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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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Anyone still entertaining CCA in their town?

This comes from a great site - the Muckraker Blog, run by the Center for Investigative Reporting. Head back there for the rest of the article and check it out.


G.W. Schulz
June 19, 2010

Trouble in three states draws scrutiny for veteran private jailer

The nation’s largest private jail operator is facing a new public relations fight following multiple high-profile incidents this year in three states – Idaho, Texas and Arizona. The Corrections Corporation of America based in Nashville, Tenn. experienced a meteoric rise during the 1990s when Washington opened its doors to privatization during the Clinton administration and helped set the stage for public-sector outsourcing that is now commonplace in the United States, notably at the still-young Department of Homeland Security.

Officials from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement revealed in late May that a guard at the company’s T. Don Hutto Residential Center located 35 miles east of Austin, Texas, sexually assaulted women detainees held there. The federal government has since reportedly directed CCA to institute changes, such as prohibiting male guards from being alone with women in custody, and ICE said it would enhance oversight of the government’s larger detention facilities. A letter to the company from ICE obtained by the Associated Press said the guard’s alleged actions occurred because CCA failed to follow federal guidelines regulating the transport of detainees.

During a past life when CCA helped lead the movement toward privatization, it so anticipated limitless fortunes that the company nearly went bankrupt building more beds than federal, state and local governments wanted to fill. But Washington pumped new life into CCA partly after the Bush administration moved to dramatically scale back the federal government’s “catch-and-release” policy in which suspected immigration violators were freed before being required to appear at a deportation hearing unless they had a criminal record.

Detention facilities ballooned after the change creating significant new demand for CCA’s services and a path for the company back to big earnings. Today CCA is a top five contractor for ICE and earned more than $200 million in revenues from the agency last year alone, according to the jailer’s Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

Executives at CCA also believe that the economic downturn and a perception by public officials that outsourcing is a solution for money woes will make it more competitive on Wall Street.

The company’s latest successes, however, are occurring alongside allegations of misconduct among guards and other episodes that have attracted the attention of critics.

The Hutto facility in Texas is named after one of CCA’s founders and houses not just individuals accused of entering the country illegally but also asylum seekers, the investigative journalism outfit Texas Tribune noted earlier this month. According to the most recent accusations against Hutto, women were allegedly molested while being patted down by a guard and one was propositioned for sex.

The ACLU of Texas called the revelations part of a pattern at immigrant detention facilities in the Lone Star State. A guard in Los Fresnos, Texas, was sentenced to prison time in April for the repeated sexual abuse of detainees. The man admitted that he “snuck into medical isolation rooms at the detention center infirmary to grope female patients. He frequently volunteered for infirmary duty so that he would be alone with the victims, and his victims were usually asleep when he entered the room,” the Justice Department says...

(finish article here)