I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Prison for Fun and Profit

This week on Blog Talk Radio's "4 Justice Now: Women Behind the Wall", Gloria Killian and Mary Ellen Digiacomo discuss the private prison industry. Their guests include Caroline Isaacs, Program Director for Arizona's American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), and Frank Smith, Field Organizer for the non-profit Private Corrections Institute (PCI). Frank, who co-founded PCI, is the most knowledgeable person I know when it comes to prison privatization, and has crisscrossed the country for 13 years fighting and exposing private prisons. I believe on his last trip to Arizona he helped the T'ohono O'odam reservation fight off prison privateers

PCI is the best resource I've found for background info on private prison corporations and current events, as well as contractors for correctional health services, food services, etc. Frank and his colleagues go the extra mile to help communities fend off seductive offers from prison privateers, and being on their list-serve has given me a wealth of information about prisons across the country. Also on the show is Robert, a whistleblower/former employee of one of the private prisons in Florence.

This episode, which originally aired Tuesday, is extremely informative and well worth listening to - I can't recommend it enough if you're interested in the subject; it's about an hour long, and there's a lot specifically on Arizona's private prisons. From Women Behind the Wall's home page you can also pull up all their previous shows, including the one about Marcia Powell. The player is a little thing in the center of the page; you have to look for it, or you can download and play the shows.

I've recommended episodes from this weekly show before (most recently the one about MOVE). The hosts are amazing women, both were wrongfully convicted: Gloria was in California prisons for 17 years before being exonerated; Mary Ellen was in Florida prisons for 5 years. Despite the grave injustices done to them, they're extremely gracious and generous and have committed themselves wholeheartedly not only to helping the wrongfully convicted, but to benefit all prisoners through public education and advocacy on the prison industrial complex and the toll it takes on individuals (primarily but not exclusively women), families, communities, and the character of our society at large.

So, find a show that piques your curiosity, set aside an hour, and check it out.

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