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:

Sunday, August 21, 2011

AZ Republic: Coolidge the "Right Choice" for MTC Prison.

As you can see from the article, I was there. It was a very sad night; I didn't even try to sway public opinion against the prison - just in favor of institutional transparency and community responsibility for human rights' protections. MTC's proposal is seen by the whole town as a fix-all for everything: one woman even said she thinks it will help bring God back into the schools, to great applause. These folks are already surrounded by Pinal County's prisons but their economy is profoundly depressed and the unemployment rate is still nearly 20% - why do they really think more prisons will make things better?

Anyway, this is just the mainstream media coverage; I'll comment on all the private prison public hearings separately. If anyone gets a private prison built in their town soon, though, I'd bet it will probably be Coolidge.

---------from the Arizona Republic--------

Coolidge voices desire to land new prison

Bob Ortega
Arizona Republic
August 19, 2011

COOLIDGE - Coolidge leaders pushed hard Thursday for a private prison to be built in their city.

Beneath a huge banner reading "New Prison Facility (Jobs)," dozens of city boosters in blue "Coolidge - The Right Choice" T-shirts supplied by the city packed the City Council chambers for the last of five public hearings around the state about a proposed private-prison expansion.

"Our unemployment rate has risen to 20.4 percent," said Mayor Thomas Shope, "and 400 to 800 new jobs would put a substantial dent in that."

He added that the city could use the tax boost, which he estimated at $2 million a year

Management and Training Corp. of Centerville, Utah, is proposing to build a 3,000- or 5,000-bed facility in Coolidge under contract with Arizona's Department of Corrections. The company is one of four bidders.

Shope said city leaders and most of the community solidly support MTC's proposal and are confident the company could provide good security.

But MTC's security lapses in last year's escape of three convicts from its Kingman prison did not go unnoted, again drawing fire from the family of slain couple Gary and Linda Haas. Federal prosecutors accuse two of the escapees of kidnapping, killing and then burning the Oklahoma couple.

"They were murdered because MTC could not do its job," said Vivian Haas, Gary's mother, echoing comments she made Tuesday at a hearing in San Luis.

Haas, who traveled three days by car from Missouri to testify, asked the Corrections Department not to reward MTC for its failures.

A parade of subsequent speakers from Coolidge, both official and unofficial, though, largely supported MTC, expressing more interest in gaining jobs and economic benefits than about any risks involved.

As in several earlier hearings, those speakers opposing the proposal or raising questions about the need for a private-prison expansion were mostly from elsewhere.

"When's the last time you took a shopping trip to Florence or Eloy?" asked Susan Maurer, a retired director of corrections for New Jersey who now lives in Tubac, warning that other economic development wouldn't necessarily follow.

Peggy Plews, a human-rights activist, took a different tack.

"If you get a prison here, please take responsibility for the people in the prison," she asked residents, encouraging them to set up community oversight of any prison. "Be the town that cares about human rights."

MTC is a privately held company that operates 20 prisons across seven states, with a capacity for about 25,300 inmates. In Arizona, it operates the Kingman prison, which can hold about 3,500 medium- and minimum-custody inmates, and the Marana facility, which can hold about 500 minimum-custody inmates. Thursday's hearing was the last of five on expansion plans proposed by four companies: MTC, which also has proposed an alternative location in San Luis; Corrections Corp. of America, which proposes to use two facilities near Eloy that currently house inmates from other states; Geo Group Inc., which has proposed to build prisons either in San Luis or Goodyear; and LaSalle Corrections, which is proposing a 1,000-bed facility in Winslow.

Department of Corrections officials say they expect to make their final contract award or awards sometime after Sept. 16.

1 comment:

Carl R. Toersbijns said...

Can I comment, can I can I.. a trivia question: how many other industrial complexes other than corrections exist in Pinal County ? Answer Zero - nobody wants to start a new business in a prison town..