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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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Free Medicine Keeping Colorado Parolees Free

from Oh My Gov via Colorado's Think Outside the Cage blog

By Amelia Hassani Sep 29 2009, 01:39 AM

With states facing the two-headed monster of budget cuts and crowded prisons, many are choosing to release prisoners early, raising concerns over recidivism from both a public safety and a budget perspective. States after all don’t truly realize budget cuts if early-release parolees simply return to prison.

Colorado may have an answer, however. The state’s Department of Corrections (CDOC) has been supplementing early release with free medication for mentally ill offenders to provide the stability they need to stay out of jail. In the two years of its existence, the medication assistance program has drastically lowered recidivism amongst participants.

Good thing, too, because Colorado will be releasing 15% of its prisoners early due to budget woes.
The Parole Pilot Program was approved in 2000 in an effort to bolster aftercare for offenders. Both newly-released inmates and parolees who have broken terms of their parole are provided free medication upon their arrivals to either community corrections facilities or halfway homes. Considering past decades’ declining number of beds in mental health wards, prisons have increasingly housed an exaggerated percentage of the mentally ill.

Colorado’s 2-year-old drug aid program is the result of a decade’s work on alleviating the overrepresentation of the mentally ill amongst the incarcerated. In 1999, Colorado state legislature approved a 19-member task force to research possible solutions; the task force approved the funding and implementation of two programs, one of which was the Parole Pilot Program. The program was finally ready for implementation in 2007.

Over 200 inmates have participated in the CDOC-run program to date. Of the 61 participants receiving psychotropic medications at their community corrections homes, only 2 have recidivated. The original budget for the Parole Pilot Program was $1.3 million; it has since been trimmed to $171,000 due to budget cuts. However, when compared to CDOC’s $760 million budget (and Colorado’s $318 million deficit), programs that minimize recidivism — and hopefully, eventually, criminality — are a real money-saver.

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