Jan Brewer, Charles Ryan, and Private Prison Industry on Blast by Prison Legal News Writer, ADC Prisoner Joe Watson
ADC In July's Prison Legal News, Watson lambastes Brewer and Ryan . . .
Who better than a prisoner to criticize Arizona's prison system?
The most recent issue of Prison Legal News, a monthly magazine largely written for prisoners by prisoners, features a long, detailed overview of what's wrong with the Arizona Department of Corrections, including ADC's alarming suicide rate, its excessive use of solitary confinement, the push for privatization by Governor Jan Brewer and ADC Director Charles Ryan, Brewer's "stingy" clemency policy, and the ACLU's current lawsuit over the ADC's failure to provide adequate medical care to the incarcerated.
The piece draws liberally from information already published in various media outlets and reports by watchdog groups. Much of it is familiar, but the article does put it all in one place and punctuates it with stinging commentary provided by a prisoner currently serving a 12-year sentence in ADC for a string of armed robberies.
In fact, his name may be familiar to readers of this paper: Joe Watson, the so-called "Salon Bandit."
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Joe Watson -- Salon Bandit, Jail Poet and Former New Times Writer -- Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison
Watson worked for New Times for several years before being axed for disappearing on deadline -- the worst possible offense for any journalist.
He also wrote for Phoenix Magazine under the assumed name of "Zachary Best" and did some editorial work for the now-defunct 944 magazine.
A selfish and self-destructive obsession with gambling led him down a path of scuzzy and ultimately criminal behavior. He was arrested in 2007 for a string of armed robberies, during which he coerced young female employees of tanning salons into turning over the contents of cash registers by implying that he had a gun.
Watson did all this with his face exposed to security cameras while wearing his favorite Boston Red Sox baseball cap. His fiancée recognized him in footage shown on the local news and called the cops.
He was taken into custody while playing poker at Casino Arizona, which seemed appropriate, as he once told me that his favorite movie was Rounders and that he idolized the character of a degenerate gambler played in the film by Ed Norton.
I haven't thought about Watson in a while. Then I read his recent piece in PLN after it was forwarded to me by a lawyer.