Arizona’s “Meth lab of democracy” enacts law charging for prison visits.
September 7, 2011 by lawmrh
Living an overheated life in Satan’s crotch
may go a long way to explain the legislative exudations from what a longtime Arizonan calls the Arizona Legislature’s “90 dwarfs.”
[My apologies here to the “Little People”
for such maligning. The reference is cerebral not altitudinal].
Since the common signs of heat stroke are agitation, disorientation, strange behavior, and hallucinations, this might symptomatically account for the legislators’ latest craziness —– except that the legislature doesn’t meet during Arizona’s six-month summer – – – so you can’t blame it on the heat. The Arizona Legislative Session runs during the so-called winter/spring running January to April each year.
The Meth Lab.
According to Erica Goode writing in “The New York Times,” the $25 fee now imposed on prison inmate visitors is “believed to be the first of its kind in the nation.”
A.R.S. 41-1604. Duties and powers of director
now requires the Director of the State Department of Corrections to “Establish by rule a one-time fee for conducting background checks on any person who enters a department facility to visit a prisoner. A fee shall not be charged for a person who is under eighteen years of age. The director may adopt rules that waive all or part of the fee. The director shall deposit, pursuant to sections 35-146 and 35-147, any monies collected pursuant to this paragraph in the department of corrections building renewal fund established by section 41-797.”
Background check? What background check?
The $25 prison visitor’s fee is supposedly a one-time charge for a background check but in fact, it’s purely pretextual. Senate Chief of Staff Wendy Baldo admits that the fees are really meant to help make up the state’s $1.6 billion deficit. Moreover, the monies collected go into a building maintenance and repair general fund.
Their complaint, filed pro se, i.e., on their own behalf without a lawyer’s legal representation, contends that Section 19 of the Arizona Constitution “prohibits special laws for the assessment and collection of taxes.” They further cite the same provision under Article 4, pt.. 2, Section 19 (20) that states, “No local or special laws shall be enacted in any of the following cases, that is to say” 20. When a general law can be made applicable.”
But then such laws are easy to pass. They’re popular with the gated community set and with the “from my cold, dead hands’ crowd.
Everyone’s for ‘law and order.’ And who’s not for being ‘tough on crime’?
And besides, on the sympathy scale, incarcerated felons hardly register. Save for the proverbial bleeding heart expressing concern about recidivism or the left-behind low-income families of prisoners, who cares?
Blogger Andrea Parrish writes at NewsyType.com, “On average, the cost of visiting prison inmates hits families very hard. In one study, individuals spent an average of almost $300 per month on maintaining contact with prisoners; an amount that accounted for almost 26 percent of the income of low-income families.” See “$25 prison visit fee in Arizona leads to lawsuit.”
But then as Mignon McLaughlin
sardonically wrote, “We are irritated by rascals, intolerant of fools, and prepared to love the rest. But where are they?”
Photo Credits: “Meth lab insides” by Katie Brady Katie@! at Flickr at Creative Commons-licensed content requiring attribution and share alike distribution; “Jon Stewart” Rubenstein via Wikipedia under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic