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

Prisoner Sues for Safety

Schwartz cites prison assaults, sues state

Murder-for-hire figure says he has permanent injuries

By Stephanie Innes
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 09.20.2009

A former Tucson pediatric ophthalmologist convicted in the killing of a colleague in a murder-for-hire plot is suing the state, saying he's been repeatedly assaulted by other prison inmates.

Lawyers for Bradley Schwartz say their client has suffered permanent injuries, including vision impairment, from the attacks. They filed their lawsuit late Friday in Pima County Superior Court.

The lawsuit, which does not ask for a specific dollar amount, follows a claim Schwartz filed earlier this year seeking $750,000 in compensation for repeated attacks by inmates.

Schwartz, who lives in fear for his life, according to his lawyers, is accusing the Arizona Department of Corrections of negligence. His lawyers say state officials should have known he was in imminent danger of being assaulted by other inmates.

Officials with the Department of Corrections could not be reached for comment Saturday. When Schwartz's claim was filed earlier this year, a state corrections spokesman said the department does not comment on pending litigation. Schwartz's online prison history says he's had three disciplinary infractions, including fighting and possessing a manufactured weapon.

Schwartz, 44, was convicted in May 2006 of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the Oct. 5, 2004, slaying of fellow pediatric eye surgeon Dr. David Brian Stidham. Schwartz was sentenced to life in prison with release possible after 25 years, and his medical license was revoked.

Prosecutors contend that Schwartz paid Ronald Bruce Bigger $10,000 for the slaying because he was angry that Stidham had abandoned their joint practice while Schwartz was in a drug-rehabilitation program.

Stidham ended up with many of Schwartz's patients after Schwartz was indicted on federal drug-fraud charges in September 2002 and Schwartz's medical license was suspended.

Bigger was convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in a separate trial in May 2007. He is serving two life sentences without the possibility of release.

The lawsuit filed Friday says Schwartz has been assaulted at least three times while in prison, including one particularly vicious attack last September while he was a prisoner at the state's Rincon Unit in Tucson. In that attack, the lawsuit says, Schwartz suffered multiple facial bone fractures, injuries to his eyes, mental anguish and humiliation.

Schwartz is now in a state prison complex in Buckeye, near Phoenix.

"He's not a big guy, and he's high-profile," said Tucson attorney Rick Gonzales, who is representing Schwartz, along with co-counsel Brick Storts. "It's the Department of Corrections' duty and responsibility to protect the prisoner. The purpose of incarceration is not to be beaten, tortured and permanently disabled."

The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages for Schwartz's pain and suffering and medical expenses, as well as for Schwartz's legal costs and "such other and further relief as this court deems just and proper under the circumstances."

Contact reporter Stephanie Innes at 573-4134 or

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