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:

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Private Prison hearings coming up fast...

from our Friends at  AFSC-TUSCON

URGENT! Hearings scheduled for proposed for-profit prisons.

We just learned that a new round of hearings has been scheduled for proposed private prisons in AZ. The first hearing was last night in Coolidge. The second is scheduled for Thursday IN ELOY. Details below.
We desperately need people to attend these meetings and speak out against the prisons. It is always preferable for these to be local people who live in the community. But since these prisons “belong” to everyone in AZ (and will be paid for with your tax dollars), anyone has the right to give their input.
We will be organizing carpools to the next two hearings (Eloy and Florence), so please contact me ASAP if you can go. The last two are in Yuma and Winslow, and I doubt we can get people together to go from Tucson, so if you know ANYONE who lives in these towns, please send them the info and encourage them to speak out.
Finally, if you are not able to physically attend, please consider submitting written testimony to the Department of Corrections. Please explicitly state that you are submitting formal testimony and you want it included in the record.  Also be sure to reference the solicitation in your letter or email: 
 Proposal No.: ADOC12-00001388 / ADC No. 120088DC - Medium Security Prison Beds, up to 2000
And send to:
 Denel Pickering, Chief Procurement Officer, ADC
1601 W. Jefferson
Phoenix, AZ 85007
We need your help! Thanks,
August 9, 2012
Contact:  Caroline Isaacs, 520.256.4146;
Public Hearings Scheduled for Proposed For-Profit Prisons in
Coolidge, Eloy, Florence, San Luis/Yuma, and Winslow
The Arizona Department of Corrections is considering final bids from five private, for-profit correctional management corporations for the construction and management of an additional 2,000 state prison beds.
The Department of Corrections will be holding public hearings in each of the towns under consideration for a new prison or prisons.  The public is encouraged to attend and voice their concerns about having a private prison as a neighbor. 

Here is the schedule of the hearings:

1.   Coolidge:  Management and Training Corporation (MTC).  The public hearing will be held Thursday, August 6th, 5-7pm at the Coolidge City Council Chambers, 911 S. Arizona Blvd., Coolidge. *
2.   Eloy:  Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).  The public hearing will be held Thursday, August 9th, 5-7pm at the Eloy Junior High School Auditorium, 404E. Phoenix Ave., Eloy. 
3.   Florence: GEO Group. The public hearing will be held Monday, August 13th, 5-7pm, at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Grand Ballroom, 240 W. Hwy 287, Florence.
4.   San Luis (Yuma):  There are three corporations vying for a contract for Yuma: 
 Management and Training Corporation (MTC), GEO Group, and Emerald Corrections.  The public hearing will be held Tuesday, August 14th, 5-9pm at the City of San Luis City Parks and Rec Cesar Chavez Cultural Center, 1015 N. Main St., San Luis.
5.   Winslow:  LaSalle/Southwest Corrections.  The public hearing will be held Thursday, August 16th, 5-7pm at the Winslow High School Performing Arts Center, 600 E. Cherry St., Winslow.
* Our apologies for the late notice, but the Department of Corrections announced the hearings on August 6, the day of the first hearing.
The American Friends Service Committee condemns the decision to build more private prisons as unnecessary and deeply irresponsible given the state’s economic crisis and the dismal safety records of all of the corporations involved. 
Arizona’s prison population is decreasing, and the Department of Corrections projects negative growth for the next few years. Yet, the Governor and state legislature appropriated $16 million for new prison beds. Arizona’s annual corrections budget is over $1 billion, consuming 11% of the state general fund.  The Department of Corrections was the only state agency whose budget saw an increase this year, even as education, social services, and health care funding was slashed. 
In February of 2012, AFSC of Arizona released Private Prisons: The Public’s Problem, a comprehensive report on the for-profit prison industry in Arizona that presented damning evidence that these facilities do not save the state money, have serious safety problems, and are not accountable to the taxpayers of Arizona:
The American Friends Service Committee is a non-profit organization that works for justice and human rights both nationally and internationally.  The Arizona office, based in Tucson, advocates for criminal justice reform.
Caroline Isaacs,
Program Director,
American Friends Service Committee, Arizona Area Program
103 N. Park Ave., Ste. 111
Tucson, AZ  85719