Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Arpaio’s Jail Staff Cost Ambrett Spencer Her Baby

The racist, classist, sexist,  Joe Arpaio who calls himself the toughest Sheriff is responsible for the death of an infant child.  Had she still been alive Ambria would be two years old today.

image Arpaio was elected for his stance of being "tough on crime".  He forces inmates to wear pink clothing to demoralize them, is famous for his green bologna sandwiches, forcing youth to work on chain gangs to bury the dead, and his continual war on bodies of colour.

This sack of shit thinks that it is a mark of honour to feed a human being on 20 cents.  Tell me what healthy life sustaining food can you eat for 20 cents, even in bulk?

Well good ole' Sheriff recently let us know of his overwhelming concern for mothers and children by refusing to transport an inmate for an abortion.  To good 'ole Joe the sanctity of life is without question.

Ambrett Spencer was to learn exactly how precious life was the to the Maricopaimage County sheriff, and his staff when she began to experience pain while pregnant in one of his cells.  It took his staff four hours secure the appropriate medical care for her, because the nurse decided that she was not in any "immediate danger." 

Instead of raising her baby girl, today Spencer is a woman who is grieving.  Imagine holding the body of your dead child, that you were powerless to save because some man unilaterally decided that pregnant women only count when they can be used to try and reduce womens reproductive rights. If life really mattered, why did the life of little Ambria not count as valuable enough to be saved? No matter what crime her mother had committed, why was she not entitled to life?  This isn't being tough on crime, this murder. 

Little Ambria died from placental abruption. She had already survived in her mothers womb without prenatal care, or vitamins, but could not battle against a final failure to receive medical treatment. 

If what occurred to little Ambria isn't enough to make you suitably horrified, read about Michelle McCollum and Lilly Lee as well as more detailed account of the death of little Ambria.

Socially there is the attitude that we have been to tough on crime and yet the recidivism rate is rising, as well as the prison population.  Small towns have become dependent on the employment of the prison industrial complex.  Subjecting people to dehumanizing treatment is not going to reduce crime.

Prisons fail because they are not about rehabilitation, they are about punishment.  Though Spencer was serving time for driving while drunk, losing her infant daughter was certainly a price that was to much to pay. 

Good 'ole Joe is not the only one responsible for the death of this child, we all are.  Cumulatively we have decided not to fix the problems that lead to criminal behaviour and we have empowered this man to deal with the problems that our social imbalance leads to. 

Getting tough on crime should mean things like job training, drug rehabilitation treatment, and counselling. Locking people up and treating them as sub human savages only leads to the perpetuation of the problems that led them to incarceration in the first place.

It is not a case of us against them.  If someone is imprisoned, or is a former convict they are still a human being.  Women in prison have been extremely vulnerable to rape, and now we are learning that for pregnant mothers there is an even greater cost.  I cannot help but wonder how many times we need to hear about cases like Ambria, or a woman being raped by a guard to decide that this system needs to be overhauled. 

H/T Feministing


superlagirl said...

My god. That is absolutely awful. And this quote from the article shows that even in the best case scenario, this woman and child would have experienced a profound loss:

"Inmates in Arpaio's jails aren't usually allowed to see their babies after birth."


Octogalore said...

Yeah, it seems pretty clear the system isn't working.

I think we do need an overhaul. I think jail serves the purpose of disincentive and so locking people up for some period of time would be tough to eliminate completely. But the current system, as you said, leads to recidivism. Eliminating or reducing jail time for some offenses and training, incorporating, as you sad, job training, drug rehab, etc. -- I would imagine there is a sound economic plan that could make this doable. The additonal time, labor and real estate could be allocated to rehab and training. This is something that could be tested on a sample first, then debugged and expanded.

What are your thoughts, Renee, re a solution?

T.Allen-Mercado said...

Arpaio is a monster. As a native NYer now living in AZ I've come across the likes of those who voted and continue to support Arpaio-it's criminal. He and his followers/supporters abuse the justice and prison systems to perpetuate as you aptly stated, "continual war on bodies of colour". He surely isn't the only one, but his tactics, or "techniques" as the local yokels call it are the worst I've ever seen.

Anonymous said...

My mother went to his jail. She had been attacked by a man who subsequently said he found a 113 pound women "threatening" to his 217 pound self. He walked away unharmed. She had a torn rotator cuff, two black eyes, a cracked skull, pulled muscle in her back, and puncture wounds where he had stabbed her with some object.

She laid on a floor for two days, her brain bleeding, screaming for help. She was denied life-giving medication (she has heart and thyroid problems). She was denied a phone call. My father was frantically trying to find her. The food she was given was rotten and green and had cockroaches in it.

She was unable to sue the state because she was guilty of "frightening" a civil servant (he was a fireman).

She suffers from PTSD and minor brain damaged. My mother died on the fucking floor, and if I eve see that man, he'd better run his obnoxious, smug, white privileged ass so hard away from me.

Anonymous said...

This stuff is horrifying. I think we don't hear about it more because, even it the article that was linked, it talked about people "deserving" their punishment. This attitude is so demonizing to criminals. I really wish people would have more compassion and realize how often their mistakes and shortcomings are gracefully forgiven. I suppose incarceration may be necessary for some people, but shouldn't we exhaust all other options first? Does anyone know where I can learn more about the prison-industrial complex and what can be done to help?

SunlessNick said...

Oh fucking crap, Anon (4). Saying I'm sorry doesn't begin to cut it, but there aren't any words to do justice to that. So sorry is all I have.

Arpaio deserves nothing short of a life sentence in prison.

Renee said...


I believe that drug related crime should be treated with drug rehabilitation rather than incarceration. I also believe in the decriminalization of mushrooms, hash and pot. Incarcerating people for addiction is ridiculous when we know it is an illness.

I also believe that all perpetrators of non violent property crime should be forced to attend mandatory job training and or a recognized institution of learning. When you give people the tools to uplift themselves they will see themselves in a different light. A good trade such as plumbing or carpentry could take some of these criminals far.

We need to have housing and job programs for those that are released on parole. Just because someone made a mistake does not mean that they should be subject to a life of poverty especially if the impetus for the crime was to pay for a drug habit.

Finally we need to catch the troubled kids before they good bad. This means we need to really start investing in our schools, and neighborhoods. Organizations like the boys and girls clubs have saved so many young kids. We need to provide safe places for our youth that they can have a sense of community. We need to offer educations that will take them somewhere.

Octogalore said...

A lot of food for thought! Thanks.

Totally agree re rehab for drug related crime. At least for a first offense.

On the non-violent property crime, my difficulty is, how would one disincentivize it? I mean, if a thief is thinking -- hmm, if I rip off that car, worst that could happen is job training --
that kind of scares me. Maybe job training combined with loss of some privileges, or possibly a fine that comes out of job earnings, combined with a short jail term, just long enough to disincentivize.

"A good trade such as plumbing or carpentry could take some of these criminals far" -- good point.

The only thing I wonder about housing and job programs for those that are released on parole is -- we don't have sufficient programs like that for ordinary people who aren't on parole, but who are unemployed. I agree about someone not deserving a life of poverty for making a mistake, but what about people living lives of poverty who haven't made mistakes? And concerned that if one could get funding for job training by doing jail time and then being on parole, would one then have less incentive NOT to make mistakes?

Awesome, re prevention and kids in tough neighborhoods. And maybe that's a way to begin to fund the ideas above, reducing the whole wasteful unsuccessful situation from the source.

I think teachers need more incentives. I have a couple family members who are elementary school teachers -- one in a tough area in NY -- and they see huge exodus from the profession. Loan forgiveness programs would be effective in incentivizing, coupled with a more attractive promotional track. It would also be great if companies required "pro bono" hours (and law firms administered such programs better) and gave additional points for hours devoted to pitching in at underfunded public schools.

Jenn said...

God, I apologize to the world that the idiots in my state elected five times this unspeakable monster.

He's cost the state millions of dollars in wrongful death suits. He's butchered hundreds with rotten meat, appalling prison conditions, heat exhaustion, and precincts that raid Guadalupe instead of acting on the outstanding warrants of thousands of dangerous murders and rapists running free in the crime haven of South Phoenix. In the twenty years he has been in office, the crime rate in Arizona has increased exponentially.

And like the complete fuck-ups we are, we keep overwhelmingly re-electing him.

This guy isn't tough on crime. He's a joke, fit only for burning pits of hell. Crime has done nothing but flourish under him, as he ignores real criminals to racially profile black youth and Mexican immigrants or prosecute--to the maximum--nonviolent drug charges. Then while the rapists and wife beaters and murders and serial killers (no joke, we had serial killers running rampant for months before the idiots caught them), we think we're doing anything but slaughtering people in a travesty of "justice" in uncooled work-camps and prisons that top 120 degrees in the summer.

I'm not a person that really likes the death penalty, but if anyone deserves death, he does.

john said...

Mistakes are made by the people. Some make wantingly. Such people should be punished. The people who make crimes accordingly to the situation or for saving themselves from danger.
Such people should be forgiven.



ontario drug rehab

White Trash Academic said...

Right now in VA we are dealing with the closing of our drug treatment placements for non-violent offenders due to budget cuts, programs that are so successful that the recidivism rate of those attending is almost nil.

I second Renee on the decriminalization of those drugs at the very least. In the U.S., all of our money is spent on reaction versus prevention. There are programs that we KNOW work through research with high risk kids, like Big Brothers Big Sisters, yet we spend more on programs like DARE (drug prevention officer goes to school and says "Don't do drugs kids.") when we know they don't work (research has consistently shown no impact on teen drug use from kids who had DARE program).

The "get tough on crime" rhetoric is not helpful. And, for the record, we also know through research that incarceration is NOT a deterrent for crime. Too many other factors influence whether or not someone commits a crime and most offenders do not believe they are going to get caught. Furthermore, the length of sentence (harsher sentences to deter crime) also is not correlated with deterrence.

So, to recap, let's spend all of this money on things that don't work at all. That is one way to ensure that the crime rate in the U.S. stays higher than ALL other Western industrialized nations, and lots of other developing countries. Crazy, isn't it?

*Side note: If anyone is interested in the research I can provide links but to the academic articles.

Rj said...

WTA--I would like the links, please. Good Stuff.

Kelley said...

Please tell me this poor woman filed (and won) a wrongful death/negligence suit against that animal. He should be the one kicked to pieces and left to die on the floor. Rotten bastard.

timethief said...

The racist, classist, sexist, misogynist Joe Arpaio who calls himself the toughest Sheriff is responsible for the death of an infant child. Had she still been alive Ambria would be two years old today. What a disgusting excuse for a human being.

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