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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Thursday, November 3, 2011

ACLU: The big business of immigrant detention...

------------------From the ACLU blogs------------

The Big Business of Inhumane Detention of Immigrants

The Department of Homeland Security assumes that mass detention is the key to immigration enforcement. But in fact, our detention system locks up thousands of immigrants unnecessarily every year, exposing detainees to brutal and inhumane conditions of confinement at massive costs to American taxpayers. Throughout the next two weeks, check back daily for posts about the costs of immigration detention, both human and fiscal, and what needs to be done to ensure fair and humane policy.

The inhumane and abusive system that is immigration detention in this country is good business for one particular special interest group — the private prison industry.

According to some estimates, nearly 50 percent of the tens of thousands of immigrants in detention every day are locked up in jails and detention systems operated by private prison companies — a reality that crystallizes the private prison industry's deep financial incentive to see the continued expansion of a system that this blog series has made clear is riddled with myriad abuses.

An ACLU report examining the destructive impact of prison privatization, to be publicly released tomorrow by the National Prison Project, outlines the nefarious connection between the for-profit private prison industry and the expansion during the last decade of immigration detention.

It's clear that executives in the private prison industry have achieved gigantic profits on the backs of immigration detainees left vulnerable to sexual abuse and even death.

As the report makes clear, private prisons have profited not only from needlessly harsh sentencing policies but also from an unprecedented increase in the number of detained immigrants. In 1994, the average daily population of detained immigrants stood at 6,785. By 2001, the number of immigrants detained at any given time had more than tripled, to 20,429. By 2010, fueled to a significant degree by a post-9/11 increase in reliance on immigration detention, that number stood at 31,020 — an eye-popping 450 percent increase over 1994 levels.

Why? Well at least a part of the answer was provided by National Public Radio, which reported in a 2010 story that the private prison industry engaged in a "quiet, behind-the-scenes effort to help draft and pass Arizona Senate Bill 1070," the infamous statute that requires police officers in Arizona to ask people for their papers during law enforcement stops based only on an undefined "reasonable suspicion" that they are in the country unlawfully.

Senate Bill 1070, and similar "copycat" laws since enacted in several other states, have the potential to further increase the number of immigrants detained, thereby adding pressure to build more immigration detention centers — and put even more cash into the pockets of private prison fat cats.

It's a nasty business, indeed.

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