Arizona’s Shameless About the Cage Death of Marcia Powell


After wading through the Arizona Department of Corrections' recently released doorstop report on the cage death of Marcia Powell, I'm not sure whom I'd rather see get a taste of Powell's open-air sunbake: acting ADC director Charles Ryan, his pathetic excuse for a boss, Governor Jan Brewer, or the simpering keyboard-tapper at the Arizona Republic who just penned an anonymous bravo for Ryan titled, "Corrections boss' candor laudable."

Powell, of course, is the 48-year-old who was locked in a shadeless human cage at Goodyear's Perryville Prison on May 19 and endured 107-degree heat for four or more hours (depending on what part of the report you want to believe), was forced to defecate in her cage and on herself like a dog, and was denied adequate, or any, water (more likely the latter) until she collapsed, apparently of heatstroke.

Interim ADC Director Charles "Darth" Ryan gets a thumbs-up from the Arizona Republic and his empress-for-the-moment, Governor Jan Brewer, despite all the incompetence and inhumanity displayed in the Marcia Powell affair.
Interim ADC Director Charles "Darth" Ryan gets a thumbs-up from the Arizona Republic and his empress-for-the-moment, Governor Jan Brewer, despite all the incompetence and inhumanity displayed in the Marcia Powell affair.

She did not die at Perryville. Rather, Ryan ordered the plug pulled on her at West Valley Medical Center when doctors there found her case to be hopeless.

Ryan, known to his detractors as "Darth Ryan," told doctors, according to the report, that he would be acting as Marcia Powell's guardian, in lieu of family members. Thing is, Powell already had a court-appointed guardian, Maricopa County's Office of the Public Fiduciary, which labored after Powell's death to find a family member who could take custody of her remains. An adoptive mom wanted nothing to do with the disposition of Powell's body, a representative of the Fiduciary's Office later told a judge looking into the matter.

The ADC's report states that "information regarding the guardianship of [inmate] Powell was not available," but, in fact, there was a record of Powell's guardianship; it's just that Ryan did not have the information. Indeed, the report states that a representative from the Fiduciary's Office had visited Powell in ADC custody in March — less than two months before her death. So ADC should have been aware of Powell's guardian.

The report suggests that Ryan acted within the parameters of the law, citing Arizona Revised Statute 41-1604.01, which states that when any person "under the jurisdiction of the Department of Corrections, other than employees," needs emergency medical care, and there's no next of kin or legal guardian available, the ADC director "may authorize the performance of such necessary medical, surgical, or dental service."

However, when an ADC investigator questioned Deputy Maricopa County Attorney Gary Strickland, counsel for the Fiduciary's Office, about the statute, Strickland had a very different interpretation of it.

"Mr. Strickland stated Title 41 did not entitle the director of the Department of Corrections to make the decision to discontinue life-saving measures on Powell," reads the report, "and that his office, the guardian of Marcia Powell, should have been contacted."

Just a niggling detail — all this stuff about a guardian, right? After all, West Valley Medical Center's Dr. Mae Dumlao told an ADC investigator that Powell was "clinically dead" and there was only "an extremely minimal chance" that Powell could have somehow survived her heat-related injuries. Powell was actually having a heart attack as she entered the hospital, which was in "direct relation to heatstroke and hypobulemic [sic] shock."

Particularly chilling is the description by Dr. Kevin Hiselhorse, who treated Powell upon her arrival to the hospital. Hiselhorse confirmed that "Powell's eyes were dilated and fixed, which indicated brain damage due to her body temperature exceeding 108 degrees." Hiselhorse explained that he could only get a temp of 108 degrees "because thermometers in healthcare only go as high as 108."

Hiselhorse also informed the ADC investigator that he had never seen a patient recover from a 108-degree temperature and that "at that temperature, the body's organs began to melt and the brain begins to coagulate."

What is evident from the report is that the medical crew at West Valley and the emergency medical responders to Powell at the prison did what they could for the woman. West Valley Medical Center ceased treating Powell on Ryan's order shortly after midnight on May 20 and administered morphine to comfort her. She died minutes later.

Many of Powell's guards say she was given water, though inmates observing Powell in the cage say she was not and that her cries for water were mocked. Why she remained in the cage for so long is not adequately explained. Nor are the actions of a prison psychologist who supposedly ordered Powell "placed in a recreation enclosure" because Powell had threatened suicide if she remained in her cell.

Powell was on heavy psychiatric meds during what was supposed to have been a 27-month stint for prostitution, and at least some of the corrections staff knew the meds made her even more sensitive to heat. Nevertheless, she was left in the hot cage without shoes on her feet for hours.

County Medical Examiner Dr. Mark Fisch­ione listed the manner of death an "accident" in Powell's autopsy. Repeated requests to the Medical Examiner's Office to interview Fischione on his findings were not granted by press time.

I want to ask Dr. Fischione a question that advocate Donna Hamm of Middle Ground Prison Reform raised when I called her about the news that the ADC had announced that 16 employees would be disciplined as a result of the department's review. Three of the 16 were fired. Two of the 16 were forced to resign. All because of an "accident."

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Jill Thomas
Jill Thomas

I guess I'm not surprised to see this man dressed as Darth Vader. Power is a very intense tool. People working within corrections need to have more skills than is currently required. With the closure of many psychiatric institutions around the world, the mentally ill are being sent to prison because there is no where else for them to placed or 'treated'. With that in mind, I wonder just how many prison guards have the appropriate skills to work in such an environment. I'd say, not many at all. That's not to say there aren't good officers, there certainly are but they are more the exception than the rule in my opinion. Too many get sucked into the culture of negative and abusive power.


Marcia's death was tragic and as a former contractor for DOC. I have seen men put in those cages for hours at a time in all sorts of weather. Chuck Ryan is one of the most crookedest man I have ever had the displeasure to meet. As director of corrections he fully knew policy and failed to follow it. If he had been a lowly CO he would have lost his job but since he feels he is a God he thinks he has nothing to fear. Everyone should know that the Deptment of Corrections is going to become worse than it already is under his directions. I feel sorry for all the people he is going to hurt in his term as director.

American Woman
American Woman

Perhaps our good Gov. is now saving money by using the power of Solar instead of Gassing Prisoners? How many people have to die @ the hands of the other fed up Prisoners, or the Staff itself? Enough. Enough. Enough!

Where's the oversight?
Where's the oversight?

Where's the 24/7 grandstanding by County Attorney Thomas on this brutal murder?

excerpt: "In 2001, Charles Long was the director of a boot-camp style organization that purported to turn wayward teens into better citizens. He supervised the camp, but wasn't present when one of his teenage campers became dehydrated, ate dirt, was taken to a motel to shower and became comatose soon thereafter. The teen died, and Charles Long originally was charged with second-degree murder and later convicted of manslaughter. He is presently serving out his sentence at the Department of Corrections.

Will County Attorney Andrew Thomas be as vigilant in holding prison employees and administrators responsible for Marcia Powell's demise?"

If Thomas was former legal counsel for Arizona Department of Corrections, isn't there a conflict of interest here?

Concerned Citizen
Concerned Citizen

On the Arizona Republic Editorial pages: October 03, 2009 |



Crucial core changes are long overdue at Department of Corrections

by Donna Leone Hamm - Oct. 3, 2009 12:00 AM

Special for the Republic

The report outlining the investigation into the death of state prison inmate Marcia Powell is sickening and gruesome. One expects to read about such barbaric things happening in Third World countries.

The number of staff involved in this incident, the types of unprofessional conduct and the seriousness of their actions lead inescapably to one conclusion: namely, that Marcia Powell's death was the tip of an iceberg that indicates much larger and more endemic problems throughout the prison system.

The report is an indictment of prison personnel on virtually every level and bespeaks not just a lack of training, but an extraordinarily serious problem with supervision.

Powell, a known mental patient, expressed suicidal thoughts just prior to being caged in the hot sun. Earlier that morning, she lost consciousness in her own cell. No one reported it. No one checked to see if her prescribed medication made her more susceptible to the sun. It did.

She asked for water, but according to at least 20 inmates, she was denied. She needed a restroom break and was denied, which forced her to defecate on herself. When discovered, no one cared or did anything to alleviate the mess. Her body had feces on it; no chair was provided in the outdoor cage. In short, the investigative report is nothing short of appalling.

In 2001, Charles Long was the director of a boot-camp style organization that purported to turn wayward teens into better citizens. He supervised the camp, but wasn't present when one of his teenage campers became dehydrated, ate dirt, was taken to a motel to shower and became comatose soon thereafter. The teen died, and Charles Long originally was charged with second-degree murder and later convicted of manslaughter. He is presently serving out his sentence at the Department of Corrections.

Will County Attorney Andrew Thomas be as vigilant in holding prison employees and administrators responsible for Marcia Powell's demise?

The Powell report makes it clear that both line staff and prison supervisors feel they can act with impunity in regard to written prison policy. If Charles Ryan eventually is to be confirmed by the Arizona Senate in the position of department director, he must take off the "kid gloves" approach to prison employees and demand a new realignment of priorities and genuine commitment to change.

Installing misting systems and shade to outdoor cages is not enough. The DOC must attend to the abuses of authority that occur each day in denying medical care, tormenting mentally-ill prisoners, denying protective custody to those who need it, leaving unresolved the prison-gang issues, tolerating sexual harassment and abuse of prisoners, and not attending to the inordinate number of inmate suicides that have occurred, just to name a few.

The governor must provide oversight. These problems did not develop overnight and were in fact palpably present under the previous administration. They will not be resolved overnight.

Marcia Powell's death must be the catalyst for core changes in the operation of the department; in the recruitment, training and supervision of its staff, including administrative staff. Nothing else will do. Marcia Powell deserves that much.

Donna Leone Hamm is executive director of the prisoner-rights group Middle Ground Prison Reform. Reach her at middlegroundprisonreform@msn.

Concerned Citizen
Concerned Citizen

azsunset, Thank you for helpful information as a former employee. We need to hear from people like you to better understand the culture that exists so there is public awareness. It's time the people of Arizona begin to realize that Arizona is a prison state with draconian and outdated laws that put all at risk for being thrown into the broken criminal justice system. Marcia is an example of how human beings are treated in Arizona Corrections as nothing more than a disposal person. Get a DUI and see where you will find yourself.

Karen Hine
Karen Hine

Marcia Powell desereved much better from our society. She was after all a human being with a soul. Marcia Powell was brutally murdered. So very many members of our society demonstrate lack of education, compassion and understanding to someone that needs that so much. Instead they verbally and physically abuse human beings for their own twisted reasons. They assume incorrect things about them and make improper judgements. This time it cost Marcia Powell the most important gift, Her life. Many sinister persons make their living and even fortunes by pretending to be advocate of those in need. They pretend to care about the person when it's all about their fincial gain. Shame on those who let Marcia Powell down and let this happen. Shame on the people that pretend to be advocates to those in need and are not.



Dan & Mary Quaintance made a tragic mistake. They believed there was religious freedom in America.

Prison is very lonely for both of them being placed over 500 miles away from their home. Mail call is the highlight of the day. Dan & Mary would love to receive postcards, letters, or small financial contributions to help pay for phone calls to family, stamps, envelopes, paper, and basic personal hygiene needs. Even $5 would be appreciated. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Dan's Mailing Address - (not for funds - see below) Danuel Quaintance34578-051F.C.I. Terminal IslandP.O. Box 3007San Pedro, CA 90731 Mary's Mailing Address - (not for funds - see below) Mary Helen Quaintance34579-051F.C.I. VictorvilleMed II Sat CampP.O. Box 5300Adelanto, CA 92301 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ To Deposit Inmate Money Funds may be sent to Federal inmates via the United States Postal Service or via the Western Union Quick Collect Program. In either case, the inmate must physically be housed at a Federal Bureau of Prisons' facility before funds can be received and posted. If the inmate is not physically in a Federal Bureau of Prisons' facility, the funds cannot be posted and will be returned or rejected.

U.S. Postal Service

Inmates' families and friends choosing to send inmates funds through the mail must send those funds to the following address and in accordance with the directions provided below: Federal Bureau of PrisonsDanual Dean Quaintance 34578-051 OR Mary Helen Quaintance 34579-051Post Office Box 474701Des Moines, Iowa 50947-0001

The deposit must be in the form of a money order made out to the inmate's full committed name and complete eight digit register number. Effective December 1, 2007, all non-postal money orders and non-government checks processed through the National Lockbox will be placed on a 15 day hold. The Bureau of Prisons will return funds that do not have valid inmate information to the sender provided the envelope has an adequate return address. Personal checks and cash cannot be accepted for deposit.

The sender's name and return address must appear on the upper left hand corner of the envelope to ensure that the funds can be returned to the sender in the event that they cannot be posted to the inmate's account. The deposit envelope must not contain any items intended for delivery to the inmate. The Bureau of Prisons shall dispose of all items included with the funds.,In the event funds have been mailed but have not been received in the inmate's account and adequate time has passed for mail service to Des Moines, Iowa, the sender must initiate a tracer with the entity who sold them the money order to resolve any issues.Western Union Quick Collect Program

Inmates' families and friends may also send inmates funds through Western Union's Quick Collect Program. All funds sent via Western Union's Quick Collect will be posted to the inmate's account within two to four hours, when those funds are sent between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. EST (seven days per week, including holidays). Funds received after 9:00 pm EST will be posted by 7:00 am EST the following morning. Funds sent to an inmate through the Quick Collect Program may be sent via one of the following ways:

1) At an agent location with cash: The inmate's family or friends must complete a Quick Collect Form. Click here to view a sample Quick Collect Form. To find the nearest agent, they may call 1-800-325-6000 or go to

2) By phone using a credit/debit card: The inmate's family or friends may simply call 1-800-634-3422 and press option 2.

3) ONLINE using a credit/debit card: The inmate's family and friends may go to and select "Quick Collect".

For each Western Union Quick Collect transaction, the following information must be provided:

1) Valid Inmate Eight Digit Register Number (entered with no spaces or dashes and immediately followed by Inmate's Last Name)2) Committed Inmate Full Name entered on Attention Line3) Code City: FBOP, DC

Please note that the inmate's committed name and eight digit register number must be entered correctly. If the sender does not provide the correct information, the transaction cannot be completed. The Code City is always FBOP, DC.

Each transaction is accepted or rejected at the point of sale. The sender has the sole responsibility of sending the funds to the correct inmate. If an incorrect register number and/or name are used and accepted and posted to that inmate, funds may not be returned.

Any questions or concerns regarding Western Union transfers should be directed to Western Union by the sender (general public). Questions or concerns should not be directed to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

For additional information concerning inmate Commissary account deposit procedures, please see the Bureau of Prisons Trust Fund/Warehouse/Laundry Manual (PS 4500.06) or 28 CFR Parts 506 and 540. For information concerning a specific deposit, please contact Federal Bureau of Prisons' staff at 202-307-2712 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. ET.


Ok Folks......just for the record....I am a retired Correctional Employee and if " Lying Ryan's" lips are moving he isnt telling the truth ergo the name Lying Ryan. He KNEW that she had a guardian ........a matter of fact every one that ever worked Corrections and knows Policy knows that. Also the cages were implemented under his Leadership and he approved the Policy that oversees and guidlines the use of these cages. Comon do you really believe this Crook or otherwise also known as Mr. Speedo? He is the most hated individual that worked under Director Stewart and always has bucked for the Top Job in Corrections no matter over how many dead Bodies he has to step. In 1997 it was Officer Brent Lumley that he hoped would get him the Directors chair and that didn't work out the way he had planned so now he is back and he is using an Inamtes Body to get where he wants to be. This man is a disgrace and I am a retired Correctional Employee and yes I was a uniformed Employee. I hate this man more than I hate the worst of the worst Terrorists......he tore apart a good solid Employee system because he feared the "Guards" were getting wise to him and would expose him. He is a Crook and a Lyer and worst of all he is a Human being without any human feelings. I hope this Mother rots in Hell and on Judgement day be judged by those that he has wronged...................Staff and Inmates alike

AZ Moms
AZ Moms

When the state investigates it's own misconduct this is what it looks like. Anyone else and everyone associated with the death would be criminally charged and spend decades in Arizona's prisons. The heads that need to roll start at the top, where the culture has been perpetuated. Marcia's death is not isolated but could be anyone's loved one in this woman's prison. How dare they have Marcia on a cement slab in 107 degrees barefoot? What a horrific way to die.

I don't how these people sleep at night. What goes around comes around.

Concerned Citizen
Concerned Citizen

Read Prison Legal News on McCotter:

This link will take one to the Prison Legal News article on Abu Ghraib and the Arizona connection. We don't want them back here in Arizona or the U.S.

McCotter and Associates Sept. 2004:

Remaining Vigilant
Remaining Vigilant

Stephen, Thanks for the great investigative reporting on Marcia Powell's death at Perryville Prison. The AZ Republic editorial totally missed the mark when they stated "transparency". If there was transparency why aren't the officer's named? How are they treated above the law. Anyone else would have had a mug shot on TV with 24/7 grandstanding by County Attorney Thomas. Why so quiet on this case? Why would County Attorney Thomas not recuse himself from this conflict of interest, since he was former chief legal counsel for Arizona Department of Corrections?? There are many unanswered questions and the Arizona Republic did not inform the public but they like the state officials involved in the investigation, once again cover up for themselves, while those on the outside get slammed straight to jail, no bond and wait for their trila or a coerced plea.

Marcia Powell's death demands an outside, independent investigation by those not employed by the state. Arizona is known for it's harsh mandatory minimum sentencing and draconian laws but is this for the public and not the officials?

Agree with you, Stephen, if Michael Jackson's death at the hands of his doctor is treated as homicide so should Marcia Powell's. Governor Brewer and the legislators passed the bill to sell / privatize the state prisons -- Marcia's death on their hands would be reason enough to rid themselves of their responsibility.

We will all remain vigilant and follow this case until the end. In the meantime, the public has a right to know all the officers names. Where will they show up next? How are any Iraq prison officers / wardens allowed back in the U.S. to work within our own prison system after the abuse scandal. That's why the public needs to hear and see "the torture memos". Are those responsible for the torture allowed to work in our U.S. jails, detention centers and prisons? This is unconscionable. The public has a right to be informed.

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