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 who I've been supporting, Jessie Burlew.

I will miss my work and the people who have supported me - but I have been most especially grateful to the prisoners who educated, confided in, and encouraged me. My life has been made all the more rich and meaningful by their engagement.

I have 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)


Jessica Burlew's Legal Defense Fund

ALONE: Teens in Solitary Confinement

AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:

Friday, September 18, 2009

One Roadblack to Prisoner Release

This is such a a tragedy when the perceived and actual health of a community becomes so dependent on the prolonged imprisonment and suffering of thousands of people - most kept far from home. The industry of incarceration has more than just criminals in chains.

Prison cutbacks face opposition

Bent, Crowley and Huerfano officials ask governor to reconsider early release program.

Published: September 17, 2009

Officials in three Southern Colorado counties said Wednesday that Gov. Bill Ritter's decision to release more than 6,000 inmates from state Department of Corrections custody will be devastating to small communities that house private prisons.

Commissioners in Bent, Crowley and Huerfano counties all have private prisons owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America.

Ritter announced the Accelerated Transition Pilot program in August. By June 30, an estimated 2,720 inmates out of 3,400 eligible for parole will be on the streets, saving the state $19 million in prison housing costs. The next year, another 3,000-plus inmates could be released.

But Bent County Commissioner Bill Long said that the lion's share of the proposed reduction would come from the private prisons in Crowley, Bent and Huerfano counties.

Long said the proposed releases will impact the private facilities which were built at the request of the state. "If they do what they have been talking about in the last few days, which is 5,000 to 6,000 inmates possibly being up for parole, that will empty virtually every private prison in Colorado that has Colorado inmates," Long said.

"I guarantee that this will be an absolute disaster for Bent County and Crowley County. No question about it."

The Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs and the Bent County Correctional Facility in Las Animas are key parts of their local economies with more than 200 employees at each facility, Long said.

"We receive property tax, telephone revenue and other benefits from the

facilities," Long said.

Long explained that the Huerfano County Correctional Facility in Walsenburg and the Kit Carson Correctional Facility in Burlington also will be hurt if the reduction occurs.

Currently the Huerfano facility is full of inmates from Arizona, but Long said that when Arizona gets its inmate situation straightened out, the inmates will be taken back to that state.

"That would be another facility that was built primarily for Colorado inmates that would also be emptied," Long said.

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