April 26, 2011
Born June 23, 1947, Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce represents District 18, which covers most of Western and Central Mesa, and a small portion of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. Previously, this Republican lawmaker also served in the Arizona House of Representatives, and is widely known for sponsoring legislation seeking to stop illegal immigration. Senator Pearce favors a strong border security policy. In January 2011, Sen. Pearce became the President of the Arizona State Senate.
Pearce grew up in a troubled and impoverished home. His father was an alcoholic. At times he would come home from school and find that the neighbors had left groceries for his family. However, his mother would always put the food aside, not accepting charity.
Initially, Pearce wanted to attend medical school, but his family wasn't able to afford it. Russell Pearce joined the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department. In time he became a highly decorated peace officer and even received the Medal of Valor for his 35 years of service. Pearce rose to the level of Second in Command, Chief Deputy Sheriff, under Joe Arpaio. Interestingly, Pearce claims credit for one of the most publicized and controversial actions of MCSO, under Arpaio's cruel reign, that of housing jail inmates in military-type tents. During his tenure with MCSO, Pearce investigated many violent crimes and was also the victim of a violent crime when he was shot in the chest while on duty. In 1994, Russell Pearce was appointed to the position of Director of the State Highway Safety Department.
In 1995, Pearce became the Director of the Arizona Motor Vehical Division. Two notable accomplishments he had as such were: 1) Bringing in IBM to create the first version of servicearizona.com, on online resource for Arizona citizens to update the MVD info and 2) Pearce enrolled Arizona in the then optional National Drivers Registry program, making collection of Social Security numbers for driver's licenses mandatory at the state level to comply with the federal program. According to Chris Moesor of the Arizona Republic, in his August 21, 1999 article, Russell Pearce was discharged from that position in 1999 after an investigation revealed he had been complicit in tampering with state driving records.
Russell Pearce is an advocate for the following positions:
1. Smaller and more efficient government
2. Using ID cards that link to Social Security numbers
3. Eliminating abuse of eminent domain
4. Tightening border security
5. Supporter of 2nd amendment in the context of US gun rights
6. Supporting private property rights
7. Improving education and discipline
8. Supporting Boy Scouts of America in their moral leadership goals
9. Supports traditional family values
10. Promoting pro-life views
11. Amending the Citizenship Clause of the 14th amendment to limit who can a citizen by birth on US soil
12. Supporting the Taxpayers Bill of Rights
13. Against judicial activism
14. Improving transportation
Additionally, Russell Pearce was a lead sponsor of Arizona's Senate Bill 1070 (SB-1070), which attracted nationwide attention after the Obama administration challenged the law, resulting in a federal court ruling that most of the law was unconstitutional. Pearce told gathering activists, "when you talk about jihad, that is exactly what Obama has against America, specifically the State of Arizona" (Los Angeles Times, January 17, 2011). It's also important to note that Russell Pearce has been criticized for drafting SB-1070 as a way to provide income for private prisons by incarcerating illegal immigrants. Pearce was linked to the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) through a December 2009 meeting with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, DC. It was at this meeting that Pearce and ALEC members, including CCA officials, wrote the document that would later, almost word for word, become SB-1070 in Arizona. This according to National Public Radio (NPR), October 28, 2010.
Russell Pearce now lives in Mesa, Arizona with his wife Luann. He is the father of five children, Dodi, Sean, Colten, Justin and Joshua. In February 2011, Mesa police arrested Joshua Pearce on two outstanding warrants connected to probation violations and failure to appear in court. Joshua Pearce had previous run-ins with the law and was granted probation for DUI. Recently he was taken into custody again.
With Senator Russell Pearce's extensive background in Arizona law enforcement, history of supporting Arizona's ineffective and arguably detrimental sentencing and corrections statues, and his oppositional stance on sentencing and corrections reform legislation in recent years, I'm curious to see whether his son receives the same treatment by the powers that be in his criminal justice travels or if Joshua will avoid the same "justice" the rest of us get and which his father supports, because of his father. I'm even more curious to know whether the recent changes in DUI laws in AZ got Senator Pearce's vote of approval.
*This entry was written by former Phoenix criminal defense attorney Jason Keller and myself. A similar version of this article was published in the unit's "by inmates-for inmates monthly paper", Eagle Point Post. Unfortunately, after distribution, Eagle Point Administration ordered all distributed copies to be collected and disposed of and the paper's content has been restricted. Not being a fan of censorship, I've decided to run this version of the article for a larger audience and add my own 2 cents to it.
2 days ago