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, October 11, 2009

Arizona Prisons and Politics, 2010

This is the Governor of the State of Arizona, Jan Brewer, on her front page, speaking to her main constituency out here, the National Rifle Association - the mainstay of "American Values." 
Don't know where that leaves the rest of us who are looking for leadership from someplace other than the NRA.
Just so the rest of the world understands something: Jan Brewer, Russ Pearce, Joe Arpaio, Andrew Thomas, and the NRA do not represent all of us here in Arizona. Increasingly, those of us who disagree with them will no doubt end up behind bars. That's reason for encouragement, though: it means they're losing. Look for this to get worse before it gets better.

Those folks have a lot to do with the mess we're in today - dishing out the old "law and order" election year rhetoric that has us spending more on warehousing and killing prisoners than we're willing to spend on educating our youth: that's shameful for both Democrats and Republicans (who, I'll remind folks, are not the only two options out there).

This year we need to set the campaign agenda ourselves. They've already begun with their public appearances and comments - all we need is for a few people to turn up at each event - Republican and Democrats' events alike -and make the AZ prison industrial complex The Issue for every single one of them.

Haunt them at every campaign stop with the ghost of Marcia Powell. It can be totally legal; even low key. Just be visible and frank, take a picture or video, and send it in.

Are they building more prisons? Why not let the elderly and dying go?

Is the prison population going to grow in their vision for Arizona - or will it shrink, along with the number of uninsured and hungry seniors, veterans, and kids?

Do they support privatization of corrections or correctional health services? Will they auction off our family members to the lowest bidder?

Where are their investments in Arizona's future going to be made: education, or incarceration?

Hey Thomas: why do you ignore evidence of innocence and leave people in prison you know perfectly well don't belong there? We don't need more people in power in this state who can't admit a mistake.

Letters to legislators, the gov, and the media need to go out now too. Unless you need or assure confidentiality, copies of such correspondence should generally be posted on some publicly accessible website or it gets buried - send your letter to me, and I'll put it up and let whomever you sent it to know it's on the net for viewing. Then it'll be read even if it's lost in the mail.

Some of you can start up blogs too, you know. Or go to Arizona Indymedia and post an article or picture of your own. Check out what this blogger in Delaware is doing to bring the Department of Corrections front and center in the 2010 campaigns.

Don't settle for the heads of a few prison guards. Now is the time to deconstruct Arizona's carceral regime. Force an intelligent public dialogue before the primaries - we need to set the agenda for change.

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