The American Friends Service Committee of Arizona, a leading watchdog and opponent of for-profit incarceration in Arizona and nationwide, has condemned the decision of the Mesa City Council last night to enter into a contract with CoreCivic, formerly Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).
“We would like to thank Mayor and Council for their openness to hearing the deep concerns of their residents and those of surrounding communities. But we are dismayed that Mesa’s elected leaders chose to vote against the clear wishes of the majority of their constituents,” said Emily Verdugo, Program Coordinator with AFSC.
The standing-room only crowd expressed audible frustration and anger when Mayor Giles characterized the movement to privatize as “jail reform”: Mesa’s answer to the years of a substandard Maricopa County jail system under Joe Arpaio.
Caroline Isaacs, AFSC Program Director, summed up the problem with this analogy: “If a group of employees complained about low wages or unsafe working conditions and the company sent their jobs overseas, you certainly wouldn’t call that ‘workplace reform,’ she said.
The two Councilmembers who voted against the proposal—Vice Mayor David Luna and Councilmember Jeremy Whittaker—both pointed out that the City of Mesa had not done enough to explore solutions with the current Maricopa County Board of Supervisors or Maricopa county Sheriff Paul Penzone. They, and many members of the public, noted that the decision to privatize had been suddenly fast-tracked, leaving little time for a critical assessment of alternatives.
AFSC’s Verdugo warns that the City’s decision to privatize their jail operations will open the door to further privatization of public safety in Maricopa County. “When Mesa pulls its money out of Maricopa County jail, it will undoubtedly pass that cost onto other Maricopa County cities that also contract with MCSO. This will either push cities to follow Mesa and privatize their jail operations, or push MCSO to have to privatize. Either option is irresponsible for the taxpayers of Maricopa County from a fiscal perspective, but also undermines local control of a critical public safety responsibility of government.”
The American Friends Service Committee calls upon the Mayor to hold off on signing the contract with CoreCivic and instead convene stakeholder groups to explore alternative approaches that would address the complaints of the City while maintaining local control of this critical government function.
The City of Mesa is currently negotiating with CoreCivic, formerly Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), for a contract to privatize the city jail.
This is a dangerous experiment as it would be the first jail in Arizona to be run by a private, for-profit corporation. CoreCivic/CCA also has come under fire nationally for a long track record of mismanagement, prisoner abuse, price gouging, and other issues.
Help AFSC Arizona fight against privatization and the commodification of people! Click here to contact Mesa Mayor John Giles today and ask him to rescind the request for proposal and end negotiations with CoreCivic.
The Mesa Police Department has pushed for the private jail because they say that the Maricopa County Sheriff is charging them too much to send prisoners to county jails. However, many common-sense reforms do much more to reduce the number of people held in jail and control costs, as evidenced by programs in Maricopa, Pima, and Coconino Counties.
Before the contract with CoreCivic or any other proposal moves forward, there needs to be a genuine and honest conversation about costs and services with Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.
AFSC is excited to host Blurring the Boundaries: Trauma and Healing Justice on May 31st, 2017 from 10:00am to 4:00pm at the YWCA of Southern Arizona, 525 N. Bonita Avenue, Tucson AZ, 85745.
This conference will offer a critical examination of how the criminal justice system responds to, reinforces, and creates trauma for crime survivors, people accused of crime, and their families, as well as for the community at large.
Experts in the fields including formerly incarcerated and convicted people, academics, direct service professionals and policy makers will provide a framework on addressing trauma in the criminal justice realm, and discuss how we can shift away from punishment and move to a more healing and sustainable approach to create a safer
community for everyone.
Community leader and President/Founder of JustLeadershipUSA, Glenn E. Martin, will be the keynote speaker for the event. Martin has been working to amplify the voices of formerly incarcerated and convicted people for over 15 years, and will provide necessary context about the role of trauma in the criminal justice system.
Dr. Monica Casper, University of Arizona sociologist professor and editor of Critical Trauma Studies: Understanding Violence, Conflict and Memory in Everyday Life, will open the conference by providing an analysis on trauma and its relation to the criminal justice system. Panelists Dr. Patricia Kelly, MPH, APRN, Manny Mejias, Luis Perales, M.S., and Stacy Scheff, Esq. will discuss the creation and effects of trauma of the criminal justice system in various areas, from schools to public health, solitary confinement to reentry.
AFSC Arizona invites people from all areas of experiences and professions to join in this necessary discussion and help in promoting agency practices and state policies that build a safer and less harmful system for all people.
Tickets are available at Eventbrite. Space is limited, so register today!
Early Bird Registration: $15.00 (prior to April 22nd)
General Registration: $25.00
Scholarships are available. Please contact Rebecca, firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
AFSC Arizona is marking its Centennial with a celebration at La Cocina Restaurant in the historic Presidio district of downtown Tucson! Tuesday, March 28th from 5:00pm to 10:00pm, at 201 N. Court Ave, Tucson AZ 85701! The event is free and open to the public. La Cocina is hosting the event as part of their “Tuesdays for Tucson” series, and will donate 10% of all sales from the evening to AFSC.
Live music, poetry readings, and a silent auction will be the main events of the evening. Our goal is to raise funds for the program’s ongoing work of advocating against mass incarceration and immigration detention, working to improve prison conditions, and reducing the number of people incarcerated in Arizona.
The event will feature:
- Live music performance by Billy Sedlmayr, Tucson desert rock icon.
- Live inside/outside poetry readings and storytelling from the North Star Collective, an activist group that includes people who have been charged, convicted and branded with an arrest and/or conviction history.
- Silent auction featuring items donated from local artists and businesses, including the Rialto Theater, Antigone Books, and Arizona breweries, as well as a signed copy of Orange is the New Black, by Piper Kerman—the book that inspired the Netflix series.
2017 marks the 100th Anniversary of the American Friends Service Committee. Founded in 1917 by pacifist Quakers as an alternative to military service during World War I, the Service Committee has grown to an international organization with programs in 15 countries around the world and 37 offices in the US.
AFSC has always made it a priority to build sustainable programs that focus on the
individual needs of the community where each office is based. Here in Arizona, we have focused on the movement to end mass incarceration since opening in 1981. As we move through 2017, the need for this work has intensified—with national rhetoric going backwards to the fear mongering “lock ‘em up” mentality that caused the extreme increase in prison populations and instigated irreparable harm to individuals and families. Most recent, the Department of Justice called to increase the use of private prisons despite the pattern of inhumane and unsafe conditions for-profit prisons produce.
Now more than ever, AFSC Arizona must continue our work in reducing the prison population, challenging for-profit incarceration, and improving conditions for incarcerated people. Please join us in celebrating social justice and charting a path forward to continue speaking truth to power for another 100 years.
For more information, please visit the Facebook event page.
Palestinian journalist and author Mohammed Omer has been documenting the realities faced by people and communities in Gaza for over a decade. This month, Omer will be on a speaking tour of several cities in the United States. We invite you to meet and hear from Omer here in Tucson.
Please Join us for these events:
Nov. 14, 6 p.m.: Tucson, Arizona
Revolutionary Grounds, 606 N 4th Ave., Tucson, Arizona 85705
Organized by AFSC
Nov. 15, 7-9 p.m.: Tucson, Arizona
Global Justice Center, 225 E 26th St, Tucson, Arizona 85713
Public Event co-sponsored by the Southern Arizona BDS Network, Students for Justice in Palestine – University of Arizona, Jewish Voice for Peace Tucson
It’s been more than 10 years since Israel imposed a military blockade on Gaza. In that time, “Gaza has endured three Israeli military assaults from land, sea, and air that have left thousands of Palestinians dead, many more badly injured and maimed, and much of the [Gaza] strip’s infrastructure and fragile economy in ruins,” writes Omer.
Learn more about the crisis in Gaza and why the U.S. must demand an end to the blockade at one of Omer’s upcoming appearances. #gazaunlocked
Think Arizona spends too much on prisons?
Now is your chance to be heard!!
After banning public testimony during departmental budget hearings, the House Appropriations Committee has decided to hold a “Budget Conversation Tour,” to solicit public input on the state budget.
Gov. Ducey has stated that he wants to reduce prison populations, but his budget recommendation proposed:
- $17.6 million for 1,000 new private prison beds.That is more than 10 times the amount he wants to spend on the long-term, sustainable solutions to reducing our prison population.
- Authorization for the Department of Corrections to bid out a new contract for ANOTHER 2,500 beds, with a projected price tag of over $60 million per year.
It is vital to attend these hearings and let Arizona legislators know NO MORE PRISON BEDS IN ARIZONA! REFORM IS THE KEY!
UPCOMING TOWN HALLS:
The shocking riots in the privately-operated Kingman prison and the cancellation of the contract for the facility has raised significant questions about the role of prison privatization in Arizona. Polls show that Arizona voters are deeply uncomfortable with the notion of incarceration for profit, and many are raising questions about why the state is spending more on prisons than education.
Private prison companies are one of the drivers of the prison boom in Arizona, including support for SB1070, the controversial anti-immigrant bill passed in 2010. The corporations wield tremendous economic and political influence in our state.
All this can seem overwhelming. What can the average person do against such powerful corporations?
On Saturday, October 24th, the American Friends Service Committee will provide the public with real strategies for individuals to deal a blow to the for-profit incarceration industry. The workshop will provide information about boycott campaigns, divestment options, shareholder activism, and other options.
Participants will learn how to scan their investments to determine if they may unknowingly be invested in mass incarceration through mutual funds or other means. They will also learn about how to bring economic pressure to bear on these corporations.
The workshop is offered in conjunction with Boycott!: The Art of Economic Activism, a unique collection of historical art posters from different boycott campaigns from the 1960’s through today. Including posters from the Montgomery Bus Boycott, United Farm Workers grape and lettuce boycotts, and divestment from apartheid-era South Africa, the art exhibit is on display in Tucson October 10 through 27 at Armory Park Center, 220 S. 5th Avenue. Learn more.
WHO: American Friends Service Committee
WHAT: Workshop on economic activism to end mass incarceration
WHEN: Saturday, October 24th, from 6:00-8:00pm
WHERE: Armory Park Center, 220 S. 5th Avenue, Tucson, AZ