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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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

NYC Parade Marshal and CJ-involved Vets

Veterans Day's good Samaritan

Treatment leader to marshal parade

Tuesday, November 10th 2009, 9:48 AM
New York Daily News

CAROL DAVIDSON runs a tight ship - so much so, that even combat veterans refer to her as "Top Sergeant."

But to many of the more than 100 vets at Samaritan Village, a group of substance abuse treatment centers, she's just "Ma."

Davidson is director of veteran services at centers in Richmond Hill and Manhattan.

She was tapped as Grand Marshal of tomorrow's 90th New York City Veterans Day parade in honor of the 10 years she has spent serving veterans.

"I was a teenage substance abuser. I'm from the Vietnam era, and my dad is a World War II veteran," said Davidson, 56, a career social worker. "It makes sense that I ended up here."

The two residential treatment centers she runs offer what Davidson calls "therapeutic community treatment" to veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and end up turning to drugs or alcohol to cope.

Each houses about 50 veterans, many of whom were sent there by a court mandate. Most vets entering the program have fought in Iraq or Afghanistan, but several recent graduates served in Vietnam.

"The older guys get a pride and sense of meaning and the younger guys look up to them," Davidson said.
"We're a big family."

Guy Smith, 62, served in Vietnam for a year in 1968. The guilt he felt about returning home when many of his fellow soldiers died led him to a life of "self-medication," he said.

"I sold drugs, went to jail and carried a gun," said Smith. "I didn't think anything was wrong with me."

It took Smith more than 30 years to realize that he suffered from PTSD - a diagnosis that didn't exist when he returned from Vietnam.

"I'm so glad for the young guys," Smith said. "They don't have to wait for help. Help is here."

Davidson calls the treatment centers "sanctuaries" - places veterans can talk about the things that they saw in combat.

"War heroes don't want to tell you about their experiences because they don't want to put those pictures in your mind," she said. "They feel it's their burden to carry."

Shawn G., of Cambria Heights, is currently enrolled in the veteran's program. He joined the Marines in 2003 and served two tours of duty in Iraq, where he began drinking heavily.

When he returned to Queens in 2007, he had nightmares he felt no one would understand and rarely went out without a pistol. Last year, he was arrested for carrying a loaded shotgun into a cab.

In May, the Queens district attorney ordered that Shawn get treatment at Samaritan Village.

"It didn't seem real coming from jail to a place where people understand me," he said.

At both centers, there is a bond between Vietnam veterans and those returning from war today. Davidson calls the older men "role models for recovery."

"Never again will a generation of veterans leave another behind," she said.

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