2019 April

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Brian KovacsApril 27, 201910min541067

The employees of the Arizona Department of Corrections are emerging from the shadows. They are unafraid, and are coming forward to share their stories of employee abuses at the hands of a dysfunctional corrections agency, led by embattled Director Charles L. Ryan. Director Ryan was appointed as the Arizona Department of Corrections Director in January 2009. The agency has been in a state of decline since he took command, and has reached a staggering level of incompetence. Journalist Stephen Lemons published a sobering article for the Phoenix New Times on September 16, 2015. It summarized the negligence of the Arizona Department of Corrections that led to sexual assaults, injuries, deaths, and the destruction of public property.

The latest Department scandal was exposed by Investigative Reporter Dave Biscobing from ABC News affiliate, ABC15 in Phoenix, Arizona. That story broke on April 25, 2019. It involved leaked Arizona Department of Corrections prison surveillance videos, and documents from the Lewis Prison Complex in Buckeye, Arizona. The documentation and other information obtained by Dave Biscobing clearly show that dozens of inmate cell doors do not lock in three prison units at that Complex. The doors have been broken for at least five years; the Executive Staff at DOC, including Director Ryan, know about the problem but failed to rectify it. High-risk custody level Inmates can open the cell doors and roam freely within their housing areas. Those security deficiencies resulted in several assaults on corrections staff by inmates, and one inmate death on June 6, 2018. Inmate Andrew McCormick was badly beaten by other inmates, and later died in the hospital from complications from the assault.

Investigative Reporter Dave Biscobing confronted Director Ryan at a public event with questions regarding the broken cell door locks. Director Ryan appeared nervous during the on-camera, impromptu interview with Biscobing. Mr. Ryan was aware of the broken locks and said that the Department receives about five million dollars per year in building renewal funds, but other projects have to be evaluated. He also said that locks cost money and it takes time to repair them. Dave Biscobing told him that officers were being ambushed, and injured by inmates, and one inmate was killed. Mr. Biscobing asked why the projects were not being prioritized. Mr. Ryan responded that they placed door pins in two cell blocks and instructed staff to secure inmates that managed to tamper with the locks. He said those inmates were placed in “tamper-proof” cell blocks and it greatly reduced the tampering of the pins. Mr. Biscobing produced evidence that contradicted Ryan’s statement, and was promptly interrupted, and ushered away from Mr. Ryan by one of the Director’s minions.

Talking Guns has learned that padlocks had previously been placed on many cell doors with broken locks at Lewis Prison as one solution to the problem. ABC15 Investigative Reporter Dave Biscobing released a follow-up story regarding an emergency visit that Director Ryan, and his retinue made to Lewis State Prison near Buckeye, Arizona on April 26, 2019. The Director arrived with a videographer and a team of maintenance workers. Mr. Biscobing’s sources said they were placing padlocks on cell doors. Apparently, they are placing additional padlocks on other cell doors with broken locks. This appears to be an attempt at damage control, and is obviously creating a safety issue for the inmate population should a fire occur in the institutions. Those inmate cells with padlocks have now become death-traps for the inmates that are housed in them.

There are several safety issues that still exist that the Department has known about for years, such as fire alarm systems in some of their prisons that don’t work. The Department circumvents fire codes by requiring officers to notate “fire checks” every half hour in the correctional log. According to several officers, that practice has become perfunctory, and meaningless. Officers are mandated by Department managers to engage in firefighting operations in the event of a cell block fire. The problem is that they have no training in those areas other than the use of a conventional fire extinguisher. They also do not have access to proper firefighting equipment. Several officers over the years have been exposed to toxic substances while attempting to extinguish flames and/or evacuate inmates. Department staff witnessed the decay of the inmate health care system and conditions of confinement under the leadership of Director Ryan. The inevitable lawsuit (Parsons versus Ryan) that resulted occurred on his watch. Parsons versus Ryan was a class-action lawsuit filed by the ACLU, the Prison Law Office, and co-counsel on behalf of more than 33,000 inmates in Arizona state prisons. It challenged the inmate health care system and conditions of confinement for maximum custody inmates.

On February 18, 2015, a federal court approved a settlement in the class-action suit. The settlement ordered the Arizona Department of Corrections to mend a broken health care system, beset by long-term, systemic issues that created numerous deaths and preventable injuries. There were many critical reforms ordered as a result of the settlement. Director Ryan once said that he “inherited” the health care problems when he became the Director of the Department in January 2009. If he had taken steps at the beginning of his administration to ameliorate those issues, many lives could have been saved, and that lawsuit could have been obviated. That landmark case has affected corrections departments across this Nation, creating many administrative, and financial burdens for agency leaders, and taxpayers. Arizona Department of Corrections employees continue to suffer the consequences of that legal action. Staff are overworked with larger workloads that the present system is ill-prepared to handle. It has created safety issues, and lowered staff morale while increasing staff stress, job dissatisfaction, and employee turnover. It has scourged the Department, and will forever be a blight on Director Charles L. Ryan’s administration, and its remarkable ineptitude.

According to ABC15 Investigative Reporter Dave Biscobing’s follow-up report on April 26, 2019, democratic lawmakers and the ACLU of Arizona are calling for Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan to resign or be fired. The report said that Arizona Governor Ducey supported Director Ryan stating, “I just want to say that at this time, I’m supportive of Director Ryan and we’re digging to get to the bottom of what the facts are.” When Ducey was asked for his reaction to the leaked surveillance videos from the Lewis Prison, he said, “I don’t have any further comment.” According to ABC15,

Analise Ortiz, spokesperson for the ACLU of Arizona Campaign for Smart Justice, released the following statement. “The failures of Arizona’s prisons rest on the shoulders of Gov. Ducey, who has for years ignored chaos, suffering, and avoidable deaths in Arizona prisons. The governor has allowed millions of taxpayer dollars to be spent fighting and ignoring court orders and denying the existence of the prisons’ inhumane conditions, rather than focusing on fixing the problems. For the more than $1 billion Arizonans spend on prisons each year, we should have safe facilities, conditions that meet Constitutional minimums, and effective rehabilitative practices in place.”

We at Talking Guns call on Governor Ducey to demand the resignation of Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles L. Ryan. If he will not tender his resignation, we call on you to fire him from the position. The citizens of the State of Arizona, the inmate population in Arizona state prisons, and the Arizona Department of Corrections employees deserve better leadership. The Director position represents the Executive Staff’s most visible symbol of professional conduct and ethics. It requires someone of impeccable character that is beyond reproach. Director Ryan’s autocratic management style has created immeasurable damage to the Arizona Department of Corrections, and his Draconian management tactics are unacceptable in today’s work environment.


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Architekt JessApril 17, 20191min43890

The XTech Tactical MAG47 is made in the USA, And offers Stainless Steel lugs, Feed-lips and Spring.

Talking Guns was asked to test these new mags out in a few different AK47 platforms to get an idea of their Fit, Form and Function.

In every instance there was not one notable issue, the positive feel when the MAG47 locks into the gun far exceeds the feeling of standard metal magazines.

The feeding was perfect no matter what the speed of shooting. Next time we will run full auto weapons to really stress these mags to the max.

Overall we were very pleased with the XTech MAG47 line, they are tough, durable, and lightweight magazines.

Check us out for more torture testing that we are going to do on this new line of magazines from XTech Tactical.

www.talkingguns.net
www.xtechtactical.com

 


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Magnus ErikssonApril 4, 20198min42190

By Magnus Eriksson

 

The intent with this column is to discuss general legal principles to make you aware of some commonly encountered realities and myths in regarding self-defense laws.  Before we get any further:  DO NOT FIRE WARNING SHOTS!!! You will be charged with (a) crime(s), potentially very serious ones.  Here in Arizona, a gun friendly state, you will GO TO PRISON if convicted of the LEAST serious crime you will have committed by firing warning shots.  It is called Disorderly Conduct with a Weapon, designated as a dangerous offense, which is committed simply by discharging a firearm within city limits.   You could potentially be charged with Aggravated Assault (referred to as battery in many states) with a Deadly Weapon-a dangerous offense with a prison sentence to the tune of half a decade to a decade and a half to follow upon conviction. Not to mention attempted murder, which will land you in prison for couple of decades or more.  I go to jails and prisons all the time to visit clients, but I am free to leave after the visit.  Believe me, you do not want to spend any time in any jail, detention center or prison for following bad advise in good faith.  Other states may treat warning shots somewhat differently, but I doubt that they are condoned anywhere in the US.

Secondly, please familiarize yourself with the self-defense and weapons laws in your state.  The devil is in the details as it were and even a well intended mistake or misunderstanding could result in a living and legal nightmare.  Here in Arizona, and I suspect in other states with similar requirements, perhaps the best way to learn the details of this part of the law is to take a Concealed Weapons class.  These classes offer more detail on this area of the law than most law school curriculums.  Of course, consulting an attorney familiar with the specific laws in your state is highly recommended.

Self-defense is an affirmative defense, meaning one admits to an action that normally would be a crime, but one did it out of necessity and therefore was justified in taking the otherwise illegal action.  The reasoning would sound something like this; “Yes officer, I shot the person, because if I hadn’t, he would have killed or seriously injured me with the gun he pointed at me.”  Generally, the law permits a victim of an attack to use “reasonable force” in order to protect herself by communicating the following general principles.

A victim of an attack, can use that amount of force, which a reasonable and prudent person would use, under the same circumstances up to and including deadly force in order to avoid imminent (serious) injury or death.

A person must be engaged in a lawful activity in order to be justified in the use of force.  For instance, a person who is packaging heroin for sale on the street is not justified in using deadly force when “the wholesaler” of that heroin comes to steal the drugs back at gunpoint. Many jurisdictions allow force to be used in the defense of a third person under the same reasonableness standard.  Here in Arizona, the law allows the use of deadly force in the defense of another who is being sexually assaulted; against an arsonist who is setting fire to an occupied structure, armed robbery, kidnapping, or any other scenario where the third party is threatened with imminent death or serious bodily injury.

Some states have a Retreat Requirement before self-defense can be successfully claimed.  Usually, this requirement applies unless it is not practicable to accomplish.   Keep in mind, some retreat requirement states require retreat if attacked, even in one’s own home.  The opposite of the Retreat Requirement is the Stand Your Ground principle.  Stand Your Ground laws simply get rid of any retreat requirement.  In one recent highly publicized case in a large south-eastern state, much was said about this principle.  Ironically, the principle was not invoked in that trial at all.  Contrary to some claims, the SYG laws do not legalize murder.  Remember the actions taken while using force must be reasonable.  Murder is not reasonable.

In many states the so-called Castle doctrine is law.  The Castle Doctrine presumes that ones’ home is ones’ castle and that if attacked there, there is no retreat requirement.  In some states use of force in this scenario is presumed justified. Please, note that this doctrine does not cover inviting someone over and upon tiring of their presence the invitees may legally be murdered.  That is not reasonable.  The doctrine only applies if a person threatens you with imminent deadly force in your home.  This doctrine extends to ones’ car in certain jurisdictions in cases of car jacking.  At the risk of sounding flippant, this is not a license to murder people who walk by your car minding their own business and posing no imminent threat to you or anyone else in the car.

The Disparity of Force doctrine allows use of up to deadly force in cases such as a wheel chair bound victim attacked by someone not physically challenged, a group of people attacking one lone person, a weak and sickly victim attacked by a master Mixed Martial Arts master etc.

You may still think that all this is clear as mud!  Not to worry, the whole concept is complex because it is highly dependent on all the specific facts of a situation.  Unfortunately, politics to a greater or lesser degree is always a factor in who gets charged and why and strange things happen as a result sometimes.  The best advice is to speak softly, carry a big stick be courteous and alert and aware of the surroundings.  If you are attacked and can get away without fighting, do it even it the law doesn’t require it (tactically sound but perhaps philosophically un-American).  If you can’t get away, fight to live and never quit!!!  If you are then charged with a crime or sued wrongly, continue to fight and never give in.