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, November 5, 2009

Profit motives and immigrant detention

This came from my professor for my Immigration and Justice class today. This is what the anti-immigrant rhetoric comes back to as well - simple profit motives. Our bodies really are little more than merchandise to be traded, bought and sold.


Focus on “Criminal Aliens” Increases Demand for Private Immigrant Detention Business – According to New Profit Reports
5 November 2009

From the Business of Detention

In earnings reports released this week the nation’s two largest private prison operators cited “significant growth opportunities” for detaining immigrants, driven largely by the Obama administration’s emphasis on detaining “criminal aliens.”

The GEO Group – an international private prison operator that draws about 75 percent of its revenue from controlling a quarter of the U.S. private prison industry – said it believes that “this federal initiative to target, detain, and deport “criminal aliens” throughout the country will continue to drive the need for immigration detention beds over the next several years.”

A Third Quarter earnings report released on Monday shows The GEO Group is adding another 1,100 beds to its Aurora, Colorado, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Processing Center for a total of 1,532 beds. As part of its renewed contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the continued management of our Northwest Detention Center, capacity there will be increased from 1,030 to 1,575 beds.

Today Corrections Corporation of America – which manages more than 50 percent of all prison beds under private contract in the United States – said in its Third Quarter earnings report that revenue from its federal customers increased 4.9 percent, “primarily driven by the commencement of our new management contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons at our newly constructed Adams County Correctional Center.” This facility in Natchez, Mississippi houses 2,567 “criminal alien offenders – low-security illegal immigrants  who committed offenses in the United States and will be returned to their country of origin upon completion of their sentence.”(why are we paying good money to hold on to "low security" prisoners who we're just going to ship out after we're done punishing anyway? How petty is that?)

The company’s newly appointed CEO, Damon Hininger, told investors during a conference call that the company continues to focus on filling vacant capacity. He said he was pleased with an increase of 1,300 detainees in CCA’s U.S. Marshall’s facilities since January 2009. The company recently completed renovations of its 502-bed North Georgia Detention Center. It began receiving detainees from ICE in October and currently houses about 100 detainees there.

Hininger said CCA has its eye on an ICE contract to build and operate a 2,200-bed detention center in Los Angeles, and expects a procurement as early as December, though the company is not listed among the interested vendors on a government website listing the request for proposals for the contract.

Funding for expanded immigrant detention is provided in the FY2010 budget for the Department of Homeland Security, of which ICE is a member agency. President Obama signed the budget into law on October 29. It includes $5.4 for ICE, about half a billion more than in FY2009. From this amount, $2.5 million is allocated for detention and removal operations, including $1.5 million for the identification and removal of “criminal aliens” who are at large or already incarcerated. At least $200 million is provided for the Secure Communities program, which began in 2008 to screen for undocumented immigrants by taking the fingerprints of anyone booked into a local jail and checking for a match in ICE’s database.

Critics like Joan Friedland, Immigration Policy Director for the National Immigration Law Center, have noted that as of March 22, 2009, “19,495 individuals were identified as undocumented through the Secure Communities program. Of these, only 1,436 were identified as ‘Level 1 criminals.’ The rest were arrested for lesser crimes, which include minor traffic offenses like driving without a license.”

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