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:


Friday, January 15, 2010

DOJ: Please CRIPA USP Lewisburg.


Margaret Jean Plews
Arizona Prison Watch
1809 East Willetta St.
Phoenix, AZ 85006

January 14, 2010

Warden Bledsoe
USP Lewisburg - U.S. Penitentiary
2400 Robert F. Miller Drive

Lewisburg, PA 17837

Dear Warden Bledsoe,

Arizona Prison Watch members have been informed by the NYC Jericho Movement that Byron Shane Chubbuck #07909051, an institutionalized person in your custody, has been subject to repeated abuse and civil rights violations at the hands of your employees, and is vulnerable to retaliation for complaining about such treatment. As requested by his supporters, we’re “writing in solidarity with many others across the nation to demand a full investigation into Mr. Chubbuck’s treatment on November 7, 2009 and to see his assault charge from that day be dropped. We also ask that the June 24, 2009 charges against him be reviewed and dropped…”


That’s from the letter drafted by Oso’s friends; I’m sure you are aware of the details of his case. They’ll be helping him go through “proper BOP channels” with these allegations of abuse. I presume those are the channels fine-tuned by the Prison Litigation Reform Act designed to bog prisoner grievances down so they never meet the threshold for having exhausted prison administrative procedures before proceeding to a lawsuit. We’ll be working on tossing that thing out this year and making sure prisoners are better protected.

What’s been happening at your prison to our brother is an outrage. If I was a DA I’d see the cutting of Mr. Chubbuck’s braid in this context as an outright assault that should be prosecuted, not just an insult to his people and their traditions. It was excessive force – completely unnecessary. It would certainly constitute assault if a prisoner pinned down a guard and snipped a lock of hair from his head, whatever the motive. You should have recognized and responded to that immediately for what it is. I suspect the employee referenced in that incident got a pat on the back, instead, not disciplined or reported to police as a perpetrator of violence against institutionalized persons.

In light of the amount of harm that could be done to Mr. Chubbuck – to both his mental and physical health – in such a hostile environment, this is the beginning and end of my own use of “proper channels”. I’ll be using my blogs to tell people who Byron Chubbuck is, where he is, and how he’s being treated at the hands of our government – it’s pretty much up to you and the BOP what that characterization ultimately turns out to be. We’ll be paying attention.

If necessary, we’ll urge our allies to contact their respective congress members – all across the country - about Mr. Chubbuck’s safety and welfare in your custody, and the well-being of other prisoners. If you throw him into isolation and try to cut him off from us, we’ll lobby to get him featured prominently on the new Solitary Watch News website, and assure that intense media scrutiny is focused back on USP Lewisburg. Even the people who live in your town will be so disturbed by the abuse associated with your institution – and the torturous conditions of solitary - that they’ll be at your gates holding you accountable, too.

We will expose any effort made to retaliate against Mr. Chubbuck for challenging such gross violations of his civil rights in the meantime. I don’t know your defense for your employees’ conduct to date, but you can hardly claim ignorance if any further harm comes to that man in your custody. You are the one ultimately responsible for protecting him, and we’ll hold you accountable for what your staff do.

Every bit of information we get from Mr. Chubbuck and his fellow prisoners about their treatment there – including any trouble they have communicating with the outside world - will contribute to Arizona Prison Watch’s letter to Senator Webb’s committee on criminal justice reforms as an example of what’s wrong with the Federal Bureau of Prisons – and hopefully what you’re doing to fix it. The more clear and responsive you are regarding these concerns, the more fairly we can reflect your positions and actions to our members and readers – otherwise we are left to speculate aloud based on what limited view we may have from out here.

As for the allegation that Mr. Chubbuck himself assaulted a guard: we are skeptical about claims of officers who have been “assaulted” by prisoners that they (and usually five other officers) have beaten mercilessly (or tried to scald) while they were handcuffed and shackled. People like that just don’t make convincing victims – they don’t even make credible witnesses. We’d like an outside investigation of any such allegations. We suspect those are counter-charges being levied as retaliation and intimidation – and perhaps an excuse to restrict Mr. Chubbuck’s mobility and human contact even more. His friends are quite concerned about the effect this is having on his mental health, understandably. That’s one reason I’m also cc’ing this letter to my own Senator John McCain – he knows the trauma of captivity, and of people trying to break him - as I suspect some of your guards are trying to do to Oso.

The law enforcement profession has all sorts of technologies and techniques for controlling and restraining men safely without inflicting excess pain, humiliation, or injury. Granted, prisons can’t function without the threat and periodic use of state violence – no one would stay there if they didn’t have to. And you have some pretty mean people – but not the vast majority of them. If you depend heavily on any of those three elements for your prisoner management practices, you have long since lost “control” of your prison, and your leadership is obsolete. You are engaging in torture, not behavior management. If it becomes apparent that’s what’s going on, we’ll call you on it and demand that you step down.

We believe that the greater burden of responsibility for restraint when it comes to using violence is on the party with the greatest power to do harm – in this case, your guards (especially when they have someone already restrained). Mr. Chubbuck’s constitutional status may be as a slave of the state, but you are sworn servants of the people – all the people - and we expect better treatment of prisoners in this country than this. Mr. Chubbuck’s criminalized status and prison sentence doesn’t give anyone license to exploit their power over him for sadistic purposes, and Americans don’t take to enslaving and abusing Native Americans like we used to. Legislation is going to be changing soon.

In the meantime, if one prisoner is experiencing this kind of abuse, we can only assume that others are at risk as well. It only takes one to trigger a CRIPA investigation, though, and this sounds suspicious enough to me. Our respective states keep us busy, but I’m sure that between all of us we can find someone at the DOJ who would take a special interest in any patterns of mis-treatment towards different minority populations in your custody. The DOJ visits my blogs often because of the Arpaio investigation, so I have a shortcut if I need it to get their attention - if they aren’t on this already.

Please let us know soon how you’ll be responding to the abuses identified above. We’ll be waiting to hear back from Oso, too, and expect his mail and other methods of communicating with his community to be reasonably unhindered from now on. Do be mindful that what you do to this man touches his people as well. Neither he nor they stand alone. In fact, you can count us among his people now, too.

Sincerely,



Margaret Jean Plews
Arizona Prison Watch

Cc: Mr. Byron Chubbuck / NYC Jericho Movement / US Department of Justice – Civil Rights Division  / North Carolina Prison Watch / Ohio Prison Watch / Nevada Prison Watch / Wisconsin Prison Watch / Utah Prison Watch / Louisiana Prison Watch / New Mexico Prison Watch / Solitary Watch News / Prison Legal News / / Prison Reform Community Center / James Ridgeway /  Critical Resistance / 4Struggle Magazine / Prison Activist Network / Prisoner Rights Newsletter / Break The Chains / ACLU National Prison Project

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Im all the way from South Africa and i must say im totally disgusted to read what is happening.To the person who said its "bullshit" how would you no unless you'r the guilty party? have a heart, its something many people are lacking these days.
To Margaret, keep up the good work and no that many people from all over the world are with you!

Ester said...

I saw that the wardens name was different than on the petition that is set up,hope you don't mind by using your message:0)
Thank you for your time and work to stand up fo our Friend Oso.
He is the most wonderful,pure spirit I even been in contact with..
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/support-byron-chubbuck-aka-oso-blanco
Blessing and Luck to you!