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:

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Kingman Prison Escape: MTC 's sluggish response

(FYI: McCluskey and Welch arrested in AZ 8/19/10 post. All escapees back in custody.)

This is all very disturbing...this is why there should be a law preventing the farming out of prisoners to private industry - they have their own profits, not public safety, as the utmost priority. With the money we pour into our prisons in this state, there's absolutely no excuse for this to have happened.

Think about that, all you small towns courting new prisons as the best hope you can offer for your children's futures. This stuff really does happen, and now it can happen in your own back yard...Kingman might want to reconsider adding more cells as well.


Arizona cons' escape raises many questions

by Nathan Gonzalez and Eddi Trevizo - Aug. 3, 2010 12:00 AM

The Arizona Republic

When the man who plunged a knife 51 times into their loved one received a sentence of life in prison in May 1993, Bryan Knoblich and his mother hoped they would never hear Tracy Province's name again.

In 1991, Province and David Rodacker were on leave from jail when they attacked Norman Knoblich, 57, as he closed his coin-operated laundry business in Tucson. The pair left Norman dead and took only his wallet.

Nineteen years later, Bryan Knoblich and his mother are again on the lookout for his father's killer.

Province, 42, John McCluskey, 45, and Daniel Renwick, 36, escaped from a privately run medium-security state prison in Kingman on Friday night.

"My first thought was, 'Are you kidding?' " Bryan said, recalling when he heard Province's name on the weekend news. "He's a twisted guy. Why weren't they in a maximum-security facility?"

It's a question Mohave County supervisors and other officials are asking as authorities continue their search for Province and McCluskey. Renwick was recaptured Sunday in Colorado.

"It's one thing when it's vehicular homicide and you're drunk," County Supervisor Buster Johnson said Monday of such prisoners. "But these people shouldn't be allowed anywhere else but in (maximum security)."

While the manhunt continues, officials with the county, the Arizona Department of Corrections, and Management and Training Corp., the Utah-based company that operates the facility, are studying how the men penetrated several layers of security.

Unarmed prison officials sounded the alarm about 9 p.m. after Province, McCluskey and Renwick missed their head count, Johnson said. An hour passed before the Mohave County Sheriff's Office was notified that the men somehow had made their way through locked doors and avoided surveillance cameras, ground and fence sensors, guard towers and roving ground patrols before cutting a hole in fencing near a dormitory.

Officials are now investigating whether the escapees had inside help.

"That's the question," Johnson said. "With this whole situation, this does bring up some concerns."

Authorities believe the men were assisted by McCluskey's fiancee, Casslyn Welch of Mesa. They are believed to have hijacked two semitrucks and driven to Flagstaff before purchasing a car in Goodyear.

Renwick was captured in Rifle, Colo., following a shootout with local authorities. No one was hurt and Renwick was booked into the Garfield County Jail.

Although state officials have said all three men were serving time for murder, court records show McCluskey was serving 15 years for attempted murder after he fired a shotgun into a Mesa home in March 2009. He told police he would have killed his target had his weapon not jammed, records say.

"He (McCluskey) also indicated that he would have shot the officer who detained him," court documents state.

The Kingman facility holds 3,508 inmates, according to Carl Stuart, a Management and Training Corp. spokesman.

Of those inmates, 117 are serving life sentences, with 57 being housed on first-degree murder and 60 on second-degree murder convictions, according to state corrections officials. The facility is classified as a medium-security prison, meaning it houses "inmates who represent a moderate risk to the public and staff," state Corrections Department Director Charles Ryan said in a release.

Prison officials are seeking bids to add an additional 5,000 beds at the prison, which means the facility could house inmates from other states, Johnson said.

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