THIS BLOG is NOW RETIRED

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

David Rovics: We Are Everywhere

To my fellow activists now struggling through life - let this be a reminder that you are not alone and that we desperately need you here. All the injustice, grief, war, and human suffering calls for us to stay and do everything we can about it - you can't help us anymore when you're gone. Don't give up the fight - your last shred of hope may just keep someone else alive, too.
BLOG POSTS

Monday, January 31, 2011

Killing us Softly: The Death of Brenda Todd.

For those of you who missed it in the Phoenix New Times last week...Thanks, Stephen, for following this.

Those women in Perryville are all in danger due to the gross medical neglect and cost cutting measures that we keep hearing about. If Brenda's family is out there reading this, please contact me: Peggy Plews (480-580-6807). I will help you connect with a good attorney. These people need to be held responsible, or nothing there will change.

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Brenda Todd's Death: Did Arizona Department of Corrections Personnel Ignore Her Cries for Help?

Phoenix New Times
Stephen Lemons
Thursday, January 27, 2011

Like most death announcements from the Arizona Department of Corrections, the one for Brenda Todd, who died January 21 in custody at Goodyear's Perryville Prison, is spare and unemotional.

It relates that Todd, 44, was found unresponsive in her cell, that medical responders attempted to revive her, but were unsuccessful, and she was pronounced dead. It also indicates that her death is "under investigation" by ADC.

Since Todd's death, I've been in touch with several individuals who claim Todd pleaded for medical attention days before she was found dead, and that she even banged on the wall or door of her cell the night before her demise, asking for help.

Todd was doing 2.5 years for an aggravated DUI out of Pinal County. She was housed in Perryville's minimum security Santa Maria Unit.

One of her fellow prisoners at Santa Maria Unit was Leona Nieves, who met Todd while Nieves was doing a ten day stint for aggravated DUI.

Nieves, who was given supervised release on Sunday, January 23, remembers Todd complaining about chest and neck pains during the two or three days before her death. She also believes Todd was on medication for asthma.

On the yard, Todd would tell anyone who would listen of her ailments.

"She's like, `I'm having trouble breathing, I have chest pains, the back of my neck hurts,' Nieves recalled Todd telling her. "A lot of times, she would go to lay down, because she just didn't feel good. But...even that wasn't making her feel comfortable."

Nieves said Todd informed prison staff of her symptoms, and she was told to fill out the paperwork to see a doctor. Nieves said she believes Todd was supposed to see a doctor the day of her death.

This next part, Nieves did not hear directly, but only discovered second hand from other prisoners. However, I've also gotten reports second-hand repeating this charge from relatives of prisoners at Santa Maria Unit and from local prison rights activists.

"The girls were saying they could hear [Todd] pounding, asking for help," said Nieves of the hours before Todd was discovered dead. "That's when they overheard [a corrections officer] saying, `Go lay down, sleep it off.'"

If true, Todd's death could be eerily reminiscent in some ways of the infamous 2009 death of Marcia Powell, a Perryville prisoner left for four hours in a human cage in the blazing Arizona sun. Some witnesses said Powell pleaded for water but was rebuffed by corrections officers.

In the fallout from Powell's death, reforms were implemented by ADC, at least 16 ADC employees were either sanctioned or fired, and ADC ultimately submitted a more than 3,000 page report to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, seeking indictments.

However, last year, the MCAO declined to prosecute any of those involved due to what it called "insufficient evidence."

Next of kin was located for Powell, her adoptive mother, but she declined to get involved.

Sure, Todd's death doesn't involve an outside enclosure. But the statements of Nieves and others raise serious concerns about how prison staff respond to inmates' basic needs, such as medical.

Todd was apparently a low-maintenance inmate, with absolutely zero disciplinary write-ups.

ADC spokesperson Bill Lamoreaux declined to comment on the allegations regarding Todd pending the outcome of ADC's investigation.

I also talked with ADC spokesman Barrett Marson, who explained that ADC will not be able to complete its investigation until the county medical examiner's report is in, and ADC will have no comment on the death until that time.

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