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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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

ASPC-Douglas: Where some cops are crooks...

Some readers today may be aware that I correspond with a lot of prisoners seeking help asserting their rights, primarily those for health care and safety. For several reasons of late, I started asking them to tell me who the "good guys" are at the AZ DOC, so I'm now running a list of who’s been nice, in addition to the long one I have of who’s been naughty. I have a few good people already - but since I have a few targets on my own back posting their names here may hurt them, so I'll have to figure out another way to recognize them.

In any case, for those officers who go out of your way to be kind and professional to those the rest of us have thrown away - thank you. I know these three people below don't represent all of you - nor do the other criminals at DOC who get attention.

That said, these accusations are probably just the tip of an iceberg, but money-laundering still isn't the kind of stuff that really bothers me about illicit DOC employee conduct.  There's far more serious collusion with narcotics traffickers  and other criminal activity going on at the AZ DOC behind bars than a "Financial Crimes Task Force" would suggest.

For example, I hear at least once a week from a prisoner whose safety has been compromised by DOC officers in the apparent service of the gangs, or who was assaulted by the guards themselves, or who witnessed horrendous abuse or neglect result in harm to another. That's the kind of criminal stuff I wish the media would really look into.

It's also the kind of thing truly conscientious DOC officers should be more empowered to take into your own hands. I know it could get some of you demoted or fired to do so in some cases - or even hurt or killed. I also respect that some people feel they have no choice but silence, thinking that the only alternative is to be labeled a "snitch" or a traitor.

I've been told that some folks think I'm in league with or coddle criminals, but I'm actually pretty hard on them, and they aren't all my "brothers" or “comrades” - hell, some are the perpetrators of the violence I seek to end. I define my allies and friends by their values and character, not by whether or not they all dress like me. I'm also alert to imposters, though - which is perhaps how you might want to regard those who violate the basic ethics of your profession . That would make them the traitors, not you.

Don't get me wrong: I wouldn't call the cops on a comrade, myself - but I'd sure as hell hold their feet to the fire if I knew they were running around hurting people while masquerading as someone truly concerned about justice and liberation. That would make me really consider their worth as a "comrade", and I'd likely make a break with them - leaving them if they don't leave me. I definitely wouldn't make them comfortable in my company, and I might encourage my community to shame them as well. We would not be rallying around them to prevent their victims from confronting them with the truth, either.

I have little tolerance for so-called codes that exist primarily to enable abusers, like those between cops - and those between gang members, too.  That's how the bad guys keep moving up to the top, so that now both the prisons and the criminal enterprises dominating most of the yards are being run by the meanest thugs, not the best administrators.

As I tell the prisoners, only you can gauge what you can afford to risk or lose in challenging any of them, though, because the danger of retaliatory violence is real. Just know that allowing the real bad guys to wear that uniform and then expect you to cover for them when they cheat, abuse people, steal, and so on, reflects poorly on even the best of you.  

Still, there are things you can do other than turn away or turn them into your even more corrupt telling me about it. It always gives the perpetrators of abuse pause to know they are being witnessed, even if they aren't publicly identified. I'm not just looking for bad cops to bust, though - there's always a bigger picture, and often individual staff get thrown under the bus to obscure what that is. I want to know what's wrong with the system, from your point of view.

Chuck Ryan has 10,000 employees, and I hardly ever hear from any to say: "We wouldn't have all stood by and watched Tony die", or "It wasn't that one officer's fault! There's something bigger here!". But you are watchers of Arizona's prisons, too, and some of you have among the most intimate inside views, which no one out here hears much of.  I know the DOC goes out of its way to silence the most ethical among you...that's still who I'm hoping to hear from now.

Help me get at the underlying reasons for what you think is wrong at the DOC, and how to resolve them..or just write to tell me you think I'm full of it. Snail your thoughts to my PO box anonymously to be safest, unless you are making accusations about an individual you want me to act on somehow - even prisoners can't levy charges against you all to me anonymously.

I won't promise what I will and won't publish, but if you're reasonable and coherent and give me your permission, I'd like to print some of your letters; those won't require your real name to be public, just for me to verify who you are.

peggy plews / po box 20494 / phoenix, az 85036

480-580-6807 /

AZ DOC Central Office, Phoenix (July 2013)

-----from the DOUGLAS DISPATCH----

By Trisha Maldonado

Douglas Dispatch

Published/Last Modified on Wednesday, July 31, 2013 11:05 AM MDT

Following an eight month long investigation by the Arizona Financial Crimes Task Force three Arizona Department of Corrections employees have resigned from the Douglas State Prison Complex.

According to Lieutenant Vince Piano of the Arizona Financial Crimes Task Force several DOC employees were being investigated for various criminal money laundering violations.

Investigators from the Arizona Financial Crimes Task Force identified a new money laundering trend occurring along the southwest border where criminal organizations, associated with drug cartel members, were recruiting people to use their personal U.S. bank accounts to funnel illegal proceeds from the United States into Mexico.

During the course of the investigation five DOC employees were identified as being involved in this type of money laundering activity, which is in violation of both federal and state money laundering laws.

No additional information was provided at this time by the Arizona Department of Corrections Media Relations Administrator.

This criminal investigation is ongoing and there have been no arrests or charges filed at this time, Lt. Piano said in press release from his office.

The Arizona Financial Crimes Task Force consists of investigators from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Phoenix Police Department who investigate major money laundering organizations nationally and internationally.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Cancer in Custody: Benny Joe Roseland, 59, is dying to save us money.

UPDATE: Benny Joe passed away November 13, 2013

UPDATE AUGUST 1, 2013:  Just sent this email out today...

Arizona Prisonwatch    Thu, Aug 1, 2013 at 9:30 AM

To: CHARLES RYAN , Richard Pratt ,, 

Cc:,,,, David Fathi (ACLU National Prison Project), Daniel Pochoda (ACLU-AZ), Donald Specter (prison Law Office), Justin Scalise (Corizon Health), Jennifer Alewelt (Arizona Center for Disability Law), "Halloran, Wendy" (CH12/KPNX)

All four of you in the primary address here should be ashamed of yourselves for this prisoner's needless suffering and looming death - which appears to be due to a pattern of neglect over the course of Chuck Ryan's administration. This is why Parsons v Ryan is in play.

Sen. Biggs and Rep Gowan: a lot of people expect you to show some leadership and do something about Mr. Ryan and Mr. Pratt, if the good Governor won't. Someone else needs to turn that place around before we meet the next Benny Joe Roseland, or Tony Lester, Anthony Brown, Nelson Johnson, Marcia Powell, Forrest Day, Lasasha Cherry, Jerry Kulp, Ferdinand Dix, Carlo Krakoff, Huberta Parlee, Joseph Venegas, Brenda Todd, Susan Lopez, Jesse Cornejo, Daniel Porter, Duron Cunningham, Jesse Cabonias, or any number of Jan Brewer's ghosts whose wrongful deaths in prison I can detail for you, having read their DOC records and survivors' claims myself. The indifference some of them suffered was quite deliberate, and sometimes even criminal, in my book.

Sen Pancrazi and Reps Otondo and Escamilla: Please represent Benny's interests to the people responsible for his welfare, and make sure he gets the same palliative care you would want for your own brother or son if they were imprisoned in this place. I know his life gives something to your communities by virtue of being warehoused, and thus counted, in your districts. I honestly don't know if he has anyone else to fight for him. He can be reached at:

Benny Joe Roseland #124449 
PO Box 8200
Florence, AZ 85132 

I've promised Benny I will amplify his voice in the service of for those who will never be heard as they suffer and die, so we'll be posting from him to both blogs until he can no longer write to us. His death is representative of the "state savings" Arizona realizes by shortcutting on prisoner health care. Benny can be the poster boy for a campaign championing the "rights" of private corporations to profit from the erosion of our collective humanity in this state, too.

Mr. Pratt: I'd appreciate a run-down of what hospice services there are in your prisons, particularly those you plan to offer to Benny. Are prisoners trained to care for eachother, like some other state have done? They often care for their sick and dying anyway - might as well give them the right tools. And please don't let his pain meds get cut off again like everyone else's has been, or he might have to turn to heroin like the rest to self-medicate. Most prisoners can get a quick fix from the gangs more easily than tylenol from a Corizon nurse these days...but surely that isn't news to you.

Mr. Scalise: I'll be requesting Benny's records as soon as the ROI he wants to fill out is given to him and processed, which I'm sure the DOC or your company's staff will assist him with doing promptly.

Someone else please forward this to the governor - I'm not sure she ever gets my messages; I'm certain she doesn't want to hear them, though I would hope that she'd agree that it's not only more civilized, but also more fiscally responsible to assure that prisoners are offered a community standard of medical care from the moment they are committed to state custody, regardless of who signs their physicians' paychecks.

Especially in light of the Hep C epidemic behind bars and the numbers of seriously mentally ill people we have criminalized in AZ, responsible prison medicine is also essential for the sake of public health and safety. Since 95% of state prisoners eventually do come back to us, we'd rather they not  emerge from isolation cells in psychosis, or return just to die in our streets and expose the community to even more infectious disease.

Thank you all for your attention to this prisoner's basic needs and human rights. Gitmo has nothing on AZ DOC when it comes to deprivation of America's prisoners.


Margaret Jean Plews

-------------------original post (july 27, 2013)--------------

. The following letter came to me recently from ASPC-Lewis/ Barchey Unit: this is what deliberate indifference at the AZ DOC sounds like, before the death notices are posted. Benny is soon to become another Ghost of Jan Brewer's...another human being whose life may have been saved, but for the contempt routinely shown prisoners by the state of Arizona.

The author is a long time correspondent of mine, and a reliable source of information. He's writing on behalf of fellow prisoner  Benny Joe Roseland, who wanted his story told so others may perhaps be spared similar suffering. Benny's experience is not uncommon, unfortunately, and spans the period of time when DOC was providing their own health care (when the class action suit over neglect was initiated), then Wexford, and now Corizon. 

Benny - thank you for this, my friend; your story will not be forgotten. I'm so sorry for what it cost you, though. Blessings to you for some measure of comfort and peace as you prepare for your final journey Home...

To friends and family helping loved ones in the AZ DOC fight for health care: See these blog posts below and/or contact Peggy Plews - I'm no attorney, but will  do whatever I can (480-580-6807 or


Send Benny blessings and thanks for this letter, at:
Benny Joe Roseland #124449 
PO Box 8200
Florence, AZ 85132

And you can bet that I'll be requesting his records soon...

Thursday, July 25, 2013

ASPC-Winslow guard beaten: Risks grow under Chuck Ryan.

 AZ DOC Central Office
Phoenix (June 2012)

There are many reasons the AZ House minority leader has called for DOC director Chuck Ryan's resignation - the escalating violence under his watch is one. AFSC-Tucson is also calling for more oversight. Gangs run the yards, drugs are rampant, the prisons are erupting in race riots, and there's a class action suit for gross medical negligence in the prisons and abuse of the mentally ill with isolation (where they have been killing themselves at twice the rate in other states). 

AZ DOC officers should join others concerned about prison violence, staffing morale, etc and fight back - call for Chuck Ryan to resign, and a competent administrator to be appointed. The union issued a vote of no confidence and called for Brewer to sack him once before - what's changed since then, except a few more people are hurt and dead? 

Contact me at with your thoughts. 

-------from KPHO / CBS CH 5 / Phoenix-------------

Arizona corrections officer brutally beaten by inmates

Posted: Jul 24, 2013 6:50 PM  
Updated: Jul 25, 2013 1:25 PM


The long-time boyfriend of a female corrections officer at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Winslow said she was brutally attacked by two prisoners while escorting more than 50 unrestrained inmates by herself.

The officer, identified only as Officer Benavidez, is hospitalized after recently undergoing facial reconstructive surgery after the attack.

Benavidez's boyfriend of 20 years, Bill, only wanted to tell us his first name for fear of retaliation. He said there is no doubt in his mind the two men who attacked her were trying to kill her.

"Officers found a hit list in there with her and four other people's names on it," Bill said.

Bill told CBS 5 News on Friday a phone, as well as drugs, were confiscated from an inmate on a tip that came from Benavidez, a six-year law enforcement veteran.

A few hours later, prison officials confirmed two men attacked Benavidez, while more than 50 other inmates watched.

"The first one hit her and knocked her out. He climbed on top of her and continued to pound her head.
There was another one, and he started kicking her," Bill said.

DOC officials said there were more than 160 security staff assigned to the Kaibab Unit of the prison Friday night, but Bill said that number is misleading.

"There may have been 160 spread out in the entire prison guarding the fence or whatever. But there were 19 officers in her unit," Bill said.

Bill said understaffing isn't the only problem officers face. Drug use is rampant.

"We're not talking about simple stuff. It's heroin. It's a killer itself being fed to killers," Bill said.

Bill told CBS 5 News that state officials have kept problems like this under wraps for too long.

"I want stuff in that prison changed, before someone else is standing here like this," Bill said.

A Department of Corrections spokesman confirmed the case is under investigation, but wouldn't go into specifics about the attack...

AFSC-Tucson calls on Brewer to pull her head out of the sand.

"Help Wanted"
AZ DOC Central Office: Phoenix 
(July 24, 2013)

all photos by Mahatma Hemry 
art of protest and post-development rendering by Margaret J Plews

That title is my own paraphrase (and my art, above) - the folks at AFSC-Tucson are more diplomatic. They do great work. If you need to talk to anyone about prison privatization, solitary confinement, or other prison reform issues in AZ, talk to them. In the meantime check out some of their resources. The report on Solitary Confinement in AZ, "Buried Alive" is pretty powerful. And Check out the Stopmax Campaign

AFSC-Tucson Contact info:

Caroline Isaacs or Matt Lowen
American Friends Service Committee-Tucson

103 N Park Avenue, Suite 111
Tucson, AZ  85719


Follow their Blog: Cell-out Arizona at the Tucson Citizen

I'd also encourage people to call the governor's office this week to urge her to fire Chuck Ryan, among other things. The DOC is going to need a major overhaul and intensive public oversight - better yet, let's just abolish the thing while we have the chance... 

Enough vulnerable people have died giving that guy a chance to prove he can be as big a bully as Terry Stewart was.  Stewart was brutal - which is how AZ voters like their paid thugs - but Ryan is just an embarrassment to the Governor's office, with all the death row and mentally ill prisoners killing themselves and languishing in Supermax, gangs running the yards, race riots breaking out, sexual expolitation and abuse, a class action suit over pervasive neglect, skyrocketing violence, and so on. She might need us to point those items out to her, though. Chad Campbell's 10-point letter was pretty good, though it missed the race riots.

The AZ Governor's contact info:

The Honorable Janice K. Brewer
Arizona Governor
Executive Tower
1700 West Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Phoenix Office: (602) 542-4331 
Tucson Office: (520) 628-6580
In-state toll-free 1-800-253-0883  
(outside Maricopa County only)

Finally, don't forget to contact your legislators, or those of your loved one in prison. Tell them your story, and ask them to intervene if your family needs help with the AZ DOC. I'm not the one that will open doors for you there. By involving them more personally as champions in your struggle with the DOC, you humanize this crisis while educating them onn the realities of dealing with the AZ DOC, which also helps those prisoners who have no one left out here to speak on their behalf. It involves vulnerability, but I think most legislators will be quite respectful of your privacy, frustration, rage, and grief...

AZ State Legislature
1700 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85007
(602) 926-3559
Toll Free: 1-800-352-8404

Please, whenever you feel safe sharing your letters to legislators, I'd love to post some of them. I also need to know who is and isn't responding supportively to you in the house or senate, so please keep me posted at

----from the Tucson Weekly----------

AFSC Ask Guv to Establish Prison Oversight Committee, Investigation

Posted by Mari Herreras

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 at 1:54 PM

Yesterday, House Minority Leader Chad Campbell called for the immediate resignation of Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan. Today, the American Friends Service Committee has asked Gov. Jan Brewer to create an oversight committee over the ADOC.

The Phoenix Democrat has been a vocal advocate for prison reform and private prison issues alongside AFSC. His call for Ryan's resignation follows a recent Buckeye prison inmate death.

“Director Ryan has exhibited a pattern of mismanagement and a lack of leadership resulting in an unsafe corrections system in our state,” Campbell said in a press release. “Under his direction, our corrections system has wasted tax dollars, jeopardized people’s lives and damaged the state’s credibility.”

Campbell said he's seen reports that Arizona's prison suicide rate was 60 percent higher than the national average between the years of 2010 and 2012.

“In addition to this, the attempt to cover up what happened to an inmate allowed to bleed to death in front of prison guards is a gruesome consequence of Ryan’s negligence," Campbell said, adding that he believes Ryan has failed to properly supervise private prison contracts, such as a private facility in Kingman, where three inmates escaped in 2010 and committed murder and armed robbery. “Following this incident, Ryan admitted that the DOC didn’t properly monitor this facility. This is a community safety issue."

Campbell also said that private prisons cost more than state-run prisons and the DOC has failed to hold the private prison companies accountable for the terms of their contracts with the state. He complained that the state awards contracts in a manner that is not transparent and seems indicative of cronyism. An example of this occurred earlier this year, when the DOC terminated a contract with Wexford Health Sources, a private company that provided healthcare for inmates statewide.

“The (DOC) contracted with a company that has a controversial record of service. In fact, one of Wexford’s employees exposed more than 100 people to hepatitis C in a prison in Buckeye,” Campbell said. “The DOC terminates that contract and replaces Wexford with Corizon, another company surrounded by controversy that also happens to have ties to people who are close to the governor. This situation reeks of patronage.”

And Campbell used the taxpayer argument—specifically, that for-profit, private prisons are misusing taxpayer money.

According to Campbell, last year, Republicans repealed a state law in the budget requiring a comparison of state and private prisons every two years to ensure that private prisons were providing the same quality of services as state prisons at a lower cost. DOC Per Capita Cost Reports compiled over five years consistently show that the state is losing money on private prisons, and security audits show serious safety flaws in all of Arizona’s for-profit prisons, including malfunctioning cameras and alarm systems.

In a letter to Brewer, the AFSC asked the governor that the oversight committee they are asking for be meaningful and independent.

“Such an oversight committee would allow for better institutional transparency and substantial responses to grievances of inadequate medical and mental health care within the ADC facilities,” says AFSC Program Director Caroline Isaacs.

Here is the AFSC letter to Brewer:


AFSC also asked that Brewer investigate the charges against Ryan and determine whether he is fit to serve.

Isaacs points out that while it is important to hold ADC Directors accountable for the gross failings of their tenure, “putting a new Director into an old and failed system won’t change the outcome.” She added, “Ryan’s failures reveal a total lack of public oversight over our prisons.”

The oversight committee that AFSC Arizona proposes in the letter to Brewer must have the ability to hold the ADC accountable in a meaningful way, and must include individuals outside of the framework of political influence.

In the letter, AFSC cites overuse of solitary confinement in maximum-security units, a reliance on private for-profit prison companies, and lack of adequate medical and mental health care as prime examples of the need for such oversight. It reads, “[T]he numerous issues raised in Rep. Campbell’s letter are extremely serious, costing taxpayers millions of dollars and undermining public safety as well as the safety and health of prisoners and corrections staff.”

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

AZ DOC Central Office: "Help Wanted". Ryan should still resign...or be fired.

I spent the morning with freinds protesting outside the AZ DOC's Central Office today...


More photos to follow; you can also find my art on Facebook

After protesting at the DOC my friends and I visited the AZ Capitol Executive Tower to drop off Marcia Powell's cage (above) for Governor Brewer, to whom it was addressed as a gift from the Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ and the Friends of Marcia Powell. I drew the names of the dead on the back of that cage, too, inside the letters that formed the five foot high message: "Dear Mr. Ryan: Please stop killing people." (Can't believe I don't have a photo, but someone else got the shot). 

Security was very cooperative, but the Governor's staff seemed a little perpelexed when they came down to pick up the package from me; I did make a point of telling them it was a gift of both art and history, but they just looked stunned. They appeared to be dragging it on the elevator to head upstairs as we were leaving, though, so here's hoping she got the message and it didn't just end up going straight into the recycing bin.

If you're the loved one of an AZ state prisoner, or otherwise find yourself compelled to care about the disaster unfolding in the AZ Department of Corrections, please thank Gannett (which owns KPNX/CH 12 Phoenix and the Arizona Republic) for covering this - which has thus far been totally missed by the rest of the AZ media, sad to say (except the folks at the Tucson Weekly, today, with a follow-up story...see next post for their response). 

The treatment of our prisoners - truly the most vulnerable among us - reflects so profoundly the level of our society's spirtual maturity and capacity to alleviate victimization in the first place, that I don't know how they can ignore what's going on in the prison, except that such introspection can be painful and doesn't anlways attract viewers or sponsor - especially not in Arizona, I would imagine

That said, after watching the following clip, please send comments/appreciation to Wendy Halloran at KPNX and Mary K Reinhart at the AZ Republic at, and encourage them to keep reporting on the AZ DOC.

From Channel 12/KPNX in Phoenix, July 23, 2013 6pm news.

---------from the AZ Republic-------

Campbell calls for Arizona prison chief to resign

The Republic |  
Tue Jul 23, 2013 6:42 PM
A key lawmaker is calling on the state’s prison chief to resign, citing a high prison suicide rate, security failures, inadequate medical care and inappropriate ties to the private-prison industry.

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, a longtime critic of the Department of Corrections and private prisons, said his call for director Charles Ryan’s resignation was prompted by the suspected homicide last month of an inmate at the Lewis state prison complex in Buckeye.

“Director Ryan has exhibited a pattern of mismanagement and a lack of leadership resulting in an unsafe corrections system in our state,” Campbell said in a statement. “Under his direction, our corrections system has wasted tax dollars, jeopardized people’s lives and damaged the state’s credibility.”

Campbell, who is considering a run for governor in 2014, said Ryan has failed to plug holes in prison security, stem criminal behavior by corrections employees, properly manage private-prison contracts and ensure adequate health care for inmates.

Bill Lamoreaux, a spokesman for the corrections department, said Ryan and other agency officials have responded to Campbell’s concerns and provided “detailed information on ADC’s operations.”

“Earlier this year he was even invited to tour ADC correctional facilities so that he could gain a firsthand understanding of the Department, its employees and operations,” Lamoreaux said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, Representative Campbell did not respond to ADC’s offer.”

Gov. Jan Brewer’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Brewer appointed Ryan to lead the agency in 2009.

Under his tenure, the state has privatized inmate health care and now faces a class-action lawsuit alleging that the department provides inadequate medical, dental and mental-health care to inmates. Also under Ryan, two murderers escaped from a private prison near Kingman in 2010, leading to a nationwide manhunt and the deaths of two people. An internal investigation blamed human error and lax monitoring of the private-prison contract.

Republic reporter Craig Harris contributed to this article.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

DOC Director Ryan's Noble legacy of public service...

UPDATE 05/19/19

#DARTHryan   #DarkSideRyan 


(I frankly doubt that @dougducey has the balls to   #FireChuckRyan")

The Art Attack above was in front of the AZ DOC's HQ on June 26, 2012.  Thought it fit well with this interesting piece from ALTERNET in 2004 re: Charles Ryan and the Good Old Boys he travels with...the pack from the days when he and Jan Brewer first became pals, I imagine.  He got a commendation of some kind from the Bush Justice department ofr his service in Iraq, it's only fair to say. That must be something to be proud of, eh?
For those who missed it, by the way, I'm not the only one who says "It's time for Chuck Ryan to go!" Today the AZ House Minority Leader called on him to resign, too.

Brewer knew exactly what kind of prison administrator Ryan would be when she hired him for the job, and he's apparently been keeping her pretty happy as her chief disciplinarian since they took office. My bet is that Jan Brewer will stand by her man till this blows over - or at least long enough to make us think that while she can be bought by private prison companies, she won't be "bullied" into making wise decisions by Anarchists, Quakers, Democrats, or the grieving loved ones of her dead prisoners...

-----------------from ALTERNET---------------

Did the Justice Department intentionally contract the roughest, toughest prison officials; regardless of their histories; to reform Iraqi jails?

If you're an American ex-prison official whose tenure was tainted by federal investigations, state hearings, inmate deaths, allegations of torture, civil rights lawsuits, even an outcry from Amnesty International, despair not. There's a job for you in Iraq. 

In what appears to be an emerging pattern of ill-advised hires, the Justice Department has sent a virtual who's-who of prison tough guys to Iraq over the past year – their collective track record on human rights essentially one enormous red flag – and paid them to reconstitute that country's detention system. 

Already, two of the Justice Department's 'corrections advisors' are making headlines: Lane McCotter, former director of the Utah Department of Corrections, and John Armstrong, his Connecticut counterpart, both resigned after inmate abuse scandals occurred under their respective watches. 

McCotter stepped down from his Utah post in 1997 following the case of a schizophrenic inmate who died shortly after being strapped to a restraining chair for 16 hours. McCotter later became an executive of a private prison company whose Santa Fe jail was investigated by the Justice Department in 2003 for healthcare, sanitary and safety deficiencies. 

Armstrong left Connecticut's top corrections job last year amidst the fall-out from an ACLU lawsuit over his decision to transfer inmates to a notorious Virginia prison (two Connecticut inmates died in custody there), and a state human rights commission hearing which took him to task for failing to deal with sexual harassment of female guards. Armstrong also attracted the ire of Amnesty International, which called for an investigation into the state's York Correctional Institution for women in November, 2000, after the group received complaints from inmates and former employees alleging sexual abuse by guards. 

The Justice Department's hiring of McCotter and Armstrong could be relegated to an eyebrow-raising turn of events; two occasions do not necessarily constitute a trend. However, there are signs that the hirings were not necessarily a mind-boggling oversight attributable to the chaos of the occupation's early days, but perhaps indicative of a decision to contract the roughest, toughest prison people around regardless of their histories. 

AlterNet has learned that two more corrections advisors sent by the Justice Department to Iraq, former Arizona Department of Corrections director Terry Stewart and his top deputy Chuck Ryan, have controversial pasts as well. 

In 1995, the year Stewart was appointed to head the Arizona DOC, the Justice Department began an 18-month investigation of alleged sexual abuse of female inmates. A subsequent report found "an unconstitutional pattern of practice of sexual misconduct"; documented the cases of 14 female inmates who were raped, sodomized or assaulted by guards; and criticized DOC officials for not dealing with the problem. 

In response, Stewart wrote a letter to then Attorney General Janet Reno claiming the report represented isolated incidents, but in 1997, the Justice Department sued Arizona for failing to protect its female inmates from guards and DOC staff. The suit named Stewart as one of the defendants and accused him and other DOC officials of knowing about the abuses but doing nothing. (Eventually, despite never admitting any wrongdoing, the DOC agreed to further protect female inmates from sexual abuse and the suit was dismissed.) 

Stewart could not be reached for comment before we first published this story, but he later sent us an e-mail saying he was not the director when the alleged abuses occurred and that he "fashioned the mutually agreed upon corrective measures" which led to the Justice Department suit being dismissed.

Ryan, a 25-year Arizona DOC veteran, became Stewart's deputy director in 1996 and was seen by some as an integral part of his regime, which also drew criticism for the long-term, intense segregation of high-risk inmates, and for a failed effort to build a private prison exclusively for the state's foreign inmates, who happened to be overwhelmingly Mexican. 

Dan Pochoda, a New York civil rights lawyer, was assigned by the federal government to monitor the conditions in the Arizona prison system just prior to Stewart's taking the reigns. "Even in the spectrum of corrections administrators, they are uniquely hard line, and in my opinion, acknowledged proponents of conditions that are damaging on a human level," he said of Stewart and Ryan. 

"There was an absolute brutality in the way the Stewart regime saw the correctional purpose," added Caroline Isaacs, criminal justice program coordinator for the Arizona American Friends Service Committee, which advocates for prison reform. "The prison system was taken from a place that cared at least a little about rehabilitation to a dictate that was all about control and security and nothing more." 

In a May 20 Justice Department press release, Stewart was listed as one of the corrections advisors who was sent to Iraq. In a subsequent interview for an online magazine, The Corrections Connection, Stewart, Lane McCotter and Gary DeLand – another former Utah Corrections official – discuss their trip there. 

DeLand told me that Chuck Ryan was part of a second shift of corrections advisors, along with John Armstrong, that came to Iraq to replace Stewart, McCotter and himself after they'd left. A Feb. 3 Asia Times story, referring to Ryan as the Coalition Provisional Authority's deputy director of prisons, confirmed what DeLand told me. Ryan could not be reached for comment. 

And while it's unlikely any of the corrections advisors in question were part of the unfolding abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib, their presence in Iraq is causing a gathering storm. Over the past two weeks, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has written two letters to Attorney General John Ashcroft demanding answers to why and how McCotter and Armstrong were hired and calling for an investigation into the role of civilian contractors in Iraqi prisons. 

So far, the feds have been tight-lipped. Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo would not return phone calls, and a Defense Department spokesman refused comment. In an email, Coalition Provisional Authority press officer Shane Wolfe noted the corrections advisors were not interrogating any inmates but training police and correctional officers and assessing the needs of Iraqi civilian prisons. 

Meanwhile, as more information is unveiled, prison reformists are increasingly aghast at why an agency responsible for keeping America's correctional system humane has been hiring people whose own prisons, they allege, were anything but. 

A May 21 New York Times story quoted an anonymous senior Justice Department official as saying its contractors "were all vetted in the normal process" and came highly recommended. Such a revelation, coupled with the resumes of McCotter, Armstrong, Stewart and Ryan, suggests that perhaps the Justice Department actually sought out perceived hard-nosed corrections types that they thought could bring order to an Iraqi detention system in shambles. 

"It makes you wonder what kind of criteria they were using," said Brooklyn-based prison reform consultant Judy Greene. "It's hard to imagine the Justice Department were looking for candidates with a proven track record of tolerating or condoning abusive treatment of prisoners, but that's what they got." 

Dan Frosch is a freelance journalist based in New York City. He's been on staff at the San Gabriel Valley Weekly section of the Los Angeles Times, The Source magazine, the Pacific Palisadian Post and most recently the Santa Fe Reporter.

AZ LEG Leader Chad Campbell: Time for DOC Director Ryan's resignation.

Central Office, AZ Department of Corrections (PHOENIX. November 2010)
  chalk art by Margaret J Plews                                                          photo: PJ STARR

(updated 2:46pm 7/23/2013) 

I don't necessarily expect Jan Brewer to care what the House Democrats think or to fire Good Old Boy Chuck Ryan, but the rest of the legislature should really be looking seriously at how badly he's mismanaged the AZ DOC - that's a billion dollars a year of state money he handles, after all - not to mention the public trust. 

of course, this isn't the first time anyone has questioned Chuck Ryan's leadership....

Resign, Director Ryan: Former Deputy Warden breaks the silence.

Brewer: Please sack Chuck Ryan.

The prisons of Chuck Ryan: Arizona's other death row.

Rep Campbell calls for DOC Oversight hearings; former DW Toersbijns weighs in

#CHUCKCHUCK #DARTHryan #DarkSideRyan  #FireChuckRyan" 


Still, the governor should care as well, though, since these are all her ghosts..
 The Ghosts of Jan Brewer
AZ State Capitol, Phoenix (April 3, 2013)
  and don't forget all the race riots and other disturbances, not mentioned below...

In any case, this is the day - the whole week - that the families of prisoners should be contacting their legislators, and the legislators responsible for the prisons your loved ones are in. Watch KPNX / CHannel 12 PHX tonight at 6 and 10pm. Then tomorrow please contact your legislators or those of the prison your loved one is in tomorrow with your own story. Forward that email to KPNX CH 12 news at with your thank you to them for their coverage.

If you don't mind forwarding a copy to me as well, I'm at


----From the website of the AZ House Democrats---------

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Campbell calls for immediate resignation of Arizona DOC Director Charles Ryan


House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24), is calling for the immediate resignation of Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan.

“Director Ryan has exhibited a pattern of mismanagement and a lack of leadership resulting in an unsafe corrections system in our state,” Campbell said. “Under his direction, our corrections system has wasted tax dollars, jeopardized people’s lives and damaged the state’s credibility.”

Campbell’s action follows the recent death of an inmate in a Buckeye prison.  Suicide and homicide rates occurring within Arizona prisons have earned the facilities negative attention in the past.

“We’ve seen reports that Arizona’s prison suicide rate was 60 percent higher than the national average between the years of 2010 and 2012,” Campbell said. “In addition to this, the attempt to cover up what happened to an inmate allowed to bleed to death in front of prison guards is a gruesome consequence of Ryan’s negligence.”

Campbell said he believes Ryan has failed to properly supervise private prison contracts. He points to the inmate escape from Kingman as an example.

“In 2010, three inmates convicted of violent crimes including murder and armed robbery, escaped a privately operated state prison in Kingman,” Campbell said. “Following this incident, Ryan admitted that the DOC didn’t properly monitor this facility. This is a community safety issue.”

Campbell said private prisons cost more than state-run prisons and that the DOC has failed to hold the private prison companies accountable for the terms of their contracts with the state. He also said the state awards contracts in a manner that is not transparent and seems indicative of cronyism. An example of this occurred earlier this year, when the DOC terminated a contract with Wexford Health Sources, a private company that provided healthcare for inmates statewide.

“The Department of Corrections contracted with a company that has a controversial record of service. In fact, one of Wexford’s employees exposed more than 100 people to hepatitis C in a prison in Buckeye,” Campbell said. “The DOC terminates that contract and replaces Wexford with Corizon, another company surrounded by controversy that also happens to have ties to people who are close to the governor. This situation reeks of patronage.”

Campbell thinks using tax dollars on mismanaged facilities is unacceptable.

“We are wasting taxpayer money on mismanaged facilities,” Campbell said. “That is especially true with the for-profit, private prisons. They are not saving the state money.”

Last year, Republicans repealed a state law in the budget requiring a comparison of state and private prisons every two years to ensure that private prisons were providing the same quality of services as state prisons at a lower cost. Department of Corrections Per Capita Cost Reports compiled over five years consistently show that the state is losing money on private prisons, and security audits show serious safety flaws in all of Arizona’s for-profit prisons, including malfunctioning cameras and alarm systems.

 “For years, Ryan has showed that he is incapable of properly handling his position. Arizonans deserve better. He should resign immediately,” Campbell said.

Reasons to call for Director Ryan’s resignation

1.       Security failures. A recent audit by the State Auditor General found disturbing security violations at state prisons, including broken perimeter alarm systems that staff ignored and a failure to keep an inventory of keys.

2.       Personnel problems.  News reports have indicated that there is low morale at state prisons and that employee turnover is very high. The Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association submitted a letter of “no confidence” regarding Director Charles Ryan.

3.       Criminal behavior.  The Arizona Department of Corrections Inspector General has documented hundreds of acts of criminal conduct by DOC employees, including DUI and domestic violence.

4.       Pattern of mismanagement and lack of leadership. One examples of mismanagement is the awarding of the medical care contract to Wexford, then rescinding that contract and re-awarding it to Corizon. Both companies have faced controversy and accusations of poor medical services.

5.       Conflict of interest.  The Department of Corrections has close ties to the private prison industry as well as private health care providers.  One example is Chuck Coughlin’s relationship with Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), which has a contract with the state to provide private prisons. Coughlin has a well-known relationship with the governor, who appointed Director Ryan to his position. Another example is Director Ryan’s ties to Terry Stewart who works with Advanced Correctional Management, which lobbies for private prison expansion, as well as Stewart’s work with Corizon, which was eventually awarded the statewide contract to provide health care to inmates.

6.       High suicide rates. Suicide rates at state prisons were 60 percent higher than the national average between 2010 and 2012.

7.       Poor medical care. Inmate medical care has been severely neglected. Egregious examples of inmates being given grossly inadequate health care have been outlined in the class action lawsuit against DOC.

8.       Abuse and neglect of inmates. There has been a pattern of abuse and neglect of inmates, including Marcia Powell who died after being left outside in the sun for many hours and Tony Lester who was allowed to bleed to death in prison while correctional officers watched and did nothing to help him.

9.       Private prison problems.  In addition to the conflict of interest noted above, Director Ryan has also failed to properly manage private prison contracts and supervise the private prisons.  The inmates escaping from Kingman is one example of his failure to oversee the private prisons. Additionally, private prisons often cost more than state-run prisons, and DOC has failed to hold the private prison companies accountable for the terms of their contracts with the state.