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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AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Dear Governor Brewer: Please deport prisoner Tripati.

The email below came to me this week from the family of Mr. Tripati, a prisoner I've been corresponding with for the past number of months. I've tried direct advocacy on some of these issues with the ADC to no avail. It troubles me greatly to receive this, and I don't know what else to do but write to the rest of you about it, hoping someone else has some ideas of how to help.

I'd be worried by this news anyway, but Anant hasn't answered the last few notes I sent him. I thought they threw him back in the hole for threatening to publish what he has on them (that was the last thing he wrote to me about) - or that maybe they were intercepting our mail or keeping him from writing to me anymore because I was giving them a hard time
(his family is buried in debt and he's penniless in prison, but the ADC insisted to the courts that he has money, so he lost his indigent status - all I asked corporate counsel for was to investigate Mrs. Tripati's claim that her husband is indeed indigent, and that she is now disabled and can't work. I was blown off.).

Really, not only have I kept this stuff out of my blogs since January, but I was also very civil to both Director Ryan and his attorney, considering that his family has reason to believe that the ADC is deliberately trying to kill him. They have no reason to think they aren't, anyway, given all they've put the guy through. I thought that particular accusation was extreme, myself (and not productive) - why kill him when they can just bury him in that place? I'm not so sure about that anymore, though - nor do I think torture is much less criminal than murder, especially when dragged out in confinement year after year.

I think Anant may have earned a bit of ire from some of those people by being such a vexatious litigant, but the ADC has done some pretty horrid things to him (and a lot of other folks - very little of what I've heard him allege is unique). The only way to make prisons stop hurting people sometimes is to sue them yourself because no one else will - Anant has done so on numerous occasions. I've heard from other sources that the ADC routinely steals and destroys prisoner's evidence against them
(including responses to grievances) so they can't successfully challenge them in court. And health care is atrocious; everyone who's had to use it that I've spoken to agrees. So, I have a hard time having sympathy for the dear old ADC.

According to Anant, ADC employees also destroyed evidence he needed to prove that he's innocent of the crimes he was originally sent to prison for 17 years or so ago. He got 52 years (4 consecutive sentences out of one trial) for some bail bond scheme or something that he took to trial and lost - that's more than most rapists and murders get, and he was convicted of non-violent crimes. That just seems wrong; it's clearly vindictive. It might as well have been life without parole - he'll die in that place if he can't get exonerated or pardoned or even thrown out of the country (Anant's a UK citizen who was so harshly sentenced at such extraordinary expense to the citizens of this great state for accusing the prosecution and judge of racism and corruption).
Anant Tripati

Even if Anant was guilty, 17 years is long enough - why can't we just deport him before his sentence is up?
Why keep shelling out $25,000/year on him after all this time (oh, a lot more than that, once you add up the medical and legal stuff)? Send him back to Fiji - make the UK support him in his infirmity and old age. Just seven months ago the governor and legislature couldn't wait to get rid of illegal aliens crowding the prisons - so they ordered the ADC to turn hundreds of them over to ICE before their sentences were up, as long as they were in on non-violent crimes - there was special legislation for that purpose. No other prisoners were released early - not even the sick and dying citizens we have locked away (it was to save money and get rid of Mexican nationals, not to demonstrate mercy or compassion. God forbid we show any of that in Arizona).

Gene Greeley's claim
that Anant's prison medical record has been lost is literally unbelievable, especially coming from him (he's the health services administrator at ASPC-Tucson, I believe). Every time I hear that man's name it's in the context of a prisoner being neglected, abused, or lied to (feel free to contact me if you have something good to say about his treatment of prisoners or families, though, and I'll mention it). I think Greeley knows exactly where those records are - his memo to Anant confirming that they were lost lost sarcastically asks him to let him know if he has any idea where they could be (Anant sent the note to me, and I've seen Greeley's signature before). What was the point of making that remark if not to mock him? Prisoners aren't even allowed to see their own medical records, much less handle them. If Anant can't walk out of there with all the effort he's put into being exonerated, how is his medical record supposed to just walk out of there, if not without the assistance of Mr. Greeley and his loyal henchmen?

Mrs. Tripati and her daughter have appealed to the Governor's office more than once in the past year about Anant's medical care, his dietary needs, and the ADC's retaliatory treatment of him. Ryan is Brewer's top cop, though, hand-picked for the job, groomed by years of working for Stewart (here) and the Bush administration (supervising Iraqi prisons): I don't think she's about to can him over a criminal alien's medical needs. We can't even get health care out of her for all the children in this state, much less the sickest prisoners. I doubt Brewer even reads these letters - I suspect her office sends everything from Anant's family straight over to Ryan's office with a note saying "deal with it," so they stop bugging her.

You folks keep right on bugging her. Hold her responsible. I will too - as will my comrade Brian at Operation-Nation, I'm sure (check out his blog - he has a great piece this week on the MCSO being taken over by the feds because of the Arpaio investigation). The governor won't want to help, but she won't get away anymore with quietly ignoring them until Anant dies (or she gets voted out of office). She certainly can't claim ignorance now that another letter is public: and I have a bigger audience than I did six months ago (including the DOJ). If her staff doesn't tell her what's going on, this is going to turn around and bite her before election day -and she won't even see it coming.

So, heads up, Governor Brewer: here we are. You might want to read what Mr. Tripati's daughter has to say; his wife is probably too ill from the stress and trauma of his deterioration and prolonged incarceration (as well as all of his ancillary expenses) to keep knocking on your door herself. At the very least, you should tell the ADC that man's family reports that they are impoverished and to re-evaluate their assertion that he isn't indigent: Ryan must know that his department's claim on that account is BS. That's just downright dirty pool. They're trying to keep him out of court, but I don't know if he can even buy stamps, much less pay for special dietary and medical supplies and MD co-pays if he's not afforded indigent status.

Mr. Tripati is not just Charles Ryan's prisoner, Governor Brewer: he's yours. His family is your prisoner too, so long as they aren't free to get help for him; they can't even pay an attorney anymore to fight for his medical treatment - which appears to be part of the ADC's agenda. Please take responsibility for assuring his safety and welfare as long as he is in your care and respond to his family's desperate appeal to you for help. You could do anything from order that he be evaluated by proper specialists, to setting in motion a pardon and deportation. We will all be awaiting your reply.


From: Aradhna Tripati
Date: Mon, Jul 5, 2010 at 5:28 AM
Subject: Matter Requiring Immediate Attention
To: Jan Brewer

Dear Governor Brewer,

On July 3, 2010 at approximately 6:15 am, my father Anant Kumar Tripati (ADOC 102081) collapsed. Specifically, he could not speak and had slurred speech. He could not stretch his arms and open his fist as his fingers were twisted. His color changed and he was sweating. Timely actions by nurses, including providing him with oxygen, reduced damage. These symptoms, according to medical experts we consulted by telephone in Cambridge, could indicate mild stroke. However, this could not be confirmed because of the absence of further examinations by appropriate specialists including a neurological specialist.

On July 1, 2010, my father was informed he may have kidney problems which according to experts may be due to not having regular meals and meals of poor quality. He has been in an ongoing dispute with prison staff who have repeatedly lost his medical records, prevented him from receiving appropriate medical treatment, and refused to maintain a medically prescribed diet.

It is clear that my father is in poor health and these health problems are being severely exacerbated by a failure by ADOC prison staff to provide consistent medical care. Indeed he appears to have been targeted by vindictive actions to deliberately withold a his medically ordered special diet due to a dispute with Officer Gene Greeley.

Due to his ill health, it is clear that he is in danger of loosing his life if not provided with an adequate medical treatment and diet. His family do intend to hold ADOC liable for these failures in the event of any avoidable fatality, and have extensive documentary evidence detailing the withdrawal of his medically prescribed special diet and the refusal of the prison to restore it over the past year.

I ask you to simply investigate fully the actions of prison staff and to ensure that this inmate receives appropriate care. It hardly seems constructive for the AZDOC to refuse to take this seriously, as they have done in response to past complaints, both from the point of view of providing basic medical care to inmates but also for unnecessarily exposing itself to criminal liability. Given his poor state of health, I also request that you consider releasing him to his family on compassionate grounds so that we can take care of him.


Aradhna Tripati