Video by Sallydarity / set to Comin' up from Behind ( Marcy Playground)

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. collective@phoenixabc.org

until all are free -

MARGARET J PLEWS (June 1, 2015)
arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com



AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:


Saturday, July 20, 2013

CALIFORNIA CDCR: 30,000 Hunger strikers can't be wrong! END SOLITARY ABUSE!


AZ DOC prisoner Nelson Douglas Johnson III died of asphyxiation in a filthy isolation cell at ASPC-Florence within months of staging a hunger strike to protest conditions in his prison. His sister Stephanie remembers him here, on the Day of the Dead Prisoner, November 1, 2012, at the Maricopa County Court Complex...

The AZ prison suicide and homicide rates doubled under the present administration
of DOC Director Charles Ryan, and have remained high for the past 4 years. Consequently, the ACLU and several other parties already have a class action suit lodged against the Arizona DOC for abusing mentallly ill prisoners by placing them in isolation cells and for showing deliberate indifference to their medical and psychiatric care needs. 

Friends and families of AZ Prisoners: read up on this, and share it with your loved ones...and help us organize direct actions in AZ as well. Contact Peggy Plews at arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com


 -----------------

from Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity (CALIFORNIA): Show some support, AZ!






PLEDGE OF RESISTANCE EMERGENCY ALERT!


Greetings to all Pledge signers,

Thank you for your support of the hunger strikers. As you may have heard, the hunger strike began on July 8 with California 30,000 imprisoned people refusing to eat. Hundreds of media outlets have been covering this historic event.

The California Department of Corrections and ‘Rehabilitation’ (CDCr) has begun to retaliate against the vocal spokespeople for the hunger strikers, who are located in Pelican Bay and Corcoran State Prisons. Our Pledge of Resistance Alert today will focus on the extreme brutality of prison authorities against the Representatives of the hunger strikers, who are in Pelican Bay State Prison.

The CDCr is also trying to undermine legal and community support of the hunger strikers. They have just issued ‘banning’ orders to Marilyn McMahon, an attorney for many of the Reps in Pelican Bay, denying her access to her clients.

Most likely, prison officials will not be thrilled to get your phone calls and emails, so please be determined and polite in trying to send your phone and email messages. Whether you get a voice or a voice mail, they will know you are watching them, and want them to Stop the Torture.

RETALIATION AGAINST PELICAN BAY PRISONER REPRESENTATIVES:
On July 11, PBSP prison authorities removed 14 prisoner Representatives from their solitary confinement (SHU) cells and placed them in Administrative Segregation (Ad Seg) cells which are even worse than the SHU. The hunger strikers, many of whom are elder men and have severe chronic illnesses, are dressed in summer clothing, but the CDC has turned on air conditioning full blast, leaving some of the men sick and freezing.

Meanwhile, the prison officials have raided their SHU cells and confiscated their legal materials, including attorney-client protected documents pertaining to their highly publicized federal class action lawsuit against the state of California (Ruiz v. Brown).

RESPONSE OF THE HUNGER STRIKE REPRESENTATIVES:

“On July 11, 2013, we were placed in Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg), where we are subjected to more tortuous conditions than in the SHU. Despite this diabolical act on the part of CDCR intended to break our resolve and hasten our deaths, we remain strong and united! We are 100% committed to our cause and will end our peaceful action when the CDCR signs a legally binding agreement meeting our demands.”

NON-ACTION OF GOVERNOR BROWN

Governor Brown has been completely silent on the hunger strike while it has gained international news attention. He is now taking a vacation in Europe, visiting, among other places, Dachau concentration camp in Germany, and promoting California’s environmental advancements to selected European audiences.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP STOP THE TORTURE:

Tell the PBSP prison authorities to return the 14 prisoner Representatives to their cells. (Their names and prison numbers are at the end of this email.)

Return all their property, especially the legal documents guards have confiscated.

Lift the ban on their attorney, Marilyn McMahon, so that she can again access her clients.

Medically monitor the men to ensure that the prison has not destroyed their health!

1. Contact Pelican Bay Warden Gregory Lewis:
*** phone: 707-465-1000 x5001
*** email: Gregory.Lewis@cdcr.ca.gov

2. Copy to Dr. Jeffrey Beard, Secretary of CDCR
*** phone: 916-323-6001 (alternatively 916-445-5073)
*** fax: 916-442-2637
*** letter: Dr. Jeffrey Beard, Secretary CDCR, 1515 S Street, 5th Floor;
Sacramento, California 94283

3. Copy to Assistant Warden at Pelican Bay, Rawland Swift
*** phone: 465-1000 x6254
*** email: RSwift@cdcr.ca.gov

4. Back up: Public Information Officer at PBSP Christopher Acosta
*** office phone: 707-465-9040
*** cell phone: 707-951-0350

THE 14 PRISONER REPRESENTATIVES:

1. Todd Ashker C58191
2. Arturo Castellanos C17275
3. Sitawa/ R.N Dewberry C35671
4. Antonio Guillen P81948
5. Danny Troxell B76578
6. George Franco D46556
7. Ronnie Yandell V27927
8. Paul Redd, Jr. B72683
9. James Baridi Williamson D34288
10. Alfred Sandoval D61000
11. Louis Powell B59864
12. Alex Yrigollen H32421
13. Gabriel Huerta C80766
14. Frank Clement D07919

Please write to the Reps.* Include one sheet of paper, one envelope and one loose stamp so they can write someone outside the walls. You can address your letter with the person’s name & prison number; Pelican Bay State Prison/SHU; PO Box 7500. Crescent City, 95532.

*Mr. Arturo Castellanos may not be able to receive your letter. He’s on ‘restricted mail,’ by the prison authorities.

Thank you so much for your solidarity,

Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition: Pledge of Resistance work group
(for more info, http://www.prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com)

-------------------Prisoners’ Demands-------------





Image by Rashid Johnson (Red Onion Prison in Virginia) in support of CA hunger strikers

The hunger strike has been organized by prisoners in an inspiring show of unity across prison-manufactured racial and geographical lines.

The changes the prisoners are demanding are standards in other Supermax prisons (eg, Federal Florence, Colorado, and Ohio), which supports the prisoners’ position that CDCR’s claim of such demands being a threat to safety and security are exaggerations. The hunger strikers** have developed these five, straight-forward, core demands, as shown below in their own words:

1. End Group Punishment & Administrative Abuse – This is in response to PBSP’s application of “group punishment” as a means to address individual inmates rule violations. This includes the administration’s abusive, pretextual use of “safety and concern” to justify what are unnecessary punitive acts. This policy has been applied in the context of justifying indefinite SHU status, and progressively restricting our programming and privileges.

2. Abolish the Debriefing Policy, and Modify Active/Inactive Gang Status Criteria -
  • Perceived gang membership is one of the leading reasons for placement in solitary confinement.
  • The practice of “debriefing,” or offering up information about fellow prisoners particularly regarding gang status, is often demanded in return for better food or release from the SHU. Debriefing puts the safety of prisoners and their families at risk, because they are then viewed as “snitches.”
  • The validation procedure used by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) employs such criteria as tattoos, readings materials, and associations with other prisoners (which can amount to as little as greeting) to identify gang members.
  • Many prisoners report that they are validated as gang members with evidence that is clearly false or using procedures that do not follow the Castillo v. Alameida settlement which restricted the use of photographs to prove association.
3. Comply with the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons 2006 Recommendations Regarding an End to Long-Term Solitary Confinement – CDCR shall implement the findings and recommendations of the US commission on safety and abuse in America’s prisons final 2006 report regarding CDCR SHU facilities as follows:
  • End Conditions of Isolation (p. 14) Ensure that prisoners in SHU and Ad-Seg (Administrative Segregation) have regular meaningful contact and freedom from extreme physical deprivations that are known to cause lasting harm. (pp. 52-57)
  • Make Segregation a Last Resort (p. 14). Create a more productive form of confinement in the areas of allowing inmates in SHU and Ad-Seg [Administrative Segregation] the opportunity to engage in meaningful self-help treatment, work, education, religious, and other productive activities relating to having a sense of being a part of the community.
  • End Long-Term Solitary Confinement. Release inmates to general prison population who have been warehoused indefinitely in SHU for the last 10 to 40 years (and counting).
  • Provide SHU Inmates Immediate Meaningful Access to: i) adequate natural sunlight ii) quality health care and treatment, including the mandate of transferring all PBSP- SHU inmates with chronic health care problems to the New Folsom Medical SHU facility.
4. Provide Adequate and Nutritious Food – cease the practice of denying adequate food, and provide a wholesome nutritional meals including special diet meals, and allow inmates to purchase additional vitamin supplements.
  • PBSP staff must cease their use of food as a tool to punish SHU inmates.
  • Provide a sergeant/lieutenant to independently observe the serving of each meal, and ensure each tray has the complete issue of food on it.
  • Feed the inmates whose job it is to serve SHU meals with meals that are separate from the pans of food sent from kitchen for SHU meals.
5. Expand and Provide Constructive Programming and Privileges for Indefinite SHU Status Inmates.

Examples include:
  • Expand visiting regarding amount of time and adding one day per week.
  • Allow one photo per year.
  • Allow a weekly phone call.
  • Allow Two (2) annual packages per year. A 30 lb. package based on “item” weight and not packaging and box weight.
  • Expand canteen and package items allowed. Allow us to have the items in their original packaging [the cost for cosmetics, stationary, envelopes, should not count towards the max draw limit]
  • More TV channels.
  • Allow TV/Radio combinations, or TV and small battery operated radio
  • Allow Hobby Craft Items – art paper, colored pens, small pieces of colored pencils, watercolors, chalk, etc.
  • Allow sweat suits and watch caps.
  • Allow wall calendars.
  • Install pull-up/dip bars on SHU yards.
  • Allow correspondence courses that require proctored exams.
**Signed by

Todd Ashker
Arturo Castellanos
Sitawa N. Jamaa (s/n R.N. Dewberry)
George Franco
Antonio Guillen
Lewis Powell
Paul Redd
Alfred Sandoval
Danny Troxell
James Williamson
Ronnie Yandell
…and all other similarly situated prisoners
Date: April 3, 2011