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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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Brewer: Please sack Chuck Ryan.

This letter to Governor Brewer, received in a roundabout way from the Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association, confirms some of my suspicions. Way to go Tixoc and the ACPOA.

I'm glad they have as many problems with the falsification of records and shabby treatment of prisoners as I do. Their website is an interesting resource, and I imagine they probably have members who would willingly provide eyewitness testimony to institutional patterns of abuse, neglect and deceit to anyone investigating the ADC. Corrections' employee websites and blogs are the bomb. The ACPOA has had a running commentary from the president about the dictatorship of Chuck Ryan for quite awhile, and now they're bordering on insurrection. In fact, it looks like they're already there.

One problem, however, is that the appeal to sack Chuck Ryan goes to the very person who wanted him there to bully everyone into submission in the first place - this isn't just how Chuck runs his department, it's how Brewer runs the state. She asked that man to come run the ADC for a reason, so I'm not entirely optimistic that this appeal will make much of a difference with her - especially given her overwhelming victory in the elections. But it's still a message worth sending.

Good luck in your battle, folks. Let me know if I can help.


November 10, 2010

Governor Janet Brewer,

We, the Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association, represent all members of the Arizona Department of Corrections to include: correctional officers, correctional officer IIIs, correctional sergeants, correctional lieutenants, correctional captains,correctional nurses, correctional majors, non-uniform staff and many others that proudly serve the citizens of the State of Arizona. We respectfully submit this letter as our official notice regarding a majority vote of no confidence in Agency Director Charles Ryan.

We, the AZCPOA, write this letter with great hesitation, and only after much discussion and contemplation. We hesitate because we consider ourselves a team of professional, dedicated and educated individuals, and it goes contrary to our traditions to break the chain of command. We also hesitate because we fully believe that if this letter does not have the desired result, there will most certainly be retaliation. We will most certainly pay a high price for doing what we know in our hearts to be the right thing for the State of Arizona, its citizens and its employees.

Over the past year and a half, we have been disheartened by the actions of Director Charles Ryan. He has tested our willpower and confidence in his skill to adequately lead this agency. Under his leadership, staff morale has plummeted to depths never before seen at this agency. This is a direct reflection of our lack of confidence in Director Ryan as he has not taken any steps to improve the spirits of the members of this association or members of this agency. If anything, attitudes have continued to deteriorate within the department forcing an exodus of many well respected individuals and members of our Association.

Employee issues in question regarding the leadership qualities of Director Ryan include: lack of communication in the day to day operations of the agency where information is not disseminated through his subordinates who are responsible for ensuring compliance with polices and procedures. To illustrate this point, there are many unanswered questions regarding staff rotation and why the methodology is inconsistent from complex to complex with apparent disregard to employee needs and fairness.

Furthermore, the agency has experienced a large amount of disparate punishment for similar offenses in the past and suspect there are employees that are being targeted for political reasons or just purely disciplined on emotion rather than facts or evidence at hand. It appears the merits of the investigations have no bearing on the sanction imposed thus poor judgment is used to handle these matters. It is our opinion Director Ryan fosters an atmosphere of workplace bullying and intimidation of employees to maintain a micro management type of control over the agency.

There exists, within ADOC administration, a well-known pattern of obstructing the disclosure of hazards in time to prevent accidents, injury, illness, and deaths. Tragically, in these instances, danger is not "imminent" - it is past, and too late to respond. Employees are routinely ordered to falsify documents and when they proactively seek to report identified hazards, they face punishment and retaliation. Obtaining an accurate account of the range and extent of violations will be difficult from records alone. It is unlikely that ADOC will disclose information without well-planned intervention by authorities. There is no evidence of any health and safety program existing, even on paper. There is no identifiable health and safety officer or other person bearing that responsibility and essential training is lacking to assure staff can perform certain assigned tasks safely and equipped with appropriate equipment e.g. cell extractions, transports, etc.

The entire department is devoid of any active programs for: Fire Prevention, Hazard Communication, Respiratory Protection, Medical Surveillance, Record keeping, Ventilation, Emergency Evacuation Procedures, Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Response, Training, or Education. Failure of ADOC administration to respond has resulted in secondary risks and complications - now endangering, not just the prison population and employees, but the public at large. Appropriate identification of risk requires your immediate intervention. Another day must not go by without initiating an investigation.

We as institutional line staff are expected to hold a very high standard within the institutions and community, we expect that our Director and his administrators to be held to the same standard of conduct and the same standard of punishment if those standards are violated.

In closing this matter, we would like to remind you that we are not troublemakers, malcontents, or disgruntled employees. We are members of the Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association who have given our hearts and souls to serve the agency and the State of Arizona. Our agenda is strictly based in the well being of the agency so that we may appropriately serve the communities that depend on us for public safety.

Based on these circumstances we tender this letter of No Confidence in Director Charles Ryan and ask that Director Ryan be removed from his position.


Tixoc Munoz
President and Executive Director
Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association

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