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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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

CCA closing in on Wickenburg / Forepaugh

Sorry, folks. Busy couple of days. I have some thoughts on the notion of adding another 5,000 prison beds instead of committing to sentencing reform, community mental health/substance abuse treatment, and other ways to help people be more productive members of their families and communities than prison seems to facilitate. I'll save those addtional thoughts for later, though. This came from the Wickenburg Sun, via a tip from the guys at Private Corrections Institute this am:


By Janet DelTufo, Assistant Editor

Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) continues to eye property in Forepaugh for a prison project while waiting for the release of an official 5,000-bed RFP (request for proposal) from the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC).

It is unknown exactly when the RFP will be released to potential bidders, although the contract is scheduled to be awarded in June 2010. According to ADC officials, the RFP is currently awaiting approval from the Arizona State Legislature’s Joint Budget Legislative Committee.

House Bill 2010 was signed into law this past September and called for ADC to go out and find 5,000 beds. The beds can be split up and given to more than one bidder if necessary.

If CCA and the Town of Wickenburg find a way to make the Forepaugh property work, which consists of 78-acres of town-owned property and additional privately owned adjacent property, CCA would like to build a correctional facility and begin with about 2,600 beds.

CCA representatives have had meetings with members of the Wickenburg Economic Development Partnership and recently hosted a 21-person tour of their Saguaro Correctional Facility in Eloy. CCA officials will now spend some time in Wickenburg meeting with a number of additional groups.

“We will have discussions with a wide array of individuals in the Wickenburg area, and there will be forums for individuals to ask questions,” said CCA Senior Director Brad Wiggins. “We will have presentations and forums because we want to see if we are a good fit for Wickenburg.”

CCA has a number of sites around the state in mind for this project, but the Forepaugh area remains of interest to the company. Wiggins said CCA regards Wickenburg as a place where a family can find and maintain a strong quality of life.

“We regard Wickenburg as an area where our employees would want to work and raise their children,” Wiggins said. “We think we would have an outstanding workforce to draw from within the local and regional area.”

Wiggins said that CCA is taking a two-front approach to the Wickenburg-Forepaugh project: outreach and due-diligence.

He said CCA was continuing to work with local leadership in the education process, regarding what it means to have a corrections facility in the community. Wiggins said CCA was still working with local leaders in determining how to most effectively get its message out to the community.

“We are in the process of creating a partnership with Wickenburg’s local leaders and showing them the quality of our operations,” Wiggins said. “As this happens, the trust and respect of the community can be gained.”

CCA plans to meet with a number of groups during the second week of December. During this time, it will also be looking into how the Forepaugh property can be made available to the corporation, what is needed as far as infrastructure, and what the overall costs will be to build a correctional facility in Forepaugh.

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