politics

talkingguns.net-talkingguns-talking-guns-arizona-department-of-corrections-azdoc-arizona-politics-az-corrections-coverups-lies-secrecy.png

Brian KovacsAugust 8, 201918min302223

You probably remember the expression, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” Apparently it is for many Arizona Department of Corrections staff members as they continue to flee the department in record numbers. Many are choosing to retire or are leaving for other jobs or agencies. Is it surprising why so many people are choosing to leave? The department has been plagued with multiple scandals over the years, culminating with demands from a variety of organizations and public figures that Director Charles Ryan step down or be fired. Four department administrators recently “retired” from state service after the media released stories regarding department security deficiencies and malfeasance. Curiously, Director Ryan has not stepped down nor has he been terminated. Supposedly an unbiased, thorough investigation has begun regarding the Lewis prison security issues, and other questionable department practices.

Despite the department’s efforts at damage control, including the recent rescission of some department policies that were damaging to staff morale, employees continue to leave. A recent ten percent pay increase was negligible, and has had little, if any effect on staff recruitment or retention. In an attempt to increase staffing levels, the department has resorted to having the legislature statutorily reduce the minimum age requirement to eighteen for hiring corrections officers.

According to insiders, the department culture has not changed. Some say the department has weaponized its Administrative Investigations Unit to intimidate and silence staff members. Some staff members have received letters sent from AIU on department letterhead to their personal addresses warning them about their social media use. There are certain time and place restrictions on First Amendment rights, but that practice seems unsettling and Orwellian, and should be concerning to most. Management continues to mistreat their employees, sometimes using more subtle or surreptitious tactics because of increased public scrutiny. Employees have been denied transfers, use of their earned sick and annual leave, and assigned to unfavorable work areas as forms of retaliation and management abuse.

Working conditions in the state prison system have not improved; they have worsened in some institutions, according to sources. There have been a number of department safety issues mentioned in various publications and television news stories. There are problems with security doors not locking, giving inmates the opportunity to assault corrections staff at will. High-risk inmates are being placed in less restrictive prison environments without being properly vetted. Staffing shortages have resulted in department managers requiring staff to manage an inordinate number of inmates and liabilities. Sanitation issues exist that increase the risk of illness and disease to staff and inmates. Medical issues continue to be problematic for staff. When inmates do not receive required medical care or medication it can create health issues for inmates, and staff safety issues because of the potential for inmate retaliation. The situation becomes particularly dangerous when prisoners with mental health illnesses have not received prescribed psychotropic medications.

I am going to provide some recent examples of hazardous working conditions and dangerous security issues at the Arizona State Prison-Eyman complex in Florence, Arizona. Special Management Unit One is a so-called “lockdown” unit in the prison vernacular, and used to be considered a maximum security unit. It currently houses maximum and lower custody inmates. The sanitation in that unit is reportedly so horrid that an infestation of mice has developed. Inmates are allegedly trapping and killing them, and throwing them into the cell blocks where they are sometimes left for days. Although rare, another concern is the potential for a Hantavirus outbreak. Miscellaneous garbage is strewn about in cell blocks and officer control rooms throughout the prison, and roach infestation is widespread.

The Meadows Unit is a medium security sex offender prison also located in Eyman complex in Florence, Arizona. According to sources, a bed bug infestation has existed in that unit since approximately October 2017, and there is documentation of the problem dating back to January 2018. The bed bug problem still exists despite efforts to eradicate the parasites. Employees are concerned with the possibility of the parasites infesting their clothing, personal vehicles, and homes, thereby placing their own family members at risk. Rest assured that any evidence of the aforementioned conditions in those prisons will be eliminated prior to any facility tours attended by prison visitors. Multiple resources will be used to sanitize, organize, and put on a disingenuous display for the attendees. A DOC tour can be likened to a tour of North Korea in terms of institutional access and public transparency.

Cook Unit is another medium security sex offender prison located in Eyman complex in Florence, Arizona. Both Cook and Meadows units continue to operate by usually using one staff member to supervise one to two housing units for sometimes an entire shift ranging from 8-12 hours. Each housing unit can accommodate approximately 200 inmates. That means that one officer is expected to supervise approximately 200-400 inmates, and some inmates are being left unsupervised at times. Does that sound reasonable and safe to you? The department seems more focused on ensuring that posts are staffed with less emphasis on inmate accountability and staff safety.

Meadows Unit recently had an incident where a lone staff member had a medical emergency while working in a housing unit with approximately 160 inmates. The officer was locked in a secured control room but fell and struck his head on a concrete floor. He lay bleeding in a semi-conscious state without a backup officer present to immediately render aid. Luckily for him, an inmate reportedly went to an adjacent housing unit and notified an officer of the situation. That incident could have had a worse outcome, and demonstrates the risk to staff when understaffing occurs in those work areas.

Some sources say that an increase in attempted suicides and two recent inmate deaths at Special Management Unit One can be attributed in part to low staffing levels. On May 16, 2019, at approximately 2:00 A.M. an inmate was found dead in his cell. The deceased was reportedly discovered hanging from his cell door approximately four hours after death. Questions arose regarding staffing levels and whether the security checks were completed in a timely manner. Interestingly, the department video surveillance footage leading up to that time, and the corrections log book for that area have gone missing.

In the early afternoon of June 16, 2019, an inmate attempted to commit suicide using a homemade noose that he fashioned from a bedsheet. According to sources, he took at least six minutes or more to construct it while in a visible area of a cell block that has a video surveillance camera. He placed the noose around his neck and tied the other end of it to a safety railing on a second floor tier. He then jumped over the railing, and hanged himself. Two officers walked into the cell block as he jumped and were able to save his life. Sources said the area where the incident occurred is understaffed with only one control room officer to monitor two control rooms in an area that houses up to 96 inmates. That incident clearly underscores the danger of those prison areas where inmates are allowed to roam freely within their cell blocks during daytime hours with little or no supervision.

In the late afternoon of July 20, 2019, an inmate was found dead in his cell in an area of the prison designated for increased health and welfare security inspections. The inmate was reportedly transported to Special Management Unit One in the early morning hours that day and was taken to the unit’s medical facility. He was described as possibly being under the influence of methamphetamine and heroin. The medical facility released the inmate from their care and he was escorted to a watch cell. He was found dead in his cell later that day from a possible drug overdose. Sources indicated that one correctional officer was assigned to watch three cell blocks that day. The three cell blocks accommodated up to 24 special security watches, in total (including several suicide watches). The same officer was also required to perform other duties such as escorting inmates, feeding and clothing inmates, paperwork, etc.

Special Management Unit One is reportedly having security issues where inmates have successfully opened a locked cell door. They gained unauthorized access into a cell block and allegedly terrorized other inmates that were locked in other cells. That activity occurred multiple times in an area monitored by surveillance cameras. The Arizona Department of Corrections allegedly knew about it since July 24, 2019 but never informed corrections officers about the problem, and did not move those offending inmates from that area. Insiders said Director Ryan toured Special Management Unit One on July 26, 2019 but it is unclear if the visit was related to the cell door security issue.

ABC News affiliate, ABC15 in Phoenix, Arizona, recently reported that eight current and former Arizona Department of Corrections officers are suing the State of Arizona. They are suing for safety issues that led to inmate assaults, resulting in them suffering grievous personal injuries. According to the ABC15 report, a lawyer representing the State of Arizona argued for the case to be thrown out in the 9th District U.S. Court of Appeals because of qualified immunity. A 2008 United States Supreme Court case Pearson v. Callahan interpreted qualified immunity in part, as follows: “Qualified immunity balances two important interests–the need to hold public officials accountable when they exercise power irresponsibly and the need to shield officials from harassment, distraction, and liability when they perform their duties reasonably.” The lawyer representing the State of Arizona, Nicholas Acedo, stated, “None [of the corrections officers] allege that they were tricked into accepting their jobs or that on the day of their respective assaults, they protested the unit they were assigned to or the task they were assigned.” According to the ABC15 news report, Mr. Acedo added that the plaintiffs were previously aware of the alleged understaffing and broken cell door locks. Department lawyers tried using a similar legal argument when an educator that worked for the Arizona Department of Corrections was viciously stabbed and raped at Meadows Unit at the Eyman prison complex in Florence, Arizona on January 30, 2014.

The department lawyers said the victim was issued a [two-way] radio and knew the inherent risks working around an inmate population. That teacher had no defensive weapon available at that time, and was left alone in an isolated building with no one to check on her. I don’t know about you, but I’m outraged and disgusted by remarks such as those made by the department’s attorneys. I believe they are insensitive, and place blame on the victims for the crimes committed against them. Is Mr. Acedo suggesting the Arizona Department of Corrections did not exercise power irresponsibly when it required department employees to work in areas the department knew were understaffed and had dangerous security issues? The department can’t have it both ways. It puts tremendous pressure on its staff to perform well in understaffed prison environments with ever-increasing dangers and workloads, under threat of disciplinary action if their expectations are not met. But if something goes wrong then it’s the staff’s fault for knowingly working in an environment they knew was understaffed and unsafe.

Perhaps I’m being obtuse. Am I missing something here Mr. Acedo? Yes, there are inherent dangers when you work in a law enforcement or corrections capacity, or any high-risk profession for that matter, but that’s not what I am referring to here. I am referring to known risks that could have been negated if handled properly. These are foreseeable, dangerous threats that are either preventable or created entirely by the ineptitude of department leadership; they are typically fueled by poor decision-making, and influenced heavily by political considerations. Apparently the Arizona Department of Corrections didn’t read or disregarded the news release dated Thursday, May 2, 2019 from the Arizona House Republican Caucus endorsed by 31 Arizona State Representatives. That statement reads, “Any policy that undermines public safety and jeopardizes the security of corrections officers is completely unacceptable, and we are deeply troubled by reports regarding Lewis Prison. We strongly urge the Department of Corrections to immediately take the necessary steps to address the issue, and we are encouraged that Governor Ducey has tasked former Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justices Rebecca Berch and Ruth McGregor with investigating the matter. We look forward to their report and recommendations, and we stand ready to take any legislative action that may be needed.” The Arizona Department of Corrections cannot be allowed to undermine public safety or jeopardize the security of corrections staff while using department policy to diminish its responsibility or shield itself from liability.

Many state corrections employees have been subjected to harassment, intimidation, and retaliation by the Arizona Department of Corrections management for speaking out against the present department culture. The current department management culture doesn’t encourage or condone individualists. Management discourages free-thinking and prefers to hire and mold robotic thinkers. The department has had five decades to create a tractable employee culture that is less likely to influence positive change within the agency. That attitude seems to be most prevalent with the old guard managers who do not want to disrupt the status quo. Considering the existing conditions within the Arizona Department of Corrections, it is not surprising that more employees have not spoken out regarding safety issues, or questioned management decisions, or their lack of regard for employee safety.

The Arizona Department of Corrections is clearly in need of significant department reforms. Recent news stories have highlighted the department’s security deficiencies, management bullying and ineptitude, as well as compromised employee and inmate safety. Unfortunately, the department culture will not change without continued public pressure and outside agency intervention. The department has demonstrated that it cannot be trusted to police itself. Safeguards need to be adopted to ensure the agency upholds the duties, and responsibilities that the public has entrusted it with.


talkingguns.net-talking-guns-talkingguns-gop-grand-old-party-kate-krueger.jpg

Kate KruegerMarch 9, 20166min1800

Elections are some of the most important times in this country’s history. They are a favorite time of mine because I get to see this country in action. Unfortunately it’s not always at its finest during elections because the “All Knowing” establishment (those who have made a career of politics, elitists who run the show) believes they have to control the results because “We the People” don’t know what we are doing.

Now let me say this before I really get going here… I’m not a fan of Donald Trump. I didn’t even watch his TV shows because I always thought he was a bit of an arrogant bloviator.  But with that said the American people are making a statement right now and voting in caucuses and primaries across this country and based on delegates there is only a small difference between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump with Mr. Trump in the lead.

It appears that the “Establishment” like Romney, McCain, Graham and others are making a fuss that the American people are being conned by a con man and they (us) don’t understand what this could mean to the country and the GRAND OLE PARTY… That if Trump gets the nod at the convention it is a slap in the face of Republican Values… WHAT VALUES?

You see the “Establishment” has been shoving moderate Republicans (AKA RINO or Republicans in Name Only) down our throats for so long that they are starting to believe THEY have CONSERVATIVE values…

What are Conservative values? Conservatives believe first and foremost in the building blocks the Founding Fathers left for us; the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They believed in small government; they believed in the people; they believed that the People were the “Sovereign” and that government should answer to them; they believed in very limited power for the Federal government; they believed in States Sovereignty as mandated by the People;  they believed in limited taxation, freedom of speech and religion, the right to bear arms and many more truly conservative ideas.

Through the years many of us have watched this amazing country change. Liberalism has overtaken our educational system and our large city governments like Boston, New York, Baltimore, Detroit and most of California. We all know how well those dens of socialism are working.

But I digress… These elections are being hijacked by the elite. The RNC is in a conundrum … they don’t want Trump but they really don’t want the next closest candidate to him either Ted Cruz. The chosen ones like Graham, Bush, Kasich and Rubio have either fallen or are falling by the wayside. Oh what to do what to do…

If the RNC decides to intervene at the convention and allow it to become a brokered convention and a candidate like Rubio or Kasich or even Romney wins I personally believe they will be making a huge mistake (especially if they give it to Romney).  The Republican Party that started with Lincoln and real conservative values will never be the same. The Grand Ole Party will end up being nothing but a bunch of Grand Old ‘Pharts’…

This election is more important to this country than taking over the White House and turning things around (especially Obamacare) but it is MOST important because the person who wins will most probably be picking at least 2 if not 4 Supreme Court Justices and that is a legacy that will live long past this election. This election could be a turning point and if the Republicans don’t get their act together and stand behind the People’s Choice then they will lose again.

But quite honestly I don’t believe they care about losing or about this country and most importantly about the people that put them there. I believe they only care about keeping the status quo, their cushy jobs and special benefits, their great pensions and all their little perks (like insider trading).

We the People need to let them know LOUD AND CLEAR that we will not stand for them stealing our election process from us. We need to tell Rubio and Kasich to step down and stop dividing the vote! We need to start writing on Romney, McCain, Graham, Ryan and all the other elites Twitter and Facebook pages and let them know NOW that we will not stand for it and they need to hold their proverbial nose and coalesce behind whatever candidate ends up with the most delegates! What the heck we’ve had to do that for the past few elections and now it’s their turn.

Speak out NOW before we have nothing left!


talkingguns.net-talking-guns-talkingguns-jonathan-gilliam-sheep-no-more-citizens.jpg

Jonathan GilliamFebruary 13, 20154min1760

By Jonathan T Gilliam

Have you ever wondered how the people that are least capable to lead in an official capacity end up in leadership positions and then go on to live the lives of kings a queens?  Well, as a trained investigator, I have considered this problem. Having worked in several city level agencies and four federal level agencies, I have seen enough to realize that this is a repetitive phenomenon and that it couldn’t just be a coincidence.

In the simplest steps, this is how I believe it is broken down.  Although this is a much deeper and complicated subject, I have carved it down to 10 basic levels on the official ladder of executive success.

1. Typically creepy, awkward, narcissistic individuals will pick an agency or political office, then climb the executive ladder achieving as little operational knowledge as it takes to get promoted.

2. Once these individuals have reached the executive level, they will identify companies or individuals with agendas and lots of money. These are otherwise known as Pocket Feeders.

3. The executives will then proceed to fulfill promises to potential Pocket Feeders by answering their requests or predicting those requests and completing them without meeting anyone but with the understanding that it is what the Pocket Feeders want.  In both cases requests are fulfilled with the knowledge and hope that it will be repaid when official service is finished.

4. During this Pocket Feeder Grooming Time (PFGT) executives will purposely ignore the advice of the subject matter experts and continue to make decisions that favor the Pocket Feeders.

5. Once the executives’ official service is finished, tickets are cashed in and cards are punched so that they may become a paid Power Player.

6. Power Players set on multiple boards for $100,000 to $500,000 per board, making incompetent decisions.  This is the easiest and most common way the Power Players are paid back for scratching the back of the Pocket Feeders.

7. Next, Power Players will write a book. Pocket Feeders help get the books published while the true subject matter experts struggle to educate the public with their wisdom and knowledge.

8. Power Players go on speaking tours saying the same useless executive party lines as they did when they were on official duty and serving the Pocket Feeders.

9. Power Players are experts at skating on taxes and living like kings and queens which is mandatory behavior once they have made a lot of money.

10. Power Players, like everyone else, die with nothing, except they typically leave the world in just as bad, if not a worse, condition than what it was when they were in it…