Female inmate dies after 4 hours in a 108-degree cell

Prison Fenceoriginally published:
2nd September 2009
by Richard Battin – all credits: The Examiner

A 48-year-old woman inmate at the Perryville prison in Goodyear Arizona died after being left for four hours in an outdoor holding cell. She had first and second degree burns on her face and body. Her body temperature was 108 degrees.

A report the Associated Press obtained this week said the victim, Marcia Powell, serving a 27-month sentence for prostitution, was on anti-psychotic drugs, known to make people more susceptible to heat-related illnesses.

The prison has stopped using the holding cells and a criminal investigation is underway. Prison policy calls for her to have been removed from the cell after two hours and to be checked every 30 minutes. A deputy warden, captain and lieutenant were placed on paid leave after Powell’s death.

Donna Hamm, director of Middle Ground Prison Reform in Tempe Arizona said that Powell “was obviously left there without water, shade and attention. I don’t know what other elements have to be present to call it a negligent homicide.” Neither do I.

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