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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Friday, November 27, 2009

Corrupting Influence of Private Prisons

We really don't want these people to control the economies of small towns in Arizona - their entire industry is evil. The more they have invested in prisons, the more they invest in padding legislators pockets and passing laws that criminalize more poor people or "non-counting constituents". I don't think a lot of people really get the problems with this dynamic...

This is from Protect Consumer


 Wednesday, November 25, 2009
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is sending more inmates to out-of-state prisons run by a private company that recently made a $100,000 donation to a ballot campaign committee controlled by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Daily Journal legal publication reports.

Matthew Pordum of the Daily Journal reports CDCR has agreed to send an additional 2,336 inmates to prisons operated by Corrections Corp. of America, in an extension of a contract with the company that is worth more than $54 million a year.  Six months before the CDCR decision, Corrections Corp. of America contributed $100,000 to Budget Reform Now, the committee organized to campaign for six state budget-related measures supported by Schwarzenegger on a special election ballot in May.

A Schwarzenegger spokeswoman told Pordum there was no connection between the donation and the contract extension, saying the governor had nothing to do with the extension.

The Journal story has more details about CCA’s political spending:

“We are politically active and make contributions to Democrats and Republicans alike all over the country, as do all companies of our size and reach,” said Louise Grant, vice president of communications at Corrections Corp.

Corrections Corp. donated $234,500 in 2007-08, and $38,900 so far this year, to several members of the California Legislature and the state Democratic and Republican parties, according to its filings with the Secretary of State.

The firm has also reported spending about $45,000 for each of the last three quarters on lobbyists in California.

The state began sending some inmates to CCA prisons in 2006 in response to Schwarzenegger’s emergency proclamation on prison overcrowding.  If the legislature approves the spending for the extension, California’s contract with CCA would be valued at more than $224 million a year, with state inmates housed at facilities in Arizona, Mississippi and Oklahoma.

The Schwarzenegger administration is not wholly responsible for the decision to send inmates to private prisons. The Legislature approved AB 900 in 2007 giving the state greater authority to transfer felons to private prisons outside the state.

The Florida-based prison prison firm, the Geo Group, also is seeking more California inmates. Geo is a significant campaign spender, giving $50,000 in October 2008 to the Schwarzenegger-backed Proposition 11 redistricting initiative.

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