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:

Monday, January 30, 2012

AZ legs Ash & Gray support new limits to shackling pregnant prisoners.

It's about time. With two strong Republicans at the helm on this, we might actually see it pass the legislature this year. This shows, by the way, that some things done by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office actually can be reined in by proper legislative oversight - not everyone has to wring their hands and whine about being powerless in the face of the man abusing people. Thanks to Representative Cecil Ash and Senator Linda Gray for being willing to take this on.


Bill limits shackling of pregnant inmates

A bipartisan group of lawmakers hopes Arizona will join 14 other states in limiting how and when jails can shackle pregnant women.

Democrats have tried unsuccessfully to push legislation for the past two years. But this year, the effort may see some success. Republicans are sponsoring bills in both the House and Senate. And for the first time, the issue has been granted a hearing.

The Senate Public Safety and Human Services Committee will hear Senate Bill 1184 Wednesday morning. Sen. Linda Gray, R-Glendale, is both the committee’s chairwoman and the bill’s primary sponsor, giving it a strong chance of passing at least the committee.

Rep. Cecil Ash, R-Mesa, is sponsoring a similar House Bill 2528.

The Senate bill would ban any state or county correctional institution from using restraints on a prisoner or detainee in her final trimester of pregnancy or during labor, delivery and postpartum recovery unless medical staff request the restraints or a corrections officer determines that the situation “presents an extraordinary circumstance” such as being a substantial flight risk. It would ban leg or waist restraints in all circumstances during labor or delivery.

“This practice is not just dangerous to the mother but it’s also dangerous to the baby being born,” ACLU of Arizona Public Policy Director Anjali Abraham said. “If you’ve had a baby or been in the labor room with a woman, you know their biggest priority is having that baby. They are not going to jump off the bed and take off.”

The proposed legislation would most impact county jails. The Arizona Department of Corrections instituted restrictions on shackling women in labor or postpartum recovery in 2003. The Federal Bureau of Prisons restricted it in 2008.

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office has some concerns with the Senate bill, Deputy Chief Ray Churay said.

“We’re not super opposed to this,” Churay said. “There are just some adjustments we would ask for.”

He said some of the bill’s definitions are too vague. They’d like to see the bill require that a medical professional determine whether a woman is in labor, and they want Gray to clarify the definition of postpartum recovery so it does not ban law enforcement from shackling a woman who must remain in the hospital following her child’s birth for reasons unrelated to the delivery.

Churay said the county already does not routinely use leg or waist restraints on pregnant women. But he said the bill could impact a common practice of using a leg tether to lock the women to their hospital bed during postpartum recovery. He said the tether is long enough to allow a woman to walk to the bathroom and around the room.

“They are in a situation where security is very, very limited,” Churay said of inmates in the hospital. “We’ve never had a complaint about the leg tether from hospital staff or from an inmate. We have to take all precautions, and we believe the tether is necessary.”

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is facing a federal lawsuit over the shackling issue. Miriam Mendiola-Martinez filed a lawsuit in December alleging that county employees exhibited deliberate indifference to her medical needs and violated her constitutional rights against cruel and unusual punishment when she was shackled before and after her Caesarean section.

1 comment:

Victoria Law said...

I am shocked (and delighted) to see that AZ Republicans are pushing for this bill. I hope it passes and I hope that your infamous Sheriff Joe actually complies.