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:

Friday, December 23, 2011

Arizona cancels RFP for 5,000 private prison beds.

The Department of Corrections' reports and statistics can be found here. News releases are here.

Thanks to all the human rights and neighborhood activists alike out there who helped make this possible. Just note that at the end they announce plans to go ahead with 2,000 private prison beds for men, so the privatization fight isn't over...



Arizona Department of Corrections
For Immediate Release



For more information contact:
Bill Lamoreaux
December 22, 2011

ADC Bed Needs and Cancellation of 5,000 Bed RFP

Phoenix, Az – Since January 2009, the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) has worked with the Governor and the Legislature to ensure that Arizona’s correctional system operates in the public’s best interest. ADC’s primary focus has and continues to be public safety, provided in a manner that is efficient, affordable, and transparent.

To address prison population growth over the years, ADC has constructed new prison facilities, added new and temporary prison beds at existing prison facilities, and contracted with private prisons for adult male beds. In fiscal year (FY) 2009 and early FY 2010, ADC, the Governor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting (OSPB), and the Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC) were forecasting a continued inmate population growth rate of 114 inmates per month based on a history of continuous inmate population growth from FY 2001 to FY 2010. Expecting the prison population to grow to nearly 50,000 inmates by the end of 2016, ADC forecasted a need for an additional 8,500 prison beds, both state-operated and private beds, by the end of 2017.

ADC’s forecasted bed need, resulted in the passage of legislation (State of Arizona, Laws 2009, Third Special Session, Chapter 6, HB 2010, FY 2010 Criminal Justice
Reconciliation Bill), authorizing ADC to contract for 5,000 private prison beds within the State of Arizona. In keeping with the Governor’s desire for a reasonable balance of private and public prison options for minimum custody and medium custody inmates, ADC initiated the procurement process and on February 23, 2010 issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for 5,000 minimum/medium security male beds. However, on September 1, 2010, in response to the July 30, 2010 ASP-Kingman escape and given the priority of public safety, ADC cancelled the RFP in order to revise and strengthen it. ADC released the revised RFP on January 24, 2011, received proposals from five (5) vendors on February 24, 2011, and conducted five (5) public site hearings between August 9 and August 18, 2011.

Since the original legislation authorizing the 5,000 private prison beds, ADC has worked in unison with the Governor and her staff to ensure continued fiscal responsibility in all activities. This includes annually evaluating inmate population growth and bed needs. In FY 2010 and FY 2011 inmate population growth dramatically declined. ADC’s prison population grew by only 65 inmates in FY 2010, and then declined by 296 inmates in FY 2011. FY 2010 and FY 2011 had the two lowest growth rates on record dating back to 1973. Therefore in light of the decline in inmate growth, it was prudent to reassess Arizona’s prison bed plan both in terms of the total number of beds and the types of beds.

As a result, ADC has determined that of the 8,500 prison beds originally identified, only 2,500 are now needed; 2,000 minimum/medium security male beds are scheduled to come online and be operational in FY 2014 and 500 maximum security male beds are scheduled to come online and be operational in FY 2015. Therefore, ADC is cancelling, effective December 22, 2011, the current RFP (110054DC) for 5,000 private minimum/medium security male beds.

To secure the needed prison beds, ADC will request 500 additional maximum state- operated beds and will issue a new RFP for 2,000 private minimum/medium security male beds under the authority of A.R.S. § 41-1609.

ADC will work with the Governor to secure funding for the new beds and to assure public confidence in the fiscal accountability of our correctional system.

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