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:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Prison privatization watch: Rabago joins the Resistance.

It's good to see that some of these prosecutors have the political courage to resist this stupid, wasteful expense of taxpayer dollars building more prisons for the sole benefit of their private operators.

---------------from the tucson citizen--------

Vince Rabago joins fight to hold Arizona accountable for private prison performance

Tucson Citizen
Oct. 15, 2011

Former prosecutor joins fight to hold state accountable for failing to properly review private prisons as Arizona court hears arguments on fate of lawsuit

Phoenix — Today [Friday, October 14, 2011], an Arizona court heard arguments to decide the fate of a lawsuit challenging the issuance of contracts for 5,000 new private prison beds in Arizona.

Vince Rabago, a former state prosecutor and candidate for Arizona Attorney General, joined the case this week in representing the plaintiffs challenging the new private prison bids. Rabago, a former Assistant Arizona Attorney General, is also an adjunct professor on crime and public policy at the University of Arizona.

The American Friends Service Committee filed suit on September 12 in Maricopa County Superior Court to prevent the Department of Corrections from awarding any contracts for new private prisons until the state completes a statutorily-required review of the performance of for-profit prisons in Arizona. While the Judge denied the group’s request for a Temporary Restraining Order to prevent the Department from awarding contracts before the case could be heard, he later ordered the Department to give notice before it signed any new contracts.

This week, the Department of Corrections apparently asked the four private prison companies under consideration to extend their bids through November 22, 2011, while the Department continues to evaluate the proposals. Spokesmen for the DOC have so far refused to comment on the reason for the extension (“Prison?,” Coolidge Examiner, 10/12/11).

Security lapses and other failures of private prisons received national attention in 2010 after inmates escaped from a private facility in Kingman, AZ, resulting in the murder of two tourists.

Rabago argued against the state’s efforts to dismiss the case, citing significant public safety and taxpayer concerns from the state’s failure to do the statutorily required comparisons of public and private prisons. “The Arizona Department of Corrections has failed to do these studies for nearly a quarter century. The first study ever is expected in January 2012, yet they refuse to delay signing contracts for just a few months. There is nothing unreasonable in requiring the state to comply with its own laws. We are hopeful the court agrees and allows the case to go forward. Given the obvious public safety issues and impact on taxpayers, the parties should have a hearing on the merits of the State violating its own laws for more than two decades.”

The case is pending before Judge Arthur T Anderson in Maricopa County Superior Court, case no. CV 2011-017119.

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