September 19, 2011
The names Donna Leone Hamm and James J. Hamm have become synonymous with prison reform and prisoner rights advocacy in Arizona. As executive director of Middle Ground Prison Reform, Mrs. Hamm has been on the frontlines of the battle for reform in Arizona's criminal Justice System and inmates rights for nearly a quarter of a century.
Middle Ground Prison Reform has in the past handled all sorts of issues related to prison and prisoners. Recently, Middle Ground has taken a stand against two new policies lawmakers approved earlier this year that was intended to generate money for prison building maintenance and repair.
Since July 2011, the ADOC has been charging a $25 background check fee for most adults applying to be able to visit an inmate in ADOC. In addition, ADOC has been collecting 1 percent of any deposit made to an inmates' prison account. The money, earmarked for the building maintenance & repair fund, is not being used to pay for the background checks or costs of running the inmate banking system. The fees amount to an unconstitutional tax levied on prisoners and family & friends of prisoners only. Because taxpayers already pay for the general maintenance & repair of all ADOC buildings, the $25 seems to be a double taxation to me for those loved ones in ADOC. In addition to these two sources, the new building maintenance and repair fund also receives money from other ADOC account reserved for other purposes, such as the Arts and Recreation Fund. I suspect that some of these ADOC funds that feed the new building maintenance & repair fund is not able to be appropriated by lawmakers. However, this new fund created is.
Middle Ground Prison Reform is helping to right these wrongs. I ask everybody with a loved one in ADOC to visit Middle Ground's website and explore. You can also download and print a copy of the lawsuit. It's on the homepage partway down in pdf format (21 pages),
Middle Ground can also be contacted at:
James and Donna Hamm
Middle Ground Prison Reform
139 East Encanto Drive
Tempe, AZ 85281
2 days ago