MARGARET J PLEWS
PO BOX 20494
PHOENIX, AZ 85036

arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com

480-580-6807

Established: July 18, 2009
Editor: Peggy Plews


This site is to offer some critical analysis of the prison industrial complex in Arizona from a prison abolitionist's perspective. Abolitionism is an anti-colonialist articulation of a vision of racial and economic justice, one in which we don't submit to or depend on the prison industrial complex to brutalize the "duly convicted" (and their loved ones) as a response to harm, as a preventative measure out of fear, or as a means of assuring social order. It's an optimistic vision which presumes that our society collectively evolves, both morally and socially, such that the root causes of criminalization and incarceration are addressed before we produce more generations of people being allowed to hurt eachother. The current system doesn't prevent people from being victimized - it just prescribes rules for who does and doesn't get to hurt or be hurt in America. That's not a good enough foundation for a system truly based on achieving justice.

Prison abolitionism argues that we don't simply need to shut down the prisons: we need to rewrite the way the rules around perpetrating harm against people and property are made in the first place, so that humanity, not profit (or state "savings", as the case may be) comes first. From re-prioritizing our world, our ideas around what is crime and how to punish it would look much differently...Critical Resistance is a good source for more info on that.

I'm just a freelance writer and artist, by the way, but if you are the loved one of a prisoner and need help, feel free to contact me. Emailing me works best: arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com but 480-580-6807 is ok too.

AZ PRISON WATCH ACTION ITEMS:

RESIGN, CHUCK RYAN

RESIGN, CHUCK RYAN
Petition by the family of Tony Lester, victim of suicide in AZ DOC custody.

SUpport the Free Alabama Movement!

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AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:


Monday, May 31, 2010

CCA Diamondback closure devastates Watonga community...

The following commentary and op-ed were forwarded to us by Frank Smith of Private Corrections Working Group. Awesome guy - he's been in this fight for awhile...

I hope Diamondback doesn't re-open; not as a prison, anyway. I hope instead some brilliant, creative young people there share and articulate a better vision and dream - something better than a prison - that the town is willing to invest in for them. There are so many possible futures out there to explore.        

                                                                                       - prisonabolitionist@gmail.com


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"This is the third CCA prison to close this year, after Appleton, Minnesota and Huerfano county at Walsenburg Colorado.  The prison in California City, CA is expected to have no inmates by September and CCA is losing contracts right and left. Its competitors are in similar dire straits, such as GEO Group with a long-closed prison in Baldwin, Michigan.

But prisoner counts are down all over the country and every corporation is feeling the pinch. Most prisons with over 100 empty beds are probably losing money and they're walking away from contracts to operate, often leaving towns that funded construction of the prisons or substantial infrastructure economically devastated.

I'm figuring that the size of the Watonga payroll was greatly overstated in the editorial and in an article in the Oklahoman as well. I expect the info would have been from a CCA press release. I'm guessing that CCA may have inflated it by 40%. The deficits in revenues are not confined to the city of Watonga, but include the six-figure shortfall to Blaine county as well.

I predicted this decline in population over two years ago, but officials in towns such as Pahrump, Nevada, ignored my warnings and rushed to accommodate CCA where they're building an unfillable prison.

Sometimes I think these corporations must have hired Dr. Kevorkian as their CEO."

Frank Smith
--------------------------from the Tulsa World 5/29/2010----------------------

Watonga's woes: A private prison closes up shop

By Tulsa World's Editorial Writers
5/29/2010

The closing of the 12-year-old Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga is a cautionary tale about what can happen when a community puts too many eggs in one basket, when a state becomes the penal colony to the nation and when an overabundance of private prisons is encouraged.

Diamondback closed on Thursday, leaving 300 employees jobless unless they can find work at another facility. The city is losing the benefits of an $11 million prison payroll, the annual sale of $400,000 of water and sewer services to the facility, and sales tax revenues from purchases made by 2,000 inmates.

The inmates are gone, most shipped back to Arizona, which no longer will house inmates in out-of-state facilities.

Watonga has a population of 5,600 and a city budget of $2.4 million. The loss is devastating, even if it's temporary. Diamondback's owner, Correction Corp of America, claims that it hopes to reopen the facility. But will that happen? Every state has budget woes and is cutting back. Housing inmates in private prisons might be too pricey an option.

The private prison proliferation here began under Gov. Frank Keating in the 1990s. It was a "Field of Dreams" philosophy: Build it and they will come. And, inmates did, shipped by the thousands to new private prisons. Oklahoma itself houses some of its own inmates in private prisons and there's been an unrelenting push by some legislators to use private prisons even more rather than reforming this state's sentencing system.

Private prisons are a double-edged sword. They put people to work in small towns but they don't always last forever. And inmates seldom receive the programming they need to break addictions or the retraining for new jobs on the outside. Like it or not, for-profit prisons are more about warehousing and less about rehabilitation. And states pay a pretty penny for housing their overflow inmates in private facilities.

We hope for Watonga's sake that Diamondback reopens. In the meantime, this is a lose-lose situation all the way around.


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