Ultimately, Inspector General Glenn Fine maintained, "The OIG's review uncovered no connection between the [contractors] and the abuses at Abu Ghraib."

Still, Ryan's link to Abu Ghraib leaves an unsavory aftertaste, even if he was not implicated in any wrongdoing. It's not the only disturbing element in Ryan's past. In an academic article penned by writer Joan Dayan for the collection History, Memory and the Law, Ryan waxed poetic about the prison industry's mastering what he referred to as "chain gang technology."

At the time of Ryan's appointment, Donna Hamm, of Arizona's Middle Ground Prison Reform, referred to Ryan as "a very hard-line cop that's not necessarily very well-versed in corrections, human corrections." Hamm recently wrote Governor Brewer requesting that Brewer "intervene in this matter at once" and not allow Ryan and the ADC to conduct its own investigation Powell's death.

Interim director of the Arizona Department of Corrections Charles Ryan.
Arizona Department of Corrections
Interim director of the Arizona Department of Corrections Charles Ryan.
Marcia Powell died May 20 after at least four hours in a human cage at Perryville Prison.
Marcia Powell died May 20 after at least four hours in a human cage at Perryville Prison.

Hamm has informed me that she has since spoken to Ryan, and that he assured her the ADC had no record of next of kin, and "that the doctors were consistent in their belief that Ms. Powell could not recover brain activity." However, Hamm still has concerns about Powell's death.

My question is, given Ryan's record, his link to Abu Ghraib, his comments on chain gangs, and now Powell's death on his consent, should he ever get to be more than interim director of the department he already thinks he's director of?

CRIMINAL INTENT

Sheriff Joe Arpaio is fond of telling members of the Fourth Estate that neither he nor his brown-shirted minions racially profile anyone. This, despite the facts that the Department of Justice is all over him like a sweaty polo shirt and the ACLU is suing him regarding just this very matter.

At the mere mention of it, Arpaio practically jumps up and down like a little boy whose mommy has deprived him of a pack of Jolly Ranchers.

His deputy dawgs are even worse than he is at refuting the charge of racial profiling. Anyone remember MCSO Sergeant Brett Palmer in April telling the sheriff's critics to "Shut up!" during a press conference on the subject?

"Any insinuation of racial profiling against any deputy sheriff of this office," Palmer said at a media event supposedly staged by deputies without any help from Arpaio's massive PR machine, "I take that personally as an insult, and that pisses me off."

Interestingly, Palmer was present during a recent drop-house raid in central Phoenix that netted 26 people, so he can take it as personally as he wants. Because when he and his fellow goons were zip-tying those in the drop house, they also zip-tied and detained (for more than an hour) 12-year-old Fili Gaucin, an American citizen, and his dad, also named Fili Gaucin, a permanent resident. They both live in the home adjacent to the drop house.

Essentially, the property is a duplex, with separate tenants and separate entranceways. The Gaucin family has lived there for about a year. Fili's mom, Cecilia, is an American citizen, too, born and raised in Phoenix. She works at Bose Corporation during the day. Her husband works at night as a singer in a Latin band. He was home cooking pork chops when the deputies knocked on the door around 12:30 p.m.

The elder Gaucin let the deputies in to search the house. After going through all the rooms, they told him to come outside and asked whether he knew what was going on. Like most people who live near drop houses, he had no idea what was occurring next door. But that didn't matter to the MCSO. Even though Papa Gaucin had his green card on him, the MCSO zip-tied his hands behind his back and made him sit on the ground with suspects the deputies were removing from the drop house.

With one legal resident in custody, the MCSO decided to go for an American citizen, the junior Gaucin, who had been watching TV when the MCSO searched the home earlier and found nothing.

They zip-tied the boy's hands behind his back, and made him sit next to his father. Fili Junior says that's when he got scared. He said there were men in body armor, with high-powered rifles and even something he and his dad identified as a bazooka.

"I was curious," said Fili. "Was there gonna be a gunfight or something? What were they trying to do, [start] WWIII?"

Papa Gaucin said he was worried about his son having to see the MCSO raid, and he felt bad that he could not prevent his son from being zip-tied.

After an hour on the ground in restraints, the MCSO finally cut them loose without explanation. Before that happened, a worried and angry Cecilia Gaucin arrived home and began haranguing the deputies about her son and husband.

"I told them, 'Why don't you look at his green card? My son was born here. He doesn't even know any Spanish,'" she said.

The Gaucins feel that things would have been different had they not been Hispanic. And I have to agree. I can understand questioning someone about what's going on with their neighbors, but the Gaucins aren't the landlords. They rent. They're a regular working-class family. And if they'd been Anglo, there's not a doubt in my mind that the MCSO would not have detained and zip-tied them.

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