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

FLA Sheriff: Financial review of CCA's books long overdue

Sheriff: Financial review of CCA's books long overdue

By MICHAEL D. BATES | Hernando Today

Published: March 17, 2010

BROOKSVILLE - Sheriff Richard Nugent said he has been pressing the county for four years to do a financial analysis of the Hernando County Jail to get a better picture of costs and operations.

To his knowledge, a due diligence financial perspective hasn't been done in the 22 years Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) has been running the jail and much has changed since then, he said.

Even if is determined that CCA can continue running the jail more cost effectively than the sheriff, at least the county will have the benefit of having looked at CCA's books and get a better picture of operations, Nugent said Wednesday.

If CCA can do the job cheaper, Nugent said he will back off his proposal of taking over operations.

"If our initial assumptions are all wrong, then we'll say we were all wrong," Nugent said. "I'm not going to go into something and have it backfire on the sheriff's department. There's no upside to that."

Nugent said he and his chief Bill Kicklighter, along with assistant financial director Catie Blue, will meet with county officials to go over CCA's books at a time still to be determined.

CCA officials agreed last week to open the company's books to help county commissioners in their decision whether to continue its contract with CCA or turn control over to Nugent and his staff.

Commissioner Jeff Stabins said he also intends to look at CCA's financial books and will take along some of his budget staffers.

Stabins agreed that a thorough review of the books is in order, and it should put to rest the questions of who can run the jail more cost effectively.

"We're going into this with open minds and a good positive attitude," Stabins said. "We all want what's best for the taxpayers of Hernando County."

Nugent said Wednesday he hasn't made any secret his department has no experience running a jail.

That's why he has solicited the help of several wardens and jail administrators and sheriff's offices throughout the state and is planning a trip to Bay County on Monday to meet with Sheriff Frank McKeithen, who took over the reins of that county's jail about two years ago from CCA.

"We don't have the experience and we've been very upfront about that," Nugent said. "But we certainly have management experience, and that's why we've brought in experts from the field to give us information and go over the process."

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

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