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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Thursday, September 10, 2009

A "Better" Beast in the Making...

Immigrant Detention: Can ICE Meet its Legal Imperatives and Case Management Responsibilities?


Better record-keeping could ensure U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement keeps dangerous immigrants in custody while operating its sprawling detention system safely and lawfully, according to a new report from a nonpartisan think tank.

The report, to be released Thursday by the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute, notes gaps in the information ICE uses to track the more than 33,000 people in its nationwide system of jails and detention centers that hold immigrants awaiting court hearings or deportation.

The gaps include whether a detainee is dangerous or might have a claim to U.S. citizenship, making it hard for the agency to ensure the system operates legally and efficiently, said Donald Kerwin, one of the report's authors.

"This analysis places these criticisms in a new light by asking whether ICE can fully comply with the law, effectively manage its sprawling detention system and create a system better suited to civil detainees," with its current record-keeping, the authors wrote.

MPI's report is based on data in records obtained by The Associated Press through Freedom of Information Act requests. The AP reported in March that more than half of jailed immigrants held by ICE on a single January night had not been convicted of a crime and nearly a third had been held longer than the 31-day average stay reported by the agency.

ICE director John Morton, who assumed the post in May, announced last month that the agency would re-evaluate the system. He said it would seek to treat nonviolent people who aren't a flight risk differently from those with felony convictions facing mandatory detention and deportation.

The agency's database does not currently list whether an immigrant must be detained, as is the case for felons who have served their sentences and been released to ICE custody, or whether the immigrant is believed to be dangerous. It also doesn't list whether an immigrant has a special medical condition or mental health issues.

The database also does not provide answers to some procedural questions that would help determine whether the federal government is complying with a Supreme Court ruling that immigrants can't be held indefinitely, Kerwin said.

"What it seemed to be missing was information that would allow them to make important decisions that they're required to make as part of their responsibility," he said.

ICE spokeswoman Gillian Brigham said the agency recognizes there's room for improvement, but officials are confident the plans announced by Morton "will go a long way in addressing many of the current concerns."

She noted the agency plans more oversight in addition to better medical care and fiscal prudence for the $1.72 billion detention system.


MPI has a fascinating website, addressing global migration, Here is Charles' Schumer's speech from their conference in June on what he plans to introduce for immigration reform when it's up.

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