According to the parent of a woman in medium security (Santa Cruz) at ASPC-Perryville, a new policy has just been put into place locking the women down for 22hrs/day, essentially turning the yard into a high security setting. Apparently this is in response to the recent Kingman escapes, not to misconduct on the part of these women.
This news is particularly troublesome because of the heat, for starters, as there is no A/C in the cells they're being confined to, and the swamp coolers seldom work. Families are constantly concerned about the health of those prone to succumb to heat as it is, now even more so since they get such little relief. There's no enclosed, cooled rec room for them to use when they do get time out - they have to spend it outdoors. Their resources are substandard in comparison to what many of the men have. And apparently it's been hard to get through to anyone there on the phone.
Thus far media has been alerted - as have some legislators - but no one is reporting on the horrendous heat and living conditions the women are forced to tolerate. In addition to the added physical strain it places on them to be held like that, such an environment can contribute to an escalation in tensions between prisoners, violence, depression, and suicidality.
Families and prisoners alike are protesting. According to reports from Perryville, some of the women from yard 18 refused to go back inside when rec was over. If this was one of the men's prisons, they'd be rioting and the media would be all over it, asking why. As the mother of one prisoner asks - what does it take for anyone to care about what these women are going through? Another Marcia Powell to die?
I urge readers to contact legislators, (especially Reps Cecil Ash and Kyrsten Sinema), media (Stephen Lemons at the PHX New Times, Morgan Loew at KPHO, JJ Hensley at the AZ Republic), the governor's office, the warden's office at Perryville (623-853-0304) and Constituent Services at the Arizona Department of Corrections (Betty Cassiano 602-364-3945). Tell them that the conditions of confinement for these women are unacceptable and urge them to challenge the ADC to come up with some mechanism for improving their security without compromising the health and safety of these prisoners. They should not be punished for the Kingman fiasco.
You needn't be a family member of a prisoner to speak up - just a concerned member of the community.
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. firstname.lastname@example.org
until all are free -
MARGARET J PLEWS (June 1, 2015)
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