Charles Ryan may have pulled the plug on Macia Powell too soon. He may have overseen an ADC staff that denied her water for hours in a shadeless wire cage, a staff that allowed the severely mentally ill Powell to defecate on herself in captivity, that allowed her to perish in 107-plus degree heat while under the influence of psychiatric drugs, making her even more vulnerable to the heat. But he still has the support of Arizona's Governor-for-the-moment Jan Brewer.
According to Brewer's top flack, Ryan -- who is currently ADC's Interim Director, despite describing himself as ADC's official "Director" on ADC's Web site -- remains Brewer's pick to be ADC's top administrator. Never mind him stepping over a dead inmate to grab the brass ring.
"He was not submitted or confirmed in the last session," wrote Brewer flack Paul Senseman in e-mail Wednesday. "It is expected that he will be submitted to the legislature and likely confirmed in the next legislative session."
(How Ryan's current bureaucratric supremacy will play with the possible sale/leaseback of the state's prisons is unknown.)
Asked whether Ryan should resign his interim position because of the way he's mishandled Powell's grotesque demise in state custody, Senseman was positively blithe.
"I'm not aware of any independent person or organization who is suggesting otherwise," tut-tutted Senseman.
Senseman did not reply to follow up questions inquiring if the Governor was in any way remorseful over Powell's death, why she remained confident in Ryan's abilities in spite of his obvious bungling, and if she supported Ryan ending Powell's life support without consulting with Powell's court-appointed guardian, Maricopa County's Public Fiduciary.
An extensive search by the fiduciary's office after Powell's death found a living relative -- Powell's adoptive mother, and the possibility of other relatives yet to be located. Though Powell's adoptive mom did not wish to take custody of Powell's remains, one wonders what her response would have been if she had known earlier that her estranged daughter was on life support.
The Arizona Republic has apparently snagged a copy of the 3,000 page ADC report on Powell, describing the morbid details of Powell's last hours on this earth. The persistent neglect of some ADC employees for Powell's welfare is evident. But are those fired and disciplined by Ryan simply the fall-guys?
According to what the Rep is reporting, there's plenty of blame to go around. An ADC sergeant failed to report the fact that Powell had collapsed. Powell's fellow inmates said she was denied water while in the human cage. Powell's request to be taken back to her indoor cell was ignored. And so on.
One person definitely not taking responsibility for Powell's death is Ryan.
Here's a novel idea for the former Bush administration flunky, used to overseeing Iraqi prisons for the U.S. State Department: Do the honorable thing and resign.
Otherwise, may the ghost of Marcia Powell forever haunt you...
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