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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Monday, August 23, 2010

Colorado attempted murderer on the loose.

This from a state-run facility, apparently - and they took 3 hours to call police. Looks like our neighbors in Colorado didn't learn from our disaster. This guy has a history of 3 escapes, and was rated minimum security. I don't get it. Wonder if he's with the Aryan Brotherhood, too? They seem to get a lot of favors done for them...

Anyway, heads up AZ - he's fled to our neighborhood before.


Update: Re-captured Aug 25, 2010. He only had 2 months to go on a 20-40 year sentence.
I don't think this guy knew what to do once he got out of prison. That's kind of sad.


Law enforcement from around the state has joined the search for Douglas J. Alward, an inmate who escaped last night from the Sterling Correctional Facility.

It was the first successful escape attempt at the facility, said Katherine Sanguinetti, spokesperson for the Department of Corrections.

Alward was last seen at 9:09 p.m., and was missing by the time a count was called at 10:10 p.m. The facility’s shift change from second to third shift occurs at 10 p.m.

Sterling law enforcement notified residents of the escape through a reverse emergency notification system. Calls went out from the Sterling Police Department a little before 1 a.m.

Alward is described as 6’1”, 152 pounds, with blue eyes and a shaved head. He may be wearing dark green prison-issue clothing or gray sweats and a white shirt, according to the message. He should be considered dangerous.

Sanguinetti told the Associated Press, “We don’t know if he broke into someplace and got a weapon.”

She noted all escapees are considered dangerous, and Alward has a history of violence — and escape.

In fact, this is Alward’s fourth escape from custody in Colorado.

In 1979, he was sentenced on four charges in a case out of LaPlata County, the CDOC website states. The longest sentence was for 20 to 40 years. According to a 1991 article in the Colorado Springs Gazette, Alward ambushed an elderly couple in their home north of Durango, with no apparent motive. Both suffered severe injuries.

The then 17-year-old was sent to Buena Vista Correctional Facility, but escaped in July 1980 by driving a school bus through the prison’s gates. He was caught the same day and returned to custody.

He was transfered to Colorado Territorial State Penitentiary in Canon City, but escaped again in 1985 and fled to Arizona. After committing armed robbery, he was sentenced to 21 years in the Arizona State Penitentiary, but served only six before being sent to the Fremont County Jail to face charges of escape, burglary, car theft and being a habitual criminal.

While awaiting trial, Alward and his cellmate, Raymond Price, escaped from the Fremont County Courthouse law library after overpowering a guard and taking his weapon on July 6, 1991.

Nine days later, Alward was stopped in Garden City, Idaho, on a routine traffic offense. He shot at the police officer who stopped him, hitting the officer’s car, then fled on foot. He later took a hostage and stole another car. When Alward stopped for gasoline in Ontario, Ore., his hostage escaped. Law enforcement officials began searching the area after Alward was in a traffic accident near the gas station. About two hours later, he was arrested.

Alward was transported back to Colorado, where a judge ordered separate trials for the 1985 and 1991 escapes.

A press release from the Colorado Department of Corrections states that Alward was convicted of attempted murder, assault, burglary, kidnapping and escape out of La Plata, Fremont and Chaffee County. He is serving a 20-40 year sentence.

He was originally eligible for parole in 2005; the site lists his next parole eligibility hearing date as Oct. 1. His estimated sentence discharge date was Sept. 18, 2013.

Sanguinetti said Alward had not had a rule violation since 2006. She told the AP he had been “following the rules” and had worked his way to a prisoner classification considered just below the minimum risk.

The DOC is not releasing any details of how Alward escaped as the matter is still under investigation.

“He escaped from a secure perimeter,” Sanguinetti said.

SCF is a maximum-security facility that is equipped with a “kill fence” — an electrified fence that delivers a 600-volt shock the first time it is touched, and up to 4,000 volts the second time.
In addition to calling in special operations response, emergency response and canine search teams from DOC, the department is also working with the Logan County Sheriff’s Office, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Sterling Police Department and Colorado State Patrol to apprehend Alward.

The CDOC press release urges the public to take “all necessary precautions.” Sanguinetti said that means individuals should not attempt to apprehend the escapee, but should immediately call 911 if they believe they see him. She advised keeping doors and windows locked and securing vehicles, including keys.

Area schools that are in session, including St. Anthony Catholic School and Merino Schools are in lockdown as a precaution.

As of this morning, Sanguinetti said Alward was still believed to be in the area. He does not have any known ties to the Sterling area and is believed to be from the Colorado Springs area.

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