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:

Monday, October 31, 2011

Case dismissed: AZ prison privatization moves forward.

Challenge to Arizona private prisons dismissed

Arizona Republic

A suit seeking to temporarily block the Arizona Department of Corrections from contracting for up to 5,000 more private-prison beds was dismissed Friday in Maricopa County Superior Court.

Without addressing the public-safety and fiscal issues raised by a Quaker prison-watchdog group, Judge Arthur Anderson ruled that the group lacked legal standing to prevent the state from issuing the contracts.

A Corrections spokesman said the department is still evaluating proposals from four bidders and that the dismissal of the suit won't affect the timing of any award.

Corrections, which previously had expected to announce an award as early as last month, recently asked the four companies - Corrections Corp. of America, Geo Group, Management and Training Corp., and LaSalle Corrections - to keep their bids open until Nov. 22.

In its Sept. 14 suit, the American Friends Service Committee's Tucson office, which monitors state prisons, said that Corrections had failed to comply with a long-standing state law on private-prison contracts. That law requires the department to perform detailed biannual studies comparing private-prisons contracts with the operations of state-run prisons.

As The Arizona Republic first reported in August, the department has never conducted these studies, which are supposed to analyze costs, the security and safety of each prison, how inmates are managed and controlled, inmate discipline, programs, health and food services, staff training, administration, and other factors as compared with state facilities.

The suit charged that without these studies, the state can't say whether private prisons are more cost-effective than state facilities, as state law requires. The department said it will complete the first of the required studies by January.

Caroline Isaacs, the committee's Arizona program director, said the group is considering whether to appeal or take other legal action.

"Our concerns remain unchanged," Isaacs said

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