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:


Friday, May 23, 2014

End the solitary confinement of transgender youth, Jane Doe.


REMINDER: There is a Mothers Against Solitary Confinement Rally today at the AZ Capitol (1700 W. Washington St, PHX) at 5pm - please come early if you can but come late if you have to - just come so you can organize with other family members affected by the prison industrial complex.

-----------------

 From Jane Doe to Connecticut Governor Malloy  (May 08, 2014)
(who announced the following day that Jane will be moved to a more appropriate setting ASAP.)


Dear Governor Malloy, I am writing you to let you know that today is my anniversary. I have been sitting in this prison for a month now and there is no plan to get me out. I am suffering in here. I’m having trouble sleeping and I’m not eating much. I cry in bed every night.

I can’t be myself in this place.

I feel forgotten and thrown away. As you probably know, these feeling are not new for me. This is the way my life has been going since I was a little kid. My lawyer says that Commissioner Katz is the only one who can fix this but when I wrote her a letter it didn’t help. She has given up on me. If you’re her boss you can do something, right? Everyone says I need to be somewhere where I can get help and Katz keeps telling everyone that she is working to get me out of here but I don’t believe her. I think this is just another one of her stories that isn’t true. I want to call her a liar but people tell me that I shouldn’t say that about someone important like her. All I know is that she has said a lot of things about me that aren’t true. She was on TV telling people I blinded someone and broke their jaw. That was a lie. She said that she never asked that I go to Manson. That was a lie. She told everyone that I should be going to that new girls program at Riverview. That was a lie. Now she is telling people she is trying to get me out of here but nothing is happening. I hear people talking and they are saying that I am going to be here till I’m 18. I am done with DCF. They just want to make up stuff about me so that everyone thinks I am some kind of wild animal. Is it Ok for them to do this? To just lie about me and throw me in prison and forget about me?

If I was in charge I wouldn’t let this happen. If you’re the Governor then you are in charge of everyone who works for the state. DCF is supposed to be helping me, right? If this is helping me then I’m all set with being helped. I would be a lot better off being on my own. It seems like you’re my last chance to get out of here. 


Don’t forget about me. I can’t take another month of this.

Jane Doe


-----from Mother Jones Magazine-----

"I can't take another month of this."

Mother Jones Magazine

| Fri May 23, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

There is a 16-year-old transgender girl in an adult prison in Connecticut right now. She isn't there to serve a sentence. There are no charges against her. Still, she has been there for more than six weeks, with no indication of when she might be released.

Until last week, the girl, whom I'll call Jane Doe because she is a juvenile, was in solitary confinement in the mental health unit where, according to a letter she wrote, she cried in bed every night. She heard adult inmates crying, screaming, and banging on the walls. A guard observed her day and night, even when she showered or used the toilet. When other inmates caught sight of her, they yelled and made fun of her.

"I feel forgotten and thrown away," she wrote to the governor of Connecticut from her solitary cell. "As you probably know, these feeling are not new for me. This is the way my life has been going since I was a little kid."


The state became involved in Jane Doe's life when she was five, according to her affidavit, because her father was incarcerated and her mom was using crack and heroin. She was born a boy; after she was placed in the care of her extended family, she said, one relative caught her playing with dolls and bashed her head into the wall. She said another relative raped her at age eight, as did others as she grew older. Doe would only allow herself to look like a girl in secret. Around age 11, a relative caught her in the bathroom wearing her dress and lipstick and slapped her, shouting, "You are a boy! What the fuck is wrong with you?"

"I feel forgotten and thrown away. As you probably know, these feelings are not new for me. This is the way my life has been going since I was a little kid."

At 12, the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) became her legal guardian. While in group homes, she says she was sexually assaulted by staffers, and at 15, she became a sex worker and was once locked up for weeks and forced to have sex with "customers" until she escaped. "I wanted to be a little kid again in my mother's arms and all I wanted was someone to tell me they loved me, that everything would be alright, and that I will never have to live the way I was again."

Here is how Jane Doe ended up in prison. On January 28, while living at a juvenile facility in Massachusetts—where she was serving a sentence for assault—she allegedly attacked a staff member, biting her, pulling her hair and kicking her in the head. This kind of behavior wasn't new for Doe. The director of the Connecticut Juvenile Training School, a correctional facility for boys, later testified in court that, since Doe was nine, police have been called 11 times while she was in state facilities. He said she sometimes smeared feces on herself. Another supervisor claimed Doe regularly "exhibited assaultive behaviors," targeting female staff and other juveniles.

According to Jane Doe's lawyer, Aaron Romano, the most recent incident was sparked when a male staffer at the Massachusetts facility put Doe in a bear hug restraint from behind. "This is a girl who has been sexually abused," Romano says. "She is inclined to interpret actions with that view." DCF declined to comment on the incident, but the female staff member Doe allegedly attacked did not press charges. The male staffer has since been dismissed.

In order to move Doe to an adult prison, DCF cited an obscure statute that allows doing so when it is in the "best interest" of the child. Initially, the state sought to place Doe in a men's prison, but her lawyers objected and she was sent to a women's facility. There, she was placed in solitary confinement because under federal law, juveniles cannot be detained "in any institution in which they have contact with adult inmates."

State officials have been well aware of Doe's situation: In February, DCF commissioner Joette Katz cited her case—incorrectly claiming that she had broken a staff member's jaw—when she asked the Connecticut legislature for funds to open a new girls' prison. She said it showed why high-security facility for juveniles was needed. The legislature appropriated $2.6 million, and the facility has since been opened. But Doe, officials say, is too dangerous to be placed in that facility.

Abby Anderson, executive director of the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance, says Doe's incarceration is the result of a broken system of juvenile care. "We don't have a good sense of where our system has its strengths and weaknesses," she says. One problem, she says, is a lack of adequate mental health care: Government data shows that 52 percent of girls in DCF custody or on parole have trauma disorders, and 89 percent had more than one diagnosed psychological disorder. Anderson says the state also doesn't have enough mechanisms for detecting and preventing sexual abuse. "We need to make sure this system is shored up so this never happens again…If you have a 16 year old, you need to make her feel safe and put her in a place where she can trust people."

DCF declined to comment on the record about the case, but in a press release, the agency said, "There is no identified foster home that can reasonably be expected to safely care for this youth." Romano says people licensed to take foster children in Connecticut and elsewhere have contacted him, offering to take Doe in. He says he passed the information on to DCF, but they have refused the offers.

One month into her confinement, Doe wrote a letter to governor Dannel Malloy. "Is it Ok for them to do this?" she wrote. "If I was in charge I wouldn't let this happen.  If you're the Governor then you are in charge of everyone who works for the state…Don’t forget about me. I can’t take another month of this."

Days after writing the letter, she was transferred out of the prison's mental health unit to another building on prison grounds with access to private recreational space and educational services. But she is still on her own, with no contact with other inmates, and there is still no date for her release.