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 3, 2010

AZ Private Prisons: Brewer Profits, the People Pay.

So MTC will get the bill for capturing these escaped murderers, but who will actually pay the price? The families of their victims already are. They should be compensated for their trauma and terror, not the state for it's inconvenience. The Arizona Department of Corrections put those guys in medium security and failed to oversee MTC's operations adequately in the first place.

Still want to privatize all the prisons, Governor Brewer? Should the rest of us have to pay for the industry's contributions to your campaign? I hope the families of these men's victims break down your door to hold you accountable. Pearce's, too, while they're at it. All those contracts should be canceled without delay.


9 Wants to know: When a dangerous prisoner escaped why was a victim not told for almost a day?

Posted: Aug 03, 2010 1:51 AM EDT

Reporter: Craig Smith

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - When a prison inmate escaped--who killed a woman's husband and daughter, she says 19 hours went by before the Arizona Department of Corrections informed her she could be in danger.

KGUN 9 wants to know why.

Daniel Renwick was one of three inmates who escaped from a privately run prison in Kingman.

For Vicki Walker learning that Renwick escaped brought back a world of bad memories.

"He murdered my husband and my daughter, " she said. "They were in their vehicle and he shot them, leaving my grandson who was 14 months. Kaleb now is ten."

The way she heard of the escape made things worse. A son in law in another state saw it on the news and called her.

Mrs. Walker says, "As a victim I'm supposed to be notified right away if there's an escape or if he's released and I did not hear from Department of Corrections for 19 hours."

KGUN9 News asked Arizona Department of Corrections director Charles Ryan what went wrong.

Ryan said, "The Department was also not advised immediately about the escape by Management Training Corporation and it's unfortunate it took as long as it did."

Management Training Corporation is the contractor running the prison the men escaped from but Ryan admitted even when D.O.C. knew about the escape it was still slow to tell Mrs. Walker that Renwick was loose.

KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked D.O.C. director Ryan: "Can any steps be taken to avoid a repeat of such a thing?"

Ryan replied: "Well, I hope it doesn't happen again we have reviewed the steps that were taken I do know the initial focus was trying to get law enforcement and Department resources to respond to try and pursue the apprehension and we will add emphasis to the importance of trying to notify victims in a much more timely manner henceforth."

Now that Daniel Renwick's been captured, Vicki Walker knows his escape will put him away for even longer than his original 44 year sentence.

"I don't think he'll be getting out now---forever," she said.

On the even bigger question of how the men escaped, Ryan says the girlfriend of one of them was able to walk up to the prison fence and throw them wire cutters.

The D.O.C. is looking into how that could happen undetected.

The state's contract with the private prison company allows for fines and penalties.

Ryan says one penalty definitely will happen. The company will get a bill for all the expenses of finding the escapees.

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