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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AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:

Sunday, September 27, 2009

ADC: Safety is Job One.

This is what I found so disturbing: it's all about paying the guards to protect the public - only passing reference to inmate safety, despite this 3000-page report detailing how systematically, carelessly prisoners get neglected and abused.And all Ryan and Brewer are talking about is how brave and hard-working they are, and how they're keeping us "safe". Yes, short-staffing is a problem. But the prisoners are dying at a much faster rate than the guards. Who protects the prisoners from the conditions of their confinement?

And does the governor herself have nothing to say about the horrendous details on the death of Marcia Powell? No reassurances to the families of 40,000 prisoners that their loved ones are safe tonight, and will survive their prison sentences? No word to the women in that pit themselves that none of them will be next, left dying in their own feces begging for help as guards just mock them, passing them by? No acknowledgment to the officers that their ability to do their jobs has long been compromised by over-crowding, short-staffing, excess overtime, and burn-out? Look at the employee suicides out there.

Here's the Governor's happy announcement that the ADC can keep on keeping us all safe (as long as we aren't in their care). Good idea to hold off on releasing that report, Ryan, until after this news cycle passed.


State of Arizona
Janice K. Brewer Office of the Governor

Main Phone: 602-542-4331
Governor 1700 West Washington Street

Phoenix, AZ 85007 Facsimile: 602-542-7601

September 18, 2009
(602) 542-3464

Governor Brewer Announces first distribution of Government Services Funds

$50 million awarded to Department of Corrections for salary expenses of 1,305 officers

PHOENIX – Governor Jan Brewer today announced the first distribution of the State Fiscal Stabilization Funds (SFSF) Government Services Fund (GSF) monies to the Arizona Department of Corrections through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). A total of $50 million will be given to the Department to pay officer’s salary expenses incurred during the first five (5) pay periods of FY2010 in order to support officers needed to staff required security posts throughout the state’s prison system to ensure the safety of the public, staff and inmates.

“I have long emphasized that I will do everything in my power to see that public safety in the State of Arizona is not compromised,” said Governor Jan Brewer. “By choosing to award the Arizona Department of Corrections $50 million from the Government Services Fund, I have made good on my commitment to mitigate funding cuts to such vital services as public safety and support our dedicated correctional officers.”

The $50 million will go to ensure our Department operates with a full complement of officers to protect Arizonans," said ADC Director Charles L. Ryan. "The money released by Governor Brewer pays the salaries of our brave and hard-working correctional officers in this difficult economic time."

“I am extremely pleased, and so will my officers be, to know that Governor Brewer and the Arizona Office of Economic Recovery care enough about our safety and well being to fund such an important public safety agency,” said Michael Duran, State Executive President of the Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association. “This stretches further than just safety for my officers - this helps us do our first and foremost job of protecting the public everyday.”

The Government Services Funds are one portion of the SFSF, aimed at helping states to provide maximum flexibility in addressing budget shortfalls. Funds are to be allocated at the Governor’s discretion as designed by federal law.

For more information, please visit the State of Arizona’s Recovery Act website at
Finally, Ryan et al: you need to be more concerned with protecting your prisoners than the "public" right now; the police are heavily militarized out here and seem quite capable of arresting whomever they want; all you need to do to keep the public safe is to not leave the keys lying around. Your bigger duty - especially now - is to keep your prisoners safe from each other, despair, and their guards.

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