Criminal Sentencing


That's the Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston) to you and me.

That’s the Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston) to you and me.

In late March, I attended a conference at ASU that focused on the value of prison education—a topic easy to overlook, even in a high-incarceration society. (I previewed the event here.)

The conference was terrific, and you may still be able to see tweets by me and others by looking for @PEAC_ASU and the hashtag #PEC15. And as long as you’re online, be sure to follow ASU’s Prison Education Awareness Club.

The topic of education for correctional inmates is pretty specific, one that I would think does not recur in my life too often. But a recent trip to Boston threw the issue in stark relief again.

As I strolled through the Institute of Contemporary Art in that city, I was pleased to see so many compelling and provocative pieces. It is worth a stop—the longer the better—if you get the chance.

This is the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. Yes, it’s as cool as it looks. Yes, you want to visit.

This is the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. Yes, it’s as cool as it looks. Yes, you want to visit.

One particularly striking exhibition (sorry, it closes May 10) was called “When the Stars Begin to Fall.” The ICA describes it here:

“When the Stars Begin to Fall gathers 35 artists of different generations who share an interest in the American South as both a real and fabled place. Key to the exhibition is the relationship between contemporary art, black life, and ‘outsider’ art, a historically fraught category typically encompassing artists who have not received formal art training and who may have been marginalized in society. When the Stars Begin to Fall includes artworks by self-taught, spiritually inspired, and incarcerated artists alongside projects by prominent contemporary artists such as Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems, Kerry James Marshall, David Hammons, and Theaster Gates. It presents diverse artworks—from drawing and painting to performance, sculpture, and assemblage—unified by an insistent reference to place.”

Read more about the exhibition here.

The entire show was amazing, but I was especially struck by the work of the incarcerated artists. (That may not be a surprise, given the number of times I’ve covered corrections issues before. For instance, here is my review of the film Herman’s House, about former Louisiana inmate Herman Wallace, whom I’ve written about numerous times.)

It may be more than a coincidence that some of our most evocative art arises from people in adverse conditions. And a few artists represented in Boston cause viewers to stop and consider what we value and how fragile our sense of normalcy is.

Causing me to pause was the work of Frank Albert Jones. As I gleaned from the museum-curated detail: The artist created the drawings with colored pencils he salvaged from the accounting office of the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville, where Jones was an inmate at the end of his life. The pieces on display were from the late 1960s, soon before Jones’s death.

Here are photos of his pieces on display:

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Also compelling were pieces by Henry Ray Clark, as described by the museum:

“Conjuring alternate realities, Clark creates drawings populated with figures that appear to be from another planet. He builds his compositions by repeating geometric shapes to form patterns and elaborate borders around central subjects. As Clark’s titles imply, his works express feelings of isolation while humorously suggesting possible places where people can exist with their multiple identities.”

Clark also was in the Texas Penitentiary. Upon release, he got involved in Houston’s artist community and participated in community-based organization Project Row Houses. Here is some of Clark’s work:

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The work by Jones and Clark was noteworthy, but I also was struck by the artists who had never been incarcerated but whose work complements and comments on a society heavy on incarceration. Like the dedicated students in the Prison Education Awareness Club, these artists feel that prisons say a lot about us and that they have lessons to tell—about those within the walls and those without.

Among those intriguing people were video artists Kara Walker (and her video titled 8 Possible Beginnings; or the Creation of African-America, A Moving Picture by Kara E. Walker) and Lauren Kelley (and her video titled Unbleached Objects).

Kelley’s work (photo below) communicated consciously with the pieces by Frank Albert Jones on a facing wall. As the museum explained:

“Kelley’s series of videos on view are inspired by the blue and red drawings of Frank albert Jones featured in this gallery. To create these animated drawings, Kelley sourced images of miscellaneous goods on Etsy, an online marketplace for arts, crafts, and vintage items. She envisions these as ‘portraits of the playful spirits captured in the spaces Jones ornately rendered.’ The objects sourced from the free market of the internet contrast sharply with Jones’s reality as a prisoner … but they make reference to the types of mass-produced goods currently made by incarcerated individuals for large corporations.”

Prison arts Boston Unbleached Objects by Lauren Kelley_opt

Unbleached Objects by Lauren Kelley

Here are a few of the inmate-created works displayed at the March ASU conference, as described by Kyes Stevens from the Alabama Prison Arts and Education Project (click to enlarge):

And here are photos from the packed-to-the-gills room as PEAC president Jessica Fletcher opened the conference (click the photos to enlarge):

Given the wall-and-wire chasm that lies between millions of inmates and the society that imprisons them, art may be a necessary bridge. Based on the conference message, art can play a powerful role in humanizing a dehumanizing situation. And based on my visit to Boston, it can play a similarly powerful role in reminding us all of the need to remain fully human, even as we dole out justice and retribution.

US Department of Labor logoIt was only back on April 1 that a major dialogue was raised in Arizona about the negative results that flow from employee misclassification. That’s when Dr. David Weil of the Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division spoke to audiences in downtown Phoenix and elsewhere.

Dr. Weil spoke about the combination of carrots and sticks that would be brought to bear to face the challenge.

This week, we got to see a little of the stick as we read a press release. It opens:

“A nearly five-year federal investigation of illegal business practices by 16 defendants in Utah and Arizona has yielded $700,000 in back wages, damages, penalties and other guarantees for more than 1,000 construction industry workers in the Southwest, the U.S. Department of Labor announced today.”

“Consent judgments put an end to an effort by the defendants—operating collectively as CSG Workforce Partners, Universal Contracting, LLC and Arizona Tract/Arizona CLA—to claim that their workers were not employees. The defendants required the construction workers to become ‘member/owners’ of limited liability companies, stripping them of federal and state protections that come with employee status. These construction workers were building houses in Utah and Arizona as employees one day and then the next day were performing the same work on the same job sites for the same companies but without the protection of federal and state wage and safety laws. The companies, in turn, avoided paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll taxes.”

You can read the entire release here. All of the targeted Arizona firms are listed at the bottom, as is the case name and caption number.

Adding to the value of the news to Arizona lawyers and others is a blog post by Labor Secretary Tom Perez himself. In it, he describes the legal action being taken in Utah and Arizona. And he gives valuable insight into the way this nefarious business gets done:

“The state of Utah was a helpful partner in the Wage and Hour Division’s investigation of these defendants, providing information from the state’s Worker Classification Coordinated Enforcement Council, an entity created by the state legislature to combat misclassification. The state ultimately outlawed the defendants’ business model by requiring workers compensation and unemployment insurance for members of LLCs. In response, the companies packed up, headed to Arizona, and set up shop under a new name, but with the same scheme.”

Perez concludes:

“The Utah and Arizona judgments send a strong, clear message: employers can’t hide behind deceptive legal partnerships to cut corners and save money on the backs of their employees. It’s our hope that this and other enforcement actions will serve as a credible deterrent that influences behavior throughout the economy. Especially in the fissured workplace, we will continue to be vigilant about protecting workers, taxpayers and law-abiding employers.”

If you represent clients in related industries, is this a wake-up call? Is misclassification as big a problem as it’s made out to be? Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

P.S. Arizona has another close link to the Secretary: Four high-school kids from the Grand Canyon State just won an ABA award for best Magna Carta video. Among the luminaries they met in Washington DC in mid-April was Labor Secretary Perez. Here they all are:

U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Tom Perez meets with Arizona high school students who won first place in the ABA's 2015 Magna Carta video competition, April 2015.

U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Tom Perez meets with Arizona high school students who won first place in the ABA’s 2015 Magna Carta video competition, April 2015. (Full story in the June 2015 Arizona Attorney Magazine)

 

A Wade Smith Memorial Lecture on Race RelationsThe topic of a major annual talk could not have been more opportunely selected to engage audiences and communities. Policing Black Males on U.S. Campuses” is part of the issue to be addressed by a UCLA professor when he delivers ASU’s A. Wade Smith Memorial Lecture on Race Relations.

The 20th annual lecture named for Dr. Smith will be delivered by Dr. Walter R. Allen, the Allan Murray Cartter Chair in Higher Education and Distinguished Professor of Education and Sociology at UCLA.

His entire title is worth remembering: “Black Lives Matter: Hyper-Surveillance and Policing Black Males on U.S. Campuses.”

The free public presentation will be on Wednesday, April 29, 2015, 7:00 pm, at the ASU Memorial Union, Memorial Ballroom.

Seating is limited and on a first come, first served basis, and doors will open at 6:30 pm.

Given the university’s own high-profile relationship with the intersection of Black lives and policing (and which has made news nationwide), I’m surprised the school has not touted this speech from the rooftops. There may be no local audience more primed to hear this dialogue than the one in Tempe, Arizona, right now.

Dr. Walter R. Allen, UCLA

Dr. Walter R. Allen, UCLA

On the other hand, the school probably wishes the whole topic would just go away. A high-profile talk by an esteemed scholar on this very issue may be a bit of salt in the recent wounds.

In any case, below I have included more background on the event. If you plan to attend and would like to provide some photos and perhaps a guest blog post, write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Background:

Dr. Walter R. Allen, distinguished professor of education and sociology at UCLA, will discuss the policing of African-American men on college campuses at the 20th annual A. Wade Smith Memorial Lecture on Race Relations.

Allen’s lecture, “Black Lives Matter: Hyper-Surveillance and Policing Black Males on U.S. Campuses,” will touch on the social science of incidents involving police security and black men. Allen said he chose this topic because of national news like Ferguson, Mo., even if it didn’t happen on a college campus.

Allen earned his doctorate and master’s degree from the University of Chicago in sociology and his bachelor’s degree in sociology at Beloit College in Wisconsin. Allen has done extensive research on higher education, race and ethnicity, family patterns, social inequality and the African diaspora.

Keep reading here.

Past A. Wade Smith keynotes have included Lani Guinier and Kimberlé Crenshaw, among many others.

Prison Education conference 2015-page0001

It’s beginning to look like my Friday morning will be corrections-focused.

Yesterday, I mentioned a school-to-prison pipeline symposium focused on that topic. But on the same day—Friday, March 27—an ASU student group addresses the issue of what we do with individuals once they are incarcerated. Specifically, they are focused on prison education.

(I wrote before about this annual conference on prison education.)

This Friday’s event marks the fourth annual Prison Education Conference and will be held in the Turquoise room of the Memorial Union at ASU from 10am to 4pm (with complimentary lunch included).

ASU Prison Education Awareness Club logo-page0001Below is some detail about Friday’s free conference. You can register here.

“The Prison Education Awareness Club (PEAC) presents the 4th Annual Prison Education Conference, featuring Kyes Stevens from the Alabama Prison Arts and Education Project and Judith Tannenbaum, teaching artist and author of Disguised as a Poem: My Years Teaching Poetry at San Quentin and By Heart: Poetry, Prison, and Two Lives. Alongside them, representatives from the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rio Salado Distance Learning Program, and ASU prison teaching will speak.”

I spoke with Jess Fletcher, who heads up ASU’s Prison Education Awareness Club. She indicated that given the large attendance at last year’s event, this week’s conference will be in a larger space (in the ASU Memorial Union). There are still some spots left, so RSVP here soon.

You also can follow (and Like) them on Facebook and Twitter.

ASU Law school-to-prison-pipeline town hall

I have written about the school-to-prison pipeline before, which is why I am especially pleased to see an upcoming symposium dedicated to the topic—this time focused on the pipeline’s effects in Indian Country.

The event will be this Friday, March 27, at the ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. More information is here.

Here is more background from the organizers:

The “School-To-Prison Pipeline” has been a crucial concern of parents, educators, tribal leaders, ministers, civil rights activists, lawyers and youth advocates for a number of years. Recently, it has become a major concern of the general public across our country due in large part to the spiraling statistics and the negative impact on children of color. Some advocates have defined the problem as a systematic way of syphoning children out of public schools and funneling them into the juvenile and criminal justice system. In fact, many civil rights lawyers regard the journey from “School-To-Prison Pipeline,” as the most critical civil rights issue facing our country today.

The one day event will feature panel discussions, a keynote speaker, and a town hall. The symposium and town hall will bring together individuals to discuss pipeline concerns, experts who have developed successful programs and projects across the country to address pipeline issues, and individuals and organizations from diverse backgrounds who are working toward solutions to this issue.  This symposium and town hall is currently the only American Bar Association sponsored event to focus exclusively on the “School-To-Prison Pipeline” in Indian Country.

And here are the previous stories I mentioned (here and here) that address this compelling issue.

An Arizona public-information campaign sponsored by Clear Channel features billboards educating on human trafficking.

An Arizona public-information campaign sponsored by Clear Channel features billboards educating on human trafficking.

If you drive through the Valley of the Sun, you may have spotted a number of billboards that highlight the tragedy of human trafficking.

Sponsored by Clear Channel Outdoor, the signs were touted earlier this month by new Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who (with Cindy McCain) unveiled an anti-human trafficking campaign. You can read more about the Clear Channel partnership here.

According to a press release:

“These efforts to raise awareness about human trafficking come just weeks before the Super Bowl comes to town. The influx of fans serves as an opportunity for traffickers, but also for law enforcement to seek the public’s help in combating this terrible crime.”

“The United States Department of Justice considers Phoenix one of the top human trafficking areas in the country. Most victims are forced into sex trafficking before they are 15 years old.”

“While the spotlight of the nation’s largest sporting event is on Arizona, Brnovich intends to make it clear that his office will be ramping up efforts to end this crime against humanity.” “‘Enslaving innocent children for sexual exploitation and profit is despicable,’ said Brnovich. ‘This type of crime against some of our most vulnerable must never be tolerated.’”

(More from the release is at the bottom of this post.)

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorLawyers who seek more information on the challenges faced by these crimes might want to attend a State Bar CLE on January 27. It is titled “Human Trafficking: Modern Day Slavery in Arizona.”

As it’s described:

“This program will focus on the growing trend of human trafficking in Arizona and throughout our country. With the Super Bowl planned for February 1, 2015 in Glendale, this topic is more relevant than ever. Attendees will have an eye-opening experience to hear from a victim of childhood trafficking.

Topics:

  • Overview of what human trafficking is.
  • Discussion about the prevalence of human trafficking nationally, in Arizona, and surrounding the Super Bowl, including statistics and several real world case examples.
  • Overview of some of the common signs and indicators surrounding human trafficking.
  • Discussion about the recent federal Arizona District Court decision enjoining Arizona’s Human Smuggling law, and the implications of that decision on other Arizona anti-human trafficking laws.
  • Overview of federal immigration programs that may permit the victims of human trafficking to remain in the country while assisting in the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking offenses.
  • Overview of other Arizona criminal laws that may be implicated in a human trafficking situation.
  • Discussion about some of the other available resources on the topic of human trafficking.

The instructors are:

  • Bill Hughes, Chief Criminal Deputy for Yavapai County, Arizona, and a past President of the Yavapai County Bar Association
  • Arizona Justice Ann A. Scott Timmer
  • Carolyn Jones, a speaker on the topic of sex trafficking

You can get more information and register here.

And here is the rest of the Attorney General’s release:

“General Brnovich has hired Zora Manjencich to coordinate anti-human trafficking efforts for the Attorney General’s Office. Manjencich spent nine years at the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office handling high- profile sex crimes in the East Valley. She tried and convicted a child predator who was featured on ‘America’s Most Wanted’ and earned the Crime Victims’ Rights Special Award.”

“Cindy McCain believes Brnovich’s presence at the event will highlight his commitment to thwarting human trafficking in Arizona, just three days into his term.”

“‘Mark and I have discussed this issue in depth and I know he is committed to aggressively prosecuting those who dare to traffic our children for sex,’ said McCain. ‘I am grateful for his commitment and look forward to working with him in the coming years to stop trafficking in our state.’”

April 2012 Arizona Attorney: Lawyers Go Green

April 2012 Arizona Attorney: Lawyers Go Green

“Best hits of 2012? Did I hear that right?”

You may be asking yourself that very thing as I kick off this short holiday week with three posts that highlight some of my favorite content from the three past years of Arizona Attorney Magazine.

I had considered hanging a “closed” sign on my blog this week. But then I thought I’d enjoy looking back and spotting some bright spots. And then on this Wednesday—the last day of the year—I’ll round this effort out when I identify some great work from this past year … in case you missed it.

I did something like this back in 2010, and readers told me they enjoyed it (but maybe they were being nice).

In any case, here are my recommendations for 2012 content for your quiet winter evenings:

Turn to our April 2012 coverage of green law offices (for which I am very grateful to attorney Jennifer Mott).

In July/August 2012, we were privileged to run Maureen Kane’s great piece on Justice Michael Ryan. (It is followed by some memories of his then-clerks, which you can read here.)

The July/August 2012 Arizona Attorney included our coverage of Justice Michael Ryan.

The July/August 2012 Arizona Attorney included our coverage of Justice Michael Ryan.

And if you like history:

Sentencing reform showed promise in Arizona in 2012.

Sentencing reform showed promise in Arizona in 2012.

Finally, here is a January 2012 piece I enjoyed reporting and writing myself on the possibilities for sentence reform in Arizona (my work benefited greatly from a Guggenheim Fellowship I won that year that connected me with some very smart sources).

Tomorrow, we turn to 2013.

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