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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Friday, December 3, 2010

Governor Brewer's partner in crime...CCA.

Ever wonder why some people come out of prison more violent than when they went in? Or what the profit motive does to the staffing levels and ethical foundation necessary to truly rehabilitate criminals - or even just keep them safe? Or why people like me are so hard on cops and corrections officers? I read about this kind of stuff happening all the time - it's just not often that the public is treated to video evidence of it.

The following comes from a recent AP story posted by our comrades at Prison Watch of Idaho, and offers a glimpse of the fine company that Jan Brewer and her people are in bed with, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). Here's their national corporate rap sheet. The guards and administrators who allowed this to happen - which has been a routine occurrence at this prison - should be prosecuted
. Chances are, they never will.

CCA also operates a number of prisons and detention centers in Arizona, including the Central Arizona Detention Center in Florence, where migrants are held for ICE, as well as two facilities under contract with the State of Hawai'i: Saguaro (where two prisoners were murdered this year) and Red Rock Correctional Centers in Eloy. There is no state oversight for these places, and it's hard to find out what goes on behind their walls. Here are a few of the civil rights suits filed against CCA in Arizona in the past few years. The progressive blog Firedoglake put up an interesting post on the relationship between AZ, Hawai'i, and the private prison industry last month: check it out.

In their defense, CCA's Idaho Correctional Center is fully accredited by the American Correctional Association (okay, that doesn't say much for them - here's the ACA's rap sheet).


Video Emerges of the Beating of an Inmates at ICC - Investigation Underway At Idaho 'Gladiator School' Prison After Inmate Is Beaten Into A Coma As Guards Do Nothing

November 30, 2010 BOISE, IDAHO — The surveillance video from the overhead cameras shows Hanni Elabed being beaten by a fellow inmate in an Idaho prison, managing to bang on a prison guard station window, pleading for help. Behind the glass, correctional officers look on, but no one intervenes when Elabed was knocked unconscious.

No one steps into the cellblock when the attacker sits down to rest, and no one stops him when he resumes the beating.

Footage raises ire of critics

Videos of the attack obtained by The Associated Press show officers watching the beating for several minutes. The footage is a key piece of evidence for critics who claim the privately run Idaho Correctional Center uses inmate-on-inmate violence to force prisoners to snitch on their cellmates or risk being moved to extremely violent units.

Lawsuits from inmates contend the company that runs the prison, the Corrections Corporation of America, denies prisoners medical treatment as a way of covering up the assaults. They have dubbed the Idaho lockup "gladiator school" because it is so violent.

The AP initially sought a copy of the videos from state court, but Idaho 4th District Judge Patrick Owen denied that request. The AP decided to publish the videos after a person familiar with the case verified their authenticity.

Videos show brutal beating, prison upset with video release
The videos show at least three guards watching as Elabed was stomped on a dozen times. At no time during the recorded sequence did anyone try to pull away James Haver, a short, slight man.

About two minutes after Haver stopped the beating of his own accord, the metal cellblock door was unlocked. Haver was handcuffed and Elabed was examined for signs of life. He bled inside his skull and would spend three days in a coma.
To Read the Entire Article Click the Link Below:


Idaho Statesman - "Guards Shown Watching Inmate Attack"

Voices at Idaho Statesman:
FBI investigating Idaho's only private prison

The Department of Justice is investigating possible criminal misconduct among the staff at Idaho's only privately run prison, the U.S. Attorney in Idaho said Tuesday.Wendy Olson said FBI agents are specifically focused on the conduct by prison staff at the Idaho Correctional Center south of Boise, a lockup dubbed "Gladiator School" by inmates for its high rate of inmate-on-inmate violence. The prison is operated by Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America, the nation's largest private prison contractor.Olson told the Associated Press Tuesday the investigation is focused on whether ICC staff violated the civil rights of inmates at the prison. She said the FBI is reviewing multiple assaults between inmates and the role prison guards played in those attacks. Olson declined to share details of those assaults but confirmed the investigation included an attack on former inmate Hanni Elabed. His January 2010 assault left him with brain damage and prompted his medical release from prison.

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