Marcia Powell

Marcia Powell was a prisoner of the State of Arizona who collapsed and died from heatstroke last May after being locked in an outdoor cage and ignored for four hours in 107 degree heat. She had been removed from her cell and placed there awaiting transfer to the psychiatric unit because she complained of being suicidal. The intent was, theoretically, to keep her safe from harm.

But Marcia was a drug-addicted prostitute with a serious mental illness who wasn’t always taken seriously, and was probably thought of as an irritation to some. She begged for water repeatedly, according to 20 other prisoners. Only one or two guards were seen by any prisoners giving her water; one even mocked her cries while passing her by. Every single guard insists that Marcia received water, though documentation of checks on her condition out there was sloppy, and it appears as if no one even knew how long it had been since the last person saw her upright and alert, much less when she last had fluids.

By the time someone noticed she was in grave distress, she was unresponsive, lying in her own feces, and had first and second degree burns on her body from the sun. She reached the hospital in cardiac arrest; her core body temperature was over 108 degrees. Though she did have a very slim chance of recovering, the Director of the Department of Corrections had her life support removed minutes before the end of that day, believing she had no guardian or next of kin to make the decision, and that it fell on him. She died soon after.

A four month internal investigation into Marcia’s death – ruled by the coroner as an “accident” – resulted in sixteen ADC employees being disciplined: three were fired, two were forced to resign, most of the rest were suspended for varying periods of time. The final 3,000 page report has been turned over to prosecutors who will decide whether or not to file criminal charges. It is not known if the ADC itself is also under an investigation for violating Marcia’s civil rights. There is no reason to believe that they are. The Governor even recently commended them on their fine work.

Free Marcia Powell


Perhaps the most comprehensive site we’ve come across regarding the death of Marcia Powell at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Perryville in May, 2009, is the one the compiled by  “Free Marcia Powell.

Latest News Articles

Powell Death Tip of Iceberg, October 3, 2009, Arizona Republic

Corrections Boss’ Candor Laudible, September 28, 2009

Investigation:  Keeping Inmates Outside Common Practice,  September 25, 2009

Inquiry:  Inmates Often Left in Sun-Exposed Jails, September 25, 2009


Letter to Gov. Jan Brewer by Middle Ground Prison Reform ‘s Director, Donna Hamm

Marcia Powell’s Eulogy by Donna Hamm “This gathering is a group of people in collective pain about what happened to a person named Marcia Powell…”.

Autopsy Conducted on Marcia Powell

Memorial Service

Department of Corrections Director Ryan Attends Memorial Service

Other articles and links courtesy of the Free Marcia Powell blog

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