Retiring Arizona Prison Watch...

This site was originally started in July 2009 as an independent endeavor to monitor conditions in Arizona's criminal justice system, as well as offer some critical analysis of the prison industrial complex from a prison abolitionist/anarchist's perspective. It was begun in the aftermath of the death of Marcia Powell, a 48 year old AZ state prisoner who was left in an outdoor cage in the desert sun for over four hours while on a 10-minute suicide watch. That was at ASPC-Perryville, in Goodyear, AZ, in May 2009.

Marcia, a seriously mentally ill woman with a meth habit sentenced to the minimum mandatory 27 months in prison for prostitution was already deemed by society as disposable. She was therefore easily ignored by numerous prison officers as she pleaded for water and relief from the sun for four hours. She was ultimately found collapsed in her own feces, with second degree burns on her body, her organs failing, and her body exceeding the 108 degrees the thermometer would record. 16 officers and staff were disciplined for her death, but no one was ever prosecuted for her homicide. Her story is here.

Marcia's death and this blog compelled me to work for the next 5 1/2 years to document and challenge the prison industrial complex in AZ, most specifically as manifested in the Arizona Department of Corrections. I corresponded with over 1,000 prisoners in that time, as well as many of their loved ones, offering all what resources I could find for fighting the AZ DOC themselves - most regarding their health or matters of personal safety.

I also began to work with the survivors of prison violence, as I often heard from the loved ones of the dead, and learned their stories. During that time I memorialized the Ghosts of Jan Brewer - state prisoners under her regime who were lost to neglect, suicide or violence - across the city's sidewalks in large chalk murals. Some of that art is here.

In November 2014 I left Phoenix abruptly to care for my family. By early 2015 I was no longer keeping up this blog site, save occasional posts about a young prisoner in solitary confinement in Arpaio's jail, Jessie B.

I'm deeply grateful to the prisoners who educated, confided in, and encouraged me throughout the years I did this work. My life has been made all the more rich and meaningful by their engagement.

I've linked to some posts about advocating for state prisoner health and safety to the right, as well as other resources for families and friends. If you are in need of additional assistance fighting the prison industrial complex in Arizona - or if you care to offer some aid to the cause - please contact the Phoenix Anarchist Black Cross at PO Box 7241 / Tempe, AZ 85281.

until all are free -

MARGARET J PLEWS (June 1, 2015)


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Friday, August 28, 2009

Youth to stand trial for murder of ADC employee

by Jackee Coe - Aug. 27, 2009 05:05 PM
The Arizona Republic
A Buckeye teen accused of killing a Department of Corrections officer last fall during a carjacking has been declared competent to stand trial, according to Maricopa County Superior Court documents.
Felix Vasquez, 17, was declared "criminally incompetent" Jan. 29 and ordered to complete an involuntary treatment program, court records show. The court found Vasquez competent at his hearing Monday.
Vasquez and Benjamin Cannon, 16, were indicted on first-degree murder, armed robbery, auto theft and arson on Oct. 30 in connection with the slaying of Bradley Gerrard, 28, documents state. Vasquez and Cannon pleaded not guilty at their arraignments on Nov. 18 and 19, respectively.
About 11:30 p.m. Oct. 18, Gerrard was on his way back to his Buckeye home in the Tartesso community after a late-night run to Walmart to pick up an air mattress for a visiting relative, records show. He stopped at Tartesso Boulevard and Bruner Road to offer help to one of the teens he saw lying in the road.
But as Gerrard approached, the other teen ran out of hiding and shot him in the chest with a shotgun, according to police. The youths then took the car keys, dumped a child's car seat and stroller, and drove to a party in Goodyear, police said.
Gerrard's body was discovered after midnight. A few hours later, police found the shotgun and car, burned and abandoned in the desert nearby.
Gerrard had been a DOC officer for four years and was assigned to the Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis near Buckeye. He left behind a then 2-year-old son and pregnant wife.
Vasquez and Cannon, also Tartesso residents, were arrested Oct. 22 and admitted their involvement, records show. Both told the same story but implicated the other as the gunman.
Each is being held on a $2 million bond. Cannon's trial is set to begin Oct. 26.


Anonymous said...

That's so crazy, i remember hearing about this last year. i acually went to School with Ben Cannon. that's just nuts.

Anonymous said...

I heard about this awhile ago... I actually dated Ben Cannon several years ago. It's really strange to think I have been in relations with a convicted murderer. Weird.

Anonymous said...

Do you guys any chance knew Felix?