PRESS RELEASE – AFSC Report Highlights Prisoner Experiences in Maximum-Security Prison as ADC is Set to Open New 500 Bed Facility

For Immediate Release

Media Contact: Matthew Lowen, American Friends Service Committee, Arizona

mlowen@afsc.org, 520.869.6392 (cell)

On Monday, December 1, 2014 at 11am, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), will hold a press conference in front of the Arizona State Capitol to announce the release a new report highlighting the testimonies of Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) prisoners in maximum-security facilities. The release of this report coincides with the opening of the new 500 bed maximum-security facility at the Lewis prison in Buckeye, Arizona.

Still Buried Alive: Arizona Prisoner Testimonies on Isolation in Maximum-Security, documents the experiences of 41 prisoners held in solitary confinement in Arizona prisons that the new 500 bed maximum-security facility in ASPC Lewis was modeled after. The testimonies of these prisoners describe the mental and physical impacts of isolation, and the conditions of solitary confinement in maximum-security. Also documented are prisoners’ statements directed to ADC Director Ryan, Governor Brewer, and Arizona lawmakers.

“With the construction and opening of this $50 million maximum-security prison, Arizona is doubling-down on its commitment to solitary confinement rather than seeking evidenced-based alternatives to incarceration,” said Matthew Lowen, Associate Program Director for AFSC. “We know that the isolation that prisoners endure in maximum-security units is extremely harmful and dangerous, but never the less, Governor Brewer and Director Ryan are committed to failing correctional practices.”

The goal of Still Buried Alive is to present the perspectives of the real experts on solitary confinement in Arizona – the men and women who live through it every day. Their voices are rarely if ever heard, and were never sought out when considering plans to expand ADC’s maximum-security bed capacity. Yet more people than ever will now be held in solitary confinement.

This report also challenges Director Ryan’s mistaken characterization that “nowhere in the Department of Corrections do we have solitary confinement.”[1] Detailed descriptions and narratives by prisoners of life inside SMU I and Browning Unit make the sobering point that the use of solitary confinement is alive and well in Arizona.

Please join AFSC and partners on Monday, December 1, 2014 at 11am in front of the Arizona State Capitol for the release of Still Buried Alive, as ADC opens 500 new maximum-security prison beds for the first time. A summary of the report and recommendations will be given by Matthew Lowen, and some testimonies from prisoners will be presented. A copy of the report will be made available at that time.

AFSC logo white w captionThe American Friends Service Committee is a non-profit organization that works for justice and human rights both nationally and internationally. The Arizona office, based in Tucson, advocates for criminal justice reform. www.afscarizona.org

[1] As quoted by Gary Grado in The Arizona Capitol Times, “Inmate advocates question claim that Arizona prison have no solitary confinement”, June 12, 2013.

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