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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AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Prepare the prey for prison profiteers: New 5,000-prisoner RFP Released.

Via the good folks at What a bizarre headline.

Funny they don't mention the Christmas Eve escape attempt at ASPC-Tucson/Manzanita. Think that still hasn't hit the mainstream press? No one ever talks about it...

More on all this another time. Here's just the news, for now.


Prison break prompts call for more prison beds
AP - January 27, 2011

PHOENIX -- State officials have released a revised request for 5,000 additional private prison beds following a months-long review prompted by three inmates' escape from a privately operated state prison near Kingman last summer.

Corrections Director Charles Ryan canceled the original request for proposals last September, saying it needed stronger requirements on security and operations to avoid repeats of the July 30 escape.

The three violent offenders who broke out have been apprehended. Two face charges of murdering an Oklahoma couple in New Mexico while on the loose.

Ryan has said the Kingman prison was riddled with security flaws that the department's oversight failed to detect.

The department released the new 186-page request for proposals for providing beds for minimum- and medium-security male inmates on Monday. A 14-page amendment was released Wednesday.

The new request includes detailed provisions on security, including ones requiring both random and scheduled perimeter checks of prisons. The original, now-canceled version didn't have those specifics.

The Kingman escapees were able to avoid the prison's scheduled perimeter patrol by timing its movements, enabling them to cut through fencing. They had made getaway arrangements with an alleged accomplice by using a telephone tossed into the prison yard, authorities said.

Also, the department said the revision include new requirements for reporting of problems, expanded evaluation criteria for proposals additional sanctions for violations, including those that pose a risk to public safety.

Under the state's request, proposals can be for the entire 5,000 beds or submitted in increments of 500. It said the state wants 2,000 beds available by April 2013 and an additional 3,000 by April 2015.

The request said the state could provide state-owned land at existing prison complexes in Florence, Buckeye, Litchfield Park and Yuma available for use.

The deadline to submit proposals is Feb. 24.

The Kingman escape became an issue in last year's gubernatorial race, with Democratic nominee Terry Goddard running a television spot attacking incumbent Gov. Jan Brewer in connection with the Kingman prison break.

Two of the three escapees and an alleged accomplice are charged with murdering Gary and Linda Haas of Tecumseh, Okla., in eastern New Mexico's Guadalupe County, and the Goddard ad questioned whether Arizonans should feel safe with Brewer as governor.

Brewer, a Republican, was elected to a full term on Nov. 2.

The 5,000-bed expansion program was authorized under a 2009 law.

Arizona's prison system houses approximately 40,000 inmates, including nearly 5,300 in private facilities. Those include 2,200 at the Kingman prison. The state's public prisons house approximately 34,700 inmates, above the design capacity of just over 31,000.

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