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)


ANTICOLONIAL zines, stickers, actions, power

Taala Hooghan Infoshop

Kinlani/Flagstaff Mutual AID


The group for direct action against the prison state!

Black Lives Matter PHOENIX METRO

Black Lives Matter PHOENIX METRO
(accept no substitutions)



PHOENIX: Trans Queer Pueblo


AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Archaic System for Detention: AZ CCA

VIA Ken at the Private Corrections Working Group . The ACLU National Prison Project
has done a lot of good work on detention issues. You can find a few resources there on prisoner rights, women in prison, etc.

Mired in uncertainty, immigrants go through a system that critics call archaic
Tucson Weekly 
February 11,2010
by Tim Vanderpool

The detention complex in Eloy is a small city unto itself, a locked-down desert fortress with Phoenix shimmering to the northwest, and low-slung mountains rising to the east.

Approximately 1,500 foreign detainees are held there, awaiting deportation for immigration violations that range from petty crimes to overstayed visas. Another 1,200 are housed in the massive prison complex at Florence. The Eloy Detention Center is operated by the Corrections Corporation of America, a private company under contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security. Corrections Corporation also runs one of the Florence prisons...

Populations at these detention centers and others nationwide have exploded since Sept. 11, from less than 9,000 in 1996 to more than to 300,000 in recent years. With that growth has come a rising chorus of concern over accountability and transparency. Critics charge that relatives are often unable to locate their loved ones within the sprawling system, as detainees are shuffled from jail to jail. Even more disconcerting are the deaths within these centers, and apparent government attempts to keep them hidden.

It took a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union to pry much of this information from the DHS.

The highest number of those deaths—nine in total—occurred at the Eloy Detention Center, and the leading cause, according to the ACLU, was inadequate or delayed medical care.

ICE officials seemingly spent more time trying to cover up these cases than preventing more from occurring. Time after time, public affairs officers provided misleading data and attempted to divert reporters.

"There's a deep problem with a lack of transparency and accountability about detention conditions generally, and specifically with regards to death in immigration detention," says David Shapiro, staff attorney with the ACLU National Prison Project in Washington, D.C.

"We made this (Freedom of Information Act) request in 2007.We've been litigating the case since 2008, and the government has really fought tooth and nail to prevent us from obtaining a number of these documents. This is critical information about what went wrong—what led to deaths in immigration detention."
In August, the DHS revealed that 11 previously undisclosed deaths had occurred in detention facilities since 2004.They added to the total of 104 deaths since 2003.

Behind those numbers, of course, are real people. They include Chinese computer engineer Hiu Lui Ng, who suffered from cancer and spinal injuries. Security cameras recorded security guards laughing at Ng as they dragged him from his cell in a Rhode Island facility. He died a week later. Another prisoner, this time in New Jersey, suffered a skull fracture that went untreated for 13 hours. The man, a tailor from Guinea, was dying even as officials discussed quickly deporting him so his death wouldn't make headlines. In yet another case, jail workers lied on a medication log to make it seem that a Salvordan man with a broken leg had been given medication for his extreme pain, when actually he had not. The man ultimately killed himself.

At Eloy, a diabetic, 62-year-old barber died of a heart ailment as he awaited deportation to his native Ghana. He had lived legally in the United States for 33 years, and was being deported because of shoplifting and misdemeanor battery convictions in 1979.

"ICE just somehow lost track of these deaths," says Shapiro. "But (Homeland Security) seemed less concerned with what went wrong—and what could be done to prevent tragedies like that from happening in the future—than they were with looking at it from a public-relations standpoint, at how they could minimize the fallout."

In the case of the skull-fracture victim, "there was even talk of trying to prevent the family from coming to the U.S. for the funeral, because they were worried that the press would cover it," he says.

In October, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano announced extensive reforms for the detention system, with changes ranging from separating criminal aliens from mere asylum seekers, to releasing others with electronic ankle bracelets.

The department also plans to bring all contracts with private prisons—now totaling more than 300—under centralized supervision at ICE headquarters. And the agency pledges to more than double the number of federal employees providing oversight at large detention facilities.

"These new initiatives will improve accountability and safety in our detention facilities," said Napolitano, "as we continue to engage in smart and effective enforcement of our nation's immigration laws."

Vincent Picard, an ICE spokesman in Phoenix, says those changes are just beginning to take root. "While we're looking at reforms nationally, they have not yet been implemented in Arizona. But we anticipate hiring some additional federal employees to provide government oversight of the detention facilities in Arizona."

ICE also plans to assign case managers "to keep tabs on detainees with significant medical problems," he says. Other steps may include ensuring that seriously ill detainees are housed in areas with hospitals. Picard says the agency will also develop an online registry, allowing relatives to trace their family members in detention.

But such reforms may not be enough to satisfy frustrated immigrant-rights activists, who point to continuing abuses. "We get letters from detainees, and the No. 1 complaint is denial of medical attention and abuse," says Kat Rodriguez of the Tucson group Derechos Humanos. "The other really big problem is lack of accountability. For example, many times, we've gotten calls about someone who's in detention, and nobody can find them in the system."

She says Derechos Humanos was contacted by one woman looking for her son. The young man had been deported after illegally crossing into the United States. Then he was caught again and placed in detention in Tucson. Officials told his mother he was being sent to a California jail.

"But when we talked to the jail, they said they had sent him back to (the Tucson) detention center," Rodriguez says. "And that detention center said they'd never received him. The only record they had of him was from when he was originally deported. So nobody could say where he was.

"It's almost like people are being disappeared," she says.

No comments: