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, June 18, 2010

Coolidge, MTC: Another legacy heirloom for the kids...

...a private prison industry-dependent economy.

The Israeli high court found last year that prison privatization inherently set up conditions for the violation of human rights by pitting human need against the profit margin with involuntarily institutionalized people. Thus, private prisons are banned from Israel now.

What is taking us so long to get this right?

Americans incarcerate more of our citizens than anyone else; Arizona is particularly bad. That's deeply disturbing, when you think about it. Are that many of us really all that dangerous, or is some lobby benefiting from others' misery here?

I just don't understand it: no informed representative of the people should contribute to more crime and punishment - that just means more victimization, not less. They should be looking to build something of beauty that heals the community, not something that helps rip us apart.


Coolidge OKs prison, awaits contract decision

By Sean Higgins

Staff Writer

Casa Grande Dispatch

Published: Friday, June 18, 2010 11:01 AM MST

COOLIDGE — After approval of a special use permit, city officials are waiting hopefully to see if a minimum- and medium-security private prison will be located in town, bringing jobs and revenue.

The permit was approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission May 26 and the City Council on Monday.

“I think it’s been without question that the council has fully supported this from the moment we heard about the project, and the fact that we could be a player in the game,” Mayor Tom Shope said. “I’d like to thank all those involved that have helped get us to this point.”

The bid, along with others, is in the hands of state officials, submitted by Utah-based Management & Training Corporation and Hale-Mills Construction.

The state has no time line to adhere to before awarding the contract for the facility to house state inmates. According to Growth Management Director Alton Bruce, the decision likely won’t be made before the first of August.

There are currently no provisions within the city’s zoning ordinance to allow a prison, and to get around that hurdle, city and zoning officials have opted for a special use permit for the prison.

“They’re [special use permits] for projects you don’t necessarily want to allow by right,” Bruce said. “You want to have the ability to have input on a specific proposal that comes to you.”

The rules involved will allow for adequate protection of the surrounding area, according to city officials.

“The special use permit itself is a new provision in the zoning ordinance that allows us to permit, through a legislative action, correctional facilities in agricultural/industrial zones,” Bruce said. “It’s not a rezoning.”

During the council meeting, Chamber of Commerce board members declared the chamber’s official backing, which also included overwhelming support from chamber members, according to Co-Director Lynn Parsons.

“The traffic that a project of this type will produce during the course of construction and permanent employment, once completed, would be an economic shot in the arm for our existing local businesses and could also be a catalyst to stimulate new business growth in our community,” said Tom Bagnall, a member of the chamber board, during the council’s call to the public.

The overall project would be an economic blessing for Coolidge in a stagnant economy, while prison officials have made it clear that they buy locally as much as possible. Up to 800 jobs would be involved.

If construction moves forward, the project will contribute road improvements on Randolph Road and Arizona 87 in addition to the production of a wastewater treatment facility, which would allow for further infrastructure in the area.

If the Arizona Department of Corrections accepts the submitted proposal, a major site plan review process will occur in collaboration with the planning commission, according to city officials.