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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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Globe still courting Corplan?

I can't believe anyone is still taking Corplan seriously. The entire town needs to descend on these decision-makers and set them straight: don't listen to McCreary and get suckered by these guys.

They scammed another town already - what's the puzzle here? Does Globe routinely do business with criminals (ironic that the business is a prison) as long as the state guarantees the town won't take a loss if they do it again? I guess that leaves the rest of us to absorb the hit for Globe's mistakes, if they enter a contract recklessly. "We" are the state.

What kind of ethics is that? What kind of legacy can they possibly be thinking of leaving their kids, doing business like that? What's the agenda behind this push to sell Corplan to Globe?

Stick to your guns, you council members who are questioning this. Challenge that hard sell. Believe that you have the creative potential and human resources to build a healthy economy that isn't based on profits from the perpetuation of crime and punishment...


Prison talks continue

Posted: Wednesday, Jun 16th, 2010

BY: Andrea Marcanti/Editor

GLOBE — At the request of Mayor Fernando Shipley the last item on the agenda was moved to the top of the list at Monday night’s Globe City Council meeting. Consideration of the private prison proposal was revisited to openly discuss the project’s merits. Globe’s council approved a resolution in support of the project back in April, but the onset of new information has left a lot of unanswered questions.

Representatives from Emerald Correctional Management, Corplan and Cuny Corporation first approached Globe’s Council on April 13 regarding an RFP (request for proposals) from the State of Arizona for the construction of private correction facilities that would house up to 5,000 beds. The construction of these prisons would allow the state to transport inmates back to Arizona that are currently doing time out of state.

Plans to construct a maximum security facility to house medium security inmates near the existing prison was all mapped out in a bid that was submitted to the Arizona Department of Corrections on May 28 along with bids from four other companies.

Councilman Terrance Wheeler began the discussion by saying that he received information that the city could end up stuck with defaulted municipal bonds if the project moves forward. After briefly touching on the companies previous history in Hardin, Montana, a small city that was banking on their 450 bed prison bringing in $100,000 in annual per-prisoner revenue. However in Hardin plans didn’t work the way they were proposed and the city ended up with an empty complex and $27 million in defaulted bonds. Both Wheeler and Councilman Dezi Baker felt that the companies behind the project had “major problems” in their mode of operation.

In Globe’s case the state of Arizona has agreed on a 20 year renewable agreement with the successful bidder. “That’s set up so that the state has to come in every two years,” said Wheeler. “They can fund them partially; they can fund them anyway they want to.”

If Emerald Correctional Management does receive the bid for this complex, the RFP dictates that the state must renew this contract every two years.

Several members of the Southern Economic Development Corporation (EDC) were in attendance prepared to speak on behalf of the proposal and the companies behind it. Jerry McCreary, president of the EDC board addressed the council highlighting the positives that a project like this could mean. He reiterated that the project will not cost the city or Gila County anything, the 350 new jobs it will create, and that the developer has made a verbal agreement with the council to provide a new sewer line that will open the Northeast Corridor for future development. McCreary passed out a list of pros that also noted the $40 to $60 million economic impact this project would have on the area. “The only way we could lose money is if the city was to take out money from the general fund and invest it in this project,” said McCreary. “We can’t help what’s happened in the speculative world out there – Hardin didn’t have a state contract to back them.”

Still questions about Corplan’s past seemed to surface. Caroline Isaacs from American Friends Service Committee out of Tucson, made the drive up to Globe to help shed some light on the companies previous acquisitions. Isaacs, who specializes in the privitization of prisons, warned Globe’s council that they were not the only community Emerald and Corplan had their eye on. A similar presentation was also made in Benson, minus the bid from the Department of Corrections. The town of Benson refused the offer saying that there was just not enough information and the companies involved were to “pushy”. Isaacs also touched on the other companies in competition with Emerald for this bid. “It’s a very competitive bid and it’s safe to say that Emerald will not get it.”

The companies who submitted proposals are Management and Training Corporation, GEO Group Corrections, Corrections Corporation of America and Emerald Correctional Management Company. Isaacs talked about the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) a company that has invested in Arizona both by lobbying in the state legislature and by fronting $10,000 toward campaigning for Proposition 100. “Who do you think is going to get this contract? My monies on CCA,” said Isaacs. “When the contract doesn’t happen, Emerald will ask to fill this prison with illegal immigrants.”

Isaacs warned that at any point Emerald can bail or the state of Arizona can bail.

In the end the bid has yet to be awarded and no contracts have been signed, but the EDC remains hopeful that the promises of jobs and a free infrastructure will even out the negatives and all contracts can be finalized under the cities supervision.

“If we are fortunate enough to get on the short list that’s when the negotiations will begin,” said McCreary.