MARGARET J PLEWS

arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com

Established: July 18, 2009
Editor: Margaret Jean 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/anarchist's perspective. If you're unfamiliar with prison abolition, check out Critical Resistance. I'm just a freelance writer and human rights activist, and have no legal training.


AZ PRISON WATCH ACTION ITEMS:

Molly Crabapple's brilliant art essay on solitary confinement

AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Arizona Prison Watcher: January 2015

IMAGINE NO PRISONS...  



Margaret J. Plews, Editor
ARIZONAPRISONWATCH.ORG


January 13, 2015

New Year’s Greetings to those behind bars in the AZDOC:

This may well be my last letter to you all as Arizona’s Prison Watcher, since my family has recently called me home, where last week it was literally colder than Mars. I moved back East around Thanksgiving and immediately got caught up in my loved ones’ medical crises. Then my house burned down in December, just before I moved in - thank goodness no one was hurt. I’m crashing on a friend’s sofa now, and all my stuff is buried in the garage under the things that were salvaged from the house after the fire. That means my office is still in boxes, and may well sit there until spring, as I have no place else to put it.

Furthermore, while I did put in a forwarding notice with the post office before moving, a lot of stuff didn’t get forwarded for over a month and I got hit all at once with a ton of mail last week. So, I’m not blowing anyone off - I just haven’t been able to get back to most of you who have written in the past few months. That’s what prompted this letter, as I can’t answer all your requests for help - really, I’m having a time of it right now myself. The best I can do is refer you to my friends and comrades back in Arizona, in hopes that they can help you somehow. None of the following people have asked me to promote them or anything, by the way - I compiled this list as a favor to you, not them.

To fight the AZ DOC by reading up on their policies, your civil rights as prisoners, how to sue them yourself and such, contact the Phoenix Anarchist Black Cross. You can also report human rights violations to them. They’ll try to send you the info you need to fight back. This is a group of people I trust who have supported my work the most; they organized this ABC chapter specifically to carry it forward. Most are prison abolitionists/ anarchists like me, so you can bet your mail with them will be monitored, maybe even messed with by DOC. If you dont give a damn though, there are some pretty cool folks to correspond with and they’ll send you whatever info they can to help you fight the state...Just be careful about getting too radical in your own rhetoric with SSU reading - its so easy to get carried away when you find like-minded folks who want to hear your voice. You could become a politicized prisoner and end up buried in a lonely hole for the next decade, labeled an anarchist or some kind of extremist yourself. That could follow you, too, out the gate. Most of you would be best off if you simply state your issue and stick to the business at hand if you need some kind of resource from them. Their addy is Phoenix ABC PO Box 7241, Tempe, AZ 85281

Next up is my colleague Stacy Scheff. I’ve been following the work she’s done these past few years. She’s a civil rights attorney, not a free one, either - she has bills to pay. But she is very competent when it comes to prisoner rights litigation, can coach you through filing a suit yourself if need be, and will do a demand letter re: PC or medical care for a reasonable fee. DOC and the AG know her, and that she’s not to be taken lightly. She used to work with Vince Rabago, but has recently started her own practice in Tucson. If you need a legal consult on a matter of your rights as a prisoner, get a legal call to explain your issue and see what she might charge, or write to her. I get no kickbacks for referrals, by the way - I just know that if you have a case, she can kick the state’s a**, which makes me happy.  Law Office of Stacy Scheff  / P.O. Box 40611  / Tucson, AZ 85717-0611 /  (520) 471-8333  FAX: (520) 300-8033

Of course, there’s also the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona (ACLU-AZ). They sued the DOC in the class action over health care at the DOC, Parsons V Ryan. Ask them for a copy of the original complaint and the stipulations the DOC agreed to in the settlement - it might help you in your own fight for access to medical care. You should also report violations of human and constitutional rights to them. FILE GRIEVANCES over that stuff, first, though, and see them through - follow the policy or you have no chance in hell of holding DOC accountable in court down the road. Even if the ACLU doesn’t intervene in your individual case, its so important for prisoners to document with them what’s going on inside, that’s what get’s them paying attention to areas that may require litigation: a barrage of compelling testimony from prisoners and their family members, and evidence of unconstitutional policies and practices.  They are at: ACLU-AZ / PO Box 17148 / Phoenix, AZ 85011.

I’d also recommend reporting the abuse and neglect of prisoners with serious mental illness (SMI includes major thought and mood disorders, like schizophrenia or manic-depression) to the Arizona Center for Disability Law. The AZCDL has the “Protection & Advocacy” authority in Arizona, which is power to intervene with institutions where disabled individuals are being abused, neglected, or denied their civil rights. Historically they have not helped SMI prisoners on an individual basis (they litigated the DOC in Parsons v Ryan over the poor treatment of mentally ill prisoners and the abuse of solitary confinement), but they may make an exception if your case is representative of a bigger problem they’ve been hearing about. The only way to really drag them into this fight is for those they should be serving (or those looking out for them) to write to them. Even if they don’t help you, your letter may help them tune into what SMI prisoners are going through, and get them more involved on some other level. Their contact info is:

                                     Arizona Center for Disability Law
5025 E. Washington St., Ste 202            100 North Stone Ave., Ste 305
Phoenix, AZ 85034                                 Tucson, AZ 85701
(602) 274-6287 (voice/TTY)                   (520) 327-9547 (voice)
(800) 927-2260 (voice/TTY)                   (800) 922-1447 (voice)


If you’re fighting for your medical care, or dealing with extreme isolation, the folks to write to are at the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in Tucson. They’re on top of prison and health care privatization, new legislation affecting criminal justice issues, and in the fight against solitary confinement. They wrote “Death Yards” about Corizon’s shoddy care, and a booklet on solitary confinement in AZ. They may have other resources that can help, and it’s good for them to hear from prisoners about what’s going on. Their contact info is: AFSC-Tucson / 103 North Park Avenue,  #111 / Tucson, AZ  85719 /  (520) 623-9141

Another place for prisoners (not solely people of color) to report the DOC’s bad conduct  to is the NAACP of Maricopa County.  The attorney who volunteers for them is in only once a week, but is good about checking the mail and will occasionally pursue a complaint on a prisoner’s behalf if it appears civil rights are being violated, whether it’s due to racism, homophobia, or other such prejudices. She’s advocated for the safety of gay and transgender prisoners as well, regardless of race. She’s a member of the National Lawyer’s Guild, too - I often see her at protests doing legal observing (cop-watching). She also goes around the state doing presentations to community groups against private prisons and mass incarceration - thank her for all her community service if you write. Send your letters “LEGAL MAIL” to: Dianne Post, Legal Redress  /  NAACP of Maricopa County / P.O. Box 20883 / Phoenix, AZ 85036

Now, for those of you who like to express yourselves, don’t care what the DOC thinks about it, and want to be a part of a larger community of AZ prisoners sharing poetry, art, essays, horror stories, or experience, strength and hope in a new prisoner-written zine or newsletter, write to the Free Verse at PO BOX 7241 Tempe AZ 85281 with your ideas and ask them what they’re working on - someone will get back with you. Those are my friends, too.

Take care, all.



                                       Peggy Plews

PS: here are the attorneys I know who have recently sued the AZ DOC successfully, in most cases, I believe. PAGE 1   PAGE 2

ART ATTACK at the Maricopa County Courthouse
Day of the Dead Prisoner: November 1, 2013

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Manfred Dehe: Corizon's deliberate indifference keeps killing...

Yes, Parsons v Ryan has been settled

                                    No, the prisoners havent stopped suffering yet.




--------from AZFAMILY.COM---------


Family claims prison health care killed father

by Brandon Lee

Posted on February 19, 2015 at 6:58 AM

Updated February 20 at 8:34 AM



PHOENIX -- The company that provides health care to Arizona inmates is Corizon. Its website states, in part, the company provides "high quality healthcare (sic)... that will improve the health and safety of our patients. Our people, practices and commitment to success through evidence-based medicine enable us to consistently meet and exceed client expectations."

But several nurses who currently work for Corizon Health tell 3TV that's not true.

What's more, one family says their father died because Corizon failed to live up to its promise.

"He was always in great shape," Mark Dehe said of his father, Manfred. "He walked all the time. He actually walked quite quickly."

Dehe said he spent as much time as he could with his father, but that changed when Manfred was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Dehe knew his dad would serve time but would eventually be released. The family would be reunited.

Dehe had no idea what three years inside an Arizona prison would do to his father.

"Infuriating," he said. "Infuriating."

Soon after Manfred went to prison, he complained to his family that he was in severe pain.

Dehe ignored him at first.

"I thought he was overreacting," Dehe explained. "I told him, 'Dad, this isn't the Ritz.' I told him it's prison you might just have to wait a little bit longer."

Medical records show that a prison doctor recommended surgery for a hernia on Feb. 21, 2012. It was categorized as an urgent priority.

On March 13, another medical professional recommended Manfred be seen by a doctor outside the prison, again for hernia-related issues.

One week later, medical staff again recommended outside treatment. It was again listed as "priority urgent."

I sat down with Dehe to talk about his claims that Corizon failed to provide proper care for his father.

Health care for violent criminal offenders is not at the top of most people's minds.

"I'm a little embarrassed to say I understand," Dehe confessed. "Prior to my father going to prison ... I didn't give it much thought. [M]y thoughts were 'Well if they didn't do anything wrong, then they wouldn't be in that position to begin with.

"But I also assumed that they were receiving and given adequate health care," he continued. "It may not have been the best. You may have had to wait a little bit, but I thought it met their needs. I was very ignorant."

3TV obtained hand-written notes from Manfred to prison staff. He seemed to be begging for help.

"I'm 77 years old. I don't feel right. I'd like to have a doctor fully examine me."

"To urinate is extremely painful. My hernias are also hurting."

"I'm not receiving any more meds for my urinary tract infection."

When Manfred was finally seen by doctors outside of the prison, lab tests came back with devastating results.

"Prostate cancer. Terminal prostate cancer. Stage 4," Dehe said.

Manfred's health deteriorated fast.

His family says he was supposed to receive monthly injections to slow the cancer. Medical records show that injections were sometimes missed because the medicine was not available, according to one doctor's notes.

Manfred continued to cry out for help. He wrote letters to management, saying, "I FEEL LIKE I AM BEING NEGLECTED. I NEED TO SEE A QUALIFIED DOCTOR AND GO TO THE HOSPITAL NOW!!!"

"From that time until he was finally seen for an exam, August 2013, 15 months had passed," Dehe said. "By that time, it was too late. He never left the bed. He never saw outside. He was never moved from one side to another and after two weeks he had severe bedsores. They would eventually get so bad you could see through to the bone."

Manfred's story is not unique. The state of Arizona has a contract with a private health care company, Corizon, to provide care for inmates. A report by medical experts hired by the ACLU to inspect and review the conditions at Arizona prisons found "almost half of the people who died natural deaths received grossly deficient medical care. And that the poor care clearly caused or hastened their death."

We even spoke to a current prison nurse who confirmed that inmates are dying because of poor care.

The prison nurse we talked with spoke on the condition of anonymity.

"People with ongoing diagnosis like leukemia, diabetes, or complications to some serious illnesses are being delayed care. Absolutely."

Nurses and doctors caring for Manfred tried to get him proper care.

"It is my medical judgement that this patient requires hospitalization," one doctor who saw him wrote to prison management.

One nurse even wrote a note that reads, "Department of Corrections short staffed and unable to provide security for ambulance transport. Consult Cancelled."

Dehe believes his father was sentenced to death because of poor health care.

"He was ridiculed by the staff," he said. "They didn't want to bathe him because quite frankly he smelled. One of the people even joked and said, 'Why don't you throw a sheet over him,' insinuating he smells like he's dead. He must be dead so cover him up."

Corizon recently settled a major class action lawsuit, promising it will make changes to provide better care to inmates. The case settled on Oct. 14, the same day Manfred lost his battle with cancer.

Manfred walked into prison at age 75. Three years later, he was dead.

"Do I think anything is going to change? Not a bit. Not a bit," Dehe said. "I have to assume that they act on the fact that there is no oversight, and therefore they can do whatever they want. If there's nobody watching me, I can do whatever I want. Who's going to complain? The inmate? Who's going to believe the inmate?"

Corizon declined an on-camera interview for this story. A spokesman did, however, respond with a statement.

"The oncological care provided Inmate Dehe from the time Corizon Health began serving the Arizona prison system met the standard of care and was appropriate to his condition. Federal and state privacy laws prohibit public discussion of details of patient conditions or courses of treatment."

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Corizon and the Arizona Department of Corrections have three years to make changes that will improve the health care provided to inmates.

PARSONS V RYAN settlement approved by US District Court Judge Duncan






---------------------from the AZ Republic-----------

Judge approves Arizona inmate health-care settlement

Craig Harris, The Republic | azcentral.com 

9:55 a.m. MST February 19, 2015


A federal judge on Wednesday approved a settlement that will provide improved health-care coverage for about 34,000 Arizona inmates in state-run facilities at a cost to taxpayers of at least $8 million a year.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Arizona and the Prison Law Office, a prisoner-advocacy group, reached a settlement with the Arizona Department of Corrections last October, days before a trial was to start.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of state-prison inmates, alleged that Arizona's inmate health-care system was so flawed that it caused deaths and preventable injuries. It also accused the state of keeping inmates in solitary confinement for long periods of time.

The state denied the allegations, and admitted no wrongdoing in agreeing to the settlement.

"This is a small glimpse of justice," said Patti Jones, whose nephew, Tony Lester, killed himself in a state prison. "I think this is a just settlement."

Jones was one of seven people to address U.S. Magistrate Judge David K. Duncan, who approved the settlement. Duncan also authorized $4.9 million in fees for the attorneys who represented the inmates.

The fees must be paid by the state. Duncan noted the amount for plaintiffs' attorneys nearly mirrored the amount the state spent in legal bills defending itself, bringing the state's total legal tab to about $10 million.

Gov. Doug Ducey is asking lawmakers for $8 million in his proposed budget for the coming fiscal year so the state's contracted inmate health-care provider, Corizon Health, can hire 91 additional health-care workers to comply with the settlement requirements.

The settlement requires DOC to:

• Meet more than 100 health-care performance measures, covering issues such as monitoring prisoners with diabetes, hypertension and other chronic conditions.

• Offer all inmates annual influenza vaccinations. Those with chronic diseases will be offered required immunizations.

• Offer inmates aged 50 to 75 annual colorectal cancer screening.

• Offer female inmates aged 50 and older mammogram screenings.

• Provide no less than 6 hours per week of out-of-cell exercise time for maximum-custody inmates.

• Provide maximum-custody inmates with serious mental illness an additional 10 hours of unstructured out-of-cell time per week.

• Only use pepper spray or other chemical agents during an imminent threat.

The settlement also allows attorneys for inmates and their experts to conduct up to 20 daily tours of state prison complexes annually to make sure the agreement is being enforced.

Donna Hamm, executive director of Middle Ground Prison Reform, said she liked the settlement but is unhappy that the state will have up to two weeks' advance notice prior to a tour.

"Some of the visits should be spontaneous and not announced," said Hamm, an outspoken critic of the Arizona prison system. "But overall, this is an improvement."

Daniel Struck, a private attorney representing the state, said DOC already has started to implement changes called for in the settlement.

David Fathi, director of the ACLU National Prison Project, called the settlement "real improvement" in the care of inmates.

The settlement does not apply to the roughly 7,000 inmates in six private prisons across Arizona.

ON THE BEAT

Craig Harris covers the Arizona Department of Corrections and other state and federal agencies, with an emphasis on government accountability and public money.

How to reach him

craig.harris@arizonarepublic.com
Phone: 602-444-8478
Twitter: @charrisazrep

Saturday, February 7, 2015

GOP support for early release in AZ legislature this year...

Shocking. Even the GOP in the Senate isnt completely on board with Chuck Ryan's plan for new prisons...

------------

GOP legislator pushes Arizona bill to relieve prison crowding


PHOENIX -- A Republican state senator is pushing a bill to release thousands of non-violent inmates early in a bid to save money and ease pressure on crowded prisons.

Sen. Steve Pierce, R-Prescott, said the legislation would expand an existing Department of Corrections program to help prisoners transition into daily life with services including counseling, case management and substance-abuse treatment.

The bill comes at a time when Gov. Doug Ducey's executive budget calls for $40 million for a new prison with 3,000 beds. Pierce said the size of the project could cost $70 million per year.

Arizona housed more than 42,000 inmates last year, and the Department of Corrections expects to add nearly 1,000 prisoners per year through 2016.

During that time, the Department of Corrections released 943 inmates through its three-month transition program and saved nearly $1 million, according to an annual report by the agency.

Senate Bill 1390 seeks to increase the number of inmates placed in the program to a minimum of 3,500 prisoners in the first year, and 5,000 in the second year. The program would serve low-risk, non-violent offenders and exclude those convicted of driving under the influence, sex offenses, arson or domestic violence.

Pierce said his bill would save the state money and avoid having to build another prison.

"We are spending an awful lot of money putting people and keeping people in jail that are non-violent criminals," he said. "I think more people need to be in treatment than in jail." 
The program has already proven to reduce the rate of return offenders compared with the general population, Pierce said.

When asked if the bill would provide a cost-effective alternative to building a new prison, the governor's office said it had not yet reviewed the legislation.

Corrections Department spokesman Doug Nick said the agency is aware of the legislation and monitoring it as the bill moves through the Legislature, but did not provide further comment.

AZ DOC tries to wriggle out of fine for allowing rape of teacher....

  • Article by: BOB CHRISTIE , Associated Press
  • Updated: February 6, 2015 - 3:50 PM       STARTRIBUNE

PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Corrections does not believe it should have to pay a $14,000 fine that state workplace safety regulators levied against the agency for failing to protect a teacher who was raped by an inmate in a sex offender unit.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press show the department filed an appeal last week to overturn the fine issued by Industrial Commission of Arizona. A prisons spokesman said the agency believes there is a basis for the appeal, but he did not elaborate.

Arizona has faced intense criticism over the attack. Prison officials sent out only a vague press release that referred to an assault on an employee after the January 2014 rape. The details of the assault came to light only after The Associated Press obtained documents under a public records request and interviewed people familiar with the case.

The attack raised questions about prison security because the teacher was put into a room full of sex offenders with no guards nearby and no closed-circuit cameras. She had only a radio to call for help.
The state found itself facing more scrutiny this week after lawyers for the attorney general's office argued in court that the woman's lawsuit should be thrown out. Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Weisbard wrote that the teacher routinely worked in classrooms and there is always a risk of assault when working with prisoners.

A federal judge on Thursday refused to dismiss the teacher's civil rights lawsuit, writing that the lawsuit raised plausible allegations that the warden and other top officials created a dangerous environment that led to the rape.

The workplace-safety investigation was launched last July after the AP story provided the first detailed account of the incident.

Authorities have said inmate Jacob Harvey, who was less than a year into a 30-year sentence for a home-invasion and rape, lingered after other inmates left the room on Jan. 30, 2014, then repeatedly stabbed the teacher with a pen before raping her.

Harvey remains in prison, and he is awaiting trial on new charges. He has pleaded not guilty.
The appeal of the $14,000 fine levied in January by the state Industrial Commission seeks a hearing before an administrative law judge.

The Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health recommended a fine of $9,000 for two violations of workplace-safety rules. But commissioners boosted that to $14,000 at a hearing last month, with one commissioner saying the violations showed the rape "should never have occurred in that facility."

Commissioner Joseph Hennelly Jr. even suggested the department could be hit with an additional $25,000 fine, but he was told state laws didn't allow it in this case.

A spokesman for the Department of Corrections said the department believes there are a significant number of factual inaccuracies in the worker safety agency's report that it plans to contest.

"The 2014 assault on the ADC teacher was a cowardly and despicable crime, for which the inmate is rightfully facing prosecution," spokesman Doug Nick said in an email. "The safety and well-being of all ADC staff is the department's paramount priority, and the victim has our full assistance and support."
Scott Zwillinger, the teacher's lawyer, criticized the Corrections Department for appealing the workplace safety citations.

"They refuse to acknowledge when they have issues. They refuse to be introspective and look and evaluate and make changes," Zwillinger said Friday. "So rather than accept what seems a relatively obvious conclusion and to correct these matters, all they simply do is deny and fight on."

State prison officials have since installed cameras in prison classrooms, increased patrols and issued pepper spray to civilian workers. They have said issuing pepper spray had been planned before the rape.

In minutes of the Jan. 8, 2015, meeting of the Industrial Commission where the fines were levied, commissioners repeatedly questioned how the teacher could have been placed in a room filled with sex offenders unattended. Commission Chairman David Parker said he understands there are situations where prisoners can end up alone with civilian staff.

"But something went wrong here, and this is different," he said.


.