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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Friday, December 16, 2011

CCA Idaho: "Gladiator School" settlement remains sealed.

More on Correction Corporation of America's appalling management of their state prison in Idaho...

--from the Associated Press, as posted by National Public Radio---

Judge: Public Can't See Idaho Prison Settlement


BOISE, Idaho December 15, 2011, 07:25 pm ET
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A federal judge has refused to unseal a settlement agreement between an Idaho inmate and a private prison company involving allegations of rampant violence at a lockup near Boise known as "Gladiator School."

The Associated Press had asked the court to unseal the settlement between Marlin Riggs and Corrections Corp. of America.

However, U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge said Wednesday the interests of Riggs and the company in keeping the settlement confidential outweighed the interest the public has in learning its terms.

The AP's West regional editor, Traci Carl, said the news organization's attorneys were reviewing the ruling and considering the legal options.

"The AP is disappointed with the ruling and believes the public has a right to know the terms of the settlement," Carl said.

Neither Riggs' attorney James Huegli nor CCA's attorney Kirtlan Naylor immediately returned messages from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Riggs initially asked for $55 million in damages, saying the Idaho Correctional Center was nicknamed "Gladiator School" and that guards knew Riggs was about to be attacked but failed to protect him.

The AP contended the lawsuit raised profound and far-reaching issues of public interest. In his written ruling, Lodge acknowledged that the operation of a prison raises issues of public concern, but he said he feared releasing the document would place Riggs at risk for intimidation or assault in prison. He also said future litigants would be discouraged from participating in judicially supervised settlement conferences if they believed the outcome could be made public.

The judge also noted that a settlement agreement in a "companion lawsuit" between other inmates at the prison and CCA was released to the public. In that case, the inmates were alleging the same types of civil rights violations that Riggs claimed, but they didn't ask the court for any monetary damages. Instead, the inmates wanted changes to the way the prison is run — and in the settlement agreement, CCA agreed to make those changes, though the company did not acknowledge any guilt or liability. Both CCA and the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho, which was representing the inmates, agreed to make that settlement public.

"The present case now involves only a single prisoner seeking monetary damages for an assault," Lodge wrote. "The public's interest in knowing the precise terms of his agreement with CCA is outweighed by the parties' interest in confidentiality as a means of minimizing the serious risks that the Court has found to exist."

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