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, August 31, 2012

CCA awarded Brewer's Prison Contract.

Corrections Corporation of America won the DOC contract for 2000 new beds. Is it any wonder?

 This should trouble AZ Regents Dennis Diconcini and Anne L. Mariucci - they will profit from the prisons that are funded with money that could have otherwise gone to Arizona's educational system. But I doubt they will do much but celebrate this news.

And of course, we all know about Jan Brewer's ties to CCA.

As for the City of Eloy - it's essentially owned by CCA, and its prisons seem to be a haven for abusive people (the ones in the brown uniform, that is). CCA is already being sued for serious abuse of their Hawaiian prisoners at Saguaro prison in Eloy AZ, among other things. They seem to have particular problems with sexual predators working in their prisons in that town. One Saguaro guard was recently convicted of forcing a prisoner to give him a blow job. And the ICE facility in Eloy run by CCA is being sued for abusing a transgender detainee. I don't think that was the best town to trust with more of our prisoners.

-----good question yesterday from the AZ Republic-----

Why are we building private prisons when crime is down?

Laurie Roberts

AZ Republic (AUG 30, 2012)

On Friday, the state of Arizona plans to award one lucky – or perhaps just well connected -- company the contract to build and operate 1,000 private prison beds for medium security inmates.

This, despite the fact that we have 2,000 empty beds and the overall crime rate is down.

This, despite the fact that it actually costs taxpayers more to operate  private prisons.

This, despite that fact that it’s been only two years since three inmates escaped from a private prison in Kingman, murdering an Oklahoma couple in New Mexico. That prison, which was later found to have a number of deficiencies (clearly), was run by Management & Training Corporation.

Yep, Management & Training Corp. is one of the five out-of-state companies in the hunt for the lucrative contract to be awarded on Friday. Another of the bidders is Corrections Corporation of America, whose lobbyist is no less than Gov. Jan Brewer confidante, Chuck Coughlin. Among others, that is. All five companies employ a phalanx of lobbyists to roam the Capitol hallways.

Apparently, it pays off.

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell today renewed his call for Attorney General Tom Horne to investigate possible violations of state law and the procurement code.

“The Attorney General’s Office has the power and an obligation to intervene before that contract is signed and nothing is being done,” Campbell said. “We should not be rewarding out-of-state, for-profit prison companies with contracts if they are violating the law and wasting taxpayer money.”

Among the possible violations, Campbell says, is a requirement that any proposed private prisons save taxpayers’ money while providing the same or better quality prison digs.

Yet a report this week by The Republic’s Craig Harris suggests that private prisons are nearly 10 percent more expensive to operate.  The average daily cost per inmate in a state-run medium-security prison in 2010 was $48.42 while the cost in a similar private prison was $53.02.

Corrections Director Charles Ryan says the savings come in having a private company foot the bill to build the prison.

So says the man with 2,000 empty beds – some of which surely could be reconfigured to hold drunk drivers and other non-violent criminals.