Happy 30th birthday to my brother in County Jail

Happy birthday brother

Mom and Dad came to see you yesterday for your birthday. Apparently the jail got rid of the glass and the phone for visits, now opting for a webcam way of visiting prisoners.

Unfortunately, after mom and dad sang you happy birthday and you let them know the prison has you working everyday from 1am – 9am in the kitchen, there was a technical glitch and the webcam could not be restored.

Happy birthday brother.

Now society has you grouped in with all the other prisoners and only wants the harshest punishment from you, forgetting your humanity or even what got you thrown into jail. From petty thief to murderer, society views you all the same. Just a bunch of thugs in the county jail.

I came by to see you last week to drop off some books like you requested before going in. I thought what better books to read than some banned books in TUSD. I had Devil’s Highway and Bless Me, Ultima for you. It turns out dropping books off is banned in the county jail. So I had to order them direct for you from Amazon. It was amazing the things that are banned from letters to prisoners, including lipstick that a loved one might be sending along with their love to their locked up man en la carcel.

Hopefully those books get to you this week. Just don’t let John Pedicone find out what you are reading.

Sorry brother but you got caught up on the wrong side of the Valley to Valley divide; the difference between Avra Valley and Oro Valley.

You have a drinking problem and you got caught up in an endless cycle within the justice system that never lets you out. In Avra Valley you don’t get picked up by one of the Prezelski brothers after a night of drinking. You don’t pay your fine and move on.

In Avra Valley you get stuck in a negative feedback loop that pulls you in like quicksand; the more you try to escape the further deep you fall.

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There ain’t no jobs in old-school Marana. Most of the old economy was destroyed to build master-planned communities, but after the cotton gins shut down and fields paved over, the economy collapsed the housing market. Now you got no gins and little left of what once was. Marana is now a suburb of Tucson, even a suburb of Phoenix for some thanks to I-10. The yards we all grew up in are being exchanged for houses that are six-feet apart and all the same color. Don’t even think about attaching a trailer to one of the doors or building on to the house out here. Not only are cars on bricks not allowed, but your garage even has to stay closed before the HOA comes and gets ya.

Our fences made of bamboo and cactus or old scraps of corrugated metal aren’t allowed down the street. One good thing they brought, even though the houses are no longer being built is high-speed internet. No more dial-up AOL in the boonies for us. We have Facebook and YouTube now, but that same webcam technology used for video chat has also replaced the personal visits in jail.

Happy birthday brother.

Out in Marana you need a car to survive. There are no corner stores but only a little strip off the freeway with a Circle K and the Marana Market aka “the Cambodians.”

This is were the negative-feedback loop begins. Old Marana and Avra Valley are a place of trailers and weeds. It is a perfect spot for drugs and indeed the area was hit hard just after I graduated high school by crystal meth. I remember seeing the “handsome guys” a year or two later who aged twenty years thanks to meth.

Mom and pops started shutting down and a Walmart opened up on Cortaro. Now that’s the best employment option for many… if you can get there.

If you don’t have a car, you don’t work.

If you don’t work, you can’t buy a car.

My brother’s demise began a few years ago and was captured on print by the Tucson Citizen when it was still around. There was this new law that was passed aimed to stop “human smuggling” but the problem is that it defined a human smuggler as any person with an undocumented person in the car. After passage of this bill, many of us turned into human smugglers overnight as we gave rides to our undocumented family and friends who have been living here for years and decades but never got their citizenship papers.

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