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:

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

DOC monitor for Corizon well-aware of conditions in ASPC-Tucson/Rincon.

So, I haven't heard back yet from Director Ryan on my email regarding neglect and scabies at ASPC-Tucson/Rincon, but I sure did hear from his staff. To be fair to him, I'm going to post his defense of his job performance here - along with my reply....


On Wed, Apr 30, 2014 at 3:17 PM, PRATT, RICHARD; wrote:
Ms. Plews:

Your allegations are very serious in nature. I will also advise that your conclusions are totally unfounded.

The Department created a bureau to monitor the health care of the inmate population after privatization. I am the Interim Assistant Director of the Health Services Contract Monitoring Bureau. There are several staff assigned to cover the Tucson prison complex, and I was made aware of the scabies issue immediately by both the contracted medical vendor and one of my monitors at the site.

You ask if the “contract monitoring staff are just oblivious, deliberately indifferent, or actually complicit in hiding Corizon's crimes against the people of this state.” The question is both insulting and inflammatory. The answer is an emphatic “no.”

If your source (former Corizon employee) would like to directly bring forth specific concerns regarding the health care being provided at the Tucson complex, I will be happy to investigate them. She/he may e-mail me at any time, or call my office.


Richard Pratt

Interim Assistant Director
Arizona Department of Corrections
Health Services Contract Monitoring Bureau
Office:  (602) 771-2100


Here's my less-than contrite reply.


Arizona Prisonwatch Wed, Apr 30, 2014 4:53 PM  

You're right that my question about the competence and culpability of the folks responsible for overseeing the contract with Corizon is an insult, Mr. Pratt - and until you prove me wrong, I offer no apology for it. But I'm wondering, now: if you've been on top of this outbreak yourself since the beginning, why is it getting worse instead of being contained and eradicated? I've dealt with scabies plenty of times managing homeless shelters, and you people have far more control over the prison infirmary environment that I did over the ones I had to deal with.

Frankly, if it wasn't for the numerous complaints I've received from prisoners and their family members about the atrocious neglect occurring under your watch these past few years - not to mention that little class action suit over health care - I would have tempered my tone and remarks considerably. I'm tired of watching the most vulnerable people being exploited and neglected by companies like Wexford and Corizon, and you appear to be their chief enabler. Since informing you of patient care issues doesn't seem to have any impact on the care those patients receive, however, I have every reason to believe that either you don't really follow up on those matters, or no one at Corizon cares what you have to say because they know the DOC will let them get away with whatever they want anyway. The almost year-long deliberate indifference shown to the suffering of the late, elderly Gloria Rogers (despite her daughter's on-going correspondence with you about her kidney infections, cardiac symptoms, inappropriately discontinued meds, and other unmet medical needs) comes to mind. I can name more dying and dead prisoners, if you want me to explain further the reasons for my skepticism.

If you cared at all about those patients at Rincon, you would be thanking me for the information I offered so you can investigate further instead of chastising me for criticizing your office. After all, what I just had to to say to the director addresses much more than just the persistent presence of scabies in the ICU. When you respond to such information with knee jerk reactions that have more to do with defending your ego than following up to assure patient welfare, you only reinforce my concern that you may indeed minimize critical issues in favor of reassuring the legislature that everything at the DOC is hunky dorey. You thus give them permission to ignore all the desperate letters and calls from prisoners and their families begging for help - which most legislators already do anyway. You, of all people, should be leading the charge to reverse the privatization of health care at the DOC, because you have first hand knowledge of how much patient care has suffered and how wasteful doing things this way is. Instead you condone such abuse of public resources.

The patients in this particular unit are exquisitely vulnerable, as many of those guys are either too far gone to complain or will probably die before they manage to exhaust their grievances - which no one at the DOC is about to help the more seriously disabled men even file. Meanwhile, the staff who still remain in the ICU have all been threatened into remaining silent about their discontent or concerns about patient care, so who will advocate for the welfare of those men? You are clearly not the one to do so - or, if you are really in there fighting for those guys, Corizon has no respect for your insistence that prisoners receive only the best care. From everything I see, you are not an advocate for patients, you are an advocate for whitewashing their suffering in order to perpetuate the lie that contracting those services out was a brilliant idea, so men like Rep. Kavanagh can save face for demanding it. I find that pretty troubling.

Given all the above - as well as a long list of the gravely ill and dead prisoners' families I've come to be quite familiar with -  I reiterate my allegation that your office has been negligent and can't be trusted to monitor the Corizon contract in the best interests of the AZ DOC's imprisoned patient population OR the taxpayers of this state. Lest anyone say I didn't give you a fair chance to respond to that accusation, however, I'll be happy to post your reply to my email to Ryan publicly as well. In fact, I'm putting this whole conversation out there. Please feel free to elaborate more, for the record, if you wish to. You know how to reach me.

Margaret Plews