Retiring Arizona Prison Watch...

This site was originally started in July 2009 as an independent endeavor 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. It was begun in the aftermath of the death of Marcia Powell, a 48 year old AZ state prisoner who was left in an outdoor cage in the desert sun for over four hours while on a 10-minute suicide watch. That was at ASPC-Perryville, in Goodyear, AZ, in May 2009.

Marcia, a seriously mentally ill woman with a meth habit sentenced to the minimum mandatory 27 months in prison for prostitution was already deemed by society as disposable. She was therefore easily ignored by numerous prison officers as she pleaded for water and relief from the sun for four hours. She was ultimately found collapsed in her own feces, with second degree burns on her body, her organs failing, and her body exceeding the 108 degrees the thermometer would record. 16 officers and staff were disciplined for her death, but no one was ever prosecuted for her homicide. Her story is here.

Marcia's death and this blog compelled me to work for the next 5 1/2 years to document and challenge the prison industrial complex in AZ, most specifically as manifested in the Arizona Department of Corrections. I corresponded with over 1,000 prisoners in that time, as well as many of their loved ones, offering all what resources I could find for fighting the AZ DOC themselves - most regarding their health or matters of personal safety.

I also began to work with the survivors of prison violence, as I often heard from the loved ones of the dead, and learned their stories. During that time I memorialized the Ghosts of Jan Brewer - state prisoners under her regime who were lost to neglect, suicide or violence - across the city's sidewalks in large chalk murals. Some of that art is here.

In November 2014 I left Phoenix abruptly to care for my family. By early 2015 I was no longer keeping up this blog site, save occasional posts about a young prisoner in solitary confinement in Arpaio's jail, Jessie B.

I'm deeply grateful to the prisoners who educated, confided in, and encouraged me throughout the years I did this work. My life has been made all the more rich and meaningful by their engagement.

I've linked to some posts about advocating for state prisoner health and safety to the right, as well as other resources for families and friends. If you are in need of additional assistance fighting the prison industrial complex in Arizona - or if you care to offer some aid to the cause - please contact the Phoenix Anarchist Black Cross at PO Box 7241 / Tempe, AZ 85281.

until all are free -

MARGARET J PLEWS (June 1, 2015)


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Friday, August 28, 2009

Jail Accreditation update

Arizona Republic
August 28, 2009
Maricopa County has taken the first step in getting its jails reaccredited.
Correctional Health Services, the agency charged with providing health care to nearly 10,000 inmates in county custody, submitted an application for accreditation this week with the National Commission on Correctional Healthcare.
The same agency stripped the county's jails of accreditation in January, saying the facilities failed to meet federal standards for care. The agency also alleged that county officials gave the accrediting group inaccurate information about the county's efforts to reform health care in the jails.
County administrators plan to bring in a separate team of consultants before the end of the year to inspect health care offered to inmates in anticipation of the accrediting group.
The county still is negotiating with the assessment team, but County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox said the outside evaluation team should cost less than $65,000.
"It's a check-and-balance. They bring in all the best policies from around the U.S.," she said of the consultants. "And it's more important if you get litigated against." A spike in litigation was exactly what jail health-care experts predicted when Maricopa County lost its accreditation. A trio of lawsuits filed in the past two months have cited the loss.
County officials repeatedly have been told that Correctional Health Services operations are inadequate and pose a danger to inmates.
Over the past 10 years, faced with hundreds of lawsuits, a federal court order and the loss of accreditation, the Board of Supervisors has paid more than $250,000 to consultants to find solutions to improve care.
Since 1998, the county has paid $13 million in legal fees, settlements and jury verdicts to inmates and their families for injury and death claims against the Correctional Health Services.County administrators have contended that the jails always met national standards and the decision to pull accreditation was based on faulty information.

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