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:

Friday, November 20, 2009

Early Prisoner Release. Please.

Friends of Marcia Powell's who have been able to connect this week struggled over the best message to make the case for prisoner release. This is the one aspect that seems to have received the least coverage, but it is what has prisoners and their loved ones holding their breath: the healing touch of human connections.

From Thursday, November 19, 2009. 
Arizona Capitol Grounds, Phoenix.

Prisoners have families, too.

...The best part about this action this morning was all the prisoners who got to see what we'd left on the sidewalk yesterday, and who saw me arguing with the cops after writing this today (thanks to the guy from the state who declined to press charges, by the way).

This poor guy had the job of cleaning up after us once already this morning, and now had to do it again. As he approached my masterpiece he said quietly, without looking up: "I hope you appreciate the irony of what I'm about to do." Then he smiled.

I didn't want to get him into trouble by talking to him, so we kept it short and sweet. When I apologized for the mess I told him there are more people than me working on this, and he thanked us all for our support and solidarity. He was pretty touched. It helps prisoners a lot to know there are people in the community who care what happens to them, even though we may be strangers. It validates that regardless of their guilt or crime we at least recognize their humanity, and will defend certain basic rights.

So, when you're doing stuff and taking pictures, imagine being a prisoner getting a postcard with a photo of your action on it. It may make them laugh, smile, or maybe even cry, but it should tell them that they and their families are not alone in this.

I'll have more on this morning when I get my 35mm roll developed, but that's the main thing I wanted to share for now. Oh, yeah - and a shout out to Timothy with the Grounds Department.

The legislature reconvenes Monday, but deals will be brokered this weekend.  

If you have anything to say at all about the budget, don't wait.

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