"It is very humiliating," whispers Lopez-Pacheco.

There are other indignities, still. For the inmates' one hour of exercise, the guards roust them early in the a.m., while it's still dark. As a result, they rarely see the sun. There are no clocks on the walls, and only the guards have watches, but they won't tell inmates the time. There's no heat, and it's cold at night, with only one blanket per bed. In the common area, there's a TV, but it hasn't been turned on since she's been there.

Just what did Lopez-Pacheco do to deserve this hellhole? Oh, that's right, she came to the United States in search of a better life, like millions before her.

Lopez-Pacheco's grateful that Sal Reza caught her children on camera, that other people are learning about what's going on in Joe Arpaio's Maricopa County, even if she ultimately will be returned to Mexico and kept from her kids indefinitely.

As Guzman and this jailbird prepare to amscray, she says, smiling weakly, "Tell everyone [who has supported her] thank you, and give them kisses from me."

As this column went to press, ICE agents took custody of Lopez-Pacheco at Estrella. Instead of transporting her to a federal detention facility, she was to be shipped back to Mexico, likely because she had already been removed from the country once before. She didn't get to see her kids before she boarded the bus to the border.

INSIDE PERRYVILLE

Visiting hours at the Santa Cruz unit of Goodyear's Perryville Prison seem civilized compared to those at Joe's gulags. The women serving their sentences here are allowed to touch their visitors, albeit briefly. They aren't chained to desks.

In a visitation area that resembles a grade-school lunchroom, with its fold-up tables, female prisoners in orange sweats sometimes meet with whole families at a time. They play games like Scrabble and hangman with their relations, and people are free to move around, go to the bathroom, or get a Coke from the vending machine.

It's a deceptive, limited freedom. Visitors have been vetted in an extensive process that can take months. And visitation hours are set for weekends only. Here, the women are in state prison and have been convicted of serious crimes, such as second-degree murder or selling meth. In Joe's jails, about 70 percent of prisoners are awaiting trial and are assumed innocent until proven otherwise.

But in state prison, the atmosphere's sadder. Even the youngest inmate seems weighed down by the many years she must serve.

The trip to Perryville came about because the Arizona Department of Corrections wouldn't allow The Bird a "media visit" with inmate Courtney Bisbee. The DOC wasn't discriminating; it just doesn't grant one-on-one, in-person interviews between prisoners and the press. AZ DOC spokesman Bill Lamoreaux said media interviews must take place over the phone. In-person interviews are all but unheard of, he said, because of manpower and security issues.

The DOC does, however, allow a media member the same rights as any other private citizen — that is, a visit with an inmate sans note pad, writing instruments, tape recorder, or camera — which is why The Bird drove over.

This avian's alter ego found the DOC's no-formal-interview policy unusual while writing a cover story last fall on Bisbee and her fight for freedom. Other states are not as restrictive in this regard. In 2003, his alter ego visited Damien Echols, a convicted murderer on death row for a triple homicide many believe he didn't participate in. Obtaining a one-on-one interview was as tough as faxing a request to the Arkansas authorities involved. As a result, the interview took center stage in a feature for LA Weekly.

Currently, The Bird's aware that an ABC News producer's seeking access to Perryville for a formal interview with Bisbee regarding her trial and conviction on charges of child molestation, for which she's serving an 11-year sentence. Here's hoping the DOC will grant an exception, so that the world can judge Bisbee's character, as best it can, via television.

Bisbee's vivacious and intelligent, and she can discuss her case with the expertise of a lawyer. She spends her free time reading law and writing legal documents. Other inmates consult her for advice about their cases.

Unlike many in prison who admit to some or all guilt in what led up to their convictions, Bisbee steadfastly maintains her innocence and works tirelessly for her exoneration.

"I'll never stop fighting until I'm reunited with my daughter," Bisbee explained to this eagle during our conversation at Perryville. She referred to her child, Taylor Lee, whom she lost custody of in 2005 because of the charges then pending against her.

As detailed in New Times' cover story, there's mounting evidence that Bisbee was wrongly convicted of molesting a 13-year-old boy while employed as a school nurse at Horizon High School in Phoenix. Nik Valles, the brother of Bisbee's accuser, Jon Valles, recanted his testimony in her 2006 bench trial before Judge Warren Granville. Also, Jon's former girlfriend Sarah Babcock testified during a lawsuit that Valles admitted to her that he had lied about the accusations, and that nothing sexual happened between him and Bisbee.

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20 comments
AZ Moms
AZ Moms

Moms and their children don't fare well in Arizona, a state set back in the dark ages in relation to women. Unfortunately, in this state the incarceration of women and girls is growing at an alarming rate while other states are cutting back. Arizona Women wake up! Those who are well-heeled, it includes you too. You'll find out when you have to hit the AZ divorce court and family custody battles.

justice4courtney
justice4courtney

February 11, 2004 marks 5 years since the Scottsdale Police department Swat team arrested Courtney at her home in the quiet neighborhood of McDowell Mountain Ranch, Scottsdale, for a false allegation by one teenager for an alleged crime that never happened. No search warrant, no arrest warrant, no Miranda Rights, no investigation. No presumption of innocence, no due process, false information give to the media, the IA Court, the first Grand Jury, no physical medical exam for the police report - which alone would have impeached the accuser's testimony.

But-- this was a Presidential election year and the witch-hunts were in full force. The Catholic Priest scandal, the Michael Jackson case with the mother / son grifters, Jon Beney Ramsey, Kobe Bryant and on and on. Nationwide witch-hunts which looked like Counties across the nation were trying to outdo one another with "high-profile" cases -- political tools in an election year.

Meanwhile, Courtney, a successful single mom, honors graduate RN Nurse, recently divorced started a new job as a high school nurse when this false allegation was made. She was convicted at a Bench Trial, January 18, 2006 and Sentenced on Good Friday, April 14, 2006. 11 years flat time, no early release, no probation, no Clemency board, and sex offender registry. Meanwhile teachers who pled guilty to crimes and did not go to trial are out "free". If you're innocent you go to trial. Afterwards, told if you dare take your case to trial they will give you a million years and made an example of. That's justice and the legal system in Arizona, one that needs outside independent investigation.

New Evidence emerged going on two years, given to the Scottsdale Police department, recorded in the Maricopa County Superior Court, given to Maricopa County Andrew Thomas, who all agencies pointed to to right the wrong. Thomas has acted with deliberate indifference and pushed it under the rug.

Meanwhile, there will be a 2nd Rally for Courtney at the Nurses Rally at the Arizona State Capitol, Feb. 12th, 2009, to call attention to this travesty of justice and an embarrassment to the State of Arizona. If you think it can't happen to you, think again.

Those who profited from this injustice in a "high-profile" case have moved on up or out of state and left shredded families and lives in their wake, and taxpayers holding the tab for millions of wasted dollars in the court system and jails and prison system, with no end in sight.

Wrongfully convicted and imprisoned, Ray Krone, was invited to the Arizona Legislature in 2006 and was apologized to, and it was said "we have to do better next time, we made a mistake", well it's next time and Courtney's conviction is another grave mistake. Arizona and the County Attorney's office is not doing better. A sad and shameful commentary on Arizona's justice system.

Shine the harsh light on Maric
Shine the harsh light on Maric

this says it all -- ""..It's a penetrating indictment of an unfair justice system administered in large measure by a clique of individuals who play the justice game to win, not to discover the truth." Ray Hix, author, "Jingle Jangle" (the Ray Krone wrongful conviction of an innocent man).

Shine the harsh light on Maric
Shine the harsh light on Maric

this says it all -- ""..It's a penetrating indictment of an unfair justice system administered in large measure by a clique of individuals who play the justice game to win, not to discover the truth." Ray Hix, author, "Jingle Jangle" (the Ray Krone wrongful conviction of an innocent man).

KrazieK
KrazieK

I've been to prison in AZ. For eight calendar years.

I know Joe's jails and Maricopa County's Just-Us system sucks big time. They're the worst of crooks.

I also know, that if our story's "victim" had entered the U.S. legally, she would not be in the mess she is in, to the degree that she is in it. Her kids would not have been exposed to the MCSO gestapo-like terrorist tatics they were exposed to, and we would not be here opining.

I will say about that much.

KrazieK
KrazieK

I've been to prison in AZ. For eight calendar years.

I know Joe's jails and Maricopa County's Just-Us system sucks big time. They're the worst of crooks.

I also know, that if our story's "victim" had entered the U.S. legally, she would not be in the mess she is in, to the degree that she is in it. Her kids would not have been exposed to the MCSO gestapo-like terrorist tatics they were exposed to, and we would not be here opining.

I will say about that much.

rand douglas
rand douglas

dude you are just as crude as tommy and joey. same boat. next time you get pulled over on trumped up charges well have the woman guards do a cavity search on you, and see how you like it. if this anyway to treat humans. punish you for going to court by skipping meals . they have 2 meals a day, if you miss then you go without til the next day, sitting there with hunger pains and being stripped and taken away from your children. and this is america.dude as real a hole. must be related to the others who are uncaring, after all this is before her court hearing. could happen to you too DUD!

The Class West
The Class West

Get with the program, Beakster.

THE FEDERAL LAW PROGRAM, as "dude" and some others point out. Ciria Lopez-Pacheco has only herself to blame for the break-up of her family. And, believe us, The Class West has much compassion for those kids.

She apprently has been removed/deported with due process, both in the local and federal systems. If she had proper legal counseling, instead of being encouraged to violate American sovereignty and federal laws, she would not be separated from her children.

Another loss for illegal slave trader Salvador "Bonehead" Reza and YOU, to be added to your list of losses and pending losses in federal court. Federal judge "The Broom" Broomfield swept Reza and SOMOS AMERICA out of US District Court just recently. Further, If Ciria and others heed your advice to piss on American law, that means that she will have no knowledge of or respect for your First Amendment right to publish in here. So don't get Ciria mad, Bird, because if she's ever in a position of power she'll make STUFFING out of the wily warbler and your poisoned pen. When you cry "First Amendment Violation!" she will throw you in a Mexican prison. And you thought Arpaio's white "mystery meat" is bad? Try some jail "carne" south of the border.

Finally, it's great that 13,000 or so saw the propaganda videos in the NYT and Huffington Post. That means that many also saw the pro-enforcement posts in those blogs.

The Class West, Online and On Time

mike
mike

I was with my younger son entering durango parking garage new at this time we were doing a visit to my oldest son that was spending quality time with joe. We both notice the deputy sheriffs had this family detained 2 adults 3 children next to there car. I thought what the sam hell could they have done two deserve this? about that time a deputy came walking over to us and the very first thing he said was what is that smell coming from your truck and i answered what smell and he said it smells like pot and I said then you must be smoking pot because we dont and there is no smell in our truck. The next thing I know we were both spread eagle and handcuffed for a search both person and the truck. They tore everything out of the truck onto the floor and found nothing anywhere released the cuffs and left us picking up the things from the truck and advise me to shut up that they could arrest me for 24 hours for nothing just to check me out. they then turned around and hit the next car coming into the garage.I was so mad that we turned around and went home and never did our visit that day.

dude
dude

What part of 'illegal' don't you understand?

FreeCBNOW
FreeCBNOW

Andrew Thomas needs to do the right thing NOW. 20/20 will expose him once again for the inhumane way he runs his office.This mother is in jail because her ex-husband did not want to pay child support. He should be in jail for all the people he paid off to have this happen to this innocent girl, his ex-wife and mother of his child. She can never get back the lost years with her child. The teenagers who lied and have come forward need to be heard.I am thinking if Thomas figures out he can get new convictions from this case he will re-open it. Thomas is totally a "whats in it for me" kind of guy. It will be interesting to see who gets blamed for this obvious hot potatoe in the county attorney's office. The supervisors will need to budget the money for this error.

J DUB
J DUB

Hey "Public Outcry", hey "Bird", go fist yourselves. Have you lost sight of all of this "injustice" occuring because this woman entered our state illegally? Wipe your tears for the inconvenienced law breakers and get a clue to the realization that these idiots know full well the chances they take. They completely appreciate the risks they choose, and decide of their own volition, that the reward is worth the risk. Stop asking me to sympathize and spill red my bleeding heart for these poor, poor immigrants. I'm so sick of this bullshit sympathizer rhetoric I could just puke. She got what she knew could happen and THAT'S HER FAULT. Quit excusing these people exploiting our country and SHUT THE FUCK UP already!!

Coz
Coz

The Arizona justice system isn't about truth or justice, it's all about convictions no matter how many innocent people have to suffer for political gains by those that represent the justice system.

Candy Dandy Thomas and Bozo Joke Arpaio are living proof of that.

PUBLIC OUTCRY - FREE COURTNEY
PUBLIC OUTCRY - FREE COURTNEY

Correction to above:

"Jingle Jangle" by Jim Rix. A book that should be required reading for every college student in America. Journey of injustice through Maricopa County criminal justice system.

Madison
Madison

When a conviction can come from a he said; she said. No DnA and 11 year sentence, people think there must be more to this . they also thought the same with the Ray Krone case the book , "Jingle Jangle" by Jim Dix is an absolute must read for anyone living in Maricopa county where the author points out, how different the detectives operate, the state attorneys office, the judges, the crime labs, no where else had these attys dealt with such unlawabiding, make up their own rules,criminals. Those in power are the criminals and shoud be locked up. To ignore evidence, to find a victim and make the evidence fit the victim to the crime, it is all criminal, and until we take them down for prosecuting and holding them when new evidence proves otherwise it will continue and has. When in the Ray Krone case he was proven innocent, Rommely said we will try to do it better, WHEN??? When are you going to start your still doing it to people, and the innocent and taxpayers all keep paying for their mistakes.

Pat Zimmer
Pat Zimmer

Mr. Bird, Who is operating and profiting from the exorbitantprices charged for items from the canteen? Sounds like price gouging, which I thought was illegal.

Lee Little
Lee Little

FB, I have a problem with your statement regarding the Courtney Bisbee case: "police work done by Detective Christopher Kinder." WHAT WORK??? From what I have read,and understand is that, this is the detective that complained he was called back into the precinct and then complained he wanted to go home to see his family. NO arrest warrant, NO search warrant, DIDN'T visit the crime scene,DIDN'T collect any evidence,NO varifying of facts,could NOT and/or chose NOT to locate/interview witnesses and then commits PERJURY to the grand jury. Is this guy still employeed? If so who in the heck is his supervisor? If not - DON'T send him to my city!

PUBLIC OUTCRY - FREE COURTNEY
PUBLIC OUTCRY - FREE COURTNEY

FB, once again, you've peeled another layer off the rotten onion of Arizona's criminal injustice system and the plight of incarcerated women in Arizona and Maricopa County, set back in the days of slavery.

A warning: For the public to better understand what we all are facing, even those passing through the state or tourists visiting the state, they need to be aware of the "black holes" in Arizona, just ask DMX or Charles Barkley, one must read this remarkable book "Jingle Jangle", by Ray Hix (Ray Krone's cousin) which should shock us out of complacency exposing our criminal justice system.

"..It's a penetrating indictment of an unfair justice system administered in large measure by a clique of individuals who play the justice game to win, not to discover the truth." Ray Hix, author

Courtney's plight, like Ray Krone, "...reflects a state justice system that has lost sight of justice in favor of winning convictions at all costs, even at the cost of innocence. Krone's case is a call for reform from the bottom up, beginning with removing politics from prosecutorial decisions." - Rudy Gerber, retired justice, Arizona Court of Appeals.

Our hearts go out to the children of these Mothers and the nightmares they will have as their Mothers were taken away in front of them. And Arizona is posing as a "compassionate conservative" state? We don't think so.

Women, if you think it can't happen to you, think again. The powers to be are women haters.

PUBLIC OUTCRY - FREE COURTNEY
PUBLIC OUTCRY - FREE COURTNEY

FB, once again, you've peeled another layer off the rotten onion of Arizona's criminal injustice system and the plight of incarcerated women in Arizona and Maricopa County, set back in the days of slavery.

A warning: For the public to better understand what we all are facing, even those passing through the state or tourists visiting the state, they need to be aware of the "black holes" in Arizona, just ask DMX or Charles Barkley, one must read this remarkable book "Jingle Jangle", by Ray Hix (Ray Krone's cousin) which should shock us out of complacency exposing our criminal justice system.

"..It's a penetrating indictment of an unfair justice system administered in large measure by a clique of individuals who play the justice game to win, not to discover the truth." Ray Hix, author

Courtney's plight, like Ray Krone, "...reflects a state justice system that has lost sight of justice in favor of winning convictions at all costs, even at the cost of innocence. Krone's case is a call for reform from the bottom up, beginning with removing politics from prosecutorial decisions." - Rudy Gerber, retired justice, Arizona Court of Appeals.

Our hearts go out to the children of these Mothers and the nightmares they will have as their Mothers were taken away in front of them. And Arizona is posing as a "compassionate conservative" state? We don't think so.

Women, if you think it can't happen to you, think again. The powers to be are women haters.

PUBLIC OUTCRY - FREE COURTNEY
PUBLIC OUTCRY - FREE COURTNEY

FB, once again, you've peeled another layer off the rotten onion of Arizona's criminal injustice system and the plight of incarcerated women in Arizona and Maricopa County, set back in the days of slavery.

A warning: For the public to better understand what we all are facing, even those passing through the state or tourists visiting the state, they need to be aware of the "black holes" in Arizona, just ask DMX or Charles Barkley, one must read this remarkable book "Jingle Jangle", by Ray Hix (Ray Krone's cousin) which should shock us out of complacency exposing our criminal justice system.

"..It's a penetrating indictment of an unfair justice system administered in large measure by a clique of individuals who play the justice game to win, not to discover the truth." Ray Hix, author

Courtney's plight, like Ray Krone, "...reflects a state justice system that has lost sight of justice in favor of winning convictions at all costs, even at the cost of innocence. Krone's case is a call for reform from the bottom up, beginning with removing politics from prosecutorial decisions." - Rudy Gerber, retired justice, Arizona Court of Appeals.

Our hearts go out to the children of these Mothers and the nightmares they will have as their Mothers were taken away in front of them. And Arizona is posing as a "compassionate conservative" state? We don't think so.

Women, if you think it can't happen to you, think again. The powers to be are women haters.

 
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