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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Thursday, November 5, 2009

CCA: California's solution to over-crowding

Shipping Prisoners Out of Sight

Published November 04, 2009 @ 06:46AM PT

More bad news from California's prisons: the state has inked a deal with the Corrections Corporation of America to ship another 2,336 to private facilities outside of the state.

California's overcrowded, dangerous prisons continue to serve up a windfall for companies like CCA while the state refuses to address the underlying problem and reduce incarceration rates. A federal court has ordered the state to reduce its prison population by 40,000 (27%) in two years, but the Governator is fighting the decision tooth and nail.

California is making an an enormous mistake by shipping prisoners far from their families and support networks and replacing them in crowded prisons with new bodies. Cowardly politicians are afraid to make sensible moves on sentencing and parole because they're afraid of the soft-on-crime label, and the public either follows the tough-on-crime propaganda or fails to give the issue serious thought. The result: prisoners remain invisible, prisons remain overcrowded and the system stays in crisis.

I've written before about the sickeningly strong business outlook for our country's private prison companies (CCA is the biggest), and the costs of incarcerating Americans thousands of miles from home. These two issues combine to create a dangerous cocktail of a prison industry that misses a critical chance to focus on easing the reentry for the 700,000 Americans freed from prison each year.

The wonderful folks at Thousand Kites are doing something about this problem. They are collecting stories of prisoners and families affected by these destructive policies and will be focused on reforms to keep prisoners closer to home in the coming months. Learn more about their campaign and their partners at the Virgin Islands Prison Project here.

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