By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
I have recently learned about the terrible conditions at Maricopa County jails. A very good friend of my family died recently because of the treatment he received at Tent City. Our friend had been suffering from liver problems for many years, which, unfortunately, had been brought on by his own alcoholism. He was scheduled to serve time at Tent City for DUI in May. That was the last time any friends or family saw him alive.
Because of his weakened state, he contracted strep throat in the germ-infested encampment about a week into his stay. To our knowledge, he was given no medical treatment whatsoever until almost a week later, when he could not be awakened. At this point, the jailers realized he was close to death, so they sent him to Maricopa Medical Center, where he died less than two weeks later.
I have since read many articles about Maricopa County jails in back issues of New Times. These have helped me realize that my friend's was not an isolated case--in fact, it was far from it. I was disgusted to read about Scott Norberg, Jose Rodriguez, Eric Johnson, David Hoyle and Bart Davis, who were all mistreated at the hands of jail guards. Richard Post's case, however, was unbelievable! This man was a paraplegic who was thought to be so dangerous because of his need to urinate, he was removed from his wheelchair and placed in a restraining chair, then strapped down so tightly that his neck was broken. What could this man have done to deserve such treatment? Well, he was rude to a bar owner, and was caught with a gram of marijuana. Amazing!
The stories you published about Joe's jail, along with my personal experience, have enraged me to the point where I feel something must be done. I realize that I am only 11 years old, and have no political power whatsoever, but I feel there must be something I can do to make a difference. Maybe if you publish this letter, it might inspire others to write even more letters, and Joe Arpaio would be forced to listen.
I have read the last article I will read by the incredibly ignorant, whiny idiot Barry Graham! Mr. Graham, with "High Goon" you have sunk to an all-time low on the so-called "knowledge" (or lack thereof) you claim to have about any subject. You mention in the article that an outrageous percentage of those "bad guys" in jail have not been convicted of anything . . . poor people who can't afford bail. I have seen many poor and rich people who have gotten away scot-free or with a slap on the wrist, including those who never see jail because of plea-bargaining and probation, etc.
I don't know where you get off blowing away Sheriff Joe. You are high if you think that we need some wishy-washy goober in there as sheriff. If anything, we need more people like him running this country and making corrections decisions at the state and federal levels. If you would like to know why we need so many jails, do the math, buddy: More people end up going in than coming out. Also take a look at the frightening rate at which government is building prisons and jails--and you figure out why there are many other counties in the hole because they're having to lock up offenders. You could also do a story comparing "Third World" treatment of inmates in other facilities. Three squares and health care . . . must be rough!
Do you have any idea exactly how the criminal justice system works? Well, I do, because I've worked in several positions within the system, including probation, in which I was directly involved with the court process daily. I think the greatest story you could write for the otherwise excellent New Times is to spend one week or month through every level of the court process as a defendant and an inmate. How about spend a week in the jail with one of your "innocent" cellmates? I guarantee you'll change your views.
Yes, the sometimes tragic abuse of inmates does exist, and there do exist the true innocents, but try a story on how many lawsuits get filed a day because an inmate is not provided Reeboks or, for God's sake, Playboy. I'd rather Sheriff Joe spend my tax money any day locking up more inmates who deserve it than letting them all read Hustler. Who do you think pays for their "right" to have that, Mr. Graham? Maybe the recidivism rate hasn't changed and so-called "rehabilitation" doesn't work, but that only means that we need more people like Arpaio at the top who are willing to hold these idiots accountable. We need to make a change as voters and get rid of these people who think everyone must be a "victim" of everything so that they can have three, four, five or more chances. People should be responsible for what they do, Mr. Graham, wrong or right!
The story on Earl Hopper Jr. ("Missing Earl Jr.," Amy Silverman, July 16) was an excellent piece of work. I wish that more newspapers would take that kind of interest. I have also had the opportunity to see some of what your paper has done on John McCain--again, more excellent work. Job well done. My hat is off to you.