I actually wrote this weekend to invite Oprah to help us pass Marcia's law (a bill of rights for AZ prisoners), feeling that drawing her into the scene at Perryville would open up the avenue to all other prisoner rights' issues, there and elsewhere.
You should write as well, (that link goes to "who do you want to see interviewed?") especially if you have loved ones enduring conditions at Perryville, so they know it's more than just me concerned. Mention Marcia's death, in case they miss my email. Try to get others to do the same. If enough of us (women and men alike) write about these issues from across the country (world), I bet her producers look into covering an angle. We need mainstream attention to elevate prisoners rights to the level of public discussion here before the legislature convenes in Jan. If Oprah comes, the rest of the media will follow.
Please take a minute and hit her site - we have nothing to lose if we're ignored, and prisoners everywhere have a lot to gain if our collective voice is heard.
Here's what I said in the first category I made an entry in (who to interview - meaning as many women at Perryville as possible):
"Marcia Powell was nobody - just a mentally ill, drug-addicted prostitute and prisoner of the state of Arizona when she was locked in an outdoor cage in 108 degree heat last May after stating she was suicidal. For nearly four hours guards ignored and mocked her as she begged for water, pleaded to get out of the sun, and defecated on herself. She died with second degree burns on her body, and no family willing to claim her remains. No one responsible is being prosecuted; some have their jobs back. Please remember her and the women still suffering in AZ's Perryville state prison. Help us pass Marcia's Law so that this never happens again. http://freemarciapowell.blogspot.com. I could have been Marcia Powell."
Here's the link for the most incredible cancer survivor story. I submitted Sue Ellen Allen's story in that category... here's what I said there:
Sue Ellen Allen is an extraordinary woman who survived cancer in jail and prison in AZ. Her essay on the experience (http://www.pen.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/3610/prmID/1622) won a PEN American Center prison writing contest in 2009:
"Someone told me there are 365 references in the Bible to fear. Basically, all of them say, “Fear not, for I, the Lord thy God, am with you.” So, with my faith that I treasure, why am I afraid, always afraid?
It started in (Sheriff Joe Arpaio's) Estrella Jail where the incessant noise, violence, hostility, and indifference overwhelmed me. It is a hellish place for a healthy person. Everyone is in black and white stripes and the conditions breed anxiety and stress....
All of these women are going to court. Not me. I am going to Maricopa Medical Center for a mastectomy...
That’s the real fear . . . my helplessness in the face of a medical department that is incompetent and apathetic. My life is literally in their hands and I’ve come to feel they don’t give a damn. I am not a patient with cancer. I am an inmate with cancer and that is full of hidden meaning..."
Sue Ellen's 25 y.o. cellmate, Gina, died in Perryville prison for lack of diagnosis and treatment - all too common a story there. She formed GINA's Team (http://sueellenallen.wordpress.com/2010/07/12/on-my-birthday/) when she got out, to help other imprisoned women. Sue Ellen is a truly amazing survivor giving back to those the world would just as soon forget are dying inside.
Please pass this email on to anyone inside that you can. Women writing from prison should send their suggestions directly to:
Jon Sinclair/Vice President
Kathleen Penny/Associate Director
110 N. Carpenter St.
Chicago, IL 60607
Finally, please let me know if you or someone you know left her producers a plug for Perryville or Marcia's law, so I can blog updates on our efforts. It should only take 5 minutes. Use my name and number (Peggy Plews 480-580-6807) as a contact or back up number if you want.
"Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness, and our ability to tell our own stories..."
- Arundhati Roy