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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Friday, September 3, 2010

Haas' family files claim for killings by Kingman escapees.

For those of you who still think private prisons were a great way to save the state money, think again. Neither MTC nor Arizona can possibly fork over enough money to compensate this family for the brutal murders of their loved ones, but I'm glad they're taking it to court.


Arizona prison escape, killings prompt lawsuit

by JJ Hensley - Sept. 3, 2010 10:20 AM

The Arizona Republic

The first legal action in the Arizona prison breakout that led to the killing of two campers has been filed against the state and the operator of the private prison.

Vivian Haas, the mother of murder victim Gary Haas, filed a $10 million claim against Arizona and a wrongful death lawsuit against Management Training Corp., the company that operates the private prison near Kingman where three fugitives escaped on July 30.

The notice of claim is a required precursor to a lawsuit.

Police believe one of those escaped inmates, John McCluskey, murdered Gary Haas and his wife, Linda, near Santa Rosa, N.M. in the days following the escape as the fugitives grew weary of traveling in a car and targeted the Haas' for their camping trailer.

The escape led to a nationwide manhunt that stretched from Arizona to the Canada border.

The claim against Arizona notes the state's failure to maintain custody of the inmates, to properly train and supervise personnel at the prison and to promptly notify law enforcement officials in the area after the escape.

"I have conveyed my condolences to the Haas family and friends, however, I cannot comment on pending litigation," Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan said in a statement.

Management Training Corp. could not be immediately reached for comment.

Reviews of the July 30 incident have painted the picture of a prison where detention officers became lackadaisical and predictable in their movements and where equipment failures- including false alarms- were so common that they were frequently ignored.

Detention officers failed to check an alarm that sounded when McCluskey, Tracy Province and Daniel Renwick cut through one of two security fences ringing the privately run prison near Kingman.

Investigators have said McCluskey's fiancée, Casslyn Welch, threw cutting tools over the fence to the men who snipped through chain link and barbed wire to flee into the desert.

It was more than two hours before staff at the private prison notified the state corrections officials of the escape.

By then, Renwick was making his way north to Colorado while McCluskey, Province and Welch were on their way to hijacking a truck near Kingman and forced the drivers to take them to Flagstaff.

Renwick was captured two days after the escape after he exchanged gunfire with police in Colorado.

After allegedly receiving help from relatives in Arizona, McCluskey, Province and Welch made their way east, ultimately ending up at a rest stop in New Mexico where, according to statements Province gave investigators, they saw 61-year-old Gary and Linda Haas, an Oklahoma couple taking an annual camping trip.

After days on the road in a cramped sedan, the fugitives decided to target travelers with a camping trailer and the Haas' fit the bill.

Province told investigators that he and McCluskey forced the couple into their truck at gunpoint while Welch followed behind. They all ended up in a remote area near Santa Rosa where McCluskey shot the Haas' in their trailer, according to court documents.

The fugitives set fire to the trailer in an effort to hide the evidence. A rancher discovered the burned trailer on Aug. 4.

The trio continued to evade authorities for days after the bodies were discovered.

Province was arrested in Wyoming on Aug. 9 and was carrying a backpack and 9mm gun, both of which he said were taken from the Haas'.

McCluskey and Welch were arrested in Apache County on Aug. 19.

Federal authorities last week filed murder charges against McCluskey, Welch and Province in New Mexico.

The three remain in a Mohave County jail on $1 million bond waiting to face charges there and ultimately extradition to New Mexico.

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