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 12, 2010

RESIST Prison Privatization now!

I get this strategy, but I think there are a lot better reasons not farm our people out to the for-profit prison industry. It's just plain unethical - it guarantees that human rights - be it prisoner health care, or prisoner, employee, and public safety. Frankly, we need to be emptying the state prisons of people who don't pose a threat to society; it's absurd how readily we throw people in the for economic or property crimes, and pack pothead kids in with prison gangs and murderers...

So, keep those arguments in mind when you call the governor, too, or the ADC is just going to get another huge infusion of cash (at the expense of kids and the poor) to beef up security in over-crowded facilities, not send anyone home. At the very least, they should work with the legislature and courts to cut loose the sick, dying, and innocent (including Bill Macumber) -and those who don't really pose a threat.

---------From the American Friends Service Committee in Tucson--------

Urgent Action Alert!!!

The Kingman escapes are just the latest for-profit prison nightmare to threaten Arizona.


The escapes from the privatized Kingman prison highlight continuing concerns about the management of state prison facilities by for-profit corporations. Arizona’s elected officials are suddenly expressing shock that such high-security prisoners would be held in a privately run facility.

Yet many of these same state leaders supported Governor Brewer’s budget that would have privatized entire state prison complexes—including high security units like death row and the supermax.

This piece of the budget bill was later rescinded, but the state is still planning to hand out lucrative contracts to these same for-profit prison corporations to build and run an additional 5,000 prison beds in Arizona.

Among the for-profit prison corporations bidding for the contracts is Management and Training Corporation (MTC), the company that manages the Kingman prison and has been widely panned for glaring security lapses that lead to the escapes.

Recently it was revealed that two senior members of Governor Brewers’ staff are lobbyists for private prison companies. But Arizona’s lawmakers have been drinking the private prison kool-aid for years. The Institute for Money in State Politics reports that private-prison interests — primarily lobbyists — gave $77,267 to Arizona candidates during the 2002 and 2004 election cycles. Republicans received nearly 90 percent of the industry contributions.

Russell Pearce, then Chair of the Appropriations Committee, received the largest amount.

No surprise, Pearce was the main sponsor of the budget bill calling for privatizing more prisons last session.

House Democrats are calling on the Governor to address the issue of prison privatization in the special session. Let’s add our voices to the chorus calling for the end of for-profit incarceration in Arizona!

What YOU can do….

Contact Governor Brewer and demand that she do the following:

  • Put an immediate halt to all bidding processes involving private prison operators and a moratorium on new private prison beds

  • Hold public hearings during the special session to address the problems with for-profit prisons in Arizona

  • Enact other cost-cutting measures that not only save money but enhance public safety, like earned release credits, amending truth in sentencing, and restoring judicial discretion

Governor Jan Brewer

602.542.4331 or 800.253.0883 ph,

602.542.1381 fax.

Make a comment online at:

**If you can blind copy or cc us, we will have a better idea how effective this initiative is. If you receive responses, even boiler-plate ones, please forward those to us, if possible.

Why Arizona should SAY NO to for-profit prisons:

1. For-profit prisons have histories of escapes, disturbances, prisoner abuses, financial mismanagement, and other scandals.

The Kingman escapes come on the heels of a riot at the same facility in June in which eight prisoners were injured. A prison run by Corrections Corporation of America in Eloy was recently on lockdown after prisoners from Hawaii rioted over an Xbox video game. When a staff member attempted to intervene, he was severely beaten, suffering a broken nose, broken cheekbones and damage to his eye sockets. The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) found a significantly higher rate of prisoner-on-prisoner assaults in private prisons (66% more) than in public prisons. Inmate-on-staff assaults were 49% higher in the for-profits.

For specific information on these major problems, please see the attached “Rap Sheets”or go to:

2. You get what you pay for.

For-profit prison corporations are primarily concerned about the bottom line and making money for their CEO’s and shareholders. The companies cut corners everywhere they can, but primarily on staff pay and training.

The result is a facility with high turnover rates, where the staff is inexperienced and the prisoners have nothing productive to do.

Such a prison is unsafe for the inmates, the guards, and the surrounding community.

Finally, there’s no evidence that private prisons can do it cheaper. Maximus, an independent, reputable research firm, compared cost savings in Arizona's public and private prisons in 2006. It determined taxpayers were spending an estimated $1,526,289 MORE annually on two privately run prisons.

3. Less Transparency and Accountability.

For-profit prison companies are corporations doing the job of government without any of the checks and balances that keep government accountable to the people. In the case of the Kingman escapes, which occurred at 9:00 pm, MTC waited until 10:20 pm to notify The Mojave County’s Sheriff’s Office. Another 80 minutes elapsed before MTC notified state officials with the Arizona Department of Corrections. The media wasn’t alerted until mid-morning the next day, and thus the public was not informed about the dangerous escapees until that time.

There is an inherent threat to democracy when an institution with so much power over the lives of so many individuals is immune to any public accountability.

Caroline Isaacs

Program Director,

American Friends Service Committee

Arizona Area Program

103 N. Park Ave., Suite 111

Tucson, AZ 85719

520.623.9141 p/520.623.5901 f

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