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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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

SOS Friends of Marcia!

Just a little cross-posting today from the Prison Abolitionist because the Free Marcia Powell website appears to no longer exist. So, move on if you already read this today. Otherwise, here's what's on my mind:

Hey All -

do me a favor and try to hit today. I'm not able to pull it up - my screen keeps telling me it doesn 't exist, except when I sneak in the back door to my dashborad - but I still can reach the site from there.

So, wherever you are, whoever you are, it would help to know if it's the site, browser, etc. Just send me word at with what you come up with - and introduce yourself - my name's Peggy..

In the meantime, if can retrieve any of the more recent stuff from Free Marcia Powell, I'll just re-post them here.

You don't think planning to see the Governor at the Homecoming Parade is too provocative, is it?

I wasn't planning any kind of coordinated protest or anything - I just want to make sure the Governor's crew keeps Marcia Powell and the rest of the prisoners of this state in the forefront of their minds as they raise campaign funds at high price events, and cut away at the budgets that feed, house, clothe, school, and - in disturbingly rapidly growing numbers - incarcerate the people of this state.

Women are being sexually exploited in the prisons; that knowledge is commonplace. Men are murdered, raped by other men, and suicide on a regular basis. People sent up for a few years on a relatively minor offense find themselves diagnosed with things like colon cancer, and never get to feel the touch of a loved one again. Is that how we want to punish people who just lost their homes and are desperately trying to stay afloat?  Or self-medicating their way back from three tours of duty?

We can't trust the judges or prosecutors in this state. They appear to have very little humanity, and their egos are far too delicate for them to admit their mistakes. Go visit the prisons yourselves, if you can get in. Look who we've got locked away. Talk to their family members, check out their stories. The innocence claims are credible, but will get buried by men like Andrew Thomas if we turn our backs from those prisoners now.

As for the brutalizing, dehumanizing effects of mass incarceration in this state, I don't know how anyone in this community can honestly suggest that what happened to Marcia that day was just a case of bad guards and violations of department policy, something that the Good Old Boys at the ADC can take care of if we just leave them to their work.

In fact, Ryan and his gang are doing their work exactly as we've trained them to do: render the people we hate and those we fear powerless, invisible, and silent - no matter how high the price in economic or human potential. "Justified" or not by a person's alleged guilt or admitted crime, incarceration is how we do violence to each other the most with the least amount of responsibility - we leave it to the cops and the courts under the unbelievably naive idea that because this is America the state can be trusted to let us know what really is and isn't "justice".

That's about all the stamina I have now. I'm sure I'll be back to rant and rave more later. In the meantime, don't forget to check out what's happening with, and get back with me. If you don't know what I'm talking about, just read a few of the posts about Marcia below.


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