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 15, 2010

Vote your hopes, not your fears.

Actually, this is a little overblown. Though there may be some repeat offenders (which anyone who has bounced more than one check in their lives also is), most of those returning prisoners are in for non-violent crimes. That's one of the problems, in fact - that we have so many of them (and people convicted of smuggling themselves) locked up in the first place we can't keep track of all the killers we cram them in with.

Just watch - next legislative session, Ryan will be telling everyone how much we need a new supermax facility, and we'll drop all sorts of money into that because of this escape, but when the teachers come say they can't live on their pay, we'll take their health insurance and kids' schoolbooks away.

That's fascism in action, folks. We build only that which we we dare to envision. Force our public servants to come up with real solutions to the crisis of mass incarceration - not just another high tech prison full of isolation units. Most "reforms " of late have only served the criminal justice system, not the cause of justice. Let's do this right, and maybe the next generation won't have so many McCluskeys to fear.

--------------------------from KGUN9 (Tucson)--------------------

Out-of-state prisoners could be placed at Kingman facility
Reporter: Steve Nuñez

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Nine On Your Side has learned the state has made room for 4,000 more prisoners. That's because Arizona is ending its out-of-state contracts with medium security prisons that hold more than 4,500 violent criminals.

Some of those out-of-state prisoners who are being transferred back to Arizona could be placed at the same medium security prison in Kingman, Arizona, where two murderers and a felon escaped from two weeks ago. 9OYS wants to know what is going on?

Governor Brewer, who has normally made herself available to the media, did not return our phone calls today.

But here's what we dug up on the state's prison situation. The state says its added 4,000 beds to its existing state-run prisons to increase its capacity.

We did the math. Two of those contracts, one in Colorado and one in Oklahoma, held a combined 2,826 prisoners. That means state-run prisons still have room to hold close to 1,200 more prisoners.

Nine On Your Side has also learned there's one more prison contract in Oklahoma that ends in September. That'll bring back an additional 1,724 prisoners, 58 of them who are murderers.

Again, do the math and that totals 4,550 new prisoners or 550 more violent criminals than the state can handle.

Earlier this week, Nine On Your Side also revealed the private-run medium security prison in Kingman has also added more beds to increase its capacity to 3500 prisoners.

9OYS reporter Steve Nunez asked the Department of Corrections if prisoners will be placed at the medium security prison in Kingman. DOC spokesperson Barrett Marson told us, "Kingman is a possibility."

Even the DOC wouldn't fully commit to giving us all of the answers to its recent investigation on The prison break.

However, it pointed to a newly released preliminary investigation that'll now force its contracted medium security prisons to do the following:

  • Increase perimeter patrols at all medium and minimum units
  • Security staff have been directed to be relieved at the security posts by the oncoming shift

The document also confirms that all contracted prisons including the one in Kingman have verbally committed to improving security practices and strictly complying with DOC policies.

While that may also point to the outcome of its internal investigation, Democrat lawmakers, like Kyrsten Sinema, tells 9OYS they'll keep up the pressure until Governor Brewer answers to people of Arizona.

"We feel that this issue is not very political. It's quite simple. Our state-run prisons have a great history of maintaining security, they're staff members have more training, they have more years on the job and they spend the money that's needed to keep our community secure. Private prisons, on the other hand, have a goal of making money," said Sinema.

Still, lawmakers from both parties want to know how John McClusky, Daniel Renwick and Tracy Province were able to get out of the prison near Kingman.

Democrats sent a letter to legislative leaders demanding hearings. Republican Russell Pearce says the public deserves answers but cautioned against rushing to judgment.

The DOC tells 9OYS the out-of-state prisons will foot the bill for transporting all remaining prisoners back to Arizona

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