For Kini Seawright, and all the other women who bury a loved one due to police or prison violence...

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Art of Resistance: Voices from Arizona's state prisons (Art and Letters: 2009-2013).

I've been away from my blogs of late due largely to an art project I've been working on with prisoners. That's all been for the opening of a show I'm organizing this month of their gifts of art and their most compelling - and representative - letters about AZ prison life. My main objective is simply to amplify their voices, not narrate their world for them, as I often end up doing in my blogs; they do a good enough job of speaking for themselves.  So, below is the flyer - take a close look at Reese's visionary art, too. I was stunned when it came in from the Supermax prison last week. Posters of it will available to raise funds for further prison outreach, assuming we have the artist's explicit blessings by then.

The show will be running every weekend through Jan 5th, 2014. Friday, Jan 3 is the First Friday of the new year for Artwalk in Phoenix, so if you don't make it by the show before then, bundle up and take the light rail to Roosevelt and Central, then come on over to the Firehouse Gallery at 1015 N. 1st St. for a little reception from 6-8pm. Roam the streets and take in the music, art, and streetcorner preachers for a few hours, then come through the alley behind 1st street to the Firehouse Cafe to see the brilliant and talented cast of First Friday Night Live go on stage at 10 pm. There really are some amazing people in this town, as these guys are known to sing.

I plan to be there for all our open hours (on the flyer below) while the show is up, but call me if you want to make sure I'm in before you drop by (480-580-6807). There are some great big and little stocking stuffers to pick up, like tshirts, jewelry and mixed media locally made by members of the 23 Collective, which has so graciously embraced me as as bona-fide starving artist.  You can also can find funky stuff there like skull socks and a large collection of phallic pendants (go figure). A second hand shop is in the Gallery as well: The Side Car Alley carries some cool vintage and collectible stuff, and Joanna's often there doing henna for folks. And of course it's the only place in town you can find a Baby Abolitionist onesie or bib, or a travel coffee mug that shouts to the cop ticketing you "Resist police oppression!". The latter stuff (and skull socks) comes from yours truly.

Blessings to all who have supported my work this year: you should especially be sure to hit the show, because these voices would have been left unanswered without the postage, data entry, free photocopies, and other help this community has given. I'm still not a member of the non-profit industrial complex, so to speak, but I really do live near poverty and in perpetual debt due to my prison outreach activities.  I don't charge prisoners or their families for my help - though many do send what they can - so if you donate for more reasons than a tax writeoff, please keep sending it my way. It takes $3.00 in postage and a little printing to send a packet of self-help materials and hope to a sick or traumatized prisoner trying to survive their stay at the AZ DOC, which seems like such a small investment for a big return...I get about 10-15 requests for materials a week,  though, so it really adds up. I'm up to about 500 prisoners on my mailing list now as well - which means my first 2014 newsletter will cost about $250 this year. That's the next project I'll be begging for your help with, so save me your leftover Christmas stamps again, my friends - and find me at PO Box 20494 PHX 85036.

Until then, peace and love -


Monday, December 2, 2013

Corizon's prisoners dying younger from suicide and "natural causes".

Prior to this latest suicide at Eyman, I was concerned about the number of successful suicides of late - most specifically, since Corizon took over. Take a look at what I found when I examined the DOC's death reports from January 2012- October 2013 (which encompasses 6 months of the DOC administering health care, then 8 months of wexford, and 8 months of Corizon). The average age of death is getting dramatically younger (even when controlled for suicides and homicides), and there are WAY more suicides now. Do the numbers yourself. And check out the AFSC-Tucson's report again: DEATH YARDS. There's a lot to it.

Most of the suicides are happening in single cells, and appear to be related to prisoenrs having a poorly managed serious mental illness and/or suiciding for fear of being on the GP yards - but those conclusions require more study, once investigations are complete and state records are available. 

I'm concerned about the suicides and the connection there may be between them and the frequent reports I've received that prisoners on psychiatric medications have had thier meds abruptly stopped by Corizon doctors, and have been changed to less effective meds than they were previously on, including some that really aren't even used  anymore in the free world due to their side effect profiles, like thorazine. 

In the meantime, Eyman prisoners' visits with their mental health professionals are being done by video-conferencing after theyr'e all herded - chained - into a big cell together. I can't tell if the mental health reivews are actually then conducted en masse, or if they are provided some smeblance of privacy but only get about 5 mins of the provider's time. I believe Donna Hamm is trying to sort out exactly how psychiatric evaluations are beign done for maximum security prisoners at Eyman. 

In any case, given the number of suicides at Eyman in the past year, I think they should re-evaluate the effectiveness of whatever it is they're doing there by way of mental health treatment...


JAN 2012 - June 2012 : AZ DOC Health care

Jerry McCoy, 53, ADC #108159, died Jan 16 from complications of Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Alfonso Farmer, 23, ADC #219587 died Jan 22 from an apparent suicide
Alvin Rhodes, 64, ADC #264597, died Jan 22 from complications of cancer
Harry Gardner, 82, ADC #167824, died Jan 20 from complications of lung cancer
Forrest Day, 19, ADC #258301, died Jan 27 from a suspected suicide

Francisco Leon, 64, ADC #90634, died Feb 13 from end stage renal disease
James Toppin, 63, ADC #216346, died Feb 12  from apparent natural causes
Daniel Porter, 48, ADC #61424, died Feb 20 from water intoxication
Clifford Fritz, 41, ADC #129311, died Feb 23 from cancer.

Edward Baeza, 56, ADC #43508, died Mar 11 from apparent natural causes
Cesar Carbajal, 35, ADC #268481 died mar 15 from unknown causes
Nolan Pierce, 23, ADC #245734, died Mar 16 from a possible homicide
David Hunt, 34, ADC #109305, died Mar 25  from medication OD
George Bredemann, 69, ADC #83222, died Mar 31 from apparent natural causes

Shon Wilder, 33, ADC #129144, died April 20 from a possible homicide
Isabelle Trujillo, 61, ADC #076085, died April 24 from apparent natural causes
Joseph Venegas, 29, ADC #185473, died April 25 from unknown causes (pneumonia)
David Washburn, 69, ADC #098366, died April 27 from apparent natural causes

Robert Ginan, 69, ADC #220296, died May 7 from apparent natural causes
Owen Vilan, 54, ADC #242276, died May 8 from apparent natural causes
Enrique Orozco, 46, ADC #119841, died May 22 from apparent natural causes
Robert Charo, 61, ADC #049825, died May 23 from apparent natural causes
T Ray Washington, 41, ADC #240344, died May 25 from apparent natural causes
Candelario Baca, 69, ADC #039760, died May 30 from apparent natural causes

Louis Jernigan, 67, ADC #30249, died June 4 from apparent natural causes
Philip Hawes, 64, ADC #253330, died June 4 from apparent natural causes
George Phillips, 69, ADC #058612, died June 13 from apparent natural causes
Herbert Shockey, 77, ADC #025634, died June 21 from apparent natural causes
Xaxier Milea, 39, ADC #255646, died June 26 from apparent natural causes

JULY 2012 - MARCH 2013 : WEXFORD

Nelson Johnson, 31, ADC #143345 died July 1 from apparent suicide
Richard Johnsen, 58, ADC #052572, died July 16, from apparent natural causes
Daniel Salazar, 55, ADC #129065, died July 19 from apparent natural causes
Lawrence Tashquinth, 50, ADC #229672, died July 19  from apparent natural causes
Richard Olivas, 43, ADC #128627, died July 21 from apparent natural causes
Jose Garcia-Morfin, 33, ADC #233520, died July 24 from apparent natural causes
Richard Wojcik, 56, ADC #232593, died July 24 from apparent natural causes
Rock Hannaford, 56, ADC #261578, died July 30 from apparent natural causes

Gregg Large, 48, ADC #247449, died Aug 1 from apparent natural causes
Thomas Truitt, 48, ADC #047727, died Aug 4 from apparent natural causes
Robert Moss, 73, ADC #102474, died Aug 11 from apparent natural causes
Frank Brown, 65, ADC #149637, died Aug 13 from apparent natural causes
Sotero Delgado, 66, ADC #273820, died Aug 16 from apparent natural causes
James Gordon, 55, ADC #140687, died Aug 26 from apparent natural causes
Dixie Arguello, 51, ADC #269814, died Aug 27 from apparent natural causes
Nicholas Martinez, 33, ADC #171587, died Aug 30 from a possible overdose

Darrell Robertson, 33, ADC #258053, died Sept 10 from apparent natural causes
James Makal, 80, ADC #027216, died Sept 13 from apparent natural causes
Ronald Smith, 75, ADC #092788, died Sept 22 from apparent natural causes
Augustine Alvarez, 71, ADC #085367, died Sept 23 from apparent natural causes
Richard Johnson, 60, ADC #232783, died Sept 28 from apparent natural causes

Donald Wisto, 36, ADC #110526, died Oct 7 from unknown causes
Anthony Brown, 43, ADC #077701, died Oct 8 from apparent natural causes
Lonnie Prickett, 63, ADC #073521, died Oct 9 from apparent natural causes
Carroll Sanders, 56, ADC #196447, died Oct 9 from apparent natural causes
Michael Atkins, 48, ADC #263379, died Oct 18 from apparent natural causes
John Mihalec, 77, ADC #104669, died Oct 25 from apparent natural causes
Dallas Richie, 62, ADC #032104, died Oct 27 from apparent natural causes
Alan Cook, 65, ADC #155358, died Oct 28 from apparent natural causes
Cipriano Vigil, 73, ADC #107377, died Oct 31 from apparent natural causes

Timothy Ben, 29, ADC #186585, died Nov 5 from an apparent suicide
John Allie, 53, ADC #042977, died Nov 12 from apparent natural causes
John Beck, 64, ADC #104144, died Nov 14 from apparent natural causes
Jesus Sanchez, 39, ADC #092083, died November 19 from apparent natural causes
Gerald Anani, 58, ADC #269346, died Nov 25 from apparent natural causes
Shane Moulton, 44, ADC #112871, died Nov 25 from apparent natural causes

Monty Hanan, 63, ADC #136053, died Dec 1 from apparent natural causes
Arnold Toliver, 48, ADC #125678, died Dec 5 from apparent natural causes
David Anthony, 64, ADC #184113, died Dec 7 from apparent natural causes
John Ruelas, 46, ADC #059693, died Dec 7 from apparent natural causes
Donald McKay, 57, ADC #270224, died Dec 20 from apparent natural causes
Darryl Gray, 65, ADC #032890, died Dec 25 from apparent natural causes

Richard Glassel, 74, ADC #172967, died Jan 15 from apparent natural causes
William Horton, 48, ADC #062422, died Jan 12 from apparent natural causes
Gary Dixon, 50, ADC #106531, died Jan 28 from apparent natural causes
Nathan Hartman, 36, ADC #156838, died Jan 28 from apparent natural causes
Charles Dawson, 56, ADC #067938, died Jan 29 from unknown causes
Gary Pierce, 69, ADC #041952, died Jan 30 from unknown causes

Robert Akers, 70, ADC #242962, died Feb 1 from unknown causes
Christina Black, 52, ADC #145562, died Feb 12 from an apparent suicide
Robert Sweepe, 63, ADC #093822, died Feb 17 from unknown causes
Bobby Crockett, 49, ADC #106800, died Feb 18  from apparent natural causes
Ernie Lopez, 55, ADC #133681, died Feb 18 from apparent natural causes
Christian Frost, 38, ADC #130811, died Feb 22 from a possible homicide
Rowdy Ferns, 43, ADC #143370, died February 26 from apparent natural causes

MARCH - October 2013 : CORIZON

Vernon Davidson, 58, ADC #127734, died March 3 from apparent natural causes
Rafael Guevara, 23, ADC #254097, died March 11 from heroin overdose
Scott Broadhead, 57, ADC #035145, died March 17 from unknown causes
Kevin Pate, 54, ADC #091377, died March 14 from unknown causes
Jesse Cornejo, 24, ADC #246859, died March 16 from unknown causes
Johnny Lopez, 52, ADC #079275, died March 17 from apparent natural causes
James Smith, 51, ADC #116912, died March 27 from apparent natural causes
William Driver, 72, ADC #162813, died March 29 from apparent natural causes

Kristian Brown, 49, ADC #182532, died April 1  from apparent natural causes
Gary Church, 53, ADC #039345, died April 1  from unknown causes
Billy Lee, 54, ADC #037490, died April 8 from apparent natural causes
Charles Jeffrey, 38, ADC #212819, died April 10 from apparent natural causes
Alberto Jimenez, 36, ADC #138779, died April 14 from apparent natural causes
Joaquin Tamayo, 41, ADC #106163, died April 22 from an apparent suicide
Russell Clark, 53, ADC #059997, died April 25 from apparent natural causes

Paul Henderson, 22, ADC #247636, died May 1 from an apparent suicide
Karl Narten, 82, ADC #024550, died May 6 from apparent natural causes
Milo Stanley, 50, ADC #064794, died May 10 from an apparent suicide
Anthony Martinez, 65, ADC #085596, died May 14 from apparent natural causes
Bobby Smith, 72, ADC #065084, died May 19 from apparent natural causes
Rose Hodges, 49, ADC #113364, died May 20 from apparent natural causes

Mackie McCabe, 57, ADC #049597, died June 2 from apparent natural causes
John Ray, 54, ADC #118850, died June 7 from apparent natural causes
John Jones, 63, ADC #054741, died June 17 from an apparent homicide
Fenton Skaggs, 38, ADC #198534, died June 17 from unknown causes
Dale Hausner, 40, ADC #240702, died June 19 from apparent suicide
Henry Billings, 80, ADC #218617, died June 23 from apparent natural causes

David Valenzuela, 56, ADC #063167, died July 1 from apparent natural causes
Theron Chambers, 72, ADC #040915, died July 3 from apparent natural causes
Galen Lindstrom, 62, ADC #075515, died July 10 from unknown causes
Thomas Herrera, 57, ADC #078507, died July 13 from apparent natural causes
Patrick Hoppes, 48, ADC #242119, died July 17 from an apparent suicide
Alvis Smith, 59, ADC #031588, died July 26 from apparent natural causes.

George Malone, 69, ADC #086899, died August 2 from apparent natural causes
Javier Gonzalez, 23, ADC #217498, died August 14 from an apparent suicide.
Van Branch, 53, ADC #072628, died August 14 from apparent natural causes
George Fierros, 58, ADC #058206, died August 22 from apparent natural causes
Miguel Sanchez, 28, ADC #270127, died August 27 from an apparent suicide.
Marco Chavez, 34, ADC #187239, died August 31 from apparent natural causes

Shawn Southworth, 37, ADC #257109, died September 23 from apparent natural causes
Harold Batista, 21, ADC #270988, died September 25 from unknown causes

Bennie Harris, 54, ADC #067481, died October 1 from apparent natural causes
Richard Hildenbrand, 80, ADC #140990, died October 2nd from apparent natural causes
Gregory Schlundt, 50, ADC #054406, died October 3rd from apparent natural causes
Kevin Wirts, 45, ADC #258690, died October 7th from apparent natural causes
Rusty Anderson, 42, ADC #222642, died October 9th from apparent natural causes
Kenneth Gifford, 48, ADC #128657, died October 9th from apparent natural causes
Michael Melendez, 52, ADC #102559, died October 10th from apparent natural causes
Emmanuel Arline, 28, ADC #198483, died October 18th from apparent natural causes
Steven Ensslin, 40, ADC #090119, died October 19th from unknown causes.
Roosevelt Foster, 68, ADC #051942, died October 19th from apparent natural causes
Todd Hoke, 22, ADC #253951, died October 21 from an apparent suicide
Robert Maxwell, 46, ADC #065789, died October 23rd from apparent natural causes
Woody Trisky, 75, ADC #165447, died October 24th from apparent natural causes
Avtar Sidhu, 51, ADC #278273, died October 28th from apparent natural causes

ASPC-Eyman Death in Custody: Raymundo Morin, 38, Suicide.

This tormented man's murder victim was his father, sadly - my condolences to the whole family for the ordeal you've been through over the years. May you all find some peace. 

 I see that he was charged with arson numerous times; I understand that's an unusually common method of killing oneself in prison. He was also apparently assaultive towards staff, though the disciplinary record doesn't ever tell the whole story. It's possible he had some very good reasoning for this, too, but very seldom does a man who is not being influenced by delusions and hallucinations tattoo an inverted 5-point star on his forehead. I think this man was likely seriously mentally ill, and he was being held in solitary confinement because he was considered to be so dangerous. That's where most suicides take place.

In any case, there have been a rash of suicides under the watch of Corizon's mental health staff. So, if anyone knows anything about exactly how Raymundo died or what may have preceeded it, please get in touch with me at or 480-580-6807.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Parsons v Ryan: Deliberate indifference finally killed Benny Joe.

I got an email last night letting me know that Benny Joe Roseland passed away yesterday. The DOC hasn't had a chance to post the notice yet; I'll just link to it when they do. I never did hear back from Benny a second time; I think he was already pretty sick when he narrated his story to his fellow prisoner.

 Let's honor Benny Joe's dying wish that his story is used to help his fellow prisoners; that his own suffering isn't in vain. To those of you who missed it, the American Friends Service Committee in Tucson (AFSC-Tucson) just released a report about the deliberate indifference and gross neglect prisoners like Benny Joe have endured at the hands of the AZ DOC. Please download DEATH YARDS, then send it to your legislator with a request that they take responsibility for this mess, since they're the ones who ordered DOC to privatize the health care in the first place, instead of ordering Ryan to improve it. Parsons v Ryan and the cruel cost-cutting measures we've seen with Corizon are as much their fault as anyone else's.

Thanks for thinking of your fellow human beings on your way out, Benny Joe. May you finally rest in peace.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

DEATH YARDS: Deliberate indifference pays, while prison healthcare deteriorates under Corizon.

(Edited November 6, 2013)

Thanks to the ACLU-AZ et al for their on-going labor of love with Parsons v Ryan
If you have questions or complaints about AZ Department of Corrections' prisoner health care, contact them at

P.O. Box 17148
Phoenix, AZ 85011

And many thanks to Caroline Isaacs at the AFSC-Tucson for this report, below. 
If you have questions about privatization of prisons or of prison health care, stopping the new Supermax, or the state of solitary confinement in Arizona, contact Matt Lowen or Caroline Isaacs at 

103 N Park Ave. Suite 111
Tucson, AZ  85719



Caroline Isaacs : 520-256-4146 :
Brett Abrams : 516-841-1105 :

NEW Report: Prison Healthcare in AZ Worsens Under Private Prison Co. Corizon


50 Inmate Deaths in the First 8 Months of 2013

PHOENIX, ARIZONA — On Wednesday, November 6th, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSCAZ) and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLUAZ) will hold a press conference in front of the Arizona Department of Corrections Building to coincide with the release of a new report which documents that the same problems—delays and denials of care, lack of timely emergency treatment, failure to provide medication and medical devices, low staffing levels, failure to provide care and protection from infectious disease, denial of specialty care and referrals, and insufficient mental health treatment—have continued and, arguably, worsened under the current for-profit healthcare contractor, Corizon.

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSCAZ) and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLUAZ) are decrying the continued deterioration of the quality of medical care in the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC).

In March of 2012, the ACLU filed a class action lawsuit against ADC, charging that prisoners in the custody of the Arizona Department of Corrections receive such grossly inadequate medical, mental health and dental care that they are in grave danger of suffering serious and preventable injury, amputation, disfigurement and even death. AFSC reports that there have been 50 deaths in Arizona Department of Corrections custody in just the first eight months of 2013. That is a dramatic increase from previous years. The Arizona Republic reported 37 deaths in 2011 and 2012 combined.

The report charges that the deficiencies in quality of care are not isolated to one or two locations or individual “bad actors,” but clearly represent system-wide dysfunction. The report contains 14 specific case studies to illustrate these issues, as well as extensive documentation of the administrative, organizational, economic and political factors that are contributing to the problem. This includes the process of privatization of medical care.

Delays and a reissue of the Request for Proposals (RFP) made the privatization process drag out for over two years. In the meantime, medical staffing levels plummeted and health care spending in prisons dropped by nearly $30 million. The departure of Wexford, followed by the award of the contract to Corizon created additional upheaval, delays, and changes in staff, procedures, and medications. The report concludes that contracting out the medical care at ADC has resulted in more bureaucracy, less communication, and increased healthcare risks for prisoners.

“The Arizona Department of Corrections needs to get its own house in order,” says report author Caroline Isaacs. “Arizona needs to stop wasting millions of taxpayers’ dollars on cancelled contracts and wrongful death lawsuits and take responsibility for correcting these problems.”

For more information, please contact Caroline Isaacs at 520.623.9141 or by email at

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

ASPC-Eyman Deaths in Custody: Todd Hoke, 22. Suicide.

According to Parsons v Ryan, the class action lawsuit against the AZ DOC for gross negligence in their health and mental health care delivery, most suicides occur in maximum security, single cells. Todd Hoke was in the supermax when he died; his will be added to a long list of names of prisoner suicides under Director Charles Ryan and Governor Jan Brewer - the rates doubled when they took over. 

If Todd's family is out there, you have my condolences - I hope you get a lawyer to get to the bottom of what happened to him - it could help prevent future suicides. Thoughts today are also with the survivors of Todd's 17-year old victim, Amber Hess, for whom this event will bring up difficult emotions as well.

If anyone knows the circumstances of this young prisoner's death or the story of his life - not just his crime - please let me know: Peggy Plews 480-580-6807.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

ASPC-Yuma's young deaths in custody: Harold Batista, 21.

(March 13, 1992 - September 25, 2013)

This 21-year old ASPC-Yuma prisoner died late last month, the cause of which is still under investigation. What is going on in Yuma prison? That's at least the third young man to die of "natural causes" from Yuma prison in the past 18 months, beginning with Joseph Venegas, 28, who died in his cell from pneumonia, having not been seen once for it by medical. Then there was Jesse Cornejo, 24, who reportedly died of AIDS-related penumonia shortly after being hospitalized for it. According to Jesse's family, he didn't even know he had AIDS until he was within weeks of dying.

If anyone knows anything about Harold's life or death that will help me better narrate his story, please get in touch with me. Anything you can share with me about Harold's death, if it was suicide, homicide, an overdose, or medical negligence may help other prisoners who still have a chance to make it home alive. It may also help his family get answers the DOC won't give them. 

If you are a friend or family, you have my condolences. If I can help in any way, please don't hesitate to contact me also. My name is Peggy Plews, and I hear from a lot of families in your shoes.  My phone number is 480-580-6807. My email is

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Parsons v Ryan: Wexford confirms AZ DOC class action allegations.

This was an interesting revelation this week. Big shout out to the foks at Wexford for doing us this service. And good for KJZZ for covering it and linking to the original court documents (linked to below) - which families who are fighting for your loved ones rights need to read.

-----from KJZZ Public Radio-----

The company that once provided health care services for Arizona’s 33,000 inmates told state officials the corrections health system “is broken and does not provide a constitutional level of care.” That information came from records unsealed by a federal court on Tuesday.

Wexford Health Sources was hired in July 2012 by the Corrections Department to provide health care for the state prison system. The legislature had ordered the department to privatize prisoner health care in an effort to reduce costs. At the time the state was, and still is, facing a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of inmates who alleged the state was not providing adequate health care.

After a review of the prison system’s health care program Wexford found “the current class action lawsuit to be accurate.”

Dan Pochoda is an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union representing the inmates.

"They specifically said there were four areas that were required for constitutional care and minimally adequate care, and in all four areas the Arizona Department of Corrections failed," Pochoda said.

Inadequate staffing, training and poor record keeping were among Wexford’s complaints. Two months after the assessment, Wexford and the Department of Corrections agreed to sever the 3 year $349 million contract.

At the time corrections officials blamed Wexford for a variety of problems. DOC spokesman Doug Nick would not elaborate.

 "The delivery of health care of comprehensive health care is the subject of ongoing litigation, and the department’s response to any specific allegations will be addressed through the legal process," Nick said.

Meanwhile another provider was hired to serve the inmates, but the ACLU said health care has not improved. It may be several months before the court issues a decision on the lawsuit against the Corrections Department.

View court Exhibit 1 and Exhibit 2, presentation information compiled by Wexford Health Sources.

SOS from Arizona's living dead: Deliberate indifference to life on death row.

 one of many letters received at AZ Prison Watch re: 
prisoner frustration over difficulty accessing medical care.

A big thanks goes out to Gary Grado at the AZ Capitol Times for interviewing this prisoner, and to the publication for making this particular article accessible to non-subscribers. Prisoners don't make sympathetic news subjects - especially not those on death row. A lot of folks would just as soon let Murray die of throat cancer untreated, in favor of putting those health care resources into the community (as if the state would actually re-direct "savings" there, instead of into the private pockets of profiteers). 

All I can say is that withholding medical care from Murray because the state plans to kill him anyway is akin to choosing to execute him by applying acid to his throat in small doses over the course of  9 months or so, letting it eat slowly away at his ability to  swallow, speak, and breathe, knowing this will not only kill him, but will make him suffer horribly as he dies. This has nothing to do with one's feeling about the death penalty - it's a question of whether or not you are for the constitution and against torture. If you believe in the rule of law, and that we should not torture our prisoners, then you have to support the provision of a basic standard of medical and mental health care to them.

The other thing is that prisoner health IS public health, and if we don't treat them inside, they come out with high rates of chronic illness, infectious disease, psychiatric disability, and so on. The imprisoned population is especially high-risk, medically, and many live marginally once back in the community, where they are more likely to lack access to health care than most non-felons. In prison they're frequently exposed to things like Hepatitis C (at least 40% of prisoners are believed to be infected), but as a captive patient population, they would be more likely than not to follow up on treatments and regimens that lower their mortality and long term health risks considerably, if their dietary plans and health care provider will offer them.

But that's not what appears to be happening. Deliberate indifference to human suffering is the absolute worst cancer there is in a society, and it's metasticized from the head of the AZ DOC to the agency's extremities. I hear stories like Murray's all the time, sadly - and it's not just the guys on death row. Remember Benny Joe Roseland? I've written to him a few times, but haven't heard back from him since writing that post. DOC says he's still alive, but that's all I can get from them.

Furthermore, as Dan Pochoda points out below, how we treat our prisoners says a lot about our society. The conditions in Arizona's prisons - from the medical neglect to the prevalence of heroin, the dominance of criminal gangs, and the rampant racialized violence - are among the worst in the country. There was a brief spell of progressive vision a the AZ DOC while Dora Schriro was director, under then-governor Janet Napolitano, but she was often mocked as being a "thug-hugger" for favoring rehabilitative programs over punishments, and her efforts were frequently undermined by the Good Old Boys network of DOC administrators and officers.

According to prisoners and former employees, things at the AZ DOC got dramatically worse as soon as Jan Brewer became governor, bringing Charles Ryan out of retirement to be her chief disciplinarian at the AZ DOC. The culture of contempt for prisoners and human rights that permeates that institution has actually been decades in the making, much of it under the direction of the younger Chuck Ryan, so all the bad stuff began to flourish again once he took over the reins there. 

I don't understand that man at all, I have to say. He's spent his career climbing that ladder, but now there, he appears to have utterly ceded control of his prisons to the gangs and profiteers - either that, or he's knowingly and intelligently aiding and abetting them. In either case,  his directorship  should be an embarassment to the Governor's office - for some reason Jan still stands by her man, though. 

Check out the other work the Capitol Times has been doing on the prison system here. If you're a subscriber, this is a pretty good piece that just came out about the class action lawsuit over health care, also by Gary Grado:

Exhibit in class-action lawsuit details failings of prison health system

-------from the AZ Capitol Times--------

Prison ordeal

Death row inmate struggles with cancer

By Gary Grado -

Published: September 16, 2013 at 8:41 am

A lab discovered death-row inmate Robert Murray had cancer the same day a Scottsdale surgeon removed his tonsils, but his disease went unknown to him and untreated for seven more months.

As Murray, 48, and his lawyers try to figure out what went wrong with his medical treatment, one thing is certain. The breakdown coincided with the turmoil surrounding the Department of Corrections’ transition to a private health care provider for Arizona prisoners, and his situation didn’t improve after the first company parted ways with DOC and a new company came under contract.

Murray endured long, painful delays between doctor’s appointments, a misdiagnosis, and a time in which blood from a burst abscess on his tonsil gushed from his mouth. He came to learn he had cancer when the surgeon he hadn’t seen in months asked him if he was finished with radiation to treat the illness, a treatment he never had.

Despite the delays, the cancer didn’t spread. Murray said an oncologist told him that although the situation could have become grave, he should have a full recovery with proper treatment.

“It was prayer, luck it just didn’t explode like it could have,” Murray said in a 21-minute interview from death row in Arizona State Prison Complex-Florence, where he’s been locked up since October 1992.

Such allegations aren’t unusual. A class-action lawsuit alleging DOC has provided inadequate health care for years offers other medical horror stories. And a suit recently filed by the survivors of an inmate who died in October 2012 alleges employees of Wexford Health Sources Inc. of Pittsburgh refused to treat him while he convulsed on the floor. Wexford is a company that provides prisoner health care in Arizona and elsewhere.

“We get weekly at least one letter that is equivalent, literally, to this fellow on death row,” said Dan Pochoda, the legal director for ACLU-Arizona.

Pochoda is one of more than 20 lawyers involved in the class action suit. He said the medical hardships of prisoners don’t resonate with the public, but they should because the state has a heavy obligation to provide adequate health care once it takes control of someone’s life.

“To paraphrase Dostoevsky, the test of a society is how they treat persons in prison,” Pochoda said.

Pleas for help

Murray and his brother, Roger Murray, are on death row for convictions in the May 14, 1991, robbery and murders of Dean Morrison, 65, and Jacqueline Appelhans, 60, at their store in Grasshopper Junction in Mohave County.

Morrison and Appelhans were found face down in their bathrobes, shot several times each in the head with shotguns and handguns. Appelhans was clutching Morrison’s arm.

Murray wrote a book titled “Life on Death Row” in which he denied committing the murders.

He has contended with an assortment of health problems during his 21 years in prison, and it was during an examination in February 2012 that he first complained of a lump in his throat.

Murray’s tonsils were becoming swollen and sore by April 2012, which was one of the final months that DOC provided medical care. Murray saw a DOC doctor in May and was diagnosed with an infected tonsil and given antibiotics.

Just days before his appointment, DOC and Wexford Health Solutions announced the company had been awarded a five-year contract to provide onsite medical, dental, pharmacy and mental health care, as well as the administration of third-party services.

Murray claims in a nine-page affidavit that the antibiotics had no effect and his many requests over the next month to see a doctor went unfulfilled as the swelling worsened and swallowing became difficult.

“His neck and face were visibly deformed,” said Murray’s attorney, Jennifer Garcia, a deputy federal public defender.

Wexford took over on July 1, 2012, and the company informed Murray he was on a waiting list to see a doctor, even as he continued to submit medical requests pleading for help.

“At least once during this period I overheard RX delivery nurses state that ‘Wexford has no available doctors for (the infirmary),’” Murray wrote.

In a Cure Notification, a letter to Wexford to outline how it wasn’t complying with the contract, DOC said the company’s staffing shortage created “inappropriate scheduling gaps in on-site medical coverage.”

In his requests to see a doctor, Murray writes about shooting pains in his ear, choking and coughing and difficulty breathing. He saw a nurse practitioner on July 20, 2012, who became alarmed by his condition and prescribed “magic mouthwash,” a formula of various medicines used to treat ulcers in the mouth.
Four days later the abscess burst.

“A warm fluid gushed into my mouth, I thought I may be vomiting and hurried to my sink,” he wrote.

He was rushed to the hospital, but he didn’t see a surgeon until September and wasn’t on the operating table until Nov. 19, 2012.

DOC, meanwhile, was already unhappy with Wexford’s performance, stating in the Cure Notification that the company was inadequately staffed, administered medication incorrectly, inconsistently and incompletely, and lacked a sense of urgency in addressing crisis situations.

DOC referred to several incidents in which it said Wexford did not comply with the terms of the contract, including not giving medication to a mentally ill inmate who hanged himself and a nurse who contaminated diabetes insulin with syringe tainted with Hepatitis C and continued to inject inmates with it.

Wexford responded with a letter of its own explaining that “the majority of the problems Wexford now faces are long-standing issues, embedded into (DOC) health care policy and philosophy, and which existed well before Wexford Health Sources assumed responsibility of the program.”

Wexford also alleged that DOC kept key information hidden during the procurement process.

An aggressive form of cancer

Dr. Joel Cohen of the Allergy Ear Nose and Throat Center in Scottsdale removed Murray’s tonsils on Nov. 19 and sent them to a nearby lab. The lab confirmed he had cancer and phoned the results to Cohen the next day, according to the pathology report.

Dr. Sun Yi, a University of Arizona professor who specializes in cancers of the head and neck, said that after diagnosis, blood work and scans would be done to determine the severity, or stage, of the cancer, a process that generally takes a few months.

From there, the patient would be referred to various oncologists.

“With malignancy, the more time you wait the more time the tumor has to continue to populate and grow,” said Yi, who is not involved in the case. “The worst case scenario is the cat’s out of the bag situation where it metastasizes and becomes phase four and for most cancers incurable at that point.”

Yi said cancer in the throat is extremely aggressive.

There are no records of any of the steps Yi described in Murray’s medical file.

Murray said Cohen wanted to see him 14 to 21 days after the surgery, but “ADOC-Wexford failed to take action.”

Cohen said he reported the cancer by telephone to a doctor at DOC on Nov. 20, 2012, and recommended treatment.

The doctor said he regularly treats prisoners and he understands there are all sorts of prison protocol that must be followed for each visit. He typically wants to see a patient for post-operative visit in 10 to 14 days.

“The prisoners can’t always come back when they’re told to come back,” Cohen said.

He said it is not his responsibility to prescribe the cancer treatment.

A spokesman for DOC and spokeswoman for Wexford declined to comment for this story. The agency and company agreed Jan. 30 to end the contract and DOC signed a new one with St. Louis-based Corizon Health Inc., which took over services on March 4.

Murray’s throat was still irritated and swollen in the meantime, and he got an appointment with Cohen on May 14.

“He’s talking to Corizon all the time about this problem and no one seems to be addressing them for months either,” Garcia said. “It doesn’t seem to me things have been measurably better under Corizon.”

Murray said Cohen asked him about his radiation treatment, which he never had, but the doctor still didn’t tell him about the cancer.

Records indicate Murray was prescribed radiation and a CT scan that day, but there is nothing in the record explaining why. When Murray returned to the doctor’s office on June 7 he saw Lee, Cohen’s associate.

“He said, ‘You have cancer, you didn’t know,’” Murray said. “It was kind of an astounding moment, surreal.

I kind of expected something was not right.”

Ray Norris, a medical malpractice attorney with the firm Gallagher and Kennedy, said medical negligence is determined by whether a doctor fell below the standard of care.

Norris, who is not involved in Murray’s case, said standard of care is measured by what an ordinary, prudent, and reasonable health care provider would do under the same circumstance.

“If there was a breach of the standard of care, the question then becomes causation, or in other words, what difference did it make,” Norris said.

Murray’s theory is he thinks Cohen expected him to return for a follow up visit within a few weeks and was going to inform him then about the cancer, but when Wexford failed to schedule the appointment Cohen never followed up. “I think it was probably just an accident, but an accident can be easily overlooked,” Murray said.

Murray is still undergoing treatment, and while it isn’t going at the pace he would prefer, he said he’s been assured it is normal pace for treating such a cancer. He said he is still considering his options on filing a lawsuit and looking for a civil lawyer.

Health Decline

May 2012: Inmate Robert Murray diagnosed with possible infected tonsils and given antibiotics. Wexford Health Solutions is awarded $349 million contract to provide health services to Arizona prisoners.

June 2012: Swelling in neck worsens.

July 1, 2012: Wexford takes over medical services.

July 24, 2012: Abscess in neck bursts and Murray rushed to hospital.

Aug. 17, 2012:  In an incident not related to Murray, Wexford nurses are accused of improperly administer medication by making inmates lick powdered medication from hands.

Aug. 23, 2012: Mentally ill inmate who didn’t receive psychiatric medication for weeks found hanged in cell.

Aug. 27, 2012: Wexford nurse allegedly contaminates diabetes insulin with syringe tainted with Hepatitis C.

Sept. 21, 2012: Arizona Department of Corrections informs Wexford of assorted contract breaches.

Nov. 19, 2012: Murray, whose face is deformed from swelling, undergoes tonsillectomy and lab results show he has cancer.

January 2013: Murray’s requests for follow up with surgeon unfulfilled, problems and pain with neck persist. Wexford and DOC agree to cancel contract. Corizon becomes new contractor.

June 7, 2013: Murray informed he has cancer that went untreated for seven months.

Monday, September 2, 2013

AZ DOC Protective Custody Battles: Letter to the Endangered Prisoner.

Margaret J. Plews
Arizona Prison Watch
PO Box 20494
Phoenix, AZ 85036

(480) 580-6807

"Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness, and our ability to tell our own stories..."

- Arundhati Roy

August 2013

Dear AZ State Prisoners:

This is an update to the October letter I put out about protective custody - though not much has changed. All of you I’m addressing right now are applying for protective custody - or have been turned down and will need to appeal or apply again. All that will really do is keep you in detention longer, though, and may result in more tickets for refusing to house. There’s a logjam in the system - the PC yards are full and the DOC isn’t approving anyone right now, that I can tell, without an attorney on board - or otherwise, the clear ability to fight them. I've heard from hundreds of you – and many of your families - in the past nine months alone, with no resources to hire a lawyer, though. I'm here to help you fight back.

Now, don't be mistaken about me – I'm no thug-hugger, and many of you on the outside would probably hate me for all I represent. I form alliances based on common values and goals, not common enemies or uniforms. I want liberation for everyone – not just a select few. I'm an anti-racist, anti-colonialist queer anarcha-feminist, as well as being a prison abolitionist. That last thing means I don't want to spend all my energy trying to reform the system to make it less odious for the rest of us to tolerate – I want to dismantle it altogether. 

But that happens one brick at a time, and will require everyone's assistance. None of you will be much good to the movement if you're broken or dead, though – we need your voices in this, too, but when I looked into the prisons to find you I saw so many of you are in too much danger to pay attention. Basically, as I see it, giving you the tools you need to wage some kind of meaningful resistance to the state's deliberate indifference to your right to life is an investment in getting you to someday help us build a more just world.

If you appreciate that someone out here cares and want to give back, be sure you've spent this time owning your own shit and making amends to those you've harmed, first. Some of you are so burdened with shame that you make yourselves easy targets for thugs in orange and brown alike. If you feel bad about things you've done, take responsibility for them and make sure you become the kind of human being who won't repeat those same mistakes.

Begin now becoming the person you really wanted to be, instead, in your relationships with others – practice that on other prisoners right now. Become the guy who is known for being thoughtful, not reactionary, and for being strong enough to refuse to be brutal to the weak, when that would be so much easier. Become someone who can navigate the system to help others access health care, file grievances, and promote more humanity and unity in that foxhole you all share. Be known for your patience, humility, and wisdom, not your hot head and vile mouth (oh, if I could only practice more of what I preach!)

Most of all, if you are hiding in shame right now, become someone you are proud of, so when others say you're a piece of shit for this or that reason, you can stand tall and tell them they don't know you or have any right to judge you, and to fuck off. Just don't stand around and wait to be smashed – have an exit plan for confrontations like that.

If you have cultivated relationships with other prisoners over time based on the above kinds of traits, they will begin to back you up because they respect who you are, rather than judge you for who you once were. The guys judging you have done their own share of bullshit themselves, too, and if you push back against that shit, you might just be surprised who backs down.

While you're sitting in the hole wondering how to convince DOC not to throw you to the wolves, don't think you can make things better for yourself by throwing someone else under the bus. I promise you it will do you no good to give up information that may hurt others, and only helps the state. If I thought they would actually protect the more vulnerable prisoners from harm by acting on such intelligence, then I might provide it to them myself. But all they do is punish the victims anyway (to keep them from spilling the beans that Chuck Ryan has lost all control), and use allegations to justify more violence of their own, like TSU shakedowns, building more Supermax cells, “validating” prisoners on evidence and hearsay that can't be challenged for the STG dungeon, and so on. That's not to say don't report when you are assaulted, especially if you are raped. Just don't expect the state to reward you for doing so, and make sure that if you're identifying someone for them to go after, you are doing so as a stand against violence, rather than serving as a tool in the state's war on your fellow prisoners.

Don’t expect a letter from me to Central Office to win your argument for you, by the way – having me on your side won't always play in your favor with them. In fact, it could be a kiss of death, so think of me as a last resort if you have no one out here who can call me to learn how to help you in your struggle. I can’t step in the ring on your behalf, like an attorney can, in any case - if you can‘t afford one, you’ll need to do it yourself. Other then send you some material to study, all I can really do is be a witness and tell others - in my blogs and the federal courts, if need be - what transpires in your struggle. But you need that - someone to preserve and share evidence that DOC administrators and decision-makers are aware of the danger you face, which I need to keep hearing about in order to communicate to them. I can write about your fight for other pris0ners and their families to learn from, as well. Things have gone desperately awry in the state prisons in recent years, and the larger public needs to know that, too

Before I go any further, though, make sure that if you have ANY way of hiring a professional to help you, do so – just ask and I can give you a starter list of lawyers who have successfully sued the AZ DOC. I'm not even remotely literate in criminal or civil litigation. That said, if you‘re stuck with me and your own wits, it will be a long uphill fight, from what I see now, and you face the biggest risks. They may disrupt my work more if I get to be too effective or obnoxious, I suppose, but what you can do through the courts is more important, so you are the bigger threat, if you can figure this system out. Once informed, you scare Power even sitting quietly in the hole in nothing but your shorts. Remember that.

Most of you have been told you are being denied PS in part because you haven’t been assaulted yet. I need copies of the denial form the DOC gave you saying that. Ask the librarian for DO 902 - Access to the Courts. Attachments A&B, if I don’t send them, are what you need - ask for the “Rights of Prisoners, 4th ed.” to start with - it‘s huge, so scroll the table of contents and get the sections you need most. Look for Farmer v Brennan for the standard of indifference in a case about a transgender prisoner. Let me know if they want to bill you for photo-copies to keep on person, and how you deal with that if you’re indigent. Whenever you can send me your paperwork from the DOC refusing to help you access legal materials, please do. Just let me know if you’ll need it back.

Some of you have been denied PS because DOC asserts that you don’t face a documented statewide threat (even though you are being persecuted for being gay, or are in trouble with the New Mexican Mafia all over the place). The DOC also likes to say that your claims are just self-reported, as if you aren’t under any real threat unless the yard leaders personally sign a written death warrant for each of you on gang stationary. Reiterate the realities of life in the AZ DOC – the bad guys all have cell phones, so while you're restricted from calling your child or dying mother when you want, the guys running the yards have easy access to whatever they can dig up on you from the last yard you PC'd up on, and can send your image and whatever is following you to every prison in the state in a flash. They communicate better than the DOC does about where you are and where you've been.

I’m impressed by the number of those of you who just said no to the racism and violence when invited - or ordered - to join in. Some of you witnessed - and testified to - horrible crimes: that doesn‘t make you a “snitch“, in my book - though even snitches don‘t need to be silenced with violence. Most of you are in the 805 process for the same reason, though - a yard leader or gang member checked you out somehow, and for any number of reasons decided you were “no good”, giving you the choice of 1. leaving the yard (PCing up) 2. Assaulting someone and joining them or 3. Being assaulted or killed yourself. There are a lot of things wrong with the logic behind that particular strategy for recruiting gang members, by the way.

According to the yard leaders these days, the police report is the standard by which someone who is otherwise undesirable is able to be identified. The truth is, however, the guy you really need to be worried about took the fifth when he was nabbed by the cops and made a sweet deal with the prosecutor later at someone else's expense. I can actually understand the guy who shit his pants when he was put into cuffs and confronted with his crimes – sometimes that just tells you who has a conscience. That whole method of finding out who can and can’t be “trusted” to share a prison yard with is fundamentally flawed – I think it’s just an excuse to put the green light on guys who wont immediately bend to the authority of the gang, and to give the new recruits target practice.

People interested solely in pursuing their own profit, at whatever cost to others, are sociopaths. That seems to characterize the behavior of prison gangs, too - they have nothing to do with resisting the state - they strengthen it, instead. The state is all about it’s own needs too, not “the People’s” but at least it tries to manipulate people into being loyal before it threatens to kill us. There is a show of state defiance by gangs, but they rule the yards with the consent of state power to divide and conquer prisoners - and addict and terrify you - so you can’t effectively mount resistance against your captors for the conditions of your confinement. Otherwise, prisoners would be organizing across race and putting an end to some of the bullshit the DOC perpetrates on you. Those gangs should be showing solidarity with the struggle of prisoners, based on some of their espoused ethics, not adding to the misery.

There will come a time when the norm on GP prison yards will be closer to the one you seek in PS, but that will only be after a fight - your fight, not mine. It may be up to you guys, not the state, to undermine the authority of the gangs by providing collective safe harbor for others who resist them in the meantime. Just how to do that right now, I don’t know. This is not the way it has to be, though. An empire protected by an army of men recruited specifically because they have no integrity is vulnerable to men of conscience. And the state is vulnerable to those who are armed with knowledge of the law. The way I plan to fight both the gangs and the state is by empowering each of you.

Most of you guys have got the first one down - you’ve already said no to hurting more people or compromising who you are as a way to survive. You may take a beating in more than one way in prison, but if you survive you can come out of there whole and proud of who you are, nonetheless - which is the only way to win,. The whole goal of prison - from the dehumanization to the constant threat of violence - is to break you as a potential revolutionary, not make you stronger and more articulate and critical of the state upon release to your home communities - which desperately need your help, by the way. Learn to fight by the rules now as practice for when you get home, so you can help your people fight back effectively as well.

Anyway, I respect those of you who have resisted the gangs because you reject their politics and tactics. To those of you who just want to get out of alive - that’s okay too. I will do whatever I can to help you in your struggle not only for personal protection but for a more safe place for all to do their time. Detention cells and specially designated yards should be reserved for the few thugs - in orange and brown alike - who ruin it for everyone, not the other way around. The exile of prison is bad enough punishment - once you get there, GP should be where you guys are free to work, participate in programming, and so on without abuse and harassment following you - not where the real criminals just refine their predatory skills until they get unleashed again on the rest of us.

How I can be most helpful, though, in helping to change that culture, is yet to be seen. Be mindful that if you correspond with me and raise a fuss about your rights you‘ll be in the doghouse with the DOC, and if the gangs ever find this letter we’re all in trouble with them and the state together - they will reach out and touch me for this, no doubt, so be careful where you let this fall.

As for your fight with the state, here’s some of what seems to be helpful - in my unqualified opinion:

Read the actual DOC policies about the 805 process. Follow them to the letter, and go through with an appeal even if you think it’s pointless - that‘s called exhausting your administrative remedies. This is your chance to inform the people you may ultimately have to sue of the danger against you, and their chance to respond before it results in further harm or goes to court. Give it a good faith effort on your part, but make your argument a compelling legal one, not an emotional one. And expect at this point to have to go through this process several times, at least - PCing up, waiting in detention, being denied and moved to another yard, being threatened again or assaulted, and beginning the 805 process all over.

Save and collect evidence supporting your claim that you need protection from an identified statewide threat. This includes anything from threatening kites to signed statements by other prisoners willing to testify about real prison life - like how the proliferation of cell phones means that everyone is targeted as a snitch or gay or “no good” on every yard in the system, now, within days of arriving. Or how the higher level yards are run by yard leaders, not by the guards, and what evidence you may have that the DOC is well aware of that fact - like a sergeant going out to negotiate your safety directly with a yard leader instead of starting the 805 process, or guards making deals with the leaders on the side.

Copies of statements you give the DOC about criminal activity, as well, is evidence that you are in danger - but don’t have that stuff in your property, or some porter will snatch it and then you’ll really be in trouble. If the DOC says you need to provide them with copies of your police reports yourselves and you just can‘t get them, write down the reference numbers and where they can be obtained and tell them they are responsible for assuring that those are in your 805 file, if they doubt your claims about their contents, as it isn’t safe for prisoners to have them in one’s possession in prison.

Build a parallel file of evidence and copies of 805 requests, responses, and appeals with someone you trust out here - preferably the loved one who will have standing to sue if you are killed or incapacitated, and will need the evidence you have to do so. Any HNR’s, incident reports, or other documents you have the pertain to harm you sustained as a result of an assault are important too. The DOC is known for rifling through property to find and destroy documentation that could be used against them.

Note the dates of major incidents - like assaults or the initiation of your 805 request - as well as locations, the names of officers who may have obstructed your attempt to file an 805, the names and titles of officials up the chain of command who denied you protection, names of witnesses to assaults or threats made against you (including doctors who treated you), etc. You will need all that later, if you have to sue in court for your safety.

Get a copy of the National Lawyer’s Guild Jailhouse lawyer’s Handbook. It’s not the same thing I send you chapters from - it’s more of an overview of all the stuff you need to know about fighting for your rights. They will send it to you for $2 (stamps, check, money order). Have a loved one print it from their website, or write to them yourself - they have to mail it directly to you from the NLG:

National Lawyers Guild / 132 Nassau Street, Rm 922 / New York, NY 10038

Have your loved ones write letters to the Department of Corrections making the same kind of legal argument that you do when you apply for your 805, showing that they are aware of what evidence you have for your claims, and make sure they send the letters certified. If they email me I can send them the same materials I send you guys, so they know just what you need to know to fight the state. Don't confess things to them or me that you don't wan the state to know, though, or we may inadvertently place you at greater risk.

The best people to include in their correspondence to the DOC appear to be; Charles Ryan, Director; Keith Smith, Security Operations, Stacey Crabtree, Offender Services; and the Warden and DW of your prison. They don’t need to threaten anyone with a lawsuit right away or make accusations that the DOC is intentionally trying to get you killed - just have them state your argument clearly, emphasizing the statewide nature of the threat against you and the expectation that you do not have to be assaulted (again) or killed before they take your safety seriously. The address to AZ Department of Corrections is 1601 W. Jefferson St., Phoenix, Az 85007.

If they put the following people in the cc (they need to note at the bottom that’s what they’re doing so the DOC knows it) and send us all copies, it may help to at least let the DOC know you have other witnesses, in case something does happen to you:

AZ State Representative Chad Campbell (1700 W. Washington St., Phoenix, Az 85007)
Wendy Halloran (AZ Republic/KPNX News 200 E. Van Buren, PHX 85006)
Dan Pochoda, ACLU-AZ (PO Box 17148, Phoenix, AZ 85011)

Let me know each step of the way what’s happening, including if anyone is obstructing your efforts to access the 805 process, legal information or the courts. I can’t give you legal advice, per se - you’re going to have to find a lawyer for that - but I can send you information and ideas if you’re going to wing this yourself. If you need the Jailhouse Lawyer chapter on safety still, or info on the PLRA, write to me. If you need info on how to file a civil suit yourself in Arizona, write to the US District Court nearest you, and ask how to file a section 1983 complaint on your own behalf - they, not me, know how to do it right:
Sandra Day O'Connor U.S. Courthouse
401 W. Washington Street, Suite 130
Phoenix, AZ 85003-2118
Evo A. DeConcini U.S. Courthouse
405 W. Congress Street
Tucson, AZ 85701-5010
If you’re waiting for something from me and think I forgot you, write to me again - I’m sorry, it’s not because of anything you’ve said: I’m just really swamped, and your letter may have been buried on my desk three weeks ago. If so, only a new one will bring you back to my attention. If I don’t get back to you - if no one from this address does - then the state will have managed to shut me down somehow. Hopefully they won’t have snatched my computer and files, too, and someone from my end will still be able to follow up with you. But don’t hold your breath if my side goes silent one day - once they come for me, I’ll probably be tied up for awhile. Not that I’m doing anything criminal - just that the state doesn’t like people who help prisoners help themselves.

That’s why it’s important for you to learn what you can about your legal rights yourselves. People out here aren’t reliable for one reason or another, and no matter what anyone else does on your behalf, if the state thinks you won’t be in a position to actually fight for your rights in court, they won’t prioritize your safety or welfare. They’ll take all the guys who have lawyers and know what they’re talking about first, and put you back in GP for another round or two - or three or four.

So, that’s a lot for you to think on. I’m still developing a new strategy for dealing with this, and will let you know what other thoughts or resources I come up with if you keep me current with your address. Please keep me posted on your cases, and watch each others' backs. In any event, don’t stop writing, or your stories won’t get out. That’s what the DOC wants, is to isolate you again and keep their dirty little secrets in-house. Don’t let them win.

Take care,

Peggy Plews

also see the Jailhouse Lawyer's Auxiliary Guild-AZ Blog for more resources