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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Saturday, August 15, 2009

San Luis: New Private Prison Company to Expand/Operate Federal Prison

This came to me from Ken Kopczynski, Private Corrections Institute (PCI), an excellent resource on the private prison industry. The links for Emerald and Civigenics go to their "rap sheets" on the PCI website.

San Luis changes prison contractor

Yuma Sun

August 14, 2009 1:16 PM


SAN LUIS, Ariz. - San Luis has found a new company to run its federal prison amid concerns that the prior contractor was not following through with the planned expansion of the facility.

Emerald Companies, a Louisiana-based firm, has taken the reins from Civigenics in administering the city-owned prison that houses inmates under contract with federal law enforcement agencies.

"We are very happy to come here," said Emerald CEO Clay Lee during a recent visit to San Luis.

"We were very well received. This is going to be a very good change. I don't want to say that things were bad before, but change is inevitable."

The possibility that city would not renew Civigenics' contract surfaced months ago out of concern that the prison's planned expansion had lagged.

"There was a year of negotiations so that they would present us plans for expansion, but nothing concrete ever materialized," said Mayor Juan Carlos Escamilla.

"The building was designed from the beginning for 1,000 beds," he added. "It's not going to be bigger than that. We don't want to be known as a city of prisons. We want to control (that perception) and that's the way it will be."

Civigenics was contracted two years ago to build the prison, at a cost of $25 million funded by municipal bonds, then take over operation.

Civigenics declined to comment.

The process of transfer began last week and will conclude Saturday, Emerald's first official day as subcontractor.

Emerald is not a public company directed by a large board of directors, Lee said.

"There are three of us who make the decisions. Therefore we're able to do it immediately."

Lee said the building's good condition and design will make it easy to add beds and expand as desired by the city.

"We only need to plan exactly how that addition will be made," he said. "Time will tell, but the worst-case scenario is that we'll have 300 new beds, even though I believe we'll be able to double that."

The goal is to reach the 1,000-prison bed mark contemplated in the original design.

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