Letters from Kevin Walsh in the Arizona State Prison

Taxes, Work, Going Home

  14 January 2006

Dear Ganesh,

Thank you for your latest news summary. As I wrote in my last letter, I will be released on the 20th (Friday), so do not write me at this address again. My home phone number is (602)956-0997. I look forward to hearing from you in about a week.

I asked the librarian about tax forms. He doesn't think they have any there. For most inmates this does not pose a serious hardship, since inmate jobs pay so poorly that most inmates are exempt from paying income taxes. I know I have had very little income in 2005, and I don't intend to file a state or federal tax return this year. Of course an inmate may have come to prison recently and still had enough income to owe taxes, and I suppose they would have to mail the IRS for forms and ask for their W-2 to be sent to them in prison. There are also a few inmates who are wealthy and have investments on the outside that are yielding substantial dividends and interest on which they owe taxes. In most cases these inmates have people on the outside handling their finances.

I worked enough in 2004 before I was arrested that I owed income tax. By 2005, however, I had been transfered from Desert Vista to the Madison Street Jail. There were no tax forms there. Fortunately, my mother was willing and able to do my taxes for me.

The Rincon Unit library is of surprisingly good quality for a prison library. Unfortunately inmates are no longer allowed to visit the library to select books themselves. Under the current system, inmates fill out a book request form and may request up to three books at a time, which they may keep for up to two weeks. Specific book titles may be requested, or books by a certain author, or books on a certain subject, and the librarian and library clerks try to fill the orders as closely as possible. I have been pleasantly surprised by what has been available. For example, I asked for a biography of Mao Zedong. They didn't have one. They did, however, send me a biography of Mao's wife, Jiang Qing, entitled White Boned Demon. They are also well-stocked with classic literature, which is mostly what I have ordered.

I would say that the Rincon library is about as well-stocked as one of the branch libraries of the Phoenix public library system, though certainly not as well-stocked as the main library at Central and McDowell, nor is it as well-stocked as the ASU or U of A libraries.

What I would really like to see is typewriter or word processor access for inmates. Sometimes inmates need to send business or legal letters, and handwritten letters are considered less than professional in this day and age. I'm given to understand that some lower security yards have this, but not evidently level four yards. I am also in favor of some kind of internet access for inmates, although I can understand why this probably should not include e-mail or instant messaging. E-mail might be allowed with some kind of institutional censorship feature.

One of the problems with the phone system is that inmates may only make collect calls and these only to people with land line numbers. Given that many people have given up land lines entirely and use cellular phones as their only phones, and increasing number of inmates have no way to telephone their relatives on the outside. Provision should be made allowing inmates to call cell phones, paying for the calls from money on their accounts or money put into an account by a relative who is to receive the call.

I have only two work days left at my prison job as a programs clerk. Monday is a holiday, so I won't be working then. My boss, Mr. Holler, is taking Thursday off, so I'll only be working Tuesday and Wednesday. I have finished redesigning the alcohol education and parenting education tests. There is one major project remaining. Mr. Holler has asked me to prepare a presentation on unemployment compensation. I expect to complete that Tuesday morning. Mr. Holler says he will miss me and that he will have difficulty finding an inmate who can type nearly as well as I can.

Friday morning my mother will come to pick me up. If I can get home before 4 PM, I will telephone the Adult Probation Department and make an appointment to see my probation officer. If I don't arrive on time, I'll call the office on monday morning. I will probably go in for my appointment sometime the following week. I will probably then be scheduled for an appointment with my Value Options psychiatrist. When I'm done with that, I'll start looking for work.

I will keep you informed of what is going on until I get internet access and can add materials to the Free Kevin Walsh website myself.




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