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:

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Kingman escapees suspected in N.M. murders.

(FYI: McCluskey and Welch arrested in AZ 8/19/10 post. All escapees back in custody.)

This is one profoundly sad and gruesome answer to my question about whose expense the profit for the private prison industry comes at. For those just tuning in, I'm including the background to this AP story, as narrated in an e-mail by my friend from the Private Corrections Working Group, where you can find more information about the for-profit prison industry. They have me on a list-serve to keep us posted about these things. Even the people of Kingman and the families of these men's victims can't seem to count on the industry or the state to inform them.

Thanks for the heads-up, Frank. Look out America - they're still on the run.


This is unbelievably tragic.

The MTC for-profit prison in Golden Valley (near Kingsburg) Arizona had an escape on Friday, July 30th, some time after 4:00 p.m. Although alarms signaling a cut fence went off, an incredibly brutal trio, two murderers and an attempted murderer, were not missed until the 9:00 p.m. count. The prison further delayed notifying the Mojave County Sheriff's office until 10:19. MTC only notified the state Department of Corrections at 11:37 p.m.

A perimeter guard had come upon the escapees' woman confederate, Casslyn Mae Welch, who is thought to have tossed wire cutters over the fence. She diverted the guard's attention from the escape by asking for directions to Flagstaff.

Sometime around midnight Friday, two escapees John (Charles) McCluskey, Tracy Province and Welch hijacked a semi with two drivers and drove it to Flagstaff, 150 miles away, arriving around 5:00 a.m. on Saturday. They left the terrified drivers unharmed and fled via unknown means.

Early on Saturday morning, I was notified by a reporter who had heard about the escape from a family member of another inmate. She had searched the Internet in vain for any mention of the incredibly brutal escapees. It wasn't until over 12 hours after the men fled that some broadcast media began to pick it up on their websites.

The neighbors of the prison in Golden Valley and Kingsburg were not notified, many not becoming aware that they might still have the escapees in their midst until seeing it on television on Sunday morning.

The third escapee, Daniel Renwick, who had split off, was captured after a chase and gun battle in Rifle, Colorado on Sunday.

The Payson, Arizona mother of McCluskey, one of the pair who remained free was arrested today for her alleged part in the escape. She is the maternal aunt of Welch, who was engaged to marry McCluskey, her first cousin.

Meanwhile, the three continued on through apparent changes of vehicles to New Mexico where they kidnapped and murdered a 61-year-old couple from Tecumseh, Oklahoma, stealing their car and abandoning it in Albuquerque, and cremating their bodies in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, near highway intersections to Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma.

No further information has been received about what direction they may have taken from there.


Arizona prison escapees linked to N.M. killings


The Associated Press (As reported in the Salt Lake Tribune)

August 7, 2010 09:26PM

Phoenix • Two men who escaped from a private Arizona prison and a woman thought to have helped them have been linked to the investigation of a couple’s killing in New Mexico, authorities said Saturday.

New Mexico State Police spokesman Peter Olson said Tracy Province, John McCluskey and Casslyn Welch were linked through forensics but he declined to provide specifics.

He declined to say whether police believe the three were responsible for the killings, adding that “we don’t know how involved they are.”

Province, McCluskey and Daniel Renwick escaped from the medium-security Arizona State Prison near Kingman on July 30 after authorities say 44-year-old Casslyn Welch of Mesa threw wire cutters over the perimeter fence. Renwick was arrested in Colorado on Aug. 1. The prison is managed by Management & Training Corp. of Centerville.

The badly burned skeletal remains of Linda and Gary Haas, both 61, of Tecumseh, Okla., were found in a charred camper on Wednesday morning on a remote ranch in Santa Rosa in eastern New Mexico.

Olson said a car belonging to the couple was found 100 miles west in Albuquerque on Wednesday afternoon.

The Arizona Department of Corrections says the three men escaped by cutting a hole in the prison’s perimeter fence and later kidnapping two semi-truck drivers at gunpoint and using the big rig to flee. The group left the drivers unharmed in the truck at a stop just off Interstate 40 in Flagstaff and then fled.

Province was serving a life sentence for murder and robbery out of Pima County. McCluskey was serving a 15-year prison term for attempted second-degree murder, aggravated assault and discharge of a firearm out of Maricopa County. Renwick had been serving a 22-year sentence for second-degree murder.

A nationwide search was under way for McCluskey, Province and Welch, and “America’s Most Wanted” planned to air a segment about the group. The group may be using a 1997 platinum gold Nissan Sentra with Arizona license plate 6-2-0-P-F-V.

Thomas Henman, supervisory deputy with the U.S. Marshals Service in Phoenix, said the group should be considered “extremely dangerous,” and urged the public to be very careful if they spot them and call authorities immediately.

“These are hardened criminals, and they’re armed,” he said. “And the longer they are out there, the more desperate they become and the more dangerous they become.”

He said the Marshals Service is working feverishly to find the group.

“Eventually they will be caught,” he said. “Obviously we want that to be sooner rather than later.”

Meanwhile Saturday, the Marshals Service arrested McCluskey’s mother in Jakes Corner south of Payson, Ariz., after authorities suspect she gave financial and other types of support to help McCluskey, Province and Welch on their flight from authorities.

Claudia Washburn, 68, was arrested at her home and place of business on charges of conspiracy to commit escape, hindering prosecution and facilitation to commit escape.

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