True Stories of Women Behind Bars
Extreme temperatures of 118°F happen in Goodyear where Perryville is located. The following units are without air conditioning and are “cooled” with swamp coolers; Santa Maria, San Pedro, Lumley, and Santa Cruz.
Of course, evaporative coolers do not work at all after the dewpoint reaches 55° or more, which is common during Monsoon. Evaporative coolers do not work when the temperatures exceed 106°F either. The heat is rough on all ages, but especially the elderly and the pregnant. The next time you hear the news anchor say “Keep your elderly and pets in air conditioning today” think of us without it.
The only thing that stands between the women and heatstroke is a little 8″ fan you can buy at Walmart for $12 but costs inmates $22. This is how one 70-year old woman makes it through the Summer. Soak a sheet. Wrap it around your body like a mummy. Point the fan at self until dry. Repeat until September.
Almost all the women here over 60 are on medications that make them susceptible to heatstroke.
From the Editor
AZ DOC and its medical contractor Corizon (a new contractor takes over on 7/1/19) seem to be more focused on getting a lot of money from Taxpayers and delivering as little health care as possible to inmates. We post true testimonials from Perryville women on their immeasurable misery, pain, and suffering. See “Health Horror Stories.”
Under our heading “Prison Food” we spotlight for-profit food companies like Keefe/Trinity, contracted by AZ DOC. Anything an inmate eats comes from this company. This monopoly victimizes not only the prisoners, but it’s a multi-billion dollar industry aimed at enriching their profits by bilking the inmates’ families.
We are adding a page on “Censorship” in this prison because there’s a war on the written word. Prison officials and their lawyers can find some way magazines and books might have an obscure effect on prison order and efficiency. I personally had a book censored because it showed an 1863 map of slaves’ underground railway on the East coast. The reason? The censor form said “escape routes from AZ .”
The “Smoking” page focuses on Arizona’s shocking disregard for the Supreme Court’s decision that calls second-hand smoke a “violation of the 8th Amendment for cruel and unusual punishment.” Imagine, if you will, a non-smoking prisoner locked in an 8′ x 15′ cell with no windows, subjected to smoke from 3 adjoining cells that share the same ventilation system. That is a gas chamber from which there is no escape
I’m sure there are some out there who think inmates should be punished every day for their crimes. Are you the sum total of your worst moment? Should they pay with their lives? I saw a chart in the paper that shows women in Perryville have a mental illness rate of 82%. I’ve talked to these women for a decade now, and almost all have been subjected to severe mental and physical abuse. The majority of ladies have committed non-violent crimes. Arizona sentences a lot of them to “flat-time,” which means no time off for good behavior – period! Arizona is one of the worst in the nation for recidivism. Arizona is a prison state that makes its money off taxpayers, inmates, and their families. Hopefully, this website will convince you to support prison reform
As reported by Molly Gill, Vice President of Policy, FAMM “The Arizona legislative session has ended and bills have been signed, and here’s what you need to know.
Lawmakers introduced 17 criminal justice reform bills this session, but only two made it to the governor’s desk for signing — and ultimately only one was signed.
Gov. Ducey signed SB 1310, which will reduce the time-served requirements for marijuana possession offenders who complete drug treatment programs. Unfortunately, Gov. Ducey vetoed SB 1334, a modest bill that would have ensured that some first-time offenders aren’t sentenced like repeat offenders.
I’m disappointed to see so few criminal justice reform bills gett he committee hearings and votes they deserve, and that Gov. Ducey vetoed a bill that was reasonable and necessary for the state.”
Your sister is getting married. Such a joyous occasion. Everyone is there … parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and of course Grandma. There’s laughter, dancing, champagne — all are having a good time. But then it’s time to say goodbye and head home. Who could foresee that so much joy could end up in heartache?
You see, as Granny is driving home she gets into an accident. When the police arrive they discover that her blood alcohol level is a bit too high. Not a lot, but still too high. She is arrested and taken to jail. Your loving, beautiful, petite, 70+-year-old grandmother now has to go through the arduous legal system of Arizona.
When the legal battle ends, the unthinkable begins … Granny is sentenced to prison time. “Oh, that would never happen to an elderly person.” you think. Oh, but think again! It does happen, quite often, I recently spoke to 2 such women. One, a 71-year-old with an 8-year sentence. The other 76 with a 2-year sentence. Neither of these women has ever been in trouble before, not even a speeding ticket. Both readily admit they were in the wrong. One even said, “If only I had waited for an extra 30-minutes, only 30-minutes.” To make matters worse, both of these women have been placed on a medium/maximum security unit by ADOC staff.
Any time for a 70+-year-old woman at Perryville becomes a possible death sentence. The conditions are generally inhumane at best. Severely lacking health care, poor nutrition, cells that become sweat boxes, with temperatures of over 100 degrees in the rooms during the summer, and showers filled with black mold all possess health risks. But that’s not all, there’s danger from other inmates, and danger from corrupt or insensitive and overworked guards and staff.
Each of these beautiful women broke down in tears, partly for the regret of the actions, but also because of the fear that is their constant companion, and the memory of the horrors, degradation, and humiliation they have had to suffer.
There are some of us here at Perryville who try to protect and care for these lovely, fragile women. We try to help them feel safer and not so alone during the day. But at night, when the doors slam closed, they once again are alone and at the mercy of whoever ADOC has housed them with.
What is wrong with Arizona’s legal system that these women were sentenced to prison? Was there no alternative? Probation? House arrest? Ankle monitor? Loss of driver’s license? Is mass incarceration so important to this state that they are now taking our elderly too? Shame on the prosecutors who insisted on prison time. Shame on the judges who allowed it.
So next time there is a family celebration, keep an extra eye on your grandparents. Give them a ride home, because you never know when Arizona’s mass incarceration efforts will strike next.
We posted an article a few months ago about women prisoners being locked in fire traps. You can read it by clicking here. We have been investigating fire safety in Perryville since then and what we find is shocking! There are no fire alarms in many of the buildings,...
8-7-19 3:34 PM Townhall Meeting Dateline Santa Maria: from a 70-year-old woman. "I told D.W. Compton that the elderly have special needs, as we cannot dissipate heat from our body. plus we take medications that make us even more susceptible to heat stroke. I asked if...
Dateline Lumley: A 62-year-old woman wrote, "I fell down the stairs and my leg really, really hurt. Because I have a high tolerance for pain I thought it was just bruised. I refused initial treatment because I couldn't afford the $4.00 to see medical. The pain got...
There are many stories on this website that are tragic but true. I want to submit a good story for a change. This is a conversation I recently had with my CO-III about the future of incarceration. He told me that he got into corrections "to make a positive difference...
On the same day in early June as Director Ryan came to visit Santa Cruz, Warden Dorsey demanded the Porta-cooler be unplugged and given to staff. That left patients at the Cruz clinic to endure 100-degree heat without any cooling. This Porta-cooler was put there as...
A woman about 70-years old wrote to this website to describe her struggle against second-hand smoke at Perryville. "In 2017 I submitted a grievance against staff smoking out-of-area and in the non-smoking sections of Santa Maria. I had a list of 15 names of officers...
I.P.C. (Inmate Patient Care) is the 18-bed infirmary located on Lumley unit. This is how a 65 year-old stroke victim described her 2-week stay there. "I had a stroke in March 2019. When you come to I.P.C. from the hospital, the guards don't let you have any of your...
Dateline 6-27-19 - Five women on Santa Maria yard crew were forced to repair a broken water main by digging a 4-foot hole in the packed dirt. Office Stratling, the supervisor, refused to let them wear gloves, even though the gloves were available. He told the women...
I sustained infective endocarditis from dental work done at Perryville because they refused pre-treatment antibiotics. knowing that I have heart valve problems. This caused damage to my aortic root. Aortic root surgery is very grave and risky. The Mayo Clinic only...
For 2 years, 53-year old T.H. tried to tell Santa Cruz medical that she has a severe heart problem. Medical said "Prove it." and she said, "Ask for my records, or do an echocardiogram that does prove it." Instead, they gave her a major ticket for refusing to work in...