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, November 13, 2009

The CCA PR machine hits Wickenburg

Forwarded by the guys at Private Corrections Institute. I have to say that if Councilman Stewart really researched the CCA, he would have heard a lot of BAD things about them. I suspect all the research he did was read their quarterly stockholders' report...CCA is infamous for their atrocities around the world. How can anyone not know about their real history? Is anyone in Wickenburg resisting this? Becoming dependent on a prison-based economy is a pretty devastating thing to do to one's community - that's the main local option their children will be offered as secure employment? 

This is sad. Don't trust them folks - Vice Mayor Cook doesn't have the whole story, and if he does, he's not sharing it. Hit that link abut for the guys at the private Corrections Institute - they have current articles, lawsuit info, details on all the private prison companies - and CCA is among the biggest, greediest, and ugliest. If anyone tells you differently, they're's all out there, the research is solid!

Please don't passively allow these people to bury your children's futures in concrete and concertina wire. Those aren't even healthy jobs - they're hard jobs which take a huge psychic toll on officers and their families - and, by extension, on communities. How can it not erode a community's character if it's people are all sucked into the dehumanization and often violent repression of others - "criminal" or not.

We are by far creative enough and have enough capital in this country that all the economic gurus with the state and the region should be able to come up with something better than prisons as an employment base for communities like Wickenburg. Building more prisons surrenders to the notion that mass incarceration will continue to dominate our justice system landscape. It's a cynical, hopeless vision to invest in which gives no one incentive to try to find alternatives - either for a more stable, vibrant economic base, or for dealing with some of the root causes of high incarceration rates - like the criminalization of addiction, poverty, and trauma.

So far the only one who seems to have any sense is Mayor Blunt, but I'm not convinced that he hasn't already been sold - it's just a political game of making the citizens think they decided they not only want but NEED this institution now - that's how they work it. 

We'll be thinking good things for your resistance, Wickenburg...send us an email if you want any help getting CCA out of there! Here's the PCI link to their rap sheet: it's pretty long

Town officials tour prison, evaluate impact on town
November 12, 2009
By Janet DelTufo, Assistant Editor

A number of Wickenburg officials last week toured a prison facility in Eloy, which is owned and operated by a corporation interested in building a correctional facility in Forepaugh.

Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest private prison operator in the United States, hosted members from the town’s Economic Development Partnership, Mayor Kelly Blunt, Vice Mayor John Cook, Councilman Scott Stewart and other community leaders at one of its Pinal County facilities.

Stewart said he had researched other municipalities where CCA owned facilities and only heard good things about the corporation. After the tour, he said he could not find a single reason why CCA should not come to Forepaugh.

Blunt said he was impressed by the tour and the facility. He said he learned a lot but he would not be making a decision on his own.

“I have not talked to enough people yet,” Blunt said. “I want the people to tell the council what they want, even if we have to put it out for a vote.”

Blunt said he saw benefits to having the prison built in Forepaugh, but he didn’t want it to be a “quick fix” to the local economy. He also said he didn’t want Wickenburg to become known as a “prison town.”

“On the other hand,” Blunt said, “I have asked some of those who have said Forepaugh is too close to us for a prison if it would be too close if the prison were to built in Wittmann … and they can’t answer that question.”

Wittmann and Forepaugh are about the same distance from Wickenburg.

Cook said he was 100 percent behind the project because of how CCA runs the prison, with its tight security and cleanliness, and that it would be located outside of town.

“Building this prison would jump-start our economy for at least a year, and then it would jump-start our housing market after that for a few years,” Cook said. “As far as I can tell, it’s a win-win situation for Wickenburg.”

Prior to the facility tour, members of the Wickenburg entourage met with the City of Eloy’s finance director, Brian Wright, and were told that Eloy has received $8 million in construction sales taxes from CCA’s three correctional facilities located in the city.

Those taxes were received in about 3.5 years, with 33 percent of the money going towards roads.

Wright also said that Eloy receives about $7,000 to $8,100 a month in prison commissary sales tax from the prisons.

At this time, the Town of Wickenburg would not benefit from these taxes, as Forepaugh is located in an unincorporated area of Maricopa County. Forepaugh would need to be annexed into the town limits before the town received any tax benefits.

The economic development partnership was created to stimulate Wickenburg’s economy, and many on the partnership see new jobs as a way in achieving that goal.

CCA officials said they would start the project with about 2,400 beds. CCA operates five facilities in Pinal County and employs about 2,600 people in that county.

It operates nearly 70 prisons, including 40 CCA-owned facilities, and houses 82,000 inmates in 19 states. Hoping to win a bid from the Arizona Department of Corrections to house 5,000 inmates, CCA is looking for a location to build a prison and has an interest in 78 acres of town-owned property located in Forepaugh.

Officials toured CCA’s Saguaro prison facility in Eloy, which has been open since 2007 and houses about 1,900 inmates for the state of Hawaii. It cost about $95 million to build the Saguaro Correctional Center.

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