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, November 7, 2010

Globe: City of Hospitality's Field of Dreams may become a nightmare.

Tipped off to this article in the Globe Miami Times by our friend Jim Moss, from The City of Hospitality itself, trying to prevent Globe from building a private prison.   Sounds like it was a pretty darn good presentation he gave, too...thanks Jim. Hopefully someday Globe will develop its "field of dreams" into something beautiful - instead of a warehouse for storing people who have been thrown away - and the children of your town will thank you all for your efforts as well.
Check out the Globe Miami Times for more on this issue - they've been doing some pretty critical coverage of the private prison industry. There's a well-informed bunch of people in that town, so there may yet be hope for their collective future. 

Give the Southern Gila County Economic Development Board a piece of your mind, if you're from the area, before they compromise your community any further.  Someone's expecting to make a healthy return on their investment in the EDC's plans - and it won't be the good people of Globe. Here are the rap sheets on Corplan Corrections and Emerald Correctional Management - anyone who tells you that it's good for the town to do business with those folks is clueless, misguided, or corrupt.  

Tell the EDC that you expect something better for your kids' and grandkids' futures than a private prison to work for (or perhaps to live in, given the rate at which we're criminalizing everyone as even more Arizonans plunge into poverty).

Here's the EDC's contact info. Make sure to find out when they're scheduling their next meeting, and be there:
Southern Gila County EDC
1360 Broad Street
Globe, AZ 85501

928.425.4495 / 800.804.5623

Office Hours
7:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. MST

While you're at it, hit the Globe-Miami Chamber of Commerce with your thoughts on the prospect of the private prison industry taking them over, too. 

1360 North Broad Street, Globe AZ 85501
(928) 425-4495 / (800) 804-5623 / Fax (928) 425-3410

Here's the Globe city council, too, and the city administration contact info: 

City of Globe
150 N. Pine St.
Globe, AZ 85501

Phone: 928-425-7146
Fax Number 928-425-4820
Hearing Impaired Line: 928-425-3550

Finally, here are a couple more local media links about the group's efforts:

                    No prison town, for now (9/22/10)
(this is a real interesting news site with coverage on a lot of local criminal justice stuff, including the private prison proposal):

Local EDC Board hears from Citizens Opposed

November 5, 2010 FPposts, Globe Az, Private Prison Project 
By Linda Gross

Jim Moss, who heads up Citizens of Globe Opposed to Becoming a Prison Town (aka: Globe Citizens Opposed to a Private Prison), gave a ten minute presentation on Thursday to the Southern Gila County Economic Development Board who were instrumental in bringing the project to Globe. Although the State has temporarily pulled the RFP (Request for Proposal) on building more prisons by partnering with the private prison industry, the move is simply to allow them to re-write the RFP to include greater security standards. It is expected the project will be back on the table – soon.

Jim Moss, with Citizens Opposed to a Private Prison, addressed the EDC at this months Board meeting.

The talk was meant to be informational and provide the EDC Board with a greater understanding of the the groups efforts which have included a 3 month petition drive which has gathered over 2000 signatures and a more targeted post card mailing which reaches registered voters and allows them to write a brief comment on why they oppose this issue.

"Today our main purpose is to share with you what our group - Citizens Opposed to Becoming a Prison Town, is currently up to, and to convince you that the majority of folks in this town and the wide community do NOT want another prison."

As a brief recap, Moss went on to outline what the group has done in the last four months:
* Information which was research-based and included sections on both the economic and social impacts of private prisons and the industry itself.

*A general petition drive which had gathered as many as 1000 signatures by the time the group addressed Globe City Council on September 13th .   TODAY we have over 2000 signatures.

*A booth at the County Fair gained another 325 signatures, with people. “We spoke to hundreds of people during the fair and heard very few voices that supported a prison project. Consistently over 4 months- whether at the Fair, out front of Safeway, volunteers going door-to-door, or residents visiting our retail shop – 70-80% of residents say they are opposed.
Moss acknowledged that elected officials and economic boards do not change their course of action easily and said, “Nor should they. However, sometimes, when substantial citizen opposition becomes apparent it is time to re-evaluate."

Moss showed the Board a file of 2000+ signatures and 350 signed postcards from registered voters who oppose the prison

"Our job, as Citizen Opposition Organizers/Leaders is to convince you that it is definitely time to re-evaluate. Ultimately, it is in the political arena that decisions are made. That public policy is determined. And, I think you will agree that elected representative’s power and authority rests with the people. Right?

So a few weeks ago we began our political ground campaign. We changed to a one-person-one-vote concept which has a much more powerful political impact. These postcards have been distributed throughout this area.

We are targeting registered voters, beginning in Council District 3. The preliminary results of this campaign has elicited over 200 registered voters who have thus far returned a post card – many with comments.
Out of 350 post cards we have exactly 1.5 cards supporting a prison.

Our plan is to go district by district by district. And to get over 2000 signed postcards from registered voters in Globe.

We continue to try to persuade elected officials and local leaders like all of you on the EDC Board. We truly want to find a positive way to bridge the impasse between local officials and the majority of citizens in our community.

It was reported in the Silver Belt a couple weeks ago, that a member of this (EDC) board, during a board meeting, accused our Opposition Team of “threatening certain Council Members.” We assume this person on your Board meant the threat of Recall? Actually, recall is a legitimate political tool that is sometimes necessary to exercise when elected officials refuse to listen to their constituents.Right? Honestly, we have not been pushing recall, even though Globe residents raise the question all the time. We have said from the beginning, recall is an absolute last resort."

(Jerry McCreary, EDC Board president, clarified the issue from his perspective and said the comment was merely from a member who had been asked by those of the Opposition group several times- 3 times- if they wanted a ‘button’ as they went in and out of Council Chambers the night of the Groups presentation. (The group was passing out No Prison Town stickers). The member felt threatened by this action. He was not aware of any Council member being threatened, although that is what was reported in the Silver Belt.)

Ian Lamont looks over the Opposition Postcard which Moss provided.

Moss continued, ” We have been urging a resolution from Council that reflects a majority “will of the people’ on this issue. We understand it does take time…A meeting with Arizona Legislators has been scheduled in November and we expect the DOC to be there. We will show them the postcards we have gathered and the comments from local citizens. ”

“Finally, we did not take up this cause to be spoilers of a grand idea, or to wave the flag of morality. We have done our homework. We believe that the evidence shows that a big prison (and the proposal is for one 3 times the size of the current State prison), in a small community such as ours bring problems, not solutions.  That, as a community, we should not be looking at incarceration as an economic development strategy, nor should be looking at inmates as “profit centers.”  That we should not be partnering with the unscrupulous Private Prison Industry.

That we, the citizens….and this community- can do better.”

NOTE: Moss asked for another meeting with the Board when they would have more time to discuss the issue and field questions.  McCreary has agreed, saying he would email the Board with several possible dates and find a convenient time for all. He noted that the Board would not be doing their duty if they were not open to all views. It is expected that this second meeting will take place within the next 3-4 weeks. Interested citizens are welcome to attend.

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