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:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Deadly Detention: Corrections Corporation of America - Eloy, AZ

Nine dead: Eloy tops list of immigration detainee deaths

Robert Anglen's Watchblog

Arizona Republic

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

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More immigrants have died in custody at the detention center in Eloy than at any other facility in the country.

Records from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency show that nine immigrants have died while in custody at Eloy since 2003, two more than reported at any other facility where immigrants have died.

The nine deaths represent about 9 percent of the total 104 immigrants who have died while in government custody since 2003, according to an analysis by The Arizona Republic.

Neither ICE nor prison officials could speak immediately Tuesday to the the number of deaths at the Eloy facility, which is run by Corrections Corporation of America under contract with the federal government.

"While I'm not going to comment on specific facilities, I will say generally that the detention reforms recently announced by ICE...will improve medical care, custodial conditions, fiscal prudence and critical federal oversight of the immigration detention system," said ICE Public affairs Officer Gillian Brigham in Washington D.C.

Two of the deaths at Eloy -- Elias Lopez, a Mexican national who died Jan. 4, 2005, and Felix Rodriguez-Torres, a Ecuadorian national who dies Jan. 18, 2007 -- were among 10 people whose in-custody deaths were previously unreported.

ICE officials said Monday that the discovery of the 10 deaths was prompting a "an agency-wide review of all documents and databases to ensure the integrity of ICE’s records on detainee deaths."

Records show that eight of the 10 died of natural causes, one committed suicide and one was unknown.

Records relating to circumstances involving the deaths of immigrants detained at Eloy are so far unavailable. But records do show that one of the men died at the Maricopa County Medical Center and another at St. Mary's Hospital in Tucson.

The facility at Eloy houses 1,500 immigrants all of who are facing civil immigration cases and deportation.

According to the Republic's analysis, seven immigrants died while in custody at the Columbia Care Center in Columbia, SC, where ICE runs a mental health facility. There were four deaths each at facilities in San Pedro, CA, and Springfield, MO.

"It is definitely concerning that there have been nine deaths at Eloy," said Victoria Lopez, immigration rights advocate for the American Civil Liberties union in Phoenix. "It is especially concerning when some of those deaths have gone unreported."

The release of the death list was sparked by an ACLU lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act asking for a comprehensive list of deaths in 2007. In April, the Department of Homeland Security released a list of 90 individuals who died while in custody.

The ACLU maintains that deficient medical care is "believed to be a leading cause of death in immigration detention, and is the number one complaint the ACLU has received from ICE detainees."

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