces the disciplinary consequences.”

Guards are often bullies themselves. Krystal [a transgender teen in Louisiana] reports that staff called her “a disgrace to mankind,” a “punk” or “fucking faggot” on a daily basis and threatened her, saying, “I’ll beat your fucking ass.” When staff called Krystal “faggot” or other names, sometimes she talked back. “Sometimes I would even say, I’m proud to be that,” Krystal says. She would receive more tickets for talking back.

Redman talked to several teens in Louisiana, where the Juvenile Justice Project has just released a comprehensive–and disturbing–report, Locked Up and Out: Youth in Louisiana’s Juvenile Justice System. But as he clearly states, “Antigay policies aren’t just a problem in the Deep South or rural regions.” Nor do prison abuse, rape, and solitary confinement happen only to LGBT kids. As Matt Kelley pointed out yesterday in a post on the subject at, “The problem of abused LGBT youth in prison forces us to think not only about broader issues of sexual assault in prison, but also on alternatives to locking up juveniles.”

Meanwhile, as the Sentencing Project noted last week, ”Three major juvenile justice initiatives remained stalled in the Congress.” One of these is the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), which “promotes the use of effective community-based alternatives to detention, keeps youth out of adult facilities, reduces the disproportionate involvement of youth of color in the system, and promotes other research-driven best practices in the juvenile justice system.” Sounds like a good thing, right? Too bad it’s currently three years overdue for reauthorization.

We want change, not nickels: Homelessness and queer youth.

Invisible: The Crisis of LGBTQ Youth Homelessness. (follow link for video interviews with homeless GLBT youth).

The Raw File
March 2010

According to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimate, the count of homeless and runaway youth ranges from 575,000 to 1.6 million per year. Out of that number, it is conservatively estimated that between 20 and 40 percent identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).

Given that between 3 and 5 percent of the American population identifies as LGBT, the figures make it starkly clear: across America, in its major cities, and suburban and rural counties, a disproportionate share of the tragedy of youth homelessness falls on the backs of LGBT young people.

Mostly poor and minority, many of these young people come from homes marred by instability, conflict, abuse, neglect, or parental drug use. In many cases, coming out as LGBT was the final factor that forced these young adults out of their homes: one-third were assaulted by a family member upon revealing their sexual orientation or gender identity, and over a quarter were kicked out of their homes outright. Having experienced this violent rejection at home, in church or school, or, in some cases, in foster care, many LGBT youth turn to the street, and its grim realities.

Too often, sex work and survival crime, drug abuse and mental illness become a part of everyday life, as animosity towards their sexual orientation or gender expression at mainstream shelters and programs effectively bars them from receiving the meager services available to homeless youth, services that might take them towards stability. By being homeless in a society that discriminates against LGBT people, these young people have been rejected twice: first by their homes, families and communities, and then by the services and systems that are supposed to help and protect them. Caught in the intersection of race, poverty, gender expression and sexuality, these young adults fight to find their way through a society that chooses not to see or help them.

In 2005, disturbed by the silence surrounding this issue and seeking to put a face on this little-known crisis, I began photographing the residents of Sylvia's Place (MCCNY Homeless Youth Services: Sylvia's Place), New York City's only emergency shelter for homeless LGBT youth; its 30 beds comprise over half of the shelter space specifically designated for the upwards of 8,000 homeless young LGBT people in New York City. Using the shelter as a “home base”, I have spent countless hours with these young people, bearing witness to hidden and intimate aspects of their existence: working as a prostitute on “the stroll”; crying at the grave of the mother that left them too soon; kissing their new boyfriend; spending a last Mother's Day with children that they will never see again; moments of introspection. By eschewing exploitative visual stereotypes of homelessness, youth, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and especially gender non-conformity, I believe that these images truthfully show the urgency of their lives.

In a perfect world, these young people would not be ignored: we would all be aware, not only of their daily struggles, but also of the hope that they have for their future selves. It is my hope that these images can bring awareness to the crisis of LGBT youth homelessness, and thus bring about positive change in the lives of this neglected population.

Samantha Box is a 2010 fellow in Photography from the New York Foundation for the Arts

Youth Resource Bank: Center for HIV Law and Policy

Fabulous resources.

Youth in State Custody

Adolescents institutionalized in foster care and juvenile justice facilities are overwhelmingly members of the communities most affected by, and at risk for, HIV/AIDS—low-income youth, African-American and Latino youth, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender youth, and survivors of violence and other abuse. For many of these youth, the path to state custody may have included a period of living on the streets and engaging in substance abuse and sex in exchange for money or drugs.

It is critical that youth in state custody are provided comprehensive, LGBTQ-inclusive sexual health care, including the information and education necessary to make healthful decisions, and an environment that is respectful and responsive to the health needs of youth of all sexual orientations and gender identities. The Resource Bank includes resources that address issues such as access to health care, HIV prevention, youth rights, and rights and needs specific to LGBTQ youth.



Juvenile Injustice: The Unfufilled Rights of Youth in State Custody to Comprehensive Sexual Health Care, The Center for HIV Law and Policy

This is the first legal report and guide on the rights of youth in detention and foster care facilities to comprehensive sexual health care, including sexual medical care, sexuality education, and staff training on sexual orientation and the needs and rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. This publication analyzes the foundation of this right and the sexual health care needs of youth in out-of-home care


Hidden Injustice: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth in Juvenile Courts

The Equity Project

This report, published in late 2009, examines the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth in juvenile courts nationwide. Despite the fact that LGBT youth comprise a significant portion (up to 13%) of youth in detention, they remain invisible to many juvenile justice professionals and are often treated unfairly and harshly in the justice system.

Drawing from first-hand accounts of more than 50 LGBT youth and in-depth interviews of more than 60 juvenile court judges, defense attorneys, prosecutors, probation officers, and detention staff from across the country, Hidden Injustice sheds light on the numerous barriers to fair and effective treatment of court-involved LGBT youth. The report provides juvenile justice professionals, policymakers, and advocates with detailed practice and policy recommendations to help them address these problems. The Appendix includes a model non-discriminatory services policy and a sample court order to ensure a transgender youth receives appropriate medical and mental health services related to gender transition. Click here to download.

Potential for Change: Public Attitudes and Policy Preferences for Juvenile Justice Systems Reform, Center for Children's Law and Policy

As part of a Models for Change program funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Center for Children's Law and Policy issued a report on a poll it commissioned to determine public attitudes about the value of juvenile justice reforms, and public preferences for investment of funds dealing with juvenile offenders.

CCLP reported, in part, that a significant majority of those polled believe that funds would be better spent on counseling, education, and job training for youth in trouble; that treatment and services are more effective ways to deal with youth than incarceration; and that the juvenile justice system treats low-income youth, African American youth, and Hispanic youth unfairly, and far worse than middle-class youth who are suspected of committing similar offenses. Click here to download.

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 español.


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

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Hitting Home: International Women's Day.

This is a post from my other blogs to fill folks in here on what's going on. I've neglected this blog of late, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Anyone interested in researching juvenile justice issues and looking at them from an abolitionist perspective - then picking up the slack here - is welcome to contact me about watching and blogging on Arizona's system of punishing juveniles; I can use the help. We shouldn't let Mike Branham off the hook this easily...


"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."

"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.
PHOENIX (March, 2011)