PO BOX 20494


Established: July 18, 2009
Editor: Peggy Plews

This site is to monitor conditions in Arizona's criminal justice system, as well as offer some critical analysis of the prison industrial complex from a prison abolitionist's perspective.
We don't simply need to shut down the prisons: we need to rewrite the way the rules around perpetrating harm against people and property are made in the first place, so that humanity, not politics or profit comes first. The current system doesn't prevent people from being victimized as it is - it simply prescribes rules for who does and doesn't get hurt or get to violate others, and mostly punishes the poor, the seriously mentally ill, and people of color. That's not a good enough foundation for a system based on achieving true justice.

From re-prioritizing our world, our ideas around what is crime and how to punish it would look much differently...Critical Resistance is a good source for more info on that.

I'm a freelance writer and human rights activist with no legal training or college degree. But if you are the loved one of a prisoner who needs help fighting for themselves, feel free to contact me - I'll do what I can. Emailing me works best: but 480-580-6807 is ok too.



Petition by the family of Tony Lester, victim of suicide in AZ DOC custody.

Prisoners and Families: Send your SOS to the DOJ!

We really need those of you out there who have been in an AZ prison, have lost a child or other family member in an AZ prison, or have a loved one in an AZ prison now, to write a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder (that one is mine) about the need for a federal intervention here, and send me a copy, with a nice photo, if you have one, of the beloved prisoner - I don't have to post your letters and pictures, but please tell me if I may, with or without names.

If you need some motivation, see what the Governor had to say to him about the swell state things are in here. Don't let her pass that BS off on him unchallenged.

When the truth of prison rape and violence is made public and appeals for relief come directly from those affected, the rest of the community identifies better with prisoners as people, and it puts more pressure on the feds - as well as the governor- to act. And you are the ones with the most at stake here. So, please back me up on this argument I'm making, folks. If the feds listened to me, they'd have been here long ago - I need your support!

And don't just "like" me on Facebook or the Daily KOS - SHARE SHARE SHARE!!!

US Attorney General Eric Holder
US Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington DC 20530

Send word to your loved ones in prison to write the AG as well, and to send me copies if they want me to post their letters, too.

THE I-Files: Teens in Solitary Confinement

Published on Jun 26, 2014

"Alone" was produced Daffodil Altan. It was reported by Altan and Trey Bundy, edited by David Ritsher and Andrew Gersh, and filmed by Marco Villalobos. The senior producer was Stephen Talbot. The executive producer was Susanne Reber.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Prison (HBO)

Published on Jul 20, 2014

America's prisons are broken. Just ask John Oliver and several puppets.

AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Journalist Keifer witnesses Wood's execution; urges independent inquiry.

Very thorough coverage of the botched execution of Joseph Wood, which was witnessed by AZ Republic journalist Michael Keifer, as well as the family of Joseph Wood's victims, who I do feel for. Both have something to say about the execution in the video clip below.

I have no idea why Jan Brewer continues to employ Director Charles Ryan at the AZ Department of Corrections. Those prisoners of his who are in for minor offenses are being beaten and killed by gangs - effectively punished with death - while  the condemned are being medically tortured. The last condemned Arizona prisoner who died succumbed to untreated throat cancer before he could be executed...he might have preferred the drug cocktail instead. Three men on death row committed suicide last year, as well

Hmm. Yes, I must say that all is certainly not well on Arizona's Death Row.

Meanwhile Debra Milke was released from death row at ASPC-Perryville last year when her conviction was overturned after 23 years of imprisonment. That was due to evidence that she was convicted on testimony of a dirty, lying cop who likely perjured himself saying she confessed to having her son murdered when he interrogated her. Guess it's a good thing that we hadn't yet gotten around to killing her before we made absolutely sure she was prosecuted justly...


Execution of Arizona murderer takes nearly 2 hours

Bob Ortega, Michael Kiefer and Mariana Dale, 

The Republic |  

12:24 a.m. MST July 24, 2014

The controversial drug that Arizona used to execute double-murderer Joseph Rudolph Wood on Wednesday took nearly two hours to kill him and left him snorting and gasping for breath. One reporter who witnessed the execution, Troy Hayden of Fox 10 News, said it was "very disturbing to watch ... like a fish on shore gulping for air. At a certain point, you wondered whether he was ever going to die." State officials and the victims' families, however, took issue with other witness descriptions, saying that Wood was not conscious after the first few minutes and that the noises he made sounded like snoring.

The drawn-out execution — most take about 10 minutes — quickly drew international attention and criticism, spurring calls for a moratorium on executions and putting Arizona front and center in the contentious debate over lethal-injection drugs.

RELATED: Emergency motion for stay

The process at the state prison in Florence began about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday and dragged on long enough that, more than an hour after the execution started, Dale Baich of the Federal Public Defender's Office sent two other lawyers out to file an emergency motion asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to halt it, saying it violated Wood's Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment. The motion noted that Wood "has been gasping and snorting for more than an hour" after being injected with a lethal cocktail of drugs.

Wood died before the appeals court responded.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne declined to comment. His spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, disputed that Wood snorted or gasped for air. "He went to sleep and appeared to be snoring," she said. "This was my first execution, and I was surprised at how peaceful it was."

Wood was sentenced to death for the 1989 murders of his ex-girlfriend, Debra Dietz, and her father, Eugene Dietz.

The victims' family members said the media were wrong to focus on the execution method rather than on the victims. "Everybody here said it was excruciating," said Jeanne Brown, Debra Dietz's sister. "You don't know what excruciating is. Seeing your dad lying there in a pool of blood, seeing your sister lying there in a pool of blood, that's excruciating."

Her husband, Richard Brown, who said he witnessed the murders, said, "What I've seen today, you guys are blowing this all out of proportion about these drugs.

"Why didn't we give him a bullet? Why didn't we give him some Drano? These people that are on death row, they deserve to suffer a little bit."

Across the country, a majority of Americans support the death penalty, but that support appears to be waning.

A 2013 Pew Research Center survey indicated that 55 percent of U.S. adults favor the practice, while 37 percent oppose it, a big drop from two years earlier, when 62 percent said they favored the death penalty for murder convictions and 31 percent opposed it.

Wednesday's execution began at 1:53 p.m., after Wood's last words, in which he thanked his attorneys, said he had found Christ and concluded, "May God forgive all of you."

According to Arizona Republic reporter Michael Kiefer, who witnessed the execution, lines were run into each of Wood's arms. Wood was unconscious by 1:57 p.m. At about 2:05, he started gasping, Kiefer said.
"I counted about 640 times he gasped," Kiefer said. "That petered out by 3:33. The death was called at 3:49. ... I just know it was not efficient. It took a long time."

The length of the process drew swift condemnation from death-penalty critics.

"The worst part about Joseph Wood's botched execution was, it was entirely predictable and avoidable," Diann Rust-Tierney, executive director of the National Coalition To Abolish the Death Penalty, said in a statement noting that the same combination of drugs had been used in a problematic execution in Ohio earlier this year.

That was echoed by the Arizona director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

"Arizona had clear warnings from Ohio and Oklahoma," said Alessandra Soler, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona, calling for a moratorium on executions. "Instead of ensuring that a similar outcome was avoided here, our state officials cloaked the plans for Mr. Wood's death in secrecy."
The latest petition initially was filed in Pima County Superior Court after a federal appellate court's stay was lifted Tuesday by the U.S. Supreme Court. It argued that Wood had ineffective assistance of counsel during his trial, and also challenged Arizona's lethal-injection protocol and the drug cocktail used in executions.
Pima County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Lee dismissed Wood's first argument, but sent the question of Arizona's lethal-injection protocol to the state high court.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court had upheld Arizona's veil of secrecy around its lethal-injection drugs, permitting plans for the execution to proceed.

The high-court ruling knocked down a federal appeals court decision that the execution could not move forward unless the state turned over information about how the execution would be carried out.

Executions are public events. But in recent years, many states that still have capital punishment, including Arizona, have passed or expanded laws that shroud the procedures in secrecy.

The Arizona Department of Corrections planned to use a controversial drug, and it favors a controversial method of administering it, so Wood's attorneys demanded to know the qualifications of the executioners and the origin of the drugs to be used in the execution, claiming that Wood had a First Amendment right to the information.

On Saturday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.

The state appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which lifted the stay without addressing the First Amendment issue.

State officials said in court filings that they need to maintain secrecy because publicity has made it more difficult to obtain the drugs needed to carry out executions.

Drug manufacturers have begun refusing to sell to departments of corrections, forcing the departments to experiment with new and less reliable drugs or to specially order them from compounding pharmacies, which in turn are harassed by anti-death-penalty activists.

"Prisoners who are sentenced to death for their crimes have every right to know what drugs are going to be used," said Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, "but it would be a bad matter of policy if the manufacturer of these drugs were identified. The very reason we have a new drug protocol is because of the pressure and threats applied to the companies ... forcing them to stop making it."

It was not the first time the Supreme Court has ruled against a stay of execution based on drug secrecy. In 2010, it ruled against an Arizona prisoner asserting his right to know about lethal-injection drugs that turned out to have been improperly obtained from overseas.

The U.S. District and Circuit Courts in Washington, D.C., later determined federal law had been violated, which the Arizona Attorney General's Office denies.

"In most respects, what Mr. Wood is asking for is quite small," said Megan McCracken, a former federal defender who works with the University of California-Berkeley Death Penalty Clinic. "I think they don't want to set precedent about giving out information, and they don't want to come under scrutiny."

Sen. Ed Ableser, D-Tempe, called the execution barbaric and said: "This one is really on (Brewer's) shoulders. She can sign an executive order, put a stay on executions and let the Legislature find a better way to deal with violent criminals who deserve the maximum penalty, but one that is not cruel and unusual."

Dan Peitzmeyer, president of Phoenix-based Death Penalty Alternatives, said, "Actions like this might not cause us to totally repeal the death penalty. But it should sure as hell cause us to bring a moratorium to it and take a sincere look at what we're doing."

Executions by lethal injection using barbiturates such as pentobarbital more typically take about 10 minutes. But the European and American manufacturers refuse to supply it for executions. With the drug unavailable for death penalties, Arizona became the latest of four states to turn to another sedative, midazolam, first used for execution less than a year ago.

Arizona used it in combination with a narcotic, hydromorphone. Midazolam, by itself or with hydromorphone, has led to flawed, drawn-out executions in three other states.

Wood's attorneys had fought its use before the U.S. Supreme Court and then in a last-minute appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court, saying the drug was "experimental" and had not been proven to be effective.

Wood had been scheduled to die at 10a.m. Wednesday, but the state Supreme Court halted the process to consider a last-minute petition for post-conviction relief. The court lifted its temporary stay shortly before noon, clearing the way for his execution later in the day. Witnesses were told when the stay was issued to return by 1 p.m.

One day earlier, it was uncertain whether the execution would go forward. Wood's attorneys had filed for a preliminary injunction to stop the execution unless Arizona revealed where it had obtained the midazolam and divulged the qualifications of the medical team that would administer it.

In October and January, midazolam was used in executions in other states. Both times, witnesses said that the condemned prisoners appeared to gasp for breath and took longer to die than with the barbiturates that were used until they became unavailable.

And in April, an Oklahoma inmate was executed using the drug, but the medical person inserting the catheter into a groin artery completely punctured it, sending the drug into the soft tissue beneath. The man writhed in pain for more than 40 minutes before dying of an apparent heart attack.

Wood's attorneys asked for information with those incidents in mind. A U.S. District Court judge denied a stay. But on Saturday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted it, with the condition that it would be vacated if the state turned over the information. The Arizona Attorney General's Office appealed the 9th Circuit ruling and the U.S. Supreme Court threw it out Tuesday afternoon.

Wood chose not to have a special "last meal" Tuesday night, instead eating the sausage and mashed potatoes that the rest of the prisoners were served.

In 1989, Wood was living with Debra Dietz, who supported him and paid for the apartment they shared. But Wood was abusive, and after Dietz moved out of the apartment, he stalked her.

On Aug. 7, 1989, Wood became enraged when Dietz wouldn't take his calls. He went to the auto body shop where Dietz worked for her father. Eugene Dietz was on the phone when Wood reached the body shop; Wood waited for him to hang up and then shot him in the chest without saying a word.

Wood then hunted down Debra Dietz and shot her twice in the chest.

Megan Finnerty and Megan Cassidy contributed to this article.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Teacher victimized in AZ DOC prison rape files claim for $4 million.

Arizona teacher files $4M claim in prison rape

Craig Harris, The Republic |  
5:03 p.m. MST July 18, 2014

A teacher who was assaulted and raped after being left alone in a state prison classroom with convicted sex offenders earlier this year filed a $4 million claim Thursday against the Arizona Department of Corrections.

Department officials declined to comment, but prisons Director Charles Ryan has previously acknowledged that the woman was "brutally assaulted."

Inmate Jacob Harvey was indicted in May on charges of sexual assault, kidnapping and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the Jan. 30 attack.

In the notice of claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, the woman's attorney alleges the teacher was in a room with seven sex offenders on the day of attack with no supervision from correctional officers. The claim says the state engaged in gross negligence and intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon the woman.

The claim says the woman typically would teach inmates in the visitation room at the Meadows Unit, which houses sex offenders, at Eyman Prison in Florence. That area was monitored by security cameras and correctional staff.

Yet, on the day of the attack, because of a special event, she was sent to a classroom that wasn't monitored by security cameras and for 90 minutes "not a single corrections officer entered the classroom to perform a security check," the claim says.

At the end of the teaching session, six of the inmates left the classroom, but Harvey remained behind. He stabbed the woman repeatedly with a pen, choked her, slammed her head into the floor, tore off her clothes and raped her, the claim states.

"The lack of basic security measures provided Harvey the opportunity to rape and assault (the victim) that he never should have had," the claim says.

The Arizona Republic does not publish names of sexual-abuse victims.

"They handed her a radio and said: 'If anyone acts out, let us know,'" said Scott Zwillinger, the woman's attorney. "The guy who raped her should have never been in a medium-custody unit."

The teacher told investigators she screamed for help, but none arrived. Afterward, Harvey tried to use her radio to call for help. It had apparently been changed to a channel the guards didn't use, so Harvey let her use a phone.

A medium-custody unit is the second-lowest classification for inmates held in the Department of Corrections.
Harvey is now in a maximum-custody unit.

Harvey, 20, was originally serving a sentence until 2041 after being convicted of sexual assault, kidnapping and dangerous crimes against children.

Zwillinger said Harvey was convicted of raping and beating a woman in front of her toddler during a home invasion.

The claim says the DOC failed to provide a safe environment for the teacher and created a situation "where a violent rapist was left alone wholly unsupervised in a classroom with a teacher who did not have sufficient training, expertise and equipment to manage the inmate and protect herself."

The claim says that if the state does not settle, the woman will file state and federal lawsuits, and that "it is likely a judgment will be obtained that, in total, will exceed 10 million dollars."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mexico Hearts Chuck Ryan, while AZ DOC insists on keeping non-English speakers ignorant.

I have been accused of spreading propaganda about the Arizona DOC on more than one occasion by Chuck Ryan, Jan Brewer's most favored perpetrator of punishment (I think Terry Stewart actually has something on her, to tell you the truth - that's the only reason she could possibly still be standing by her man). All I do, though,  is tell folks what prisoners and their families and the DOC staff are telling me - and when hundreds of people are saying the same thing about something they see, I think that has more weight than the witness of the perpetrator who is denying not only responsibility, but the existence of a problem to begin with.  I dont need a huge budget for my blogging - nor have I ever been sued - because all I do is tell the truth. Ryan, on the other hand, has to pay a whole crew to spin his leadership failures for the public as success. That should tell you something.

So should the way the DOC packaged and promoted this story about the books from Mexico last week in all the local and national media they could. Talk about propaganda! If I was a prison director anywhere else in the country I would be pretty pissed off at the Arizona Department of Corrections' claim that their "education programming is among the most robust for corrections departments throughout the United States." What arrogance to suggest that this state is seen as a role model for other DOC's anywhere. In truth, the AZ DOC is INFAMOUS across the country for being the most brutal, abusive place to do time, and one of the most dangerous systems to work in: the heroin traffic, gangs and violence are raging out of control and prisoners are dying all over the place of neglect.

The AZ DOC cares so little about the educational needs or rights of their Spanish-speaking prisoners that they haven't even bothered to translate a single of their policies into Spanish, despite having over 5,000 foreign nationals in their prisons. Spanish-speaking prisoners have to rely on bi-lingual prisoners to translate for them if they are filing a grievance, appealing  a disciplinary action, trying to obtain medical care, or even speaking to a medical professional about their prostate cancer. That means they dont have fair access to the courts, or resources, or anything in prison. AZ DOC makes us all look like hypocrites, living in a true sham of a democracy.

THAT's why the Mexican Government donated textbooks for Arizona's Spanish-speaking prisoners. And if any of those books are for educating their citizens about their legal rights as prisoners, you can bet they'll hit the incinerator before they see a single AZ prison library shelf...unfortunately they all look like children's books. Great.  DOC is going to be teaching adult prisoners how to "See Spot run" instead of how to make sure they get through their incarceration and make it back home alive. God forbid a foreign national should be allowed to read about his own rights in the custody of a hostile captor.

photo from the YUMA SUN, courtesy of AZ DOC

--------------------from the Director's Desk at the AZ DOC-------------------


Textbook Donation

The government of Mexico has graciously donated more than 1,600 Spanish-language textbooks to the Department of Corrections.

These are now being distributed to our prison complexes throughout Arizona, where they will be made available in prison education libraries.

This donation goes beyond generosity. It addresses a fundamental need for this department, because books of this kind are an essential part of helping every inmate get an education.

Our commitment to inmate education is something that some people may not be fully aware of. ADC's education programming is among the most robust for corrections departments throughout the United States.

In a typical month, approximately 6,000 inmates are enrolled in some form of educational program such as functional literacy, career and technical education, special education or high school equivalency.

This is in addition to the tremendous amount of programming we provide to address substance abuse issues, promote self-improvement, and help inmates develop job skills that will help them become productive and law-abiding members of society when they're released. But without an educational foundation, inmates will not be able to make progress toward that goal.

A significant portion of our inmates speak Spanish as their primary or only language, and it's important that they have the resources they need in order to fulfill their responsibility to get an education.

This donation represents the best kind of partnership between two countries because it meets a substantial need and it will get tangible results. Sincerely,

Charles L. Ryan

Scott A Bowers: Next President/COO of Corizon HealthScare.

I think I'd like to interview this fellow, if I can, and do a bit more research before I say much of anything about him, so stay tuned. Just found it interesting that there's yet another change in leadership there right now.

In the meantime, folks having trouble with accessing adequate health care services at the AZ DOC these days might want to check out these blog posts:

Corizon and the AZ DOC: Prisoners & Families, Know Your Rights (03/05/13)
Corizon's deliberate indifference: fighting back (05/30/13)

"DEATH SENTENCE": KPNX's Halloran and whistleblower expose depth of negligence at Corizon/AZ DO (05/22/14) 

Corizon's Cruel and Unusual Greed: follow the money with Prison Legal News (06/21/14)

PHOTO Credit: Nathan Morgan 
Nashville Business Journal

-------------- from Corizon's corporate website (as of 07/16/14)-------

Corizon News: Corizon Health Names Scott A. Bowers President and Chief Operating Officer

BRENTWOOD, Tenn., July 07, 2014 – Corizon Health today named Scott A. Bowers as its President and Chief Operating Officer, effective Aug. 4, 2014.  Bowers, who was most recently President and Chief Executive Officer of United Healthcare Community Plan of Tennessee, brings 18 years of healthcare management experience to his new role...

FYI: I believe the new president can be sent certified mail as of Aug 4, 2014 at:

12647 Olive Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63141
United States

Monday, July 14, 2014

Upcoming Conference: “Not 1 More: Human Rights in the Migrant Rights Movement”

The Puente Human Rights Movement and the US Human Rights Network invite you to attend the first annual Arizona Human Rights Conference on August 2-3, 2014, including a human rights training and hearing. The theme for the first annual Human Rights Conference will be: “Not 1 More: Human Rights in the Migrant Rights Movement”. The convening will be held at the new Puente space located at 1937 W. Adams Phoenix, AZ 85009.
The Arizona Human Rights Conference aims to call attention to the human rights violations against the undocumented and others in the state of Arizona.  The State of Arizona has been notorious for its human rights abuses towards the migrant community that include border militarization, record deportations, Joe Arpaio, SB1070, the expansion of punitive laws that aim to destroy our communities.
July 29, 2014 will mark the four-year anniversary of the passage and implementation of SB1070. Further, on a statewide level stand unsolved cases of murdered immigrants, as well as human rights violations and inhumane jailing conditions for immigrants in detention. Now more than ever is the time for all our organizations to come together and work to restrategize the migrant rights fight to one that demands Human Rights.
Below is a schedule of events for the Human Rights Conference:

Human Rights Hearing
Thursday July 31st | 2 pm – 6 pm
Organizations from around the state of Arizona and The US Human Rights Network will convene a Human Rights Hearing to document the testimonies of Arizona residents whose human rights are being denied through the actions of government. Organizations and individuals will reveal reports and testimonies of human rights violations in front of a panel of experts. Together we will collect testimony and organize around the upcoming reviews of the US for their international mechanism and treaty commitments – International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD, August 2014), as well as the Convention Against Torture (CAT, November 2014), and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR, April/May 2015), as well as follow-up to the ICCPR (March 2014) – in order to call for immediate attention to the immigration crisis and other human rights violations in Arizona. The tribunal is open to the public.

Migrant Rights Tour/ Border
Friday August 1st 6 am – 5pm
On Friday we will be going a tour of the Arizona borderlands that will educate and expose organizational leaders to key organizations that protect migrant rights. The purpose of this tour is to familiarize migrant rights organizations to the human rights issues that exist in the borderlands. Further, we will also visit the Tucson coroners’ office and Operation Streamline. Due to limited space we are inviting one representative from each organization to join us and come on this tour.
Arizona Human Rights Conference
Saturday, August 2nd | 8 am – 4:30 pm
Sunday, August 3rd | 10am -4 pm
The Saturday and Sunday will be designated for the convening portion of the statewide Arizona Human Rights Conference. During the convening, there will be allocated time for keynote speakers, workshops, and statewide round table discussions. This will also include the US Human Rights Network who will conduct the Human Rights Training for social justice organizations and the communities they work with in Arizona. The training provides insight on how to hold our government accountable to human rights laws and standards that include protections for racial discrimination, immigrant rights, border killings, torture, and other inhuman or degrading treatment.
We would love to have you and your staff/membership attend the conference. To register please click on the link: last day to register is Monday July 21st 2014 at 5pm

For information, contact 
Tia Oso
(c) 602-750-3399