Fight the Treatment Industrial Complex

Fight the Treatment Industrial Complex by supporting the AFSC- Arizona campaign

Fight the Treatment Industrial Complex by supporting the AFSC- Arizona campaign
AFSC-Arizona staff are amazing advocates for prisoners - and as such, are true blessings to our communities. Spend time on their site - lots of resources.

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. collective@phoenixabc.org

until all are free -

MARGARET J PLEWS (June 1, 2015)
arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com



AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Veterans' Drug Courts


Published: 11/10/09  12:05 am

Drug court is one of the best ideas ever to hit Pierce County’s criminal justice system. It’s just been joined by another great idea: veterans drug court.

The county’s drug court – one of the nation’s first, in 1994 – operates on the premise that treating addicts instead of merely jailing them works better for everyone. Substance-abusers accused of drug- or alcohol-connected crimes – small-time trafficking, theft, drunk driving, for example – must voluntarily opt in. They waive their right to a trial and accept the maximum sentence for their offense.

The sentence is then suspended on condition they follow a strict regimen designed to break their addiction: treatment, participation in group meetings, random urine tests, avoidance of any criminal activity. The Pierce County Alliance runs the treatment side of things.
 
If they fail, they get the book thrown at them. If they succeed, the charge is dismissed. Studies have shown the program to be much more effective than jail in preventing relapses and further crimes, and saving the taxpayers’ money.

The veterans’ drug court, announced last week, is being launched with the help of a three-year, $900,000 grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. The new program will be able to tap into the treatment and health resources of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

When it opens early next year, it will operate in precisely the same way as existing drug court – but with an additional focus on problems that may have arisen from military service. One RAND study found that 25 to 30 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans report symptoms of psychological disorder, mild or severe.

Post-traumatic stress disorder and depression are all too common among troops who’ve seen combat.

Only a fraction of veterans wind up abusing alcohol or drugs, but it’s a fraction that deserves special attention.

These are people who have put their bodies between America and its enemies.

Judge Gary Steiner, who presides over the existing drug court, is a Vietnam veteran himself and an excellent choice to lead this expansion. “If you’ve been there,” he says, “you have some kind of idea what they’ve gone through.”

Roughly 4,400 veterans were booked into the Pierce County jail last year, many presumably for crimes fueled by alcoholism or drug addiction. Freeing some of them from the tangle of crime and substance abuse could take an expensive burden off the criminal justice system.

Veterans drug court is almost brand new: It’s been pioneered in Rochester and Buffalo, N.Y., over the last three years, and Pierce County is one of the first jurisdictions in the nation to get federal funding to expand the program.

With the estimated 95,000 veterans who live the county, this is an ideal place for the expansion to begin.

No comments: