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:

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Diabetic prisoners at ASPC-Lewis exposed to infectious disease again.

Shame on the Arizona Legislature for diverting our tax dollars to the pockets of profiteers who are making a killing by providing inferior care to those in state custody. Who's going to pay for the medical care as well as the the grave suffering and deaths of Corizon's victims? WE ARE!!! Our legislators need to take the profit factor out of incarceration in this state and start serving the people, not the corporate elite.

If you have a loved one in the AZ DOC who is diabetic, please contact the American Diabetes Association about Corizon's disastrous mismanagement of diabetes in Arizona's prisons and ask them to send the prisoner an advocacy packet and request for assistance forms. The place to write is:

Director, Legal Advocate Program
American Diabetes Association
1701 North Beauregard Street
Alexandria, VA 22311
Tel: (800) 676-4065
         (703) 253-4822

Also have the prisoner write to me (Peggy Plews PO Box 20494 PHX 85036). Before the news about the latest infectious disease exposure, here are a couple other posts about accessing health care in the AZ DOC :

Corizon and the AZ DOC: Prisoners & Families, Know Your Rights.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Corizon's deliberate indifference: fighting back.

 Thursday, May 30, 2013

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

Official: Nurse exposed 24 Buckeye inmates to hepatitis B and C

The Republic |  
Wed Jan 8, 2014 9:40 PM
For the second time in 17 months, inmates at the State Prison Complex-Lewis near Buckeye have been exposed to a life-threatening disease by a private health-care provider.

The latest exposure involved improper procedures by an employee of a contractor that was brought in to replace the previous company after a similar incident.

A nurse working for Corizon Inc., the private health-care provider, improperly injected and exposed inmates to hepatitis B and C, said Clarisse Tsang, the Department of Health Services hepatitis-prevention coordinator. The nurse’s identity was not revealed.

Tsang’s disclosure to The Arizona Republic came after Corizon, which last year was awarded a three-year, $372 million contract to provide state inmate health care, refused to provide details of the incident, which occurred Sunday night.

The company sent out a news release Wednesday, saying approximately 24 inmates were exposed to “blood-borne pathogens” involving improper procedures for injections.

Some of those inmates were housed in close custody, meaning they represent a high risk to the public and staff because they have been sentenced for violent crimes, according to the Department of Corrections. Other prisoners were housed in minimum custody for low-risk inmates.

In a telephone interview Wednesday, Corizon spokeswoman Susan Morgenstern would not say if inmates were exposed to hepatitis or HIV. She also would not say why the company waited three days to notify the public. She said the company should have additional details to release today.

The Department of Corrections, which awarded the contract, also would not provide details about the potential public health risk despite knowing about the problem since Monday.

Doug Nick, a Corrections spokesman, referred questions to Corizon, saying it was the company’s responsibility to alert the public.

“It’s a medical issue,” Nick said. “They are the doctors and nurses.”

Tsang said the inmates were exposed because of an “improper use of an insulin injection from a vial” on a number of inmates.

Tsang said that up to 10 of those inmates had been exposed to hepatitis in August 2012 when a similar problem occurred with a different private health-care provider whose nurse contaminated the prison’s insulin supply.

Laura Oxley, a Department of Health Services spokeswoman, said her agency is perplexed about how the same problem could have occurred again at the same prison to some of the same inmates.

“It didn’t go without notice,” said Oxley, whose agency is investigating the incident.

The inmates could become extremely ill. Symptoms of hepatitis B and C include nausea, fatigue and yellowing of the skin or eyes. Hepatitis also causes liver problems and can be deadly, Tsang said.
Tsang said it could take up to six months to develop symptoms, though some could occur in two to six weeks.

Corizon said company officials on Tuesday met with the 24 inmates who may have been affected to counsel them and offer the “appropriate preventative medications as a precautionary measure.”

The company, in its news release, said it was developing a corrective-action plan.

Caroline Isaacs, an activist and outspoken critic of privatizing prison health care, said she was “sadly not surprised” that inmates again were potentially exposed to hepatitis.

“It’s just yet another piece of evidence that these kinds of problems are inevitable because they are inherent in the way these corporations do business,” said Isaacs, American Friends Service Committee program director. “This will keep happening until the state of Arizona takes responsibility for medical care in its own facilities.”

Isaacs said she was astounded that the Department of Corrections didn’t inform the public about a possible hepatitis outbreak.

“Who is calling the shots?” Isaacs said. “Arizona ultimately is responsible for what this corporation does or does not do.”

Corizon, in its news release, said it notified the Department of Corrections and Health Services about the problem on Monday.

The company, at the bottom of its news release, also included a statement from Corrections Director Charles Ryan that said: “Corizon responded to this incident immediately and has assured the department that it will conduct a full investigation of this matter to ensure any potentially affected inmates are treated.”

The Department of Corrections, which routinely issues news releases on state letterhead, did not independently disclose information about the incident.

In the 2012 incident, a nurse for Wexford Health Sources Inc., the previous health-care provider, spurred a hepatitis C scare by contaminating the prison’s insulin supply. That nurse, Nwadiuto Jane Nwaohia, voluntarily surrendered her nursing license in September.

Last year, Corrections hired Corizon after the state agreed to terminate Wexford’s statewide contract.

That decision came amid accusations that Wexford improperly dispensed medicine to inmates, wasted state resources and didn’t show a sense of urgency after the hepatitis scare.

Wexford has said its contract performance was hindered by state monitors and a lack of cooperation from Corrections.

To replace Wexford, the state agreed to a more expensive contract with Corizon of Brentwood, Tenn., to become the health-care provider at all Arizona-run prisons. Corizon, the country’s largest provider of correctional medical care, took over March 4. The three-year deal with Corizon cost taxpayers at least $372million, but Corizon has the option to seek additional funds in the final year. That contract is at least 6percent higher than Wexford's $349 million, three-year deal.

The state hired private health-care providers, claiming it’s less costly to taxpayers.

Reach the reporter at craig.harris or 602-444-8478.