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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Sunday, August 8, 2010

ASPC-Kingman Escape: Medium security killers still loose.

(FYI: McCluskey and Welch arrested in AZ 8/19/10 post)

This is a fascinating article from Kingman. Here, by the way, is the ADC record of a
state-held, non-violent prisoner (who was given a ludricrous 52 years) and is currently assessed as a medium security risk. His threat level is such because he's a jailhouse lawyer, not because he's really "dangerous". Now compare him to Province and McCluskey. The ranking system seems designed to protect the prisons first, not the communities who host them.

So, if you're entertaining CCA, GEO, MTC, Corplan, or Cornell in your neighborhood thinking they'll bring good jobs and being told that your new prison is just going have non-violent offenders, forget it (check out these guys out if I missed you local prison profiteer). The pay is dirt, the security is poor, and rehab - at both state and private facilities - is really a thing of the past. We may put more into them than we do for education here, but Arizona prisons are just warehouses where they throw the vulnerable in with the deadly, evidently spending our resources covering their own asses, not protecting ours. They sure aren't spending it on their prisoners' well-being...

117 killers housed in Golden Valley

Erin Taylor

Kingman Daily Miner Staff Reporter

8/8/2010 6:01:00 AM

KINGMAN - Johnathan Doody was found guilty 17 years ago of killing nine people at a Phoenix-area Buddhist Temple. The victims were robbed, lined up and shot execution-style.

Doody was one of two men convicted in the 1991 killings, which remains one of the worst mass-murders in Arizona history. Since June 30, he has been housed at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Kingman in Golden Valley.

As of the end of June, there were 117 murderers serving out life sentences at the Kingman prison. Of those, 57 have been convicted of first-degree murder.

Statewide, some 1,400 inmates are serving time for murder in medium-security facilities. Of those, 796 are serving life sentences.

Much of the anger over last week's prison escape came from the fact that the three men who escaped were all violent offenders convicted of either murder or attempted murder. Residents said that when the prison was built in 2004, they were told that it would house only DUI and other low-level offenders. That belief was officially debunked after it was learned that the three inmates who escaped more than a week ago all share violent criminal histories.

John McCluskey was serving a 15-year sentence for attempted murder after shooting at someone through the window of a Mesa home in 2009. He reportedly told police that he would have killed the man, along with the arresting police officer, if his shotgun hadn't jammed.

Tracy Province was sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder and armed robbery after stabbing a man 51 times in 1991.

Daniel Renwick, the inmate captured in Colorado two days after the escape, was serving two consecutive 22-year sentences for shooting and killing his 19-year-old ex-girlfriend and her father in 2000.

The Kingman facility, which opened in 2004, is one of four privately-run prisons in the state. The Arizona Department of Corrections operates 10 others.

The Utah-based Management and Training Corporation operates the Kingman and Marana prisons.

The Kingman prison is classified as a minimum-to-medium security facility. Many individuals are unaware that someone serving out a sentence for murder can be classified as medium custody, a practice common not only in Arizona but also in neighboring states California and New Mexico, according to Barrett Marson, public information officer for the ADOC.

Marson said that it's possible for inmates to work their way down the levels of custody based on good behavior and how many years of a sentence have been served.

According to the ADOC, inmates sentenced to death are classified as "maximum" and can never reduce levels.

Inmates sentenced to life must serve at least two years in maximum custody, then three years in "close" custody before they are eligible for medium custody. Close custody is one level below maximum and just above medium custody and is reserved for those inmates who pose a high risk to prison staff.

Those serving life sentences can never be reduced to below the medium custody level.

Inmates with more than five years to serve or those with a felony sex conviction can also never be placed below medium custody.

Inmates who have been determined to be a security threat are classified as maximum custody.

Marson said there is a specific department at ADOC devoted to determining when and how an inmate is reclassified from level to level, but he didn't know if a representative from that department meets with the inmate in person, or if the process is all done through paperwork.

Only minimum-custody inmates are allowed to work outside of the prison on community work crews. Medium-security inmates are not allowed to leave the facility but can participate in other programs, such as the Friends From the Pen dog-training program, in which both McCluskey and Province worked.

It is believed that the escaped inmates took advantage of the unlocked doors between their dormitory and the outside dog run used for the dogs in the program. McCluskey's fiancée, 44-year-old Casslyn Welch, was waiting in a getaway vehicle and tossed the men a pair of wire cutters over the perimeter fence.

ADOC Director Charles Ryan has said he suspects that "lax security" on the part of prison personnel contributed to the escape.

Ryan met Wednesday with MTC officials.

"We have been assured that MTC is committed to addressing and correcting the security deficiencies that contributed to the escape," he said in a news release. "An Arizona Department of Corrections security team is at the private prison conducting a comprehensive operational evaluation."

Attempts made by the Miner to speak with Ryan have been unsuccessful.

The officials will meet again next week. MTC has deferred comment on the escape to ADOC.

Province and McCluskey are still believed to be with Welch. Marson said authorities believe the trio have left Arizona and are headed east.

As for Doody, he is appealing his 281-year sentence. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this year threw out his confession on grounds it was involuntary and forwarded the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it awaits ruling.

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