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, September 14, 2010

MTC being sued by Haas Family for Murders

Private Prison Blamed for Two Murders


Courthouse News

Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Last Update: 6:40 AM PT

PHOENIX (CN) - The Arizona prison breakout that led to the killing of two campers was caused by "lax procedures and incompetent management" of the private prison operator in Kingman, the mother of one of the victims says. Vivian Haas, whose son, Gary and his wife were shot to death, claims that Management and Training Corp. admitted in an Aug. 13 letter its responsibility for the escapes, and that the circumstances "were shocking and egregious."

Haas claims that one of the escaped inmates, John McCluskey, killed her son and his wife in New Mexico in the days after the escape. Haas says the private prison operator "had duties to protect the general public in employing proper incarceration policies and procedures to assure that violent offenders stayed locked up and away from the general public."

McCluskey was sentenced to 15 years in 2009 for attempted second-degree murder, aggravated assault, and discharge of a firearm, and was sent to the private prison, according to the complaint. His fellow escapee Tracy Province was sentenced in 2009 for murder and robbery, and escapee Daniel Renwick was sentenced to two 22-year sentences for second-degree murder, the complaint states.

On July 30, McCluskey, Province, and Renwick escaped from the Kingman prison through a door wedged open by a rock, "climbing one improperly protected fence, hiding behind an inappropriate building in 'no-man's land,' and cutting through the wire of a second chain link fence," according to the complaint.

Haas says that Management and Training Corp.'s officers failed to check an alarm that sounded when the men cut through one of two security fences surrounding the prison. She says the alarm system set off false alarms so often that the guards ignored them.

Haas adds that the "perimeter fencing was substandard," and that patrols of the perimeter "were scattershot at best." Light poles around the prison were routinely burned out, and "intrusions by outsiders near the fence perimeters were common."

On Aug. 2, McCluskey and Province, allegedly with help from Casslyn M. Welch, "confronted" Gary and Linda Haas while they were "in or near their pickup truck towing a camping trailer." Gary and Linda Haas were traveling from Oklahoma to Colorado.

McCluskey and Province ordered Gary and Linda Haas into the truck, and forced Gary to drive to the west, his mother says. McCluskey directed Gary to leave the highway and drive to a secluded area, then took the couple into the camping trailer and "brutally shot them, killing each of them," Haas says.

McCluskey, Province, and Welch then allegedly drove the camper on the highway until they noticed blood leaking out of the trailer door. The escapees and accomplice "drove to a remote location, disconnected the trailer and intentionally set fire to the trailer with the bodies of Gary and Linda Haas still inside," according to the complaint.

Haas says the escapees abandoned the stolen truck in Albuquerque. Province was captured on Aug. 9 in Meeteetse, Wyo. McCluskey and Welch were captured on Aug. 19 in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.

On March 22, 2004, the Arizona Department of Corrections awarded a contract to Management and Training Corp. to operate the private prison which was "designed and constructed for 1,100 minimum security beds and 300 medium security beds to house DUI inmates," according to the complaint.

Haas seeks punitive damages for negligence and recklessness. She is represented by Christopher Zachar.

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