14 Jun 2009

Prostitute Dies After Being Held in Scorching Outdoor Prison Cell

A prostitute doing time behind bars, Marcia Powell was temporarily moved one day last month to an outdoor holding pen with nothing but a chain-link-fence roof to shield her from the searing desert sun. She lasted less than four hours.

Powell, 48, collapsed in the 108-degree heat and died at a hospital the next day, touching off a criminal investigation and bringing an abrupt end to a little-known practice in Arizona's prison system that inmate-rights activists found repellent.

Donna Leone Hamm, director of the local nonprofit Middle Ground Prison Reform, called the outdoor cages barbaric.

"There's something medieval about it," she said. "It doesn't comport with any humane or community standard that we would ordinarily think of for any animal, including a human."

Arizona's 10 state prisons have 233 outdoor cells for temporarily holding inmates awaiting transfer to punishment wards, medical units, other prisons or work assignments. All four sides and the roof of each cell are made of chain-link fence. Some have coverings that provide shade; others do not.  FOXNews.com