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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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Flanagan: The closing of Catalina.

An editorial to the AZ Daily Star from the Director of the Department of Juvenile Corrections...


Catalina facility's closure, move ultimately will serve troubled youths better

Charles Flanagan

"The deepest definition of youth is life as yet untouched by tragedy."

- Alfred North Whitehead

While the vast majority of Arizona's youths never have problems with criminal conduct, some do. There are many factors that can often derail these young people on the path to adulthood, leading them toward self-destructive behavior. The Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections believes that rehabilitation, treatment, education and positive enforcement are the most effective avenues for getting our young people back on the right track to live happy, safe and productive lives. I firmly believe in the agency's vision: "Safer Communities Through Successful Youth."

As the new director for the department, one of my goals is to provide troubled youths with the best resources possible in order to turn their lives around. As part of this charge, I am making some changes to more effectively serve the entire state and provide the widest possible range of services to each of the youths in our custody so that we can successfully reintegrate them into our shared communities. Most prominent among these changes is the planned closure of Catalina Mountain School in Pima County.

By the end of September, the 70-74 youths currently at Catalina Mountain will be transferred to the Department's Adobe Mountain/Black Canyon complex in Maricopa County. This relocation will accomplish several goals. It allows the department to close its most outdated unit (Catalina Mountain was built in 1967); takes advantage of efficiencies by consolidating youths and services at a single complex; and makes available the state's full range of programs and treatment options to every child in the state's custody and care.

The goal of this plan is to provide a concentration of all resources and services on a single campus, making available specialized treatment for substance abuse, mental health concerns and sex offenders. Currently, specialized treatment for mental health issues and sex offenders is not available at Catalina Mountain School, which also houses only male youths. Consolidation also will allow the department to add a Skills-4-Work program to the Adobe Mountain School, enabling youths to learn trades associated with culinary arts, cosmetology, building trades, sewing, fire science, working with wildlife and other technical careers.

The consolidation of youths, staff and programs to a single complex will result in estimated cost savings to the state of nearly $1.5 million in fiscal 2012 and $3.8 million in fiscal 2013. In fact, we anticipate a savings of approximately $100 per youth, per day, by combining operations rather than maintaining the Catalina Mountain School.

I understand this closure and relocation will result in disruption for some department staffers and families of youths in custody. The department's goal is to employ or facilitate the employment of the majority of Catalina Mountain School employees. The concentration of staff at one facility will enhance coverage for youths in crisis and provide a larger, more professionally diverse staff with expertise in a range of areas.

Additionally, the department will make available video visitation in Tucson for families of youths from Southeastern Arizona who are relocated to the Adobe Mountain/Black Canyon complex. The department also will maintain the area's parole services, private-sector service providers and community service activities, and is exploring the establishment of halfway houses.

The Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections takes seriously its mission to positively impact the thought process and behavior pattern of youths in its custody. I believe the consolidation of services and programs to our Adobe Mountain/Black Canyon complex will help us perform that mission more effectively and efficiently.

By joining together in this effort, we have the tremendous opportunity to provide a positive outcome for troubled youths.

Charles Flanagan is director of the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections.

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