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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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Prison Industrial Complex and Masculinity

Just found this - check it out! I had no idea these folks were out there - and they're having a forum on the prison industrial complex in December! I think they're in Prescott.

Okay, I'm stealing this post, but will get in touch with the blog authors - it looks like a whole class.

The Journey: Discussions on the construction of masculinity in America. 
The Prison Industrial Complex
Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Since we didn't have as much time as I had hoped to explore the PIC and masculinity, we didn't have the opportunity to explore alternatives to mass-imprisonment and the PIC. After class we may have left some of you feeling as though there isn't much that can be done to end the horrendous treatment of millions of people in prisons in this country. Fortunately, that's not the case! There are alternatives to the PIC and there are many groups that are working to end the inhumane, classist, racist, sexist, and violent institution of modern prisons. The following links are to a few of the groups that are working to end our dependence upon the prison industrial complex. (There are many more but these are a few that we're familiar with). (a nation-wide group focusing on prison abolition and alternative forms of community safety) (a Quaker-based social justice organization focused on prison abolition generally and long-term solitary confinement in particular) (an internet-based forum for discussing issues particular to women entangled in the PIC) and the (a group focused on preserving the rights of transgender, gender variant, and intersexed prisoners, particularly in California)

Common conceptions of an alternative to the PIC include redirecting the money currently pouring into caging people toward education and job opportunities for poor, urban communities that are disproportionately affected by the PIC. Actively blocking the privatization of prisons and decrying the abuses that occur inside prisons of every type are also common tactics. We can support alternatives to incarceration including drug and alcohol rehabilitation, reduction of sentences for non-violent crimes, and community-based programs for juveniles instead of incarceration.

Of course none of these tactics in themselves will eradicate the PIC; as we learned yesterday, it is inextricably entwined with capitalism and patriarchy to the point that we will not be able to end imprisonment without changing our culture of violence and greed. However, there are some steps we can take to diminish the PICs damaging effects while we continue the painfully slow process of shifting paradigms.

If you want to know more, be sure to come to the Prison Industrial Complex Forum, December 11th, 11-5pm at the Crossroads Center. We will be exploring the PIC through a number of different lenses (the media, gender and sexuality, the state, etc.), ending with two keynote speakers from prison abolition activist groups in Arizona.

-Amanda and Beth

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