By Monica Alonzo
By Stephen Lemons
By Jason P. Woodbury
By Dulce Paloma Baltazar Pedraza
By Ray Stern
By Pete Kotz
By Monica Alonzo
By New Times
Kenneth Wayne Reed keeps meticulous records.
He has to. His future absolutely depends on it.
Locked in Maricopa County's Madison Street Jail for the last 18 months on felony charges of aggravated assault and kidnaping, 35-year-old Reed cannot meet the $25,000 bond needed for his release on domestic-violence charges.
Frustrated with the lack of representation by his court-appointed attorney, Reed has become the classic jailhouse lawyer trying to prepare for trial. It's the American way for Reed to be allowed to prepare his defense.
But the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office is doing everything possible to keep Reed from being ready for court.
Under Sheriff Joe Arpaio's watch, jailers are prohibiting Reed from going to the jail's law library. Detention officers are greatly restricting Reed's access to telephones and paralegal assistance. The sheriff even refuses to provide Reed with basic necessities such as pens and paper--despite repeated court orders to deliver the supplies.
But through ingenuity and persistence, Reed is writing concise legal arguments that have won the praise of a Superior Court judge. To keep his case before the court, Reed has turned to barter.
"I've been selling my meals for paper," Reed says.
The sheriff's refusal to follow court orders is nothing new. For 12 years, four different Maricopa County sheriffs have ignored a federal court order to reduce overcrowding and ensure the civil rights of Reed and other prisoners who have not yet gone to trial.
These repressive policies affect a large number of people: more than half of the 4,900 prisoners in the Maricopa County jails who have not yet gone to trial or been sentenced.
Although prisoners who have not yet been sentenced have more rights than the sentenced population, in Maricopa County, convicts and pretrial prisoners are housed together. They receive the same treatment, and are subject to the same rules. "I say jail should be punishment, period. Once you get those bars slammed on you, you should know you're in jail," Arpaio says. "We take your liberty away from you."
Arpaio's gulag approach to criminal justice appears right at home in a state with a total prison and jail incarceration rate of about 800 persons per 100,000--nearly twice the U.S. average, and more than twice that of South Africa and Russia.
Unfortunately, a repressive approach doesn't appear to reduce crime. Pima County has about the same crime rate as Maricopa County, with half the incarceration rate. Pima County relies heavily on a pretrial program that diverts thousands of nonviolent offenders.
But Sheriff Arpaio is scornful of such softhearted approaches to crime, even though other Maricopa County officials are considering adopting them as part of a wide-ranging plan to reduce jail overcrowding.
Arpaio wants to do just the opposite.
"We don't have jail overcrowding," Arpaio says. "We don't have enough people in jail."
@body:Maricopa County has avoided meeting the requirements of the federal court order for 12 years because no one has consistently held the county's feet to the fire. Violations of federal orders affecting jailed persons who generally are poor don't attract major law firms.
The court order the county has been ignoring dates back to 1977, when Community Legal Services, a nonprofit, farmworker advocacy group, filed a class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court on behalf of pretrial prisoner Damian Hart against former sheriff Jerry Hill.
Four years later, U.S. District Court Judge Earl Carroll got the county and the plaintiffs to agree to a lengthy consent decree aimed at reducing jail overcrowding and ensuring the constitutional rights of pretrial prisoners.
Carroll also stipulated a series of other conditions, including access to legal assistance and the right to reading and writing materials. Twelve years after the consent decree was signed, the jail system under Arpaio has not only failed to meet key standards, it is stripping away items that had been provided.
Earlier this year, Arpaio began censoring reading materials for pretrial prisoners. Arpaio forbade nude magazines, even though the federal court order clearly states pretrial prisoners are entitled to materials "available to the public at a newsstand" unless "censorship is necessary in order to maintain institutional security."
Arpaio banned the magazines not on security grounds, but for philosophical reasons.
"We took away Playboy, Hustler, all the nude magazines from the jail," he says. "Believe it or not, inmates were able to read nude magazines."
Access to nude magazines is the least of Kenneth Wayne Reed's worries. His case epitomizes the civil rights abuses pretrial prisoners face at the hands of jailers.
After getting the court's permission to represent himself in August 1992, Reed discovered the sheriff's department would not provide adequate legal supplies, even though the court ruled he was an indigent. Between September 1992 and March 1993, Reed managed to get the sheriff's Legal Aid Office to give him a total of 26 sheets of paper, one pencil, one manila envelope and two unstamped legal envelopes. And this was only after repeated court orders, including a warning by Maricopa County Superior Judge Maurice Portley.
Reed persisted with his case, and kept track of every request for supplies, access to paralegal assistance and telephone calls in a detailed log. He filed repeated motions for delay of his criminal trial, because he lacked the proper tools to prepare his defense.