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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AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

CCA Growing in Arizona: Unions Resist

By Ken Hedler
The Daily Courier

Friday, December 18, 2009

Corrections Corporation of America and other operators of private prisons have drawn fire from public employees unions for allegedly paying lower wages and straining public services in communities.

However, CCA also earned kudos from a police detective and town government official in Florence, where the company operates two prisons.

CCA pays correctional officers only $10 to $12 an hour while correctional officers in Arizona state prisons earn $18 to $20 an hour, said Chuck Foy, executive director of the Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association. The Phoenix-based union has about 3,500 members.

CCA officials could not be reached for comment.

Barrett Marson, a public information officer for the Arizona Department of Corrections, said he does not know the pay scales in private prisons. However, he said starting pay for correctional officers at state prisons is in the mid-$30,000 range.

Private prisons "also put a strain on law enforcement (and) local prosecutors because the private prison folks cannot investigate crimes," Foy said.

However, Florence has a "pretty low crime rate" despite being home to 10 prisons or jails, said Jess Knudson, public information officer for the town. He added Florence has more inmates at 17,000 than residents at 10,000.

"We like to acknowledge our police force," Knudson said. He added the Pinal County Sheriff's Office is based in Florence because it is the county seat.

Florence Police Detective Walt Hunter commented, "I can't remember the last time I responded to CCA." He has been on the job six years.

"We definitely have a good working relationship with CCA," Hunter said. "First of all, we work a lot in cooperative efforts. We assist them with investigations."

He continued, "These guys have always been very cooperative, very professional. There is nothing I can say bad about them."

Foy faults private prisons for allegedly hiring correctional officers with less training than their public-sector counterparts. He said the Department of Corrections requires 360 hours of training, compared with 120 hours for CCA.

CCA's website states all new full-time security employees receive a minimum of 120 hours of training during their first year of employment. Courses cover cultural diversity, defensive tactics, emergency procedures, firearms training, hostage situations, radio communications and other subject matters.

Private prisons also are exempt from public records laws, Foy said.

Marson said the exemption applies because they are privately owned.

He said he does not know how many private prisons operate in the state because they do not have to report to the Department of Corrections.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am a CCA employee the pay starts at 16.50 an hour at all four of our prisons in Eloy the pay is higher in Florence because of the federal contract so the report that they pay 10 to 12 dollars an hour is false