Fight the Treatment Industrial Complex

Fight the Treatment Industrial Complex by supporting the AFSC- Arizona campaign

Fight the Treatment Industrial Complex by supporting the AFSC- Arizona campaign
AFSC-Arizona staff are amazing advocates for prisoners - and as such, are true blessings to our communities. Spend time on their site - lots of resources.

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:


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Amy Goodman: Solitary is torture. Time for it to end.



Solitary Confinement Is Not the Answer

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/solitary_confinement_is_not_the_answer_20140507/
Posted on May 7, 2014 TRUTHDIG
By Amy Goodman

There has been much attention, and rightly so, on the CIA’s extensive use of torture, which the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is said to have documented in its still-classified 6,000-page report. The use of torture is not limited to the CIA, however. It is all too common across the United States. Solitary confinement is torture, and it is used routinely in jails, prisons and immigration detention facilities here at home. Grass-roots movements that have been pressuring for change are beginning to yield significant results. The coalitions include prisoners, their families, a broad swath of legal and social-justice groups and, increasingly, prison guards and officials themselves.

One official who worked to reduce the use of solitary confinement was Tom Clements. The executive director of Colorado’s Department of Corrections, Clements was at home on March 19, 2013, when his doorbell rang. As he opened the door, he was gunned down, murdered by Evan Ebel, who had been released from solitary confinement directly to the street less than two months earlier. The small, nonprofit Colorado Independent was the only outlet to link the murder to the psychological damage that Ebel suffered in solitary confinement. Another ex-prisoner who corresponded with Ebel disclosed text messages with him, shortly before Ebel killed Clements. One text read, “im just feeling peculiar & the only way i know i know to remedy that is via use of ‘violence.’”

Ironically, Clements was trying, successfully, to reform Colorado’s solitary-confinement policies, referred to there as “administrative segregation.” A year before his murder, Clements told The Colorado Independent’s Susan Greene, “There’s a lot of research around solitary and isolation in recent years, some tied to POWs and some to corrections ... long periods of isolation can be counter-productive to stable behavior and long-term rehabilitation goals.” He was concerned with the direct release of prisoners from solitary back into the community, a practice that likely contributed to his murder. His successor, Rick Raemisch, continues to pursue the reforms started by Tom Clements. Raemisch subjected himself to over 20 hours in solitary, and emerged even more committed to changing the system.

Juan Mendez, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, issued a special report on solitary confinement in 2011, concluding “Segregation, isolation, separation, cellular, lockdown, Supermax, the hole, Secure Housing Unit (SHU) ... whatever the name, solitary confinement should be banned by states as a punishment or extortion technique.” His latest full report on global torture includes several noted alleged excesses by the United States, including abusive solitary confinement practiced from Afghanistan to Guantanamo Bay to New York state, Louisiana and California.

In California, prisoners went on hunger strike for months last year, protesting solitary confinement, gaining widespread public support and achieving some of their demands. In Louisiana, Albert Woodfox has been in solitary confinement for more than 42 years, found guilty of murdering a prison guard, despite the lack of any physical evidence linking him to the crime and eyewitnesses placing him elsewhere at the time.  Courts have ordered his release three times, the most recent of which was appealed by the state of Louisiana. A federal appeals court is expected to decide on his case soon.

Studies have found that irreversible psychological damage can occur after just 15 days in solitary confinement. The UN’s Mendez alleges that New York state’s prison system is excessively harsh in its use of solitary. The New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement is pushing a bill, the Humane Alternatives to Long-Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement Act. The bill would limit such confinement to 15 days, and create special treatment facilities for prisoners suffering from mental illness, and grant more time outside the cell, including contact with others.

Even prison guards are weighing in against solitary. In Texas, Lance Lowry, president of AFSCME Local 3807 of the Texas Correctional Employees, wrote an open letter to Texas prison officials that called on them to reduce the use of solitary confinement, including on the state’s death row. He told me on the “Democracy Now!” news hour, “What we found is the overall use of solitary confinement in Texas was not serving its intended purposes. We went from a couple hundred lock-up cells to over 8,000 at one point.” Recidivism, violence and the overall financial costs of incarceration are all increased by the use of solitary confinement.

Most importantly, it’s torture. It’s time to put an end to solitary confinement.

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.


Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,200 stations in North America. She is the co-author of “The Silenced Majority,” a New York Times best-seller.
© 2014 Amy Goodman