As a mother of two young children and a law abiding, tax paying citizen that was jailed without due process for the crime of none other than protecting my children in a violent situation, I am very concerned. What concerns me is that people are being sentenced to life imprisonment for violation of probation that they are set up to fail.
When you are a convicted felon, whether or not the crime was violent or a heinous crime, you do not get job interviews nor do you get jobs. Every job application you complete asks if you have ever been convicted of a felony.
Let’s back this up and take this even one step further to how a person violates their probation. You lose everything you own any time you spend any more than 72 hours in any jail. County, city, or state, whether you are convicted or acquitted. First you lose your job. Most companies have a 3 day termination for no call/no show policy. In the right to work states like Arizona, they just fire you for being thrown in jail, because they can.
Then you lose your transportation and insurance for said transportation for you can no longer make a car payment or keep title, registration, and insurance on your vehicle. Then you lose your place of residence because you cannot afford to pay rent and your landlord holds everything you own for ransom until you pay back rent that you can no longer acquire a job to pay for. No this is not legal, but how do you fight it without a job, money, a place to live, and a jail/prison sentence hanging over your head because you will violate your probation the first time you miss making a payment to the Department of Corrections Probation Department.
Now you are homeless, have no assets to sell, and cannot even get food stamps, even if you had an address to mail them to. Felons are not allowed to receive food stamps. So, pray tell, what are you to do if you have no family or network of caring people to help you? You get picked up for vagrancy, eating in public, and are in violation of your probation. Two down only one strike to go.
You serve another 6 months to a year and are released for good behavior on probation again, but have no where to go, nor any way to get there if you did. Your first instinct is survival. How can you get a job, when you cannot even change your clothes or take a bath or eat so that you can beat the street and look for a job? You do not have an address or way of contact data, not that an employer would hire you anyway, because now you are a two time Charlie with a record of a felony.
So you crawl behind a dumpster to die by yourself and some police officer with “To Protect & Serve” painted on his cruiser car door shines a spotlight in your eyes and tells you that you are under arrest for vagrancy. Guess what? This is your third probation violation and now you get to spend life in prison, because the law reads three strikes you’re out.
I spent 60 days in the Maricopa County Estrella Jail on the south side of Phoenix, AZ. I was untried, un-convicted, and un-sentenced of the crime named Felony 6: Custodial Interference because I removed my children from domestic violence without asking the violent abuser for permission to take my children across the state line. Psychotic mass murderers are treated better than I and my cell mates were.
Prisoners there are starved, deprived of food and sleep, fed rotten food, denied medical attention or over-medicated on drugs they cannot refuse unless they want to be strapped down in a psyche chair for 12-24 hours. They are debased, dehumanized, humiliated constantly, denied any and all human rights, let alone civil rights, and are treated worse than dog manure on the bottom of your shoes and then told to the point of convincing and brainwashing them into believing it, that they don’t deserve to live but they better not die either. This is after they break their spirit with solitary confinement, belittlement, sleep and food deprivation and/or food poisoning.
Would you, a prudent and reasonable person normally, sign a plea agreement to a crime you did not commit just to get out of this place? Or would you take a chance that you would live to go to trial a year later? If you are lucky it will only be a year, as your public defender is only concerned with his deals to strike up with the prosecuting attorney because his work load is that of two to three people. These are the choices you are given.
There was a woman that was in this jail with me that had a needle broke off in her arm as they were giving her an insulin shot because she was diabetic, and they left it there for three days. What did she do to end up in Joe Arapio’s jail? She was an OTR truck driver and received a speeding ticket, was not in town to go to court, so they put a bench warrant out for her arrest. Three years later she gets pulled over for an ‘improper lane change’, her license is run through their system, they roughed her up, arrested her, locked her up in filth without toilet paper, food, bond or a phone call for 48 hours, then lost her paperwork for 30 days after they transferred her to the general inmate population. I am not kidding. There are thousands of people in these jails being treated in this manner and I am sure that Phoenix, Arizona is not the only jail in this country to treat their inmates like this.
Prison is a very profitable business in this, the United States of America, because jails and prisons are federally funded by head counts and some are even privatized so that they are permitted to turn a profit, and still receive the funding available. Head counts are what gets their pockets lined and they most certainly do not buy food with their funding. I was witness to these crimes against our people, American citizens, first hand and documented every one of them in my journals, and still retain the ones that I was able to keep them from destroying before I got out. They were too busy moving me every other day and locking me down in maximum security for a minimum security crime to keep a close eye on my personal belongings, if you want to call tank orders personal property, and assumed I was uneducated and inarticulate.
Until we put a stop to what they are doing for all the wrong reasons, these people will continue to suffer at their hands. They are cruel, demeaning, and get a real kick out of taking away, not just civil rights, but human rights of life no matter why you are there or what you are guilty of doing to get there.
But then, until it is you sitting in that foul, sewer smelling cell without food or daylight for days on end, then you won’t really care what is happening to them. You will just continue to make excuses of why the law should read the way it should and present manipulated crime rates and numbers to make those who feel safe by that information, continue to feel secure so that they continue to pay your salary and retirement account portfolios.
These people are your neighbors, your siblings, your relatives, your employees, your tenants and clients. Sometimes they’re your sons and daughters or your parents. Rehabilitation does not ever enter into what anyone is sentenced to corrections for. It is an insane asylum for those addicted to power and the cruelty they can inflict on another human being.
These people are still a part of the human race and our planet as a species. They may have made a mistake, but they do not deserve what they receive with our ‘penal’ system that has nothing to do with justice and everything to do with MONEY AND POWER under the legal guise of THE LAW under whatever statutes they decide to index those laws to. When is their debt to society ever paid?
Why they committed any crime to begin with is another issue. Maybe because they had hungry mouths to feed, a family and a mortgage, and college tuition to pay and lost their job due to the recent corporate exodus to Mexico in the last 8 years of the Bush/Chaney Tyranny. They lost it all and committed the non-violent crime of embezzlement or stole food from a new Circle K job that did not even come close to feeding his family. The reasons for the crimes are a lot deeper than most people in their tight little glass offices on the thirteenth floor with a name on the door, will ever admit to.
Welcome to America. It’s such a wonderful country, that we are allowing our government to burn it to the ground one family, one man, one woman, one child at a time. All in the name of the Lord, Jesus and the All Mighty Dollar, as all the believers stand behind him and smile.