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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Monday, November 9, 2009

Judge Brenda Murray: Woman of Worth

Forwarded through someone from SUNY via Lois Ahrens at the The Real Cost of Prisons Blog. It is an award program put on by L'Oreal. Judge Murray has done some extraordinary work for women in prison, and the award will go to education for women prisoners in Marland - our sisters. Support the cause - it takes less than five minutes. Then spread the word. - Peg

Friends, you can begin voting for BRENDA MURRAY to win a $25,000 award that will go to supporting a college education for women at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women (MCIW), where I am on the board of directors for the college program.


ALL YOU NEED TO DO IS VOTE--between Nov 9 and Nov 24.

Go to:
Click on Vote Now-

Scroll down to Brenda Murray

Click on Brenda's icon or on vote

Sign in with your email (THIS WILL NOT BE USED IN ANY WAY) AND VOTE.

I can only stress the importance of your vote by saying--this could make a huge difference to the lives of women in prison. PLEASE HELP.


Here is some info on Brenda Murray...

Judge Brenda Murray understood early on that if you improve the life of a woman, you transform the lives of her children, grandchildren, extended family and community as well. For the past 20 years, Brenda has been transforming conditions and providing educational opportunities for thousands of women behind bars.

The effort officially began in 2006 when, as co-chair of the Women in Prison Project sponsored by the National Association of Women Judges, Judge Murray sent an e-mail asking Baltimore and Washington, D.C., area professors to participate in a prison book club. About a dozen professors responded, in the process becoming educated about criminal justice issues and becoming ambassadors for the incarcerated women. With no money and a small volunteer army of academics and correction officials, Judge Murray ultimately created a college program in Maryland’s only women’s prison.

When incarcerated people lost their eligibility for Pell Grants in 1994, the vast majority of college degree programs in prison ended. Since then, little has been done to equip those incarcerated with the necessary tools – education, career counseling and placement services – to successfully re-enter society. In Maryland, there is very little in the way of post-secondary education, despite compelling evidence that an investment in higher education is the most effective way to reduce re-incarceration and crimes rates, lessen the taxpayers’ burdens, make prisons safer and more manageable, and create better transitions for convicted felons to become productive and valued members of the community.

Although most college degree programs in prison have ended, Judge Murray continues to directly impact the lives of virtually all 900 women in the prison, by infusing hope, respect and trust into the culture of the institution and by empowering the women to educate themselves. She is known as a direct and plain-spoken federal judge who practices tough love with selflessness and sympathy. That’s why Judge Murray is a 2009 Woman of Worth.

While many of you never send on emails to others--and I respect that--I am asking as a special favor you do that now in order to help the women in prison be able to continue their college education.

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