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Middle Ground Prison Reform Letter Re Marcia Powell Investigation Prosecution 2010

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Middle Ground Prison Reform
139 East Encanto Drive
Tempe, Arizona 85281
480 966-8116

D onna Leone Hamm
Executive D irector
James J. Hamm
D irector of Program and Advocacy Services

May 14, 2010

Mr. Richard M. Romley
Acting County Attorney
Maricopa County Attorneys Office
301 West Jefferson Street
Phoenix, Arizona 85003
In re: Marcia Powell Investigation/Prosecution
Dear Mr. Romley:
In just a few days it will be one (1) year since Marcia Powell was killed at the Perryville
Prison. Thus far, no prosecution has been announced.
The Arizona Department of Corrections completed its investigation in this matter several
months ago, which led to firings, demotions and lesser sanctions. The matter has been turned over
to your agency for determination of whether to file criminal charges against any of the persons who
were directly involved in Marcia Powell’s gruesome death.
The circumstances under which Marcia died clearly reflect extreme indifference to human
life and reckless disregard for obvious and historically recognized dangers known to result in death
in Arizona’s climate.
We sincerely hope that it is not necessary to recount for you in detail all the circumstances
under which Marcia Powell died, but those circumstances include deliberately withholding
hydration, refusal to allow Marcia to be removed from direct sun even after she collapsed, taunting
her as she asked for help, and numerous other extraordinarily unconscionable actions on the part of
prison staff, followed by lying to investigators in an attempt to escape responsibility for their actions.
Although Marcia has no family or anyone with legal standing to fight for her, her death
cannot be permitted to be either forgotten or ignored.
Your office has successfully prosecuted in the past other citizens whose intentional or
unintentional negligence has resulted in the death of another person. Such circumstances include

the prosecution of Charles F. Long, who was convicted of Manslaughter for the death of Anthony
Haynes, who was a teen participant in a boot camp operated by Long; the prosecution of mothers
whose children have drowned in bathtubs when they stepped out to answer phones; inebriated drivers
in cases where accidents caused the death of either passengers or persons in other vehicles; and
numerous other circumstances, none of which rise to the level of the cruel, torturous acts callously
perpetrated on Marcia Powell, a helpless, caged, mentally ill female prisoner.
Marcia Powell’s death cries out for justice. A year is long enough; a decision needs to be
made; and it is not acceptable for politics or special treatment to deny justice in this case, where the
justice system employed the persons who killed Marcia Powell. Without the force of back-pressure
upon the prison system that will come from prosecution of the wrong-doers in this case, respect for
the criminal justice system and all its various components will be seriously impaired – and should
be impaired – if your office fails to shoulder the burden of prosecution in such an egregious crime.
While some prosecutions are declined because of questions about whether a jury would find
guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, this case unquestionably does not fall into such a category.
There is no legitimate excuse for not prosecuting the individuals directly responsible for
Marcia Powell’s death.
Please, Mr. Romley, do your duty.

Donna Leone Hamm