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 20, 2009

Largest NY HIV Care Provider: Prison.

Medical Inattention in New York Prisons
NY Times
Published: September 15, 2009

Prison inmates are the sickest people in society, with infection rates for blood-borne viruses like H.I.V. and hepatitis C far higher than the general population. Failing to test, counsel and treat these inmates makes it more likely that they will spread infection once they are released and suffer catastrophic illnesses that shorten their lives and drive up public health costs.

The New York State Legislature had this problem in mind when it passed a bill that requires the State Department of Health to ensure that prison H.I.V. and hepatitis programs are operating effectively and meet prevailing medical standards. Corrections officials, who tend to rebel against oversight of just about any kind, want Gov. David Paterson to veto this bill. He should ignore them and sign it.

The state correctional system has unquestionably improved medical care over the last several years. But a recent report by the Correctional Association of New York, which is authorized by the Legislature to monitor the prisons, found troubling inconsistencies in care in the state prison system, which is said to house 20 percent of the H.I.V.-infected inmates in the United States.

The report, based on state records, estimates that the state has identified through testing fewer than half of the H.I.V.-positive inmates and only about 70 percent of those with hepatitis C. The report finds that the number of people receiving treatment varies  significantly from place to place, which is suspicious given that the population is fairly homogenous. The variation raises questions about the consistency and effectiveness of medical policies from prison to prison.

Prison medical officials argue that the treatment regime is fine and that oversight is unnecessary. But critics in the Legislature rightly point out that the prison health system is the only one in the state not overseen by the Health Department. The prison system, with about 4,000 infected inmates, is the largest provider of treatment for H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS, in the state.

Other critics argue than the Health Department’s initiative would cost money at time when the state can’t afford it. But better diagnoses and treatment in prison would save more money than it would cost by preventing further infections and keeping many patients from moving on to costly, catastrophic illnesses.

A version of this article appeared in print on September 15, 2009, on page A32 of the New York edition.
This and other news about mass incarceration can be found at

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