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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Sunday, November 29, 2009

How Life Ends on Nevada's Death Row


Something's going on in Nevada, folks. This is symptomatic of the bad stuff that's been going down there for awhile - they desperately need transparency. Guards and administrators routinely taunt, abuse, neglect, disrupt, and mess with prisoners there. Whatever the sentence or the crime, we have as a society some minimum standards for how prisoners should be treated, and the way Tim Redman spent his last few hours violates all of them - including the one that provides for a process by which prisoners are finally executed. 

No one wants to believe the prisoners (or even question them as witnesses) when this kind of thing happens, in part because it makes the rest of us wonder if we're punishing the right people the right way, and also because it makes us responsible for demanding that something be done about it. Who wants to go out on a limb for justice for a dead murderer? 

It's not just about Redman, though. It's about all Nevada's prisoners. Spend some time at the activist websites below - prisoner abuse and neglect is why they came into being. AZ Prison Watch came about because of Marcia's death. We read again and again about how corrupt and malevolent some guards are, and it seems that even the ones who aren't overtly malicious end up complicit when sucked into the culture. How is it that 16 people ended up being responsible for killing Marcia Powell over the course of 4 hours? I doubt any of them had that intent in mind. 

Anyway, the feds should be on top of this - but probably aren't. They should be placing agents in all the Nevada prisons themselves to weed the garbage out (starting at the top). If they fail to pursue an investigation of Tim Redman's death with all the testimony contradicting the official account of what transpired, then they will share responsibility for further abuse and negligence at Nevada's Department of Corrections.

You know, it's funny how the guards had a different story from the inmates when Marcia Powell died, too - how 20 inmates heard her ask for water and get refused, while every single guard (except maybe two?) swore she had water. I believe the prisoners in both cases - they would be crazy to make something up that may involve perjury and would set them up for treatment of a similar nature to what Marcia and Tim got. Only a compelling reason - perhaps survival, since they are all subject to abuse as well - would have caused them to take that risk to speak up. Survival, and a demand for justice for those with no voice - other prisoners.

This story is being written by folks at Make the Walls Transparent, who are in direct contact with prisoners at Ely prison. It's also being followed on Nevada Prison Watch, who first tipped us off to what was happening.


Posted By MTWT - Lucy On November 29, 2009 @ 12:08 pm

Newspapers within Nevada picked up the story about Timothy Redman’s death and, as we at MTWT and others, knew their “journalism” would be in the defense of the NDOC and would not be the truth in its entirety. The NDOC gives the public what they want us to hear, what they want us to think is the truth. The employees of the NDOC don’t want the public to know what goes on behind the walls of these prisons. The truth will never be heard unless a complete and total federal investigation into the death of Mr. Redman is done. Even then we have to wonder if the entire truth will be told. It is the nature of the NDOC to start a cover-up as soon as an incident happens.

Some of the local newspapers wrote short articles to satisfy the public because of what our site and other sites have published in aftermath of Mr. Redman’s death. People wanted to hear the “official” story. The “official” story has not been touched in the four articles that I have read. All we see in these articles are reporters, Sheriff Watts, and Suzanne Pardee giving the spin we knew would be published. 

Does anyone really think that the Warden, the administrative staff, or the guards are going to tell you, “Yes we sprayed Mr. Redman with 5 or 6 large cans of pepper spray in a locked cell that had no ventilation”. “Yes, he said to us that if we didn’t stop he was going to hang himself”. “Yes, with even knowing he was telling us this we continued to spray him with mace.” “Yes, we saw him hang himself and instead of trying to stop him, we sprayed him again”. No! They are going to tell you just what they want you to hear: Mr. Redman brandished a prison made “shank” and barricaded his door so no one could get in to stop him from hanging himself.

When the stories appeared in the Las Vegas Sun, The Reno Gazette Journal, Las Vegas Review Journal, Nevada Appeal, and The Ely Times we weren’t at all shocked they said an investigation is pending but at the same time, only one paper mentioned the pepper spray used to start the wheels in motion that caused a man to die. We were also not shocked when they focused on the crime that Mr. Redman was convicted of instead of talking about and asking important questions that the public would like to know the answers to...

(finish at Make the Walls Transparent)

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