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:

Thursday, January 13, 2011

ADC still eager to build those private prisons!.

Heads up from the Private Corrections Working Group. Considering the allegations at Saguaro Correctional Center and the Gladiator School that CCA has been running in Idaho all this time, I'd hope more stringent requirements are put into place for protecting those prisoners, including mechanisms assuring transparency so the community can accurately gauge how their prison is performing on all counts.**God only knows what happened at Red Rock in Eloy- there's been a news blackout due to the investigation there.

Just a reminder to those of you still thinking about collectively adopting a prison - the ADC doesn't even tell the public when there's been an escape attempt from a state facility (Christmas Day 2010) or a homicide in one of the prisons. What makes you think CCA/MTC/GEO/et al will tell you what they really do with and to their prisoners, since they have even less accountability to the rest of us - even though those may soon be YOUR prisoners.

The ADC can't basically be trusted to take care of their own prisoners' health and safety needs - or even the plant security - how are they going to do so once they farm the poorest of our prisoners out to profiteers just looking to make a buck off of warehousing incarcerated bodies until they die or grow too old to pose anyone a threat?

Oops? We've had someone here for 35 years who is innocent? Not a fluke, I'm afraid - there are too many wrongfully convicted people in prison. The ones who are most innocent seem to get the worst sentences, too - for the crime of challenging their case in court, that is. Prisoners are a pretty diverse group, not at all what you think they are from out here. By and large, they are ordinary people who did bad or desperate things. A handful are serious sociopaths, It's really not that hard to tell the difference.
They should never be lumped in together as they are.

You just can't go into this business and keep your hands clean, folks - not even if you just live in town and turn away from all signs of human suffering. It just isn't possible. You will benefit with school books and roads and maybe even an extra legislative seat by propping up the status quo. Meanwhile, many mothers and fathers waste their lives away doing dead time that far exceeds what may have been reasonable for their actual crime. You have to dehumanize them all a bit in order to justify your job of keeping them confined. You have to beleive that the justice system is infallible, too. Pretty soon you'll be believing that anyone who has been criminalized (you won't even care what for) "deserves whatever they have coming to them", no matter how brutal or extra-judiciary that articular penalty is doled out.

It's not the big, bad thugs who get abused in prison, by the way - it's the weaker, more vulnerable prisoner who are extorted, threatened, raped, forced into sex slavery and gang's your 19 year old boy, or 22 year old girl, or 66 year old mother who just couldn't beat her pill addiction after the surgery. And the one who kill themselves tend to be seriously mentally ill already - they should have been sent to a hospital, not a prison where they would be traumatized further.

Think about whether or not that's something you want to pass on to younger generations as the legacy your town has to offer. Will you - they- really be able offer the care necessary for those in your custody? It's more than doing counts and locking doors. The prisoners are at risk these days, by the way, for many of the same reason the staff is. Overcrowding, short-staffing, crumbling facilities, poor policy directives, neglect of the mentally ill, and so on...


Arizona to Re-issue 5,000-bed RFP

Correctional News

PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Corrections plans to re-issue a Request for Proposals for the construction and management of 5,000 prison beds in the near future, but it is not yet known when.

“There is no date, but it will be soon,” said the agency’s director of communications Barrett Marson. “We are still trying to figure it out, but we are hopeful that it will be soon.”

The DOC cancelled the original RFP last September in the wake of an investigation into security issues raised by the July escape of three inmates from the privately operated Arizona State Prison-Kingman — a 3,508-bed minimum-to medium-security complex operated by Utah-based firm Management and Training Corp.

The original Arizona RFP resulted in bids from four firms. In addition to MTC, private prison firms Corrections Corporation of America, based in Nashville, Tenn.; Emerald Correctional Management Co., based in Lafayette, La.; and GEO Group, based in Boca Raton, Fla., submitted proposals.

The RFP cancellation and overhaul of provisions is designed “to ensure that private prison contractors can meet security and operational requirements and to eliminate or reduce unfavorable occurrences within Arizona’s contracted private prisons,” according to the findings of the investigation. The DOC has four other in-state private prisons under its jurisdiction — ASP-Central Arizona Correctional Facility, ASP-Florence-West, ASP-Marana, and ASP-Phoenix-West.

Future contracts, which will include additional monetary offset provisions and sanctions, will also stipulate enhanced contract performance auditing guidelines, and stringent performance outcome and measurement and reporting requirements. **

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