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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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Community and State Brutality.

This is heartbreaking. Someone I love could have easily been killed this way if the cops dealing with him didn't exercise considerable restraint and compassion. I guess I could be, myself. I don't know what the entire context here was - even the part I cut out doesn't tell the whole story of what these cops were looking at, and how they dealt with it, so that's not necessarily a judgment.

This is, however: If we lock people away from their families for any period of time - especially at such extraordinary cost - we need do a better job helping  them deal with their addictions and mental illnesses, too. In the meantime,  there has to be a better way of getting people in for mental health services when they're like this than tasering, arresting or re-incarcerating them...

Us, rather. I meant to say "us." I do that dissociative thing with "them" too often, so I'm stating it more clearly: We are human beings, too, with hopes and frailties, most of us longing for some kind of  connection - even if we seem pretty out there. We are the people everyone's so afraid of all the time: addicted, poor and crazy. I'm out there, too, getting into cops' faces no matter how hard I try not to. That doesn't mean I'll resort to violence, though - or need to be controlled with force. Even so, please ask people to be more gentle with us. We're always out-numbered and out-gunned (and usually in cages or a handcuffs) when this kind of thing happens.

None of that should come as a surprise to people who know me; I got out on this limb here awhile ago, and didn't really "choose" it. have very little to lose at this point in my life, and a great deal at stake in how our community works this kind of thing out - in whether or not we collectively wring our hands and walk away from all this now. Whether or not I speak up or act out, I'm going to end up in deep trouble with whomever wins the election if we - not the politicians - don't take responsibility for doing right by people caught up at all points (as victims and "criminals") in our system of justice. 

That's where the change has to come from first: the hearts and minds of the folks who make up the community. Until then, people like me will just keep dying like this guy and Marcia did - as tragic, passing thoughts.

I'm too tired for much more than this tonight.


Drugs, Taser hit, heat may have led to man's death

Three months after being released from an Arizona prison after serving time on drug and robbery charges, Francisco Pelayo Sesate hoped a move near his two daughters in Nebraska would be enough to turn his life around.

Instead, a combination of drugs, physical exertion and two five-second blasts from Mesa police officer's Taser at a Quick Trip convenience store Aug. 20 may have ultimately caused the 36-year-old's death.

A newly released police report details the Sesate's final hours as he stripped naked and created a wild disturbance in a convenience store parking lot.

Doctors who treated him at Banner Desert Medical Center said the combination of drugs in Sesate's system, the blasts from the Taser and his 108-degree body temperature meant his organs were "basically cooking inside his body."

A toxicology report revealed Sesate had opiates, amphetamines and cocaine in his system when he died on Aug. 20...

  (continue at the AZ Republic)

...After Sesate shoved the second officer, Riordan fired his Taser, hitting Francisco Sesate in the chest. Cell phone video shot by customer inside the store captured the man falling through the business' front door and onto the ground.

The video, which was uploaded to YouTube, shows the officers struggling with Sesate on the floor as they attempt to handcuff both hands. When the man refused to place both hands behind his back, Riordan fired his Taser a second time.

Police successfully handcuffed the man, but he began kicking at the officers. They then restrained his feet.
"After Francisco was rolled over on his right side, I noticed that Francisco appeared not to be responsive or breathing," a police report states. The handcuffs were removed and police began CPR.

EMS crews were already en route and took Sesate to Banner Desert Hospital where he remained in critical condition and on a ventilator for seven hours until he was pronounced dead.

Doctors told police his heart was beating 180 times per minute, and he was experiencing multi-organ failure.
Detective Steve Berry, a police spokesman, said it's department policy to investigate incidents where an officer's use of force resulted in death. That investigation remains ongoing, and a final use of force report has not yet completed.

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