AFSC-TUCSON: AZ DOC's DEATH YARDS

For Kini Seawright, and all the other women who gather crying tears that fill a million oceans...

Parsons v Ryan is now a certified CLASS ACTION!!!

As many of you know, under the current administration of Governor Jan Brewer the suicide and homicide rates among state prisoners doubled almost immediately, and has persisted over the course of the past four years, on the watch of Arizona Department of Corrections' Director Charles Ryan. On March 6, 2013, "Parsons v Ryan" , the civil rights lawsuit filed last year by the ACLU and Prison Law Office, among others, against Ryan and AZ DOC Health Services Director Richard Pratt on behalf of 14 state prisoners was certified as a CLASS ACTION!!!! That means every prisoner in the state is now a litigant.

Thank you not only to all the legal staff who brought it this far, but also to Wendy Halloran, KPNX, and the families who have survived the horrors of prison violence in this state with a resolve to make sure that the gross indifference to human life at the AZ DOC kills no more.

FREE MARCIA POWELL: NO HUMAN INVOLVED

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Solidarity with the women of Perryville: Never Surrender.

UPDATE September 30, 2014 7pm: I'm sorry, there's still no news on how this prisoner is faring. But if you pray, please send one up tonight for her and her kids, because no matter how this turns out, its going to be a tough one...





Last week, a dear friend of a dear friend was reported to have ended her life on Santa Cruz yard in Perryville prison. Over the weekend I learned a little about the kind of blessing this woman has been in the lives of  her friends and fellow prisoners, and determined to do something special to help remember her by.  As of yesterday morning the DOC still hadn't posted her death notice, and her record on line only showed that she was sent out  to the hospital on  9/25. Sometimes the DOC is pretty slow on those, though, and I was pretty sure of my sources. So, first thing Monday morning I hit Central Office to build a memorial for her and the other women who have died from suicide or gross neglect under the Brewer/Ryan administration. There are quite a few, some whose names and stories I don't even know. Some stories  I am all too familiar with, though, like that of the beloved Gloria Rogers, whose suffering I'll write about more in due time...




I returned home to process the photos from that action to find a shred of hope in a Facebook message, however: word from a friend of hers that she is apparently on life support, which explains the silence from the DOC. A hush has now fallen across the pages where she was being mourned, as all are now holding their breaths and saying their prayers for her recovery right now.

No one in this  woman's life saw a suicide attempt coming, by the way - she had just been returned to prison in August, having relapsed since her parole last year. She had just done a decade behind bars, and was now looking a six more years in prison, away from her family, as was her partner in crime. But she was tough, and seemed like she could handle it. She was certainly plagued by her addictions, but those who contacted me about her didn't know of any serious mental health history that would suggest she was at risk for this. They felt completely blindsided, and devastated. Many successful suicides occur without clear warning, though.

Out of respect for her privacy and that of her family's, I'll defer naming this good soul until she recovers enough from this trauma to give her permission or tell her story herself - or until the DOC posts a death notice, if it turns out she passes away. Until then, those of you searching for what happened to your friend on Santa Cruz last week should just keep good thoughts in your hearts for her - she may yet be holding on. And be sure to take advantage of this time of uncertainty about her fate to tell those you love how much they mean to you - especially if they are struggling now, or in exile. You never know if you'll have the opportunity to do so tomorrow.
 


Finally, those of you who are  struggling yourselves with thoughts of ending your life because you're in or are facing prison: chances are, there are people in your life who need you nonetheless - they need you to make it through this, or your death will haunt them forever. And there may be others down the road you can help if you can figure out how to survive your ordeal now.  So, please don't take yourself out - study your rights, and become a thorn in the DOC's side instead. Whatever you do, don't do their dirty work for them.


I'm attaching the images from yesterday's memorial to this post - with apologies to the women from Perryville who received misinformation and probably had to clean up after me. I pray I never have cause to write that name on the sidewalk again. The Ghosts of Jan Brewer number far too many already...



If you need help dealing with your own mental health crisis or that of a loved one, THE NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE is a free, 24/7 service that can provide suicidal persons or those around them with support, information and local resources.

800-273-TALK (8255)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

ASPC-Winslow/Kaibab Homicide: Fabian Lozano, 26.

UPDATE 9/23/14: 

Fabian's family reports that he was strangled to death by another prisoner at ASPC-Winslow after being denied Protective Custody three times...sounds like he fought for his life to the end.

There will be a car wash to try to raise funds for Fabian's funeral expenses on Saturday, September 27 from 8am-3pm in Mesa at the corner of Mesa Drive and Broadway - there's a tire shop across from the Circle K there that will host them. Please support. He left 4 kids behind, so they can use all the help we can give them.

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Condolences to this young man's loved ones. If anyone knows anything about Fabian's life or death, please contact me at arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com or PO Box 20494 Phoenix, AZ 85036.

If you are Fabian's family and need help getting records from the AZ DOC or contacting an attorney familiar with suing the state, please contact me as well - I'll do what I can to help. My name is Peggy Plews. My number is 480-580-6807.

Fabian Lozano, 26

------------from the AZ DOC website---------------


ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

1601 W. JEFFERSON
PHOENIX, ARIZONA 85007
(602) 542-3133


JANICE K. BREWER
GOVERNOR
CHARLES L. RYAN
DIRECTOR

NEWS RELEASE
For Immediate Release

For more information contact:
Doug Nick
dnick@azcorrections.gov
Bill Lamoreaux
blamorea@azcorrections.gov
Monday, September 22, 2014


WINSLOW, (Monday September 22, 2014) – Inmate Fabian Lozano, 26, ADC #260873, was pronounced deceased on September 19, 2014.  The cause of death is under investigation.

Lozano was sentenced out of Maricopa County and was serving one and a half years in prison for aggravated assault.  He returned to ADC custody on March 7, 2014 and was housed at ASPC – Winslow.

All inmate deaths are investigated in consultation with the county medical examiner’s office.

Monday, September 8, 2014

"NO HUMAN INVOLVED": HELP FREE MARCIA POWELL!!!

a free Marcia Powell in 2008
 on Van Buren and 16th st, downtown Phoenix
Photo by Gary Millard


As many of my friends in Phoenix know, from time to time over the course of the past few years an awesome Australian filmmaker by the name of PJ Starr has come out to visit me and film area activists for her documentary about the death of Marcia Powell - the catalyst for Arizona Prison Watch to be born in the summer of 2009. 

Well, folks, it's finally almost done. We need some help to finish it, though, so please give if you can - there's an Indigogo fund set up for it, and we can really use your help. The title of the film comes from a time when the cops would document homicide victims as being male or female; in the case of prostitutes, however, they would write "NO HUMAN INVOLVED".

Here's PJ talking about "No Human Involved", along with the trailer - it looks really compelling. 

Thanks to Ruth Jacobs for this interview.

Please help Free Marcia Powell, and visit the Indigogo page...


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‘No Human Involved’: Filmmaker PJ Starr Discusses Her Documentary Telling Marcia Powell’s Story


PJ Starr Photograph by Mike Shipley taken during filming
PJ Starr – picture taken during filming
Photo credit: Mike Shipley

Can you tell me about your current project No Human Involved?

In 2009 my friend and colleague Cris Sardina (who is now the co-coordinator of the Desiree Alliance) sent me an email about the death of Marcia Powell in Perryville Prison outside of Phoenix, Arizona. Marcia had been serving a 27 month sentence for solicitation of prostitution and corrections officers had left her out in the sun in a metal cage in searing heat until she collapsed. Soon after, in hospital her life was ended when the Director of Arizona Department of Corrections removed her from life support.



Cris Sardina of Desiree Alliance holding pictures of Marcia Powell
Photo credit: PJ Starr

Cris Sardina of Desiree Alliance holding pictures of Marcia Powell Photo credit: PJ StarrAfter reading about what happened, Marcia’s story was always with me.

Later in 2010 at the Filmmakers’ Collaborative at the Maysles Institute in Harlem, NYC, I began to develop the idea of investigating Marcia’s case as a potential documentary film. Many of my peers at Maysles—who were people with a lot of community organizing knowledge already—were quite astounded by the sentence she was serving and what had happened to her. I knew then that documenting what had happened to Marcia Powell could be a vital step in educating the general public about the real harms caused to people in the sex trade by the prison industrial complex.

It was a departure for me to embark on this documentary for a wide range of reasons. In 2010 I didn’t know anyone in Phoenix, I wasn’t acquainted with the organizing there and I didn’t know Marcia personally either. My previous work had always been with folks I had known for years. But my film mentor Carol Leigh encouraged me to try this new step and connected me to several key activists in Phoenix, most importantly with Peggy Plews of Arizona Prison Watch. In March of 2011, I visited Peggy and several other the local activists to ask if they thought the film should be made and if my approach appealed to them. I knew from being involved in grassroots organizing that so often “outside experts” suck the energy out of community to “tell a news story” or make a film and this was something I wanted to avoid doing. Everything fell into place during that first journey, we all were on the same page. People were also beginning to reflect on how Marcia’s death had set a series of events in motion and wanted to talk about that in the context of a documentary.
Marcia Powell - Peggy's Chalking
What do you hope this project will achieve?

Chalking by Peggy Plews of Arizona Prison Watch

I want people to understand that what happened to Marcia can happen again. The film is not about an isolated, shocking incident (even though the case is horrific), rather it explores an example that exposes the system. As a member of Phoenix Food Not Bombs said at Marcia’s memorial service in 2009, “this has happened before, it will happen again, it happens to men, women and transgender people.” There is a mistaken belief amongst concerned people out there that somehow going to prison can “turn someone’s life around” and help people “escape” prostitution or drug use. So, the first part of the message of NO HUMAN INVOLVED is that prison is not safe, you don’t get comprehensive services there, you are dehumanized. If you are a woman who doesn’t conform to a very narrow set of gender norms set out in prison, you are at greater risk, or if you are trans, or queer, or if you have a mental health issue. The second part is that a web of terrible laws and policies—ranging from statutes to prevent walking and sleeping in public space and surviving through sex work—are sending people to prison for very long periods of time under mandatory sentencing. And to spell out the point, I think there are many, many people in the general public who want women like Marcia to “be helped” but they don’t yet understand the real functioning of the law, how policing happens, what happens to you in the court room and the system that classifies you once you are inside a prison. NO HUMAN INVOLVED unpacks all of this step by step so that audiences can think differently about what needs to change. The film is also raises awareness about the sheer numbers of people being arrested under the current criminalization of the sex trade in Arizona and the sheer numbers of people being placed in jails and prisons for doing what they need to live.

Can you share about the research you’ve undertaken to get this off the ground?

When I first started developing the film idea in 2010 and early 2011, I read a lot of online materials and reports about Marcia’s death. Since then the ACLU Arizona has published some very important documents about the experiences of prisoners that also form background information for the film. Over time NO HUMAN INVOLVED has evolved into very much a community project. Even though I have experience in doing research, finding accurate information relating to incarceration has been a learning curve and I am in awe of what folks in Phoenix can do. A colleague in Arizona has shown me how to request extremely detailed information from Arizona Department of Corrections and my good friend Monica Jones not only explained how the courts function in Arizona but encouraged me to find recordings and video tapes of Marcia’s court appearances. Kini Seawright (of the Seawright Prison Justice Project), has helped me seek out connections in the activist community to find people who personally knew Marcia. Kini keeps me putting my heart into the film. I’ve spoken to scores of people to record background interviews, including some with amazing women who were in Perryville with Marcia who have shared about who she was and how she was treated. I’ve met and interviewed people from the corrections system and a local filmmaker gave me truly vital original footage of Charles Ryan (the director of the Department of Corrections) speaking about the case at a memorial for Marcia organized by activists in 2009. In order to document how the community has responded in the years since Marcia’s death, I’ve attended (and filmed) church services, memorials, meetings at local women’s groups, rallies, actions, I’ve filmed (with permission) in the court and spoken to law enforcement. I’ve seen (and documented) the emergence of SWOP Phoenix as a presence to challenge the policing practices that put Marcia on that path to Perryville Prison.

What stage is the project at currently?

I am working with a very dedicated editor in the NYC area on the second cut of the film. Once we have enough funding, we will refine it, and create the DVD to begin the film’s distribution. As with most films these days NO HUMAN INVOLVED has been a labor of love (ie unfunded) but there are certain things such as mastering the DVD that I need to have done professionally in order to get Marcia’s story the attention it deserves.

Are you looking for people to be involved?

If folks are on social media they should follow/like the NO HUMAN INVOLVED project on Facebook and Twitter or send me an email to get updates as the film is completed and released. Currently I am hosting the first online fundraiser I have ever done to support one of my own creative projects to raise what we need for the absolutely essential things that a really polished documentary needs. Donations are tax deductible and every cent will be going back to support the film.

In the future as we plan actions and connect to campaigns related to the film, there will be many other things for people to engage with so please find a way to get in touch. I am also always happy to share what I have learned with others in the community so if a reader wants support in developing a rights based project related to the theme of NO HUMAN INVOLVED then I am happy to do as much as I can to share information, skills and connections.

Who is the target audience and what message do you want them to take away with them?

With this film I am taking a step out to interface with people who may know a little about the impact of incarceration but who have not yet had a chance to connect the dots about anti-prostitution policies, policing, the prison industrial complex and people in the community who also happen to be engaged (or profiled as engaging) in sex work. And even though as rights based activists we have collectively made enormous strides in explaining all of this, I am sure that there is a very large number of people out there who want to do the right thing by the communities of people mentioned in the film (sex workers, people with mental health issues, people with experiences of incarceration) but need more information. The film is a rights project engaging with the audience to explain that prisons are not a solution and that human rights, not “rescue” by the police, are what work best. The phrase “no human involved” indicates that the powers that be are not interested in investigating violence committed against certain groups of people because their lives are considered unimportant. The documentary NO HUMAN INVOLVED reaffirms Marcia’s humanity and is an investigation of its own kind. Finally, the phrase “free Marcia Powell” (first used by Peggy Plews of Arizona Prison Watch) is repeated throughout the film and will anchor social media strategies in a call for liberation of Marcia’s spirit and all those who are still incarcerated.

What are your plans for the future? 

Once NO HUMAN INVOLVED is completed, I will turn my activist attention to ensuring the film leads to the change that we intend. But I am also beginning to work on another project with Monica and some other people in Phoenix.

Where can people find out more about your project?

I am keeping updates flowing very regularly on Facebook and Twitter, and the film is currently fiscally sponsored as a Women Make Movies project.

Recommended websites/further reading:

I highly recommend checking out Peggy Plews writing at Arizona Prison Watch.

The book Women’s Resistance Behind Bars by Victoria Law illustrates how women in prisons seek justice and is essential reading. Victoria is also an advisor to NO HUMAN INVOLVED. Victoria and colleagues at Truthout also provide an instructive commentary on documentary and journalist portrayals of prisoners at a 2014 panel discussion at the Left Forum in NYC. They describe what works and what undermines activism and recommend some excellent films to view as well.

For very honest and insightful information from someone who has worked within the Department of Corrections at a senior level, I recommend the various writings of Carl Toersbijns.

To support the final phase of producing the documentary NO HUMAN INVOLVED click here to donate to the Indiegogo campaign.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Corizon Deaths in Custody: Suicide of John Kahler, 51.

Another suicide, this one at ASPC-Tucson/Cimarron (a pretty rough yard, by all accounts). All I can tell you about John Kahler is that while he was being held in the county jail, pending trial, he was deemed incompetent to aid in his defense ( I suspect he was symptomatic when he committed his crime, and should maybe not even have been prosecuted...). Within days of being found competent, he pled guilty to get the hell out of the Maricopa County jail - and got placed on mental health probation. It appears he planned to do his four years in Montana, but he apparently violated his probation within a short period of time, pleading guilty during a "group advisement" - he was immediately sent to prison by Commissioner J. Justin McGuire, it appears, no discussion

How sad they couldn't give him another chance. That 5 year prison stint became a death sentence, as John was only in the custody of the AZ DOC less than 2 months before killing himself...and based on all the mail and calls I get about Corizon's poor mental health care, I'd bet they weren't treating his mental illness appropriately. He must have felt terribly alone, if his family was back in Montana.

Condolences to John's loved ones. If anyone knows anything more about his life or death, please contact me. I am Peggy Plews at arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com

john kahler, 51



      ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS


1601 W. JEFFERSON
PHOENIX, ARIZONA 85007
(602) 542-3133


JANICE K. BREWER
GOVERNOR
CHARLES L. RYAN
DIRECTOR

NEWS RELEASE
For Immediate Release


For more information contact:
Doug Nick
dnick@azcorrections.gov
Bill Lamoreaux
blamorea@azcorrections.gov

Friday, September 05, 2014

Inmate Death Notification


TUCSON (Friday, September 05, 2014) – An inmate at the Tucson prison complex has died as the result of an apparent suicide.

51 year-old John Kahler, ADC# 292841, was found unresponsive in his housing location at approximately 8:50 AM.  Officers immediately responded and began lifesaving measures which were continued by paramedics.  Kahler was later pronounced deceased at a local hospital.

Kahler was serving a five year sentence out of Maricopa County on a conviction for arson of an occupied structure, and had been in ADC custody since July, 2014.

All deaths are investigated in consultation with the county medical examiner’s office.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Corizon body count climbs: Suicide of Barry Wilkins, 55.

I know nothing of the circumstances of this suicide, or any of this man's struggles.  I can, however, tell you that from his DOC record it appears as if he was actually at ASPC-PHX/Alhambra, not at Ft. Grant in Safford, when this happened- which is where the DOC has its intake unit, and where they assess prisoners who are seriously mentally ill. That tells me he was in a known psychiatric crisis of some kind already.

Condolences to Barry's loved ones; I can refer you to an attorney if you need one - it may be the only way to get to the bottom of how and why he died. I can also use your help, if you want to fight back.

If anyone out there knows more about this man's life or death, please drop me a line at arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com.

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      ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS


1601 W. JEFFERSON
PHOENIX, ARIZONA 85007
(602) 542-3133


JANICE K. BREWER
GOVERNOR
CHARLES L. RYAN
DIRECTOR

NEWS RELEASE
For Immediate Release


For more information contact:
Doug Nick
dnick@azcorrections.gov
Bill Lamoreaux
blamorea@azcorrections.gov
Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Inmate Death Notification

SAFFORD (Wednesday, August 27, 2014) – An inmate at the Ft. Grant unit of ASPC-Safford has died in an apparent suicide.

55 year-old inmate Barry Wilkins, ADC #070104 was found unresponsive Wednesday morning by ADC personnel who began lifesaving measures that were continued by paramedics upon their arrival.  Medical personnel later pronounced Wilkins dead.

Wilkins was admitted to ADC custody on September 16, 2002.  He was sentenced out of Maricopa County on multiple charges including burglary, theft, unlawful use of a means of transportation, criminal damage, forgery, fraudulent use of a credit card, criminal damage and resisting arrest.

All inmate deaths are investigated in consultation with the county medical examiner’s office.

https://apps.azcorrections.gov/mugshots/070104.jpg