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:


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Cowardice at ASPC-Eyman: TSU officers awarded for courage after beating up deaf prisoner.

Beginning 12am on June 27, the 25-minute documentary "Deaf in Prison" will beshowing for two days at bit.ly/DeafPrisoners. I've only heard from one deaf prisoner in Arizona, at ASPC-Eyman/Meadows Complex. According to three other witnesses, he was assaulted by Tactical Support Unit (TSU) officers during  a retaliatory  yard shakedown on April 23, 2013. His offense: not hearing and following their orders promptly. The officers told the nurse when asked what happened to him that Christopher just "fell down", and laughed, according to a witness. 

So, I'm urging as many people as possible - especially those of you who work for DOC - to tune into the documentary "Deaf in Prison" from June 27-June 29 HERE: bit.ly/DeafPrisoners




The facebook page for the event is HERE.

Unfortunately, that and several other complaints about how violent and abusive the TSU officers were that day that were made to the Warden, Ron Credio, were dismissed as "unsubstantiated", because the officers denied the allegations - if they were even investigated. Word has it that the TSU Officers were actually told to give the guys a bad time because someone had written "Suck it!" in rocks while Credio was giving a legislator a tour, and even though the guy took responsibility for his "crime", everyone was to be punished for it.

--------------from a letter sent to the US Attorney's Office by a prisoner, who cc'ed it to me-----------

"On Tuesday, April 23, 2013 about thirty correctional officer entered the east side yard of the Meadows unit, in the Eyman complex at Florence, Arizona. These correctional officers are part of an elite squad known as the “Tactical Security Unit” (“TSU”): which are usually called in on special projects like riots, strikes, unrest, hostage-takings, etc..

Those S.W.A.T-like group wore all-black uniforms, wore no name tags, and was adorned in black vests, black ball-like caps pulled down with big black sunglasses. They purposely disguised themselves so no one could identify and name them. They directed men to put their chins down on their chest and not look up. Men were forced to strip in front of other prisoners and guards. They were compelled outside, in 85 - 90 degrees, in only a t-shirt, boxer, and shower shoes. Once outside prisoners were forced to sit on the hot sidewalk with their chin on their chest and their hands behind their back...

....they shouted they were in charge, this was their prison and we will learn it. They would get up in Men’s faces (2 to 3 inch) and would shout at them. As they talked and yelled, spit would come out their mouths. They told one man (Abdullah) “Do you think this is funny?”

They grabbed Abdullah and tried to throw him on a metal bed. When he didn’t fall, they (4) grabbed him and dragged him back to the exit door and slammed him to the cement floor. While he was face-down on the floor, one officer stepped on Abdullah’s foot with all his weight.

Next to him was a prisoner named Chrisopher. two men were holding him down by putting their knees and full weight on him. He was moaning and groaning and trying to “talk” to them. Christopher is deaf. They had slung him to the floor to start with because he had not responded to their command. But they were standing behind him and he could not “hear” or read their lips. THEY DIDN’T CARE!

...Once they had marched all the other men out, the officers pulled Abdullah, Christopher, and another prisoner...to their feet, push them into the bathroom area and forced them  to strip in front of them. As they were stripping they were punched, slapped, and called “Nigger”, “pinchy chomo”, “Deaf asshole”, “boy”, “wetback”, etc., etc. And they were loud with it! Eventually they were all compelled outside and thrown, face down into the rocks and ground. It was between 85 and 90 degrees that day and the rocks were hot. (The other men were lined up along the sidewalk. They sat there in their boxers, with their chin on their chest and hands behind their backs.)

During these altercations, there were females sitting at the tables logging in “contraband”. The men had been paraded out past these females. They said nothing to their comrades. They had also observed the men being stripped and searched..."

 

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

Both of those reports were sent to  Director Ryan in an email last year, too - he ignored them.

So this week I was kinda stunned to see that not only did Credio ignore the abuses of the TSU team during that incident (and god knows how many more that I didn't hear about), but somehow the EYMAN TSU folks got an award for being "courageous" - hahaha! Can you believe that?  They beat up deaf, elderly and mentally ill prisoners while hurling racist slurs at them, and they get called "courageous"! Meanwhile the prisoners being sent into the gang-controlled yards day in and day out to be beaten, extorted, and raped are the scum of the earth, as far as DOC is concerned.

In my book, anyone who gangs up with others to attack an unarmed mentally ill deaf person for not jumping to your orders fast enough is a coward - SHAME on the EYMAN TSU! Frankly, Christopher is the guy who should get the award for courage under fire. He has to deal with those cops and other prisoners messing with him all the time, and he doesn't wear body armor and wield guns that shoot pepper balls at people in order to walk that yard, either.

ASPC-Eyman, by the way is the Supermax - and while thye do house some of the sex offenders and gang leaders, they also house some of the most benign, harmless prisoners around. That's because the DOC has been pushing mentally ill and gay men/trans woman into MAX status who are afraid of housing in general population due to threats of violence. THOSE prisoners get more tickets than the perpetrators of violence in AZ DOC prisons, ironically- and refusing an order to house someplace unsafe is a  MAJOR ticket, equivalent to committing an assault! They get thrown in the hole, lose privileges, etc.

DOC also apparently has their more political prisoners enrolled in the maximum security in the mental health programs there (for some kind of reprogramming, i presume), while denying mental health services to psychotic prisoners who clearly need it. I just don't understand DOC Director Ryan's logic. No one is getting "better" in his custody at anything but victimizing the vulnerable, and we're spending a lot of money locking people up like they are werewolves when all they need is psychiatric care in a safe setting...

Anyway, here's the notice of what brave souls those TSU officers are: UGH!