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:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Goodyear: More opposition to GEO Group prison.

for more information about the Geo Group, try the Private Corrections Working Group rap sheet.


Westmarc joins foes of proposed prison in Goodyear

One of the West Valley's largest lobbying groups is the latest heavyweight to oppose a proposal to build a private prison in Goodyear.

• Goodyear will fight construction of proposed prison

Westmarc, a public-private partnership that champions the area, recently sent a letter to Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan explaining its official opposition to building a prison at Arizona State Prison Complex-Perryville. The group, which is made up of government, business and education officials, says it represents 15 cities and towns and 70,000 jobs.

Candace Wiest, who chairs Westmarc's executive committee, lives in the Goodyear community of Estrella. She is president and CEO of West Valley National Bank.

Michelle Rider, Westmarc president and CEO, said Wiest's place of residence did not weigh in the group's decision to oppose the prison.

The group took a position after Goodyear's economic development director, Harry Paxton, called Rider before a board of directors meeting and asked to speak to the group, Rider said. Paxton is on Westmarc's executive board and chairs the group's economic development committee. Rider asked Wiest if she could put the issue on the board's agenda and Weist agreed.

"He (Paxton) gave his reasoning for why it didn't make sense and the board . . . thought it was a pretty crazy idea," Rider said, adding Westmarc also formally presented the issue to its Economic Development and Public Affairs committees, which both sent the item to the executive committee.

"It's pretty easy to take a position for an organization like Westmarc," Rider said. "There's not a whole lot of pro in that situation."

Besides Wiest, Rider said, none of the other 28 members of executive committee appear to live in Goodyear.

In the letter, Rider explained the West Valley is at a turning point as a region and developments over the next five to 10 years likely will define the area's future.

"A regional economic development strategy focused on creating job opportunities must be a top priority," Rider wrote. "An expansion of the Perryville Prison will significantly undermine the effort to grow and attract high-quality employers in the West Valley."

Florida-based GEO Group Inc. is proposing to build a 2,000- to 5,000-bed prison for minimum- and medium-security male inmates at the complex. Construction costs are estimated at $100 million to $250 million.

The Arizona Department of Corrections will choose among four companies and five locations to house 5,000 inmates. The other proposed sites are in Coolidge, Winslow, San Luis and Eloy. A decision on the 20-year contract is not expected until at least mid-September.

Westmarc joins several high-profile organizations in its opposition of prison. Those opposed include Goodyear; Duncan Family Farms; the Litchfield Elementary School District and Litchfield Park; Sunbelt Holdings, developer of the Palm Valley 303 office park; and Robson Resort Communities, developer of PebbleCreek; and Goodyear refrigerator manufacturer Sub-Zero Inc.

Those against the proposal say the prison would be too close to Scott L. Libby Elementary School, PebbleCreek residents and Palm Valley 303.

"Goodyear has been very effective in developing similar parts of the city into the home of high-quality employers over the last several years, including Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Sub-Zero and Suntech," Rider writes in the letter to Ryan. "Siting a prison expansion in an area of such high visibility and economic potential would not only seriously impede Goodyear's progress, it would be detrimental for the many other West Valley communities for which the Interstate 10/Loop 303 corridor will serve as a gateway."

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