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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Friday, March 19, 2010

CCA "stun fence" and where are these 60 inmates coming from?

Hernando jail 'stun' fence on hold


Hernando Today (Florida)

Published: March 13, 2010

Updated: 03/13/2010 06:18 pm

BROOKSVILLE - Corrections Corporation of America is willing to spend about $430,000 to purchase and install an electrified fence at the Hernando County Jail to beef up security and make it possible to house more inmates.

But a representative of the private company that runs the jail said Tuesday he doesn't want to spend the money if the county plans to turn control over to the sheriff, an idea that is being considered.

"It's on hold for another 30 days until it's all sorted out," County Commission Chairman John Druzbick said. "The board has asked for additional information as to who may be running the jail and as soon as we straighten that out, we'll know if CCA retains the contract. Then I'm sure we'll entertain that proposal on fencing."

As of last October, the Hernando County Jail stopped housing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees, resulting in more than a 25 percent reduction in total inmate population, according to CCA official Natasha Metcalf.

"While CCA has made every effort to return the detainees to the facility, it does not appear that they will be returning in the near future," Metcalf said in a March 2 memo to County Administrator David Hamilton.

Metcalf said CCA is in discussions with a potential partner regarding housing up to 60 sentenced adult males.

Because of the additional security needs associated with a sentenced versus a pretrial population and to further modernize the jail's security, the company is proposing to install an electrified "stun fence" to keep prisoners from getting through the existing razor wire and escaping.

Metcalf said ICE detainees are now being housed in a newer facility more convenient for immigration officials and closer to the courts and ICE offices.

"In an effort to maintain the over 170 jobs at the facility and to improve the overall viability of the (jail), CCA is actively pursuing opportunities to house other inmate populations," she said.

Metcalf said CCA is willing to make the investment but is concerned about proceeding "under circumstances that could result in termination of the contract by the county and CCA's loss of its total investment."

County commissioners Tuesday put a proposal from Sheriff Richard Nugent to operate the jail on hold until April 13, giving staff time to do a cost analysis of which entity - the sheriff's department or CCA - can provide the best and cheapest service.

Reporter Michael D. Bates can be reached at 352-544-5290 or

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