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April 16, 2012


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Representative Kavanagh, retired New York customs police officer, recently pushed to privatize the prison healthcare system and award it to a private contractor with prior charges of public corruption. Kavanagh pushed the privatization through the Arizona Legislature without a cost benefit analysis to support the action.

Former Chicago and New York Police officers who retired to Phoenix told me their eastern police background was not welcome by the Phoenix Police Department due to concerns of corruption. But what is corruption on the street is judicially sanctioned pay to play in the legislative process.

Southern law, Midwestern jury, good bye.

What percentage of the 'prisoner demographic' are voters? Like for homelessness, losing this basic right ensures a viscious, downward spiral for the disenfranchised.

As Dmitry Orlov said, the budget version of the American justice system is manifestly unsafe.


All politics is tribal. The ruling tribe strongly tends to be white, Christian, and most importantly, wealthy. Someone like the former CEO of Anheuser Busch. If wealth confers a permanent Get Out of Jail Free card, poverty is the easiest way to dovetail personal destiny and the prison-industrial complex. It's there for people who don't know the rules because the rulebook is composed of so many dead presidents.

America's "haves" vote. They live comfortably inside their segregated bubbles. Their generous pension and health care allotments shall not be abridged. On the other hand, if you're struggling, the "haves" think you've been coddled by the government. No health care for you, or college, or middle-class lifestyle. If you're black, you can be assumed to be a suspect wherever you go, no matter how young or middle class you are. If you're brown, even the thankless job you perform is something you stole from a deserving white person.

Citizens, behold your shining city on a hill.

The behavor of the US and Canada at the conference of the Americas highlighted how arrogant and disconnected we are from our hemisphere and the world.

The behavior of Arizona highlighted in The Daily Show, week after week, shows how Arizona is disconnected from "civilized" America.

Add to that living in Maricopa County where elected officials sue us regularly and collect millions, you have to ask yourself, what the heck are we doing living here?

On top of that we participate on a blog where many of the paricipants are no longer here.

Makes us who remain look kind of dumb.

On Dr. John Kavanagh: 12 years ago he was a NY Port Authority cop. Today he's a big deal as head of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. He got there at least partly by riding Russell Pearce's immigration horse with Joe the Arp alongside.
It is amazing that a relative newbie can achieve that much power in our state . . but in the land of the visually-challenged, a one-eyed man would be KING!

And there's this: http://motherjones.com/politics/2012/04/angola-prison-3-herman-wallace-albert-woodfox-40-years-solitary-confinement

Bless you all.

Thanks for the Mother Jones article, soleri. It's good to know that Arizona's prison system is so much more congenial than Louisiana's.

At least, it's a dry heat.

Jesus, thanks but my LDS relatives are already praying for me.
but not to worry my pal Hal and I are militant agnostics.

Well Jon what can I say here?
I quit believing in the US Justice system along time ago.
However occasionally I see the bright beacon of justice break through the human cloud of hatred and prejudice. Like in the disbarment of Thomas and Aubuchon.

FYI-In Florence there is the Central AZ Correction Facility which is run by GEO and the Central AZ Dentention Center run by CCA.

I thought that Florence IS a prison.

"Makes us who remain look kind of dumb"

Not really. Destiny sometimes doesn't allow for one to reside in the optimum place. The outrageous governing of Arizona hasn't made it totally unlivable. The US is a big country with a lot of narrow minded people in small places. You can still keep you head low in Arizona.

Just don't think of the lost potential due to the idiots governing the state.

My preference is for robust social services. Reasonable taxes broadly based to pay for the services.

I've almost always been against taxes in Arizona because whatever the stated purpose of the proposed levy was, the revenue sooner or later ended up funding incarceration.

The Maricopa County Judges are each pocketing $500,000 from the settlements. Their reputation was damaged. Does anyone remember what the damaging allegations were? I didn't think so.

These are the same judges who smash lives needlessly on a daily basis to feed the Arizona Incarceration Machine.

The Arizona Constitution requires county, appellate and supreme court judges to be elected. The judges themselves have determined that elected means the judge runs without an opponent. No judge has lost an election after initially being appointed by the governor.

The legislature, knowing how much judges do not want to have to run for re-election to keep their job, use it as an implied bargaining chip. Were the Arizona Supreme Court to rule against the legislature on an important issue, the implied threat of modifying the law and actually requiring judges to run for re-election would be imposed.

It is good to know there is no mafia in Arizona. The government does just fine on its own.

"Bless you all." Thank you. How about a prayer to deliver me out of the bible belt.

Piñata, there are a lot of mafia in Arizona.
And most are not in Prison.
There is the Chapo Capitalistic Cartel Mafia.
The Italian Mafia (u know these Italians they are in the news all the time).
The jewish mafia, thats who I have coffee with. Myers is fine a living right here in downtown Phoenix courtesy of the FBI.
Then there is the religious mafia and the kook mafia and the legislative mafia, oops sorry that's all the same mafia.
Well Piñata I gotta go. I am going to see El Pastor in Juarez, where there is only one mafia. The government.

The NY Police department is not the NY Port Authority.
I am sure there are a lot of good NY Port Authority police officers. However the few I have known were high paid meter maids and I just called them by their first names and never referred to them as "cops." But my definition of "cop" is rather rigorous.

Cal, What does the NY Port Authority Do?

U can google your question. The NY Port Authority is a huge operation, kinda like another country.
But basically the police in the NY Port Authority keep things moving and they write a lot of tickets

"the revenue sooner or later ended up funding incarceration"

OMG, is Florence annexing the rest of AZ?!

"OMG, is Florence annexing the rest of AZ?"

Arizona's state motto:

Come on vacation, leave on probation.

Cruel and Usual 1512-2012

In 1512, the Aztec Empire under Montezuma collected taxes from the surrounding tribes, against their wishes. They also collected persons to be used for sacrifice in rituals.

In 2012, the American Empire under Obama collected taxes from the surrounding states, against their wishes. They also collected persons to be used for sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Cruel and "as usual".

I'm not really sure which Arizona Constitution pinata is reading. According to Art. VI, section 37, Supreme Court Justices and the Judges of the Court of Appeals are all appointed in Arizona. There is no Constitutional requirement that they be elected. The Constitution puts them up to a retention vote every 6 years. In the large counties (Maricopa and Pima), the Constitution provides for a similar system for Superior Court Judges. This is the merit system championed by Sandra Day O'Connor in the early 70s while she was in the State Legislature because electing judges can lead to a lot of problems. An appearance of impropriety and the potential for corruption. The rural counties still elect Superior Court Judges. If you have ever appeared before the out counties, you will develop a great appreciation for the merit system used in Maricopa County. The merit committee does an excellent job of finding people actually qualified to serve on the bench as opposed to people who excel at campaigning. Arizona's system was so admired that much of the country has since adopted it.

There is no opponent on the retention vote because that is what the Constitution requires. See Art. VI, section 38. The sitting justice/judge is identified with the question of whether they should be retained. If not, then there is a vacancy to be filled as discussed above.

I suppose the Legislature could use the threat of amending the Constitution as leverage, but I'm not sure how effective that would be. This isn't a simple statute that could be deleted by majority vote. It would require a Constitutional amendment, which is more exacting.

I agree with west.
Regarding prisons? Given the Arizona Bars findings and given the evidence at hand how can there not be a swift and just inditement and prosecution forth coming?
I guess I am losing it, as my experiences back when I was in the Organized Crime investigation business make me think what the Thomas matter looks and smells like Organized criminal activity. Go to jail.

Interesting how little comment this issue got? Maybe a link to the Innocence Project would help!

West wrote "The merit committee does an excellent job of finding people actually qualified to serve on the bench as opposed to people who excel at campaigning."

The merit committee selects candidates that excel at politics. The politics of demonstrating extreme deference to the sitting superior court judges. A self selecting process that insures lack of intellectual diversity or dissent.

Once selected by a Governor with no legislative oversight, the superior court judge remains for life.

There would be a high likelihood of success in amending the Constitution to have judges actually run for election.

West wrote, "If you have ever appeared before the out counties, you will develop a great appreciation for the merit system used in Maricopa County."

Maricopa County is the worst court to practice before unless you are a prosecutor. The "merit system" assures a prosecutor friendly judge. Few judges have any business or commercial background. Not being subject to re-election many Maricopa County judges engaged in abusive behavior that would result in dismissal in any other position.

Just think, if marijuana was legalized how many;

city staff
county staff
court reporters
prison workers
parole officers

would be out of work.

Government - it exists to create government jobs.

Government even holds Vegas conferences to expolore how to create more government jobs.

Most can probably skip this, but it looks like a quick civics lesson is in order.

Politics of extreme deference to the sitting judges? Attorneys are ethically obligated to show deference to sitting judges. That doesn't mean there is some untoward conduct. It means that officers of the court are respecting its authority and decorum. I don't recall who is serving on the merit selection committee right now, but it is certainly not entirely composed of sitting judges so I am not sure if kissing judicial ass is going to ensure your name gets picked to go on to the Governor.

Once selected they remain for life? Arizona judges and justices are forced into retirement at age 70. This is contrasted with federal judges who do sit for life.

Arizona judges do not remain on the bench without any oversight. Every six years, they are put up for retention vote. If they remain on the bench, it is only because the (often uninformed) citizenry leaves them on the bench. If judges were elected, the same citizens would be voting them in as retaining them.

Related to the oversight issue, if a judge is engaging in abusive behavior as you contend, the Arizona Constitution also provides the Legislature with the power to impeach and convict, which could theoretically be used to remove a judge.

Maricopa County is friendly to prosecutors. So are the other counties in Arizona. So are most jurisdictions in the United States. I'm not sure it has as much to do with the judges as it does the legislators who draft the laws and the people who sit on the juries. Electing judges won't change the predispositions of the legislators and the juries.

Few judges have any business or commercial background? Not sure I agree with that. Read the judicial bios at the Superior Court website. A very large number were former civil lawyers who represented businesses and other commercial clients. Additionally, insofar as the judges ran a law firm, they have business experience. There are many judges who were government lawyers admittedly , but as you will see, a large number of those were public defenders or government lawyers who were not prosecutors (AG Civil Division, City Civil Attorney, etc).

All this goes to show that we actually do have diversity on the bench here.

Are you sure you aren't confusing state and federal judges? The discussion of lifetime appointments, political machinations, and non-election all sound a lot more like the federal system.

Election of judges in Arizona would make the courts look like the front row of a LDS church.

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