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Are you one of the many people who are afraid to visit Mexico because of the violence?

Are you terrified at the very thought that somehow, some way, a family member could wind up in some Third World country, physically or mentally ill, without any hope of care or treatment?

Welcome to the Arizona prison system.

Have you been reading the gut-wrenching series in The Arizona Republic about the deaths, the abuses, the indifference that appears to be all too common in our correctional system.

Bob Ortega writes that, over the past two years, 37 inmates have died as a result of prison violence, neglect or mistreatment. How is that possible in a civilized society — the mentally ill committing suicide in solitary confinement, smuggled drug overdoses, medical conditions that go untreated and murder.

Perhaps you’re saying prison isn’t a civilized society. You’re right, but we’re supposed to be. As part of humanity we’re supposed to give a damn.

But in Arizona, the prison system seems to be death row for everybody.

I’m Pat McMahon.