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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Sunday, November 20, 2011

No justification for AZ to privatize prisons.

Our legislators and governor made such a big deal about how privatizing the prisons would save the state money, when in truth the studies were never done to substantiate their claims. In fact, the only studies done by the ADC on the cost of private prisons v state prisons shows that private prisons cost us more. So what possible motives would our lawmakers have to privatize the prisons - and build 5,000 new beds - when the prison population is declining and private prisons cost more? Whatever they are, it does not appear as if they are in the public's interest - especially since those 5,000 new beds means the state is planning an increase in criminalization (and thus victimization) and incarceration. Sounds like Arizona has given up on crime prevention altogether...

------------from the AZ Republic--------

Arizona private-prison contract targeted by watchdog

The Arizona Department of Correction's long-delayed plans to contract for 5,000 additional private-prison beds are again under fire.

A Quaker prison-watchdog group, whose lawsuit seeking to block any contract was dismissed in Maricopa County Superior Court last month, Friday filed an appeal and a fresh request for an injunction. That injunction would block any contract until Corrections completes required studies comparing the performance of its existing private-prison contracts to state prisons.

Judge Arthur Anderson dismissed the initial suit on the ground that the Tucson office of the American Friends Service Committee lacked standing to sue the state. The committee noted the dismissal didn't address substantive issues raised by the suit, which alleges that the state is in violation of its own laws, which require that any private-prison contracts save the state money and that the state conduct biannual studies comparing the operations of private and state prisons.

The department has never conducted these studies, which are supposed to analyze costs, the security and safety of each prison, how inmates are managed, inmate discipline, programs, staff training, administration, and other factors. The suit and the appeal charge that without these studies, the state can't say whether private prisons are more cost-effective than state facilities. The department didn't immediately reply to requests for comment.

Bids on contracts were halted last year to beef up security requirements after three inmates escaped from a private prison in Kingman. The department had expected to award contracts as early as Sept. 12, but that process has been repeatedly delayed. This week, the department asked the four bidders to extend their bids to Dec. 22.

Some astute AZ Republic readers comments:

"Maybe we can drive out the private prisons with a citizens initiative in the same way we put an end to the slimy payday lenders."


"The fact that ex-ADC Director Terry "Abu Ghraib" Stewart, the mentor of Chuck Ryan is working for MTC, and only that fact explains why they are considered for buiiding two more of the prisons they have been found incompetent to manage. They tried to collect $10 million from
Arizona for their empty beds at Kingman. LaSalle is supposedly being considered for building a prison in Winslow as well. That's part of the farce to fool the public into thinking this will be a competitive bidding process. LaSalle has experienced terrible escapes, much like the homocidal one from Kingman for which the state is being sued for $40 million. There is no available workforce to run even the state prison which has to import correctional officers mostly from Flagstaff and Holbrook.

CCA and GEO Group have a unique qualification as well: Their low-paid, poorly screened and marginally trained staff around the country have actually assisted the escapes of many prisoners. In Florida and New Mexico, they overbilled those states for millions of taxpayer dollars. Until we get a law that forces all corrupt corporations into bankruptcy, since we can't put them in jail, this situation will continue to prevail. (Some for-profit prison operators
have actually been forced out of business by lawsuits that have held them accountable for their negligence.) That's the record of the "qualified" bidders. Although we've put an end to the sordid career of Russ Pearce, there will be others to take his place at the head of the CCA-GEO feeding line. "

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