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, July 18, 2014

Teacher victimized in AZ DOC prison rape files claim for $4 million.

Arizona teacher files $4M claim in prison rape

Craig Harris, The Republic |  
5:03 p.m. MST July 18, 2014

A teacher who was assaulted and raped after being left alone in a state prison classroom with convicted sex offenders earlier this year filed a $4 million claim Thursday against the Arizona Department of Corrections.

Department officials declined to comment, but prisons Director Charles Ryan has previously acknowledged that the woman was "brutally assaulted."

Inmate Jacob Harvey was indicted in May on charges of sexual assault, kidnapping and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the Jan. 30 attack.

In the notice of claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, the woman's attorney alleges the teacher was in a room with seven sex offenders on the day of attack with no supervision from correctional officers. The claim says the state engaged in gross negligence and intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon the woman.

The claim says the woman typically would teach inmates in the visitation room at the Meadows Unit, which houses sex offenders, at Eyman Prison in Florence. That area was monitored by security cameras and correctional staff.

Yet, on the day of the attack, because of a special event, she was sent to a classroom that wasn't monitored by security cameras and for 90 minutes "not a single corrections officer entered the classroom to perform a security check," the claim says.

At the end of the teaching session, six of the inmates left the classroom, but Harvey remained behind. He stabbed the woman repeatedly with a pen, choked her, slammed her head into the floor, tore off her clothes and raped her, the claim states.

"The lack of basic security measures provided Harvey the opportunity to rape and assault (the victim) that he never should have had," the claim says.

The Arizona Republic does not publish names of sexual-abuse victims.

"They handed her a radio and said: 'If anyone acts out, let us know,'" said Scott Zwillinger, the woman's attorney. "The guy who raped her should have never been in a medium-custody unit."

The teacher told investigators she screamed for help, but none arrived. Afterward, Harvey tried to use her radio to call for help. It had apparently been changed to a channel the guards didn't use, so Harvey let her use a phone.

A medium-custody unit is the second-lowest classification for inmates held in the Department of Corrections.
Harvey is now in a maximum-custody unit.

Harvey, 20, was originally serving a sentence until 2041 after being convicted of sexual assault, kidnapping and dangerous crimes against children.

Zwillinger said Harvey was convicted of raping and beating a woman in front of her toddler during a home invasion.

The claim says the DOC failed to provide a safe environment for the teacher and created a situation "where a violent rapist was left alone wholly unsupervised in a classroom with a teacher who did not have sufficient training, expertise and equipment to manage the inmate and protect herself."

The claim says that if the state does not settle, the woman will file state and federal lawsuits, and that "it is likely a judgment will be obtained that, in total, will exceed 10 million dollars."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.