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:

Monday, May 5, 2014

AZ DOC denies any outbreak of scabies at ASPC-Tucson/Rincon.

So, this came into my box on Friday. Given how I raked Mr Pratt over the coals on the issue last week, I owe it to him to post this response he gave to some questions Donna Hamm raised about my previous post on Corizon. Her questions to him are in bold, his answers are in italics.

 My source still stands by her account of what has transpired at ASPC-Tucson/Rincon, however, and will be sharing it with mainstream media. They have the resources to do the fact-checking; I just amplify the voices of those who are otherwise effectively silenced by the system. If anyone out there has additional information about how ASPC-Tucson/ Rincon has been run the past year, please let me know.  My contact info is at the top of the page.


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FOLLOWUP FROM Middle Ground: parasitic infestation of the elderly, sick and dying at Tucson/Rincon ICU...

Arizona Prisonwatch

To: Peggy Plews


Date: Fri, May 2, 2014 at 6:54 PM

Subject: RE: CORIZON's deliberate indifference: parasitic infestation of the elderly, sick and dying at Tucson/Rincon ICU..

To: Middle Ground Prison Reform <>

Cc: "" "", Governor Brewer <>, "" <>, "" <>, Daniel Pochoda , Caroline Isaacs, Peri Jude Radecic  "NICK, DOUG" , "RYAN, CHARLES"  "NORTHUP, DAWN" ,

Ms. Hamm:

In response to your follow up:

1.      What was done to stop the spread of scabies once it was initially discovered?  Did the seven alleged cases result from staff ignoring the first case and letting it spread, or was it not discovered until several people already had it at approximately the same time?  If the first case was ignored and then it spread from that case into several cases, what is being done specifically to insure that serious attention will, in the future, be given to even a single outbreak of such a serious condition?  What safeguards are in place to insure that it is readily diagnosed and treated for an inmate who reports symptoms prior to spreading it to others?

To be clear, let me reiterate, there has been no parasitic outbreak of scabies.

On 03/24/14 a CNA working night shift in the IPC reported that she had a rash for approximately one week that was not resolving.  She was immediately sent to occupational health and treated for scabies.  Her diagnosis was made without confirmation by any skin scrapings.  No inmates or other staff were diagnosed with scabies at that time. The employee subsequently quit her job without notice citing personal reasons.

On 04/23/14 seven IPC staff members reported a rash of varying degrees, after they were comparing symptoms with each other.  They were sent to occupational health and five of them were given a cream to treat scabies.  Again, this diagnosis for those five employees was made solely based on presentation and statements from staff regarding scabies.  The other two staff were diagnosed with contact dermatitis and a napkin rash. All seven have been cleared and have returned to full duty. One staff member also reported having a child with scabies approximately one month prior.

2.     Without violating their HIPPA privacy rights, are there in fact seven Corizon employees who've contracted scabies but were not permitted to take sick leave due to staff shortages, as is implied in Plew's original email?

No. The information implied in Ms. Plew’s original e-mail is not correct. One staff was restricted from coming back to work for six days, four staff returned to work within 24 hours (full duty), and the other two staff (not diagnosed with scabies) returned without any restrictions. All of the Corizon staff were permitted to leave work upon reporting, and the only restrictions were based upon doctor’s orders. Paid time off was granted for anyone undergoing treatment or with work restrictions. No one was denied sick leave for any reason. An alternative staffing plan was put into place in the event all of the employees would have been taken off work for an extended period of time.

3.     Has someone investigated the physician assigned to that unit (Rincon) who is accused of ignoring patients presenting with symptoms of scabies?  As Plews noted, some of the individual prisoners may not have the ability (physical or mental) to file grievances or complain in any effective manner, but that does not relieve the DOC and/or Corizon of the responsibility to investigate.

The doctor overseeing the infirmary has advised that with regard to the inmate population there were no confirmed cases of scabies within the IPC at any time during this period. Please note that these inmates are also seen daily by numerous nursing staff where any complaints can be voiced.

4.         With respect to the allegation that insufficient amounts of food are given or that bedsheets are not being changed in a timely manner, is there any procedure in place for you to make unannounced inspections?  If not, why not?  What can or is being done to insure that this issue, allegedly reported by a former Corizon employee, is not actually happening?

I have received no reports with respect to these allegations. The medical monitoring team has full access to the infirmary 24/7 (without announcement) and inspects all aspects of patient care. Most of the inspections are unannounced, and take place many times each and every month, to include different shifts.

5.     Plews didn't identify the prisoner who allegedly died of "natural causes," but whom the Corizon ex-employee reports as having died due to neglect, so I am not sure how you can check into this, especially since no time frame was given to define "recently."  Can you somehow investigate this allegation to insure that no prisoner has died due to neglect or indifference?  Again, what active "hands on" inspections by you or someone in your office takes place at each health/medical unit -- in particular at the Tucson complex -- and how many of those inspections are unannounced?  How often do you visit the units to see things with your own eyes?

There is a mortality review process for any deaths within the department which involves the monitoring bureau. I attempt to get out to the field personally whenever time permits. I also have administrators who travel regularly in the field supervising the complex monitors.

6.     The allegations regarding tampering/altering records at Tucson/Rincon ICU are especially troubling, and they originate from an ex-employee at Corizon.  What does the DOC intend to do regarding these extremely serious allegations regarding withdrawal/changing of medications,  at "other yards" (which Plews doesn't identify).

Even if the ex-Corizon employee chooses not to come forward to contact you with her allegations or with more specific information, I urge you to investigate these claims on your own.  If all of her allegations are false, it will simply confirm that Corizon is doing the job they are contracted to perform and that your contract monitors are doing their jobs, too.  If any of the allegations are true, then immediate remedial measures need to be taken.  I hope I need not remind you that the bulk of the tragedy at the Kingman Prison a few years ago was a result of the DOC contract monitors not doing their job; I would hope that the Department will not allow such tragedy to repeat itself with the multi-million dollar inmate health care contract.

Record reviews are just one part of the monitoring taking place in the field. It is not uncommon for a monitor to copy certain records at one point in time, and go back to the record at a later date to determine if any improper alterations have been made to the original records.

We do our best to ensure that the inmates are receiving the constitutionally mandated care they deserve. Of course, specific allegations are able to be investigated more appropriately than general claims painted with a broad brush. As I have indicated in the past, I appreciate issues that are brought to my attention relating to the health care of the inmate population.


Richard Pratt


Interim Assistant Director

Arizona Department of Corrections

Health Services Contract Monitoring Bureau

(602) 771-2100