Sunday, February 14, 2016

Jodi and Prison Life


Jodi Arias' name has recently been in the media again.  On January 26th Radar Online reported on a leaked phone call between Jodi and a little known rapper.   Other media outlets picked up the story and soon it was heard on sites such as ABC 15 and televised on Nancy Grace.   Arias sounded happy in the call but her happiness was short-lived.  The leaked phone call started a chain-reaction that ended up delaying Arias' contact visits for over 6 months.

After hearing details of the leaked call, multiple people called the prison with questions and to voice their concerns.  The prison assured them the incident would be fully investigated. An investigation meant there would be closer attention focused on Arias to determine if she played a part in the leaking of the call.  Her conversations were closely monitored and her statements scrutinized to determine if they held any violations.  One week after the leaked phone call was made known,   Jodi Arias was charged with a minor violation which might have went unnoticed if it were not for the increased focus related to the leaked phone call.


One week after Radar Online reported on the phone call, Arias was in programs conducting a legal phone call.  While she was there, she asked a prison porter to cut her hair.  This was relayed to CO III "Bob" who approached the reporting officer with the request.  The reporting officer denied the request because it was against the rules.  The prison porter was not assigned to Arias' yard thus not allowed to do it.   When the CO III (who is prison staff) told Arias the answer was "no",  Arias replied that the reporting officer was a "cock-blocker."    The statement was relayed to the reporting officer and Arias initially refused to admit she called the officer anything.  Jodi was made aware that it was a disciplinary violation because it was inappropriate and  could be taken in a sexual manner.  Jodi claimed  it was meant to refer to stonewalling her and not in a sexual way.

Jodi's intention for the statement did not matter.  She made it to prison staff, a CO III.   The statement fell within the description of "disrespect to staff" which is listed as a minor violation.


The initial leaked phone resulted in many watching Jodi's prison's data so when the disciplinary violation was decided, it was quickly spotted and shared on social media.  Just like any other prisoner in the system,  Jodi has a database that can be freely accessed by the public. In addition to a picture and a physical description this data base also includes:
  • commitment information
    • Where, when, charge, etc.
  • Sentencing information
    • Sentence, date she was sentenced, and release date.
  • Disciplinary infractions (1) and disciplinary appeals (0)
  • Profile classification
    • Initial custody level, last reevaluation date,  custody risk level, internal risk level.
  • Parole action 0
  • Parole placement
    • Includes her next  annual review date to reevaluate her custody level.

After receiving her life sentence Jodi Arias was transferred to the Perryville prison and went through the same processes as any other new inmate.  She was assessed and assigned the proper classification for her custody level to determine the risk she posed and to place her in the proper housing and work duties.

In order to determine the proper custody level, each inmate is assigned a custody risk level and an internal risk level after assessment.  Due to the nature of Jodi's crime (first-degree murder with cruelty) and her life sentence,  Jodi's custody level could be no lower than maximum.    There are four levels of custody classification.  Jodi's life sentence means she will never go below a "medium" security classification.  Programs and privileges allowed to minimum security prisoners will never be available to Arias which means the only time she will ever again step off of prison grounds is if she requires hospitalization, is attending legal proceedings in a court of law, or escapes.

Jodi's internal risk level was determined to be "2."   As long as she is being supervised and remains under the control of others, she poses a low risk of harm to others.   Jodi's internal risk level does not reflect the risk she poses to others if not supervised within an institution.

The facility has thirty days from the date of intake to determine the classification level of each prisoner.  Jodi Arias arrived 4/13/2015 and received her initial classification on 5/13/2015.


Every inmate, no matter her offense, is reevaluated soon after 180 days following  her admission to the facility. 198 days after Jodi stepped into her forever home,  her status was reevaluated.  It remained the same.

After the initial reevaluation of classification most inmates will be reevaluated on a basis that is event driven.  Her actions can result in either an increase in custody level or a reduction in custody level. An inmate such as Jodi who is a maximum security level prisoner will be reevaluated on an annual basis.  The next date of her evaluation is listed on her prison record under the heading "parole record."  Arias is not due for her reevaluation until 5/2016.

 Jodi's status will not be reviewed until 5/2016.   However, at that time she will remain a "maximum custody" inmate due to her life-sentence.   No matter how well Jodi has behaved or what programs she has completed,  non-discretionary overrides are in place which prevent her from reducing her custody level until two years after her sentence began.

It will take at least two-years before Jodi can reduce her level from maximum custody to close-custody.    Once her custody level is reduced to close custody her privileges increase and include contact visits.


When Jodi was first sentenced some media sites reported if she was sentenced to life she would face up to two years of severe restrictions similar to that of a person on death row.   These restrictions included severe isolation such as spending the majority of time in her cell,  no contact visits,  limited phone use, and dining alone.  At one time, the media's report would have been correct.  However, in 3/2014 the ADC implemented a strict program to give maximum security prisoners not on condemned row the opportunity to earn privileges and out of cell time.  The program was a three step procedure of increasing privileges based on the inmate maintaining a standard of behavior and fulfilling requirements on a daily basis over a minimum 30-day consecutive time frame.   Jodi's recent infraction and the punishment involved suggests she is participating in the Step Program.

The day Jodi came home she was given her prisoner handbook with a list of violations and educated about the step program.  Her first thirty days of prison life were severely restricted because she had not yet fulfilled the 30 day requirement to obtain Step I privileges such as commissary rights.

  In order to move to Step I Jodi had to meet certain daily requirements for thirty consecutive days:
  1. Keep herself well-groomed and clean
  2. showering at least twice a week
  3. Taking all and any mental health medications prescribed
    • for example,  Depakote to manage a diagnoses of bipolar disorder.
      • If Jodi was diagnosed as bipolar it is  likely she is on medication which would help her control her behavior. It's a possible explanation as to why she has been able to maintain a clean sheet at Perryville until recently despite her multiple violations at the Estrella jail.  Or, it might just be a factor of time.
        If Jodi is on medication, the details would not be shared because of HIPAA rules.  And, given Jodi's personality disorder she would likely see admitting to med use to control her mood swings as a sign of weakness.  If on meds,  Jodi would never tell. 
  4. Attending assigned educational and/ or program classes
  5. refraining from creating excess noise (banging, yelling, etc)
  6. refraining from being disrespectful, insulting, or using profanity
  7. Throwing items at staff or other inmates
  8. Keeping her cell tidy and clean

 If Jodi successfully met the program requirements she could earn extra privileges for graduating to "Step I" which included visitation and commissary.

When Jodi reached Step I she could start working towards Step II.  To move to step II  she had to continue following Step I requirements PLUS
  1.  Be in Step I for 30 days
  2. shower at least three times a week
  3. change her jumpsuit, socks, and underwear after each shower
  4. follow all instructions given to her by staff
  5. be free from all violations for 30 consecutive days
  6. display behavior that is cooperative and respectful
  7. demonstrate positive social interaction skills
  8. participate in STEP I programs, classes, and individual groups
  9. receive a recommendation to advance from the unit program team
As with the process to get to Step I,  violations or a failure to meet the requirements on a daily basis would cause any time left to serve in Step I to reset back to 30 days.    Once Jodi successfully fulfilled all the requirements, she would have proceeded to Step II.  The graduation to Step II came with additional privileges:

Once Jodi was in Step II, she could be sent back to Step I for:
  1. a guilty finding for a major violation
  2. 2 or more minor violations within 90 days while in step II
  3. refusal to attend programs 
  4. consistent display of poor social skills and/ or non-cooperative behavior
To move on to Step III Jodi had to:
  1. follow all requirements for Step I and II for 30 consecutive days without fail.
  2. demonstrate positive social interaction
  3. follow all rules outlined
  4. Display behavior that is cooperative and respectful
  5. complete step II programs, classes, and individual groups
  6. receive recommendation from the unit program team
Once Jodi was in Step III, she immediately earned privileges additionally to those earned in Step I and II with the exception of one.  Jodi could not obtain contact privileges until she was able to demonstrate the expectations associated with Step III for a total of 180 days.
Once Jodi made it to Step III, she was still expected to demonstrate a set level of behavior.  She could be set back to Step I for certain violations:
  1. refusal to program
  2. found guilty of a major disciplinary violation (class A or B)
  3. repeated demonstration of poor behavior
If sent back to Step I, she would have to follow the program all over again.  She would have had to fulfill her  30 days commitment in Step I before moving to Step II and another 30 days before moving to Step III.  Once in Step III she would have to wait another 180 days making the total time before she could have a contact visit to be 240 days from the date of her violation.

 Jodi could also have been sent back to Step II for certain violations:
  1. repeated demonstration of poor behavior
  2. being found guilty of a minor disciplinary violation
    • such as being disrespectful to staff


On February 9th, Jodi was found guilty of a minor disciplinary violation and per the rules of the program her status was reduced to a Step II.   Her supporters have claimed Jodi was singled out and treated unfairly.   If Jodi believed she was, she has 15 days to appeal the decision. According to the her prison database, she has not chosen to do so yet but still has until 2/23/16 to do so.

If Jodi decides  to appeal the decision, she will likely find out her attempts are futile.  At intake,  Jodi was given a prisoner handbook which contained violations and their definitions.  The definition of disrespect is included in the handbook and includes any communication to prison staff that is insulting, uses profanity, obscene in nature, or is inappropriate.  The comment was made directly to prison staff, a CO III, about another member of the staff. No matter how Jodi intended it,  her actions and  the term "cock-blocker" fits the definition of disrespect.  There is very little chance Jodi would win any appeal she brought forth.

As a result of her violation, Jodi's status was supposed to be reduced to Step II as described in the program for violations.  This "punishment" ends up being more severe than that listed in ADOC department order 803 because Jodi Arias is a maximum security prisoner who, before the implementation of the Step program had severely restricted privileges.  She is expected to behave at a level above inmates at a lower custody level to obtain some of the same rights.  So, when she breaks a rule it is punished more severely.

The normal punishment for a prisoner committing a minor violation during Step III would remove several other privileges beyond that of lost contact visits:
  1. Loss of use of any loaner appliances - fan, music player, T.V.
    • A color TV costs about $204 in the prison commissary.  Rumors claimed that Jodi was either on her 2nd or 3rd T.V.'s.  Were these loaner T.V's?  If so, she will have to do without for awhile due to her spending cap per week.
  2. A reduction in the amount she is allowed to use in for commissary per week from $100 - $80.  If she was using a loaner T.V,  she will not be able to purchase one of her own for at least four weeks.   
  3. Library access.  
    • she still will have services but the books will have to come to her.  
  4. Loss of lunchtime dining room privileges
    • breakfast and dinner can still be spent in the dining room.
  5. Reduction from one-four hour visit block to a 3-hour visit block
  6. Loss of group activities of televised entertainment and sporting events.
  7. Reduction of care pack arrival from monthly to every other month
  8. No family photos on Valentine's day and other select holidays.
  9. reduction in available WIPP jobs.
  10. Loss of ability to buy food at a prison fundraiser.
    • A few times a year,  different companies and restaurants go to some prisons and have fundraisers for things like victim's rights.   These companies sell items at an inflated price to the inmate.  The usual cost goes to the company and the excess gets donated to the charity.  The inmate gets to have access to something she could have only gotten on the outside.  A Step III prisoner is allowed to make fundraising food purchases.  A Step II prisoner does not have any fundraising purchase privileges.

If Jodi received the normal punishment Jodi would have been reduced to Step II and required to fulfill the time and program requirements of step II before moving on.   This would have delayed her contact visits for 210 days, not 180 days.   If so, the earliest Jodi would get her contact visits is 9-11-2016. Whereas Jodi bares the responsibility for her own behavior, one has to wonder how much focus would have been on that behavior had it not been for the actions of a supporter leaking a phone call and causing the prison to put more focus on Arias.

Jodi's supporters have claimed Jodi losing her contact privileges for the next 6 months was too harsh for the violation and added that she was being treated unfairly.  However, her punishment fit within the standards as outlined in the Step program. In fact, it's possible that Jodi did not receive as severe punishment as she could have.  According to people in the Arias camp, Jodi remains a Step III inmate which would mean she would not loose any of the privileges allowed in the Step III status with the exception of contact visits.   But, again, this seems to be another attempt to spread misinformation form some of her supporters.  As a Step III inmate,  Arias would be allowed to receive one care pack every month.   As a Step II inmate, she is only allowed one care pack every other month.  According to the ADC site to order these care packs (secure pack),  Arias has met her "TWO month order limit."  If she was still a "Step III" inmate, there would not be any TWO month order limit.   (this credit for this find goes to E.H.)

Check it out -

  If Jodi had almost made it to her 180 days and had a clean prison record, it's probable the prison was  lenient on her.  Her supporters may not feel a delay of 180 days of contact visits is lenient, but according to the Step program it could have been worse. It may have been.    However, instead of recognizing the system may have given her a break they will only condemn it for making Jodi face up to the consequences of her actions.  Jodi knew the rules and she understood the Step program requirements.


If Jodi manages to make it the next six months without a disciplinary infraction she will be able to get her contact visits 8 months before she is eligible for a reduction in custody level.   She will still need to remain free from any violations to continue to have those visits. One infraction can send her back to Step II or at the least, make her loose her contact privileges again.   The best way for her to obtain and keep her contact visits and other privileges is to keep her head low and stay  off the staff's radar. The question is with antics of supporters such as those spouting the Christmas baby story, the one who gave the jail letters interview, he who leaked the phone call, and the copyright infringement of Nurmi's book how is she going to do that?    Especially when their antics are picked up by media.  It puts Jodi right back in the cross hairs again.    Sometimes her supporters can be her worst haters.

Jodi Arias will eventually be granted her contact visits.  If supporters stop driving media attention  her way and she can follow the rules, she might even get them before her first two-years in prison.  If not, her contact visits will be not be available until after her two-year reevaluation.  Jodi will be eligible for a reduction in her status after serving two years of her maximum sentence.  She has not had enough disciplinary violations to prevent a reduction to close custody.    A classification of close custody will award her a few more privileges, including her contact visits.  After she has served five years of her life sentence,  Jodi can be reduced to medium custody.  After that, it's done. She will never be able to go any lower than medium custody which means unless hospitalized, court, or escape this one time traveler is stuck on the barren grounds of Perryville prison for the rest of her life.  No matter the sunshine she presents,  Jodi's future is gloomy.   

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.