Fight the Treatment Industrial Complex

Fight the Treatment Industrial Complex by supporting the AFSC- Arizona campaign

Fight the Treatment Industrial Complex by supporting the AFSC- Arizona campaign
AFSC-Arizona staff are amazing advocates for prisoners - and as such, are true blessings to our communities. Spend time on their site - lots of resources.

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. collective@phoenixabc.org

until all are free -

MARGARET J PLEWS (June 1, 2015)
arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com



AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:


Thursday, June 30, 2011

HUFFPOST's Salute to Martori Farms.



This popped up in the Huffington Post blogs...just a little background to the WalMart / Martori Farms relationship with prison labor.



Resistance Alley, Phoenix

June 3, 2011



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"I Ain't Gonna Work On Martori's Farm No More"

Al Norman founder of Sprawl-Busters
HUFFPOST Business
Posted: 06/29/11 02:18 PM ET

For the past 20 years, Wal-Mart has fed its stores with agricultural produce from a company called Martori Farms. According to Hoover's profile of the company, Martori is "a fruit and vegetable grower, packer, shipper, and wholesaler and is the largest commercial agricultural company in Arizona.

The agra business was "hand-picked" by Wal-Mart, and in 2007, the giant retailer showcased Martori Farms as part of its "Salute To America's Farmers" program. The Martori farm operations took seed in the 1930s Arizona soil, later specializing in melons and broccoli. The company today has 3 major locations in Arizona, and one site in California. One of its holdings contains more than 15,000 arcres of farmland.

Wal-Mart has described its relationship with Martori Farms as an example of "fruitful collaboration." The retailer's first 35 superstores were stocked with organic cantaloupes from Martori Farms. "Our relationship with Martori Farms is an excellent example of the kind of collaboration we strive for with our suppliers," a Wal-Mart spokesman said four years ago. "Wal-Mart buys more United States agricultural products than any other retailer in the world and we're proud to salute American farmers like Martori Farms."

But new allegations about the use of prison labor at the Scottsdale, Arizona-based Martori Farms could blight the fruitful relationship between the retailer and the farmer.

For almost 20 years, Wal-Mart has had a clear policy forbidding the use of prison labor by its vendors. "Since 1992 Wal-Mart has required its supplier-partners to comply with a stringent code of conduct," Wal-Mart said in a 1997 press statement. "This code requires factories producing merchandise for Wal-Mart to be automatically denied manufacturing certification if inspections reveal...evidence of forced or prison labor."

The Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) has supplied prisoner labor for private agricultural businesses for almost 20 years. For at least the last four years, the state of Arizona has fined employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers. Farmers responded by calling up the ADC for workers. "We are contacted almost daily by different companies needing labor," the manager of the business development unit of Arizona Correctional Industries (ACI) told the Christian Science Monitor in 2007. "Maybe it was labor that was undocumented before, and they don't want to take the risk anymore because of possible consequences, so they are looking to inmate labor as a possible alternative.

One of those businesses that turned to prison labor was Wal-Mart's vendor, Martori Farms. According to a disturbing story published June 24th by Truth-Out.org, Martori Farms "pays its imprisoned laborers two dollars per hour, not including the travel time to and from the farm." Women from the Arizona state prison complex at Perryville Unit are assigned to work at Martori Farms." Arizona law requires that all able bodied inmates work.

One of the women prisoners at Martori Farms told Truth-Out: "We work eight hours regardless of conditions .... We work in the fields hoeing weeds and thinning plants ... Currently we are forced to work in the blazing sun for eight hours. We run out of water several times a day. We ran out of sunscreen several times a week. They don't check medical backgrounds or ages before they pull women for these jobs. Many of us cannot do it! If we stop working and sit on the bus or even just take an unauthorized break we get a MAJOR ticket which takes away our 'good time'!!! We are told we get 'two' 15 minute breaks and a half hour lunch like a normal job but it's more like 10 minutes and 20 minutes. They constantly yell at us we are too slow and to speed up because we are costing $150 an acre in labor and that's not acceptable... In addition, the prison has sent women to work on the farms regardless of their medical conditions."

Wal-Mart's focus on labor conditions has basically been in Third World producer nations, not on domestic shores. In 1997, Wal-Mart wrote: "The issue of global sourcing and factory conditions is very important to Wal-Mart and to our suppliers. Since 1992, we have spent enormous amounts of time and money to assure compliance with our standards and there has been much improvement."

Yet here in America, prisoners are working under intolerable conditions picking produce for Wal-Mart superstores. In its Standards for Suppliers, Wal-Mart acknowledges that "the conduct of Wal-Mart's suppliers can be attributed to Wal-Mart and its reputation." If for no other reason than to protect its reputation, Wal-Mart should take immediate action against Martori Farms. Such actions should include:

1. an unannounced inspection of working conditions at Martori Farms by an independent auditor

2. enforcement of the Wal-Mart's own Conditions for Employment, including fair compensation of wages and benefits which are in compliance with the local and national laws, reasonable employee work hours in compliance with local standards, with employees not working in excess of the statutory requirements without proper compensation as required by applicable law.

As long as Wal-Mart allows Martori Farms to exploit its prison workers, Wal-Mart is complicit in the scheme. This arrangement violates the company's ethical sourcing standards. Such working conditions are not right in Sri Lanka, not right in Bangladesh, and they are not right in Scottsdale Arizona either.

The next time you squeeze a melon at Wal-Mart, think about the prison farmworkers who got squeezed to produce it.

Wal-Mart's Global Ethics Office can be emailed at ethics@wal-mart.com.

Al Norman is the founder of Sprawl-Busters, and is the author of organizer's classic big box story, Slam-DunkingWal-Mart.

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Anarchist Artwalk
Resistance Alley, Phoenix
June 3, 2011


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