I try to post a fresh link and reminder about this every so often. It's good to consider other perspectives and strategies, and though we have some similar concerns about the prisons and jails, I'm an abolitionist, not a reformer. Anyone interested in what happened with Marcia Powell, some of the history of the ADC, and the position of other prison activists here should visit the website for Middle Ground Prison Reform. They've been around AZ a long time fielding complaints from prisoners and their loved ones, have some good resources on their site, and have been addressing the ADC, the Governor's office, legislators, and the media on the issue of the prisoner abuse in a thoughtful, articulate, professional manner. They're the folks who filed a formal complaint about the cages two years ago, and - as I've referenced elsewhere - Dora Schriro took no action. We agree that she bears a good deal of responsibility for what happened.
As does Janet.
I do hope New York is paying attention, since that's where Schriro's headed to next.
Here's the link to the letter Donna Hamm at Middle Ground wrote Governor Brewer after the abuse report came out last week. It's worth a read. She also gives a synopsis of issues with the prisons arising from Marcia's death that still need to be addressed - these might be helpful. She's more willing to give Director Ryan a chance than I am, but I suspect they know each other better. We don't all sit at the same table. All I want to do at this point is upend it.
That's why we need people like Donna.
Middle Ground has done a lot of important work, and can be a useful resource. If you want a more rounded picture of what's happening here or want to support in a less radical way, look at what other advocacy strategies are being employed. Check out Middle Ground.
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. firstname.lastname@example.org
until all are free -
MARGARET J PLEWS (June 1, 2015)