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Arias' Online Ventures - What's Wrong With Our System?

I can sense that some people aren't going to agree with what I'm about to say, but what the heck - that's never stopped me from speaking my mind before.  As we watch and wait for Jodi Arias' punishment to be determined for the murder of Travis Alexander, her attorneys continue to battle the State of Arizona over trial coverage, juror social media accounts, which venue the re-trial will be held in and a few other pending motions, it appears the convicted murderer has been busy updating her "Jodi's Book Club" website and putting up new "artwork" for sale.  Her most current piece is "Sailing at Sunset" and is listed for a whopping $1,500.00 (last time I looked) and depicts a sailboat done in watercolors.  According to a recent tweet, Arias announced "100 limited edition prints of "Sailing at Sunset" are now available at jodiarias.com/#!currentlyoffered". The limited editions are priced at $39.00 each, so if she sold all of them, that's $3,900 in her pocket - add in $1,500.00 for the original print and she's looking at making $5,400.00!  All of this is being done out in the open, why don't the authorities seem to care?

(abcnews.com)


Out of sheer curiosity and a lack of other related news, I looked at this website recently and noticed that she has added a number of pages such as:


  • Send Books to Inmates
  • Report on Correctional Education
  • Inmate Mags
  • The Arizona Department of Corrections Educational Program
  • Read Between The Bars
  • Prison Book Program
  • PEN American Center
  • Inside Books Project
  • Books to Prisoners
  • Prisoners Literature Project
Is this Jodi's attempt at showing what an asset she can be to other prisoners, if her life is spared? Maybe.  I continue to be amazed at the communication she has with the world despite her circumstances. Her latest tweet says that when/if she can ever afford it, she is planning on filing for bankruptcy. Apparently she is offended that the public believes she or her family is cashing in on her crime, thus the tweet. IF Arias' artwork is selling, where is the money going?  Can she really order and consume $5,400.00 worth of commissary items or is this money, along with donations her various websites are accepting going to her family? I have nothing against free enterprise, but when a convicted murderer has cost the taxpayers of Arizona over a million bucks in defending her, and that price tag will almost certainly continue to swell as the penalty/sentencing phase drags ever so slowly forward - how is this being allowed to happen? Arias, now as a convicted felon should not be able to profit in any way from her notoriety. And to be clear, none of us would know Jodi Arias existed if she hadn't slaughtered Travis Alexander.  

I've read various articles and quotes from Arizona officials who seem to be wringing their hands about her very public online ventures.  In the October 17, 2013 article from abcnews.com, Maricopa County Sheriff official Chris Hegstrom says "she's able to have access to paper and purchase colored pencils, and if she wants to release her property to someone outside she can". He further stated "she's not physically running a business from our jail....I can't stop her from talking on the phone or releasing property."  This seems like an end run around the Son of Sam laws that are designed to prevent things like this from happening. I've been saying this all along and I'd really love to know who is tracking the funds that Arias has received via donations and from selling artwork while she has been incarcerated. While I can understand jail officials being unable to enforce the Son of Sam laws before Arias was found guilty, there is no excuse for allowing this to happen now.

After all, Arias doesn't seem to be making any attempt to hide the fact that she's creating and selling her doodles on the taxpayer's dime, all the while claiming to be unable to financially afford to even file for bankruptcy.  Come on Sheriff Joe, she's making a mockery of your jail and she's claiming to be indigent while pocketing money from sales of her "Survivor" t-shirts and her artwork - and those are the things she is doing out in the open. Who knows what else she has going on to bring in money. During her mitigation speech to the jury, she told the jurors that 100% of the proceeds from the "Survivor" t-shirts would go to domestic violence causes, however -  before that day, the website clearly read "a portion" of the proceeds would be donated to domestic violence causes. A PORTION.  Only when she stood before the jury to ask them to spare her life did it change to 100%. While it's unclear exactly how much money these Jodi Arias related websites have taken in via donations to her, her family, her artwork sales and the Survivor t-shirt sales, I firmly believe all of it should have been seized the moment she was convicted of murder. Who's tracking this money? Do the good folks at the Internal Revenue Service and the Arizona State tax regulators know Arias has been earning money since 2008 from her jail cell?  Has she even filed tax returns for those years?  Selling any arts/crafts for money constitutes income and she should be paying taxes on the funds she has received.  Has she filed returns since she's been behind bars?  Why are Maricopa County officials continuing to allow her to "release property" to people who are in turn selling it on websites that are run FOR HER by others?

It's a well known fact that Charles Manson has created dozens of pieces of "artwork" while he's been incarcerated in California.  Jail officials seize those items. They have a virtual collection of Manson spiders, fashioned from strands of hair and string from sheets that have been dyed black - I've seen these items on MSNBC's "Lockup".  The guards who regularly search Charles Manson's cell confiscate these items as soon as they find them so he won't be able to sell them to people who collect articles from these high profile murderers.  In contrast, you have Jodi Arias selling artwork out in the open on the internet and jail officials do nothing?  All I have to say about this is WTF??

To jail officials in Arizona who say there is nothing they can do about Arias releasing personal property to visitors, I say that is just not true. They may not be able to stop her from drawing, but they CAN prevent her from selling this stuff by confiscating it, or at the very least they should not allow her to release it to visitors when they KNOW it's being sold online. Any and all money Arias has made should be paid to her victim's family, but I fear by the time the State or jail officials do something about this, the money will be long gone. Do we need to alert the IRS ourselves, as concerned citizens? I don't live in the state of Arizona, but their local tax entity should also be alerted to the fact that an inmate is earning income from the Estrella jail and require her to file tax returns for the last 5 years.

This was bad enough when Arias was running these websites before and during her trial, but the fact that it continues after she was convicted is just not acceptable.  Why don't Arizona jail officials and the State Attorney General's office seem to care?  Hey, she shouldn't be able to make any profits after May 8, 2013.  That's the date she became a convicted murderer.  From 2008 through May 8, 2013, she had earned income and should be required to pay taxes like the rest of us.  I've heard the Alexander family is going to be filing a wrongful death claim against Arias when her criminal trial wraps up.  By that time, I'm afraid every dime she has raked in will be long gone - and it could have been easily avoided. The Estrella jail should simply NOT be allowing her to give anything to a visitor that could wind up being sold on her websites.  People, she's not even making an attempt to hide her activities, she's doing it out in the open!  There is simply no excuse for allowing this to continue.....I don't know exactly why I find this so extremely distasteful and disgraceful, but I do.  Is the Estrella jail staff simply understaffed?  Do they really not realize the pieces going up for sale on her website were created from their facility, and released during jail visitations where guards were present? Where's the accountability here?

This is just hard to stomach, because Arias continues to refer to herself as the victim and she continues to deny having any assets and says she can't afford to file for bankruptcy.  Come on.  Really? How stupid does she think we are? The State of Arizona should be seizing her assets, to help offset the cost of her costly defense.  It's not as if she's using the money she's earning to help pay Kirk Nurmi or Jennifer Willmott - and I highly doubt she would turn over the money to the Alexander family short of a court order seizing the funds. I'm simply outraged.  This is shameful and it should not be happening. As we inch closer to the October 24 settlement conference, I'm now hopeful that the State will not make any deals with Jodi Arias.  Let the citizens of Arizona decide her fate. I only wish they were privy to everything we know. There may be those out there who think Jodi Arias is articulate and a talented artist. But let's be real.  Nobody would be buying "Sailing at Sunset" if she hadn't killed Travis Alexander. And that is profiting from the notoriety of your crime.  Plain and simple.

I'll close this post with three recent tweets posted on behalf of Arias:

Oct 10 - "That rumor that somehow my family profited from my trial? Absurd"

Oct 10 - "I'm filing for bankruptcy (if I can ever afford to do so)"

Oct 16 - "100 Limited-Edition prints of "Sailing at Sunset" now available

Need I say any more?


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