19 May 09
The Death of Marcia Powell (by Lifer Renee)
Renee - She was only a teenager when she received a sixty-year sentence from a judge in Pima County. Fourteen years into her sentence, Renee is writing from Perryville prison in Goodyear, Arizona, providing a rare and unique insight into a women's prison.
“Did you hear Marcia died?” Sally asked.
We were perched on a slope because there is no shade on the yard whatsoever.
“No,” I replied, shocked by yet another death. “I heard they took her to the hospital. What happened?”
“Yesterday, Marcia was in the rec cage, and the property clerk was down there, and Marcia asked her, ‘Hey, can you tell Officer A****d I need some water?’ Well, you know it was 107° yesterday.”
“Yeah, I know. I came outside for a minute. I couldn’t take it. It was too hot.”
“The property clerk goes and tells the officer, ‘Hey, Powell is asking for water.’ And he said, ‘Yeah, I’m busy right now.’ That was at 11, and no one knows how long she’d already been in the rec cage. So anyways, another girl that was working down there, the same thing happened. Marcia asked her to tell Officer A****d she needs some water. So the girl goes to the control box, and says, ‘Officer A****d, Powell is asking for water.’ He says, ‘Yeah, I’m busy right now. I’ll get to it.’ Anyways, the call came over the radio sometime close to 3pm that she was passed out in the rec enclosure. No one knows how long she was in there because it wasn’t logged. She died of heatstroke.”
I went to say something and heard the click of the intercom. “Lockdown! We’re under ICS!”
I’ve been doing time with Marcia now for 15 years. She had no one. No home, family, that I know of. On the streets, she was always homeless. She was mentally challenged, but she was always nice, always smiling.
When she would see me: “Hi, Renee! Hi, Renee! Renee, hi! How’re you doing?”
“Great, Marcia, how’re you?”
“You’re so pretty, Renee. Can I get a cup of coffee?”
“If you’ll comb your hair for me today.”
“OK. OK. I will sing for you. Do you want me to sing for you?”
Sometimes she would sing to me just because, but it was always the same song. “Rappers Delight” by the Sugar Hill Gang. She knew every word and never missed a beat. It is sad.
There was chatter that our deputy warden was escorted off the property today.
I hear the helicopters flying over right now. I wonder if it is the news. Looking out of my window, I see the women who live in Building 23 gathered outside, waving towards the sky.
Hold on, I just looked at the TV and our prison is on the news. Will they spew lies or tell the truth? It turned out to be a little bit of both.
Our deputy warden, captain, and shift commander are on administrative leave. I don’t know why them and not the officers who were working the yard. CO2 M**a, CO2 A****d, and CO2 M****s.
The news said the temperatures that day were between 105° to 110°. The director, Charles Ryan, stated there may have been negligence and they are investigating. Marcia was in the cage waiting to be transported to CDU [Complex Detention Unit]. She was in the cage for more than two hours longer than the maximum amount of time the Arizona Department of Corrections’ policy allows for an outside enclosure. They also said they are investigating how an inmate died in his cell at the Lewis prison, Buckeye.
It’s crazy. But it is life, at least the one I know.
Click here for Renee’s previous blog about a woman prisoner with AIDS biting another prisoner.
Click here for the news story on the death of Marcia Powell.
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Shaun P. Attwood