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, December 13, 2011

Second thoughts on prison labor in Bullhead City.

too bad it's just because they're afraid, and not because they have any moral qualms about the program to begin with....

------From Mohave Daily News------

City suspends inmate worker program

Officials trying to determine if prisoners convicted of violent crimes were used

Published: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 1:00 AM MST
BULLHEAD CITY — Bullhead City has suspended its inmate worker program while the city tries to determine whether the state prison near Kingman sent inmates convicted of violent crimes to participate.

“The eligibility of three of the 10 inmates in our program has been called into question,” City Manager Toby Cotter said Monday afternoon. “The program is temporarily suspended until we can investigate this further.”

Under an agreement between the city at the Arizona Department of Corrections, the state was to provide non-violent inmates from the privately run Arizona State Prison-Kingman. In August, Cotter told the Bullhead City Council that, “foremost, in order for inmates to qualify for the program, they are screened by the prison and contracting agency to ensure the safety of the public and (other) inmates is not compromised. Secondly, the Arizona Department of Corrections only allows inmates with a non-violent history to be allowed to work away from the prison.”

He said offenses for drug and alcohol violations were typical of participants in the program.

But in an email received Monday by Cotter, Mayor Jack Hakim and Public Information Officer Steve Johnson, it was asserted that from “a list of 10 bullhead City-assigned prisoners obtained from the Arizona Department of Corrections, three are violent offenders.”

Johnson said the city is working to confirm the criminal histories of those three inmates. Cotter said the prison maintains they were non-violent but said the conflicting information prompted the city to suspend the program for further investigation into inmate backgrounds.

“While the prison confirmed again (Monday) that the inmates released to the city are non-violent, we need confirmation and further background analysis to assure our residents that the inmates in this program are, in fact, non-violent,” Cotter said. “We have a duty to be extra cautious.”

The program was implemented in October — over the objections of some members of the public — with inmates working to clear brush and weeds from parks and shorlines and to assist with crack sealing of roadways. No incidents have been reported.

Opposition to the program came from two distinct fronts: those worried about public safety with inmates working in parks and those upset that Bullhead City was farming out work to the prison system — at a cost of 50 cents per worker per hour — instead of offering employment to local citizens.

Cotter maintained the program was implemented as a low-cost method of augmenting — not replacing — city services and had no effect on the city’s number of employees.

The prison, operated by Utah-based Management & Training Corp., was originally established as a minimum- and medium-security facility to house non-violent convicts, primarily those in substance-abuse programs. But the facility began housing violent criminals — including those convicted of murder and rape — several years ago. Three inmates, all convicted of violent crimes, escaped in 2010 and two of the escapees are charged with murder in the deaths of an Oklahoma couple killed in New Mexico during the escapees’ flight from justice.

Failures in the prison’s security were cited as contributing to the escape. Since then, the prison has upgraded its physical security and increased training of employees charged with overseeing prisoners.

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