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:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hawai'ian prisoners may be doomed to more CCA abuses.

Here's my blog today from Hawai'i Prison Watch...

The article below is from the Honolulu Star Advertiser - they've been doing good follow-up to the on-going story on state prisoners, particularly those in Arizona.

Heads up, Hawai'i: Corrections Corporation of America still wants your prisoners here even though they just
rape, beat, and otherwise abuse the ones they already have. Think again about whether or not you really want to commit your most vulnerable people (who are in with all the real thugs) to the care of a community such as Eloy. That whole community is feeding on the misfortune of your prisoners and their victims alike, and cares not one bit about your public safety.

The more endangered you are or think you are, in fact, the more prisoners they all get paid to warehouse. Eloy and CCA are are quite happy with your crime rate, I'm sure - try to kick it up a little, and they'll probably throw a party in appreciation. They don't care who you ship to them or why - just keep the warm bodies and dollar bills coming. The same people are trying to get the legislature to criminalize all of us, too.

Doesn't Hawai'i find that troubling? You are the hosts for parasitic entities who will cause you more trouble than an epidemic of bed bugs...speaking of, I hope you're testing your prisoners for Hep C, because we have an epidemic of that in our own prisons, and it's being neglected more so than most of the rest of the country. 25% of Arizona's prison population has tested positive for the virus, and they don't even test everyone about 30% of our prison deaths are due to the liver and kidney failure that results from chronic infection. HCV is far more destructive and malicious than most criminals - and goes home with almost all of them to spread insidiously through their own communities.
I bet the people of Eloy don't even know what kind of risk their guards and community are at, too.

Don't think there isn't racism involved in your treatment here, by the way. It's tragic enough that Hawai'i incarcerates so many indigenous people - moving them off their homeland and away from their communities in the process - for the profit of the selfish, greedy white men who make their living off of people being victimized. It's even worse that you put them in the hands of Arizonans, of all people... this is, after all, the Deep South of the New Southwest: we collectively hate people of color unless they're doing our bidding, and we criminalize those who resist white supremacy here. The only reason we don't turn around and just lynch our prisoners to be done with them is because Joe Arpaio and Chuck Ryan are killing them off for us.
I know this because I've heard from many of their family members. I don't want to start hearing from your devastated survivors, too.

It doesn't matter whose name the prisons are in, if you're going with for-profits: they're all evil. Here, though, Arizonans staff them, and our people are well-known for being unbelievably cruel to "outsiders." We even seem to be proud of it, looking at who we have in office here.
Remember that, and if nothing else, at least find a way to get your people out of this god-forsaken state. Even if you bring CCA into your own backyard, at least you can keep an eye on them there, and have Hawai'ians be the ones to administer justice to Hawai'ians.

Let me know if there's anything I can do from this end to help.

Peggy Plews, Phoenix
Arizona Prison Watch


Bids sought to house inmates

The state says it does not have the facilities to bring prisoners back to the islands

Honolulu Star Advertiser
By Rob Shikina

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Mar 11, 2011

State prison officials are seeking proposals to house about 1,800 prisoners outside Hawaii after the current prison contract ends in June, despite Gov. Neil Abercrombie's call to bring inmates back home as soon as possible.

"It is very clear at this time that we do not have all the facilities to bring the inmates back," said Martha Torney, deputy director of administration for the state Department of Public Safety. "As the state moves toward bringing the inmates back to the islands, that will determine what our needs are in the future."

The state already has returned some prisoners since Abercrombie said in December that he wants prisoners to stay in Hawaii.

During the quarterly rotation in January, the state brought back about 125 more prisoners than were sent to the mainland, Torney said.

The request for proposals, published March 1, designates a three-year contract, but the state can cancel the contract and remove prisoners at any time, Torney said. The submittal period ends March 31.

One company that plans on submitting an offer is Corrections Corp. of America -- the fifth-largest U.S. prison operator behind the federal government, California, Florida and Texas.

Hawaii has 1,699 prisoners at CCA's Saguaro Correctional Center and 58 inmates at CCA's Red Rock Correctional Center, both in Eloy, Ariz., Torney said.

Brad Regens, CCA's vice president of state partnership relations, said CCA is not lobbying to keep Hawaii's prisoners out of state.

Torney said the Public Safety Department is working on a two-pronged plan to return isle inmates and hopes to have the plan ready for the Legislature by year's end. She said it's too early to discuss any other time line.

The plan includes a re-entry project to get prisoners into the community and out of prison sooner, and a look at expanding the number of prison beds in Hawaii.

Sen. Will Espero, chairman of the Public Safety, Military and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, said he would like to see Hawaii prisoners returned rather than paying a private company $60 million a year to house them. He and Rep. Henry Aquino, chairman of the Public Safety and Military Affairs Committee, said CCA officials expressed interest in running a private prison in Hawaii.

Hawaii's prisoners were sent out of state 16 years ago as a short-term solution to overcrowding and have been under CCA's care since 1998.

Espero said there are many possibilities for returning Hawaii's inmates, such as reopening Kulani Correctional Facility on the Big Island, building a new prison on Maui, introducing electronic monitoring and expanding furlough programs.

"If the governor is serious about this, within his four-year term he should easily be able to bring back 1,000 or 1,500," he said.

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