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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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

AFSC and NAACP protesting for-profit prisons

Prison Legal News
March 27, 2012

Phoenix: The American Friends Service Committee and the NAACP of Maricopa County today took the second step in their protest of the Request for Proposals (RFP) issued by the Department of Corrections for 2,000 private, for-profit prison beds.

The protest, filed earlier this month, argues that the state of Arizona does not need and cannot afford more prison beds, and that the existing prison contracts are in violation of state statute as well as contract provisions which require private prisons to cost less and provide the same or better quality of service as state prisons. The groups cite Arizona Department of Corrections cost studies that show that some private prisons are more expensive than equivalent state units. They also point to a host of security inspections, Auditor General Investigations, and other published data that reveal that private prisons have inferior safety standards, faulty alarms, chronic understaffing, and do not measure recidivism.

The initial protest was dismissed on Monday March 19th by the Chief Procurement Officer of the Department of Corrections. In his dismissal letter, he argued that the groups do not have standing to protest under the state procurement code. In addressing the numerous and well documented objections raised by AFSC and the NAACP, he responds by stating only that they are “wrong,” without offering any evidence or documentation to refute them. The dismissal is attached.

The groups are now taking the next step—an Appeal to the Director of the Department of Administration. They contend that AFSC was specifically directed to file a protest under the Procurement Code by the Attorney General in his Motion to Dismiss their lawsuit against the last private prison RFP, and question why he would have done this if the group did not have standing. They also point out that the Arizona Department of Corrections is itself implicated in the violations of state law, and has failed in its responsibility to properly screen bids, monitor contracts, or hold private prison corporations accountable for their mistakes.

Caroline Isaacs, the Director of the American Friends Service Committee’s Arizona office, says that allowing the Department of Corrections to determine the outcome of the protest is “akin to letting the fox tell the farmer whether the henhouse is properly managed.”

The groups are asking the Director of the Department of Administration to immediately halt the prison RFP process while he reviews the appeal. They then have requested that the state formally and permanently cancel the RFP and award no contracts for new private prisons.

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