Weekly Update

2020 Weekly Update: May 1st

Decision Distancing

The happiest of MayDays (under the circumstances) to you! We hope that, like us, you spent a little time outside today soaking up some Vitamin D and standing in solidarity with essential workers demanding safe conditions and pandemic relief.

State lawmakers, meanwhile, danced around the proverbial maypole that is Sine Die, aka the end of Arizona’s legislative session. There were rumors that a decision on whether to reconvene this session or to adjourn would be reached by today, but such a decision never materialized. 

Because so many of you reached out to us with phone calls this week about the status of criminal justice reform legislation, we want to update everyone. Sadly, we can tell you with confidence that all #cjreform bills – including HB 2808 – are dead and will not have a chance to become law in 2020. If the state legislature reconvenes this session, only bills related to COVID-19 are likely to be considered.

Our hearts, just as yours, were heavily invested in achieving sentencing reform at the Capitol this year. Know that our collective disappointment, however, only serves to motivate us in 2021, when the next session (presumably) begins!

#RFJMutualAid Update! 

Your generosity has been unmatched throughout the first two weeks of our ReFraming Justice Mutual Aid campaign! Today, our volunteers delivered more soap, paper towels, toilet paper, tampons and pads to drop-off sites at the Perryville women’s prison complex and to the Phoenix/Alhambra prison complex on Van Buren & 24th Street.

To date, you have helped AFSC-AZ donate nearly 50 boxes of gloves, more than 720 bars of soap, 1,800-plus masks, close to 2,000 rolls of toilet paper, over 2,500 pads and more than 3,400 tampons! We’ve received so many feminine hygiene products, in fact, that the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation & Reentry (ADCRR) won’t take anymore, and any pads and tampons that we receive going forward will be donated to women’s reentry facilities.

Our Amazon Wish List of items has, thus, been updated. And you can continue to purchase and donate approved items for delivery to incarcerated people by clicking here. We have been told that the Phoenix and Perryville warehouses are communicating with ADCRR’s Emergency Preparedness Administration to ensure that donations are delivered to people who are incarcerated, as needed. 

You can continue to donate to the RFJ Mutual Aid campaign through May 13th. Thank you for helping us #ProtectPeopleInPrison!

Thank YOU, Nate!

Our media arts intern, Nate Mckowen, has been an integral part of AFSC-AZ’s work for the past year. From producing his own podcast and posting social media to creating beautiful, inspiring videos – like this recap of #RFJDay2020 – Nate’s work has helped AFSC-AZ communicate what we do on behalf of directly-impacted people all across Arizona.

But it’s time for Nate, who’s started his own video production company, Updraft Productions, to move on from this internship and into the next phase of his career. In appreciation of his time with AFSC-AZ, Nate wrote a powerful blog, “My Year of Living Gratefully,” which you can read on our website.

Of course, it’s AFSC-AZ and our supporters who are truly grateful for Nate’s contributions the past year, and to our community going forward. We all wish you the best, Nate!

AZDHS Inspection Update

Last month, AFSC-AZ and our coalition partners sent a letter to Dr. Cara Christ, director of Arizona’s Department of Health Services (AZDHS), urging her agency to immediately inspect all ADCRR facilities for failure to comply with CDC guidelines – a request based on mounds of evidence provided by incarcerated people, their families, and even ADCRR guards. 

While AZDHS has, thus far, not performed those inspections, they did engage us on April 23rd to discuss how they can ensure compliance by ADCRR. Their engagement with AFSC-AZ on this issue is largely thanks to the pressure all of you and the media have placed on Dr. Christ and Governor Doug Ducey to be transparent and accountable. Those reporters who have been especially attentive to coverage of state prisons during the pandemic are Jimmy Jenkins of NPR affiliate, KJZZ, and Dave Biscobing of ABC15, both in Phoenix. A special shout-out to both of them!

AFSC-AZ and our coalition partners will continue to dialogue with AZDHS throughout this crisis on your behalf. ADCRR’s COVID-19 dashboard has been an inconsistent and insufficient measure of transparency from the department, and we will push for more!

The JLBC Bunch

On Wednesday, April 29th, ADCRR Director David Shinn virtually went before Arizona’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC) to receive a thumbs-up for more money on his plans to expand the Douglas prison complex’s Papago Unit for incarcerated women. AFSC-AZ worked to halt the original expansion in December 2019.

Before hearing from Director Shinn, several of the state senators and representatives who are members of the JLBC raised concerns about ADCRR’s lack of transparency throughout this pandemic, including not providing information on rates of infection among guards, death notices of incarcerated people who have died because of the virus, and the department’s implementation (or lack thereof) of effective prevention strategies.

Reps. Charlene Fernandez and Randall Friese, as well as Sens. Lela Alston and Lisa Otondo, made the case for a substantive public discussion about these issues, and we are appreciate of their efforts. But JLBC members ultimately voted to keep the discussion limited to a private, executive session. In the end, the JLBC, on party lines, gave Director Shinn’s proposal a “favorable” review.

Get Involved!

COVID-19 Take ActionAFSC-AZ will continue to focus on how to best help those impacted in our state prisons. You can contribute to the RFJ Mutual Aid project, amplify our work via social media, or TAKE ACTION with organizations from here in Tucson, around the state, and across the country.

Right now, you can help FAMM tell Gov. Ducey to grant clemency to the most vulnerable people in prison

Tell Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel to get people out of dangerous jail conditions now, by sending her a message via the ACLU of Arizona!

And you can join The S.T.A.R.T. Project for a “drive around protest” on Thursday, April 23, from 1p-1:30p outside the Pima County Adult Detention Center in Tucson!

In The News…

Arizona Death Row Inmate Dies Of Complications From COVID-19
April 30th, 2020 by Jimmy Jenkins, via KJZZ-Phoenix NPR

State prisons have potential for nearly 100% infection rate
April 30th, 2020 by Dillon Rosenblatt, via Arizona Capitol Times

Officials avoid questions over long-term care facilities as experts push back on release of data
April 29th, 2020 by Dave Biscobing, via ABC 15 Phoenix

Internal Report Shows Arizona Prison Is Critically Understaffed
April 29th, 2020 by Jimmy Jenkins, via KJZZ-Phoenix NPR

Advocates plead with Arizona to release vulnerable inmates amid COVID-19
April 29th, 2020 by Alisa Reznick via AZPM-Tucson NPR

Supporters Hold Prayer Vigil At Perryville As COVID-19 Spreads In Arizona Prisons
April 28th, 2020 by Jimmy Jenkins, via KJZZ-Phoenix NPR

Arizona Correctional Officers Union Threatens Walkouts Over COVID-19 Concerns
April 28th, 2020 by Jimmy Jenkins, via KJZZ-Phoenix NPR

Questions surround COVID-19 inmate deaths
April 28th, 2020 by Dave Biscobing, via ABC 15 Phoenix

‘A Ticking Time Bomb’: Advocates Warn COVID-19 Is Spreading Rapidly Behind Bars
April 28th, 2020 by Jimmy Jenkins and Matt Katz, via NPR Morning Edition

Experts: Arizona officials unlawfully holding COVID-19 information
April 27th, 2020 by Dave Biscobing, via ABC 15 Phoenix


Categories: Weekly Update

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