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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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sex Workers Outreach Project Protest: Solidarity with Prison Abolitionist

International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

I've been dying to talk about this, and the official notice just came from SWOP today. I think the protest was originally going to be out at the prison, but I'm sure there were logistical and security issues, so it'll be at Director Ryan's door, instead. Just as good. We need to be there in Tucson Thursday, Dec 17 supporting the actions there, and turn out in force with these women in Phoenix on Friday, Dec 18. 

I need an early count of who's on board with this, folks, so email me and let me know how many people you think you'll bring to which events, if you have room and time to help drive folks to or from Tucson, or if you need a place to crash there - let me know, or contact the Tucson SWOP directly. In the meantime, I'll find out more about what we can do to support these actions.


Sex Worker’s Outreach Project - Tucson
Please Join Us December 17, 2009 for the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers Event in Tucson, Arizona!
November 11, 2009
Dear Friends & Supporters of Sex Worker’s Rights:

In 2009, sex workers from around the globe met gruesome deaths and endured unspeakable violence. Some died at the hands of a solitary perpetrator; others were victims of serialprostitute killers. While some of these horrific stories received international media attention ( Boston, Grand Rapids, Albuquerque, Tijuana , Hong Kong , Moscow , Great Britain ,Cape Town , New Zealand ), other cases received little more than a perfunctory investigation. Many cases remain unresolved, sometimes forever.

In fact, most violent crimes against sex workers remain unreported. Stigma and decriminalization facilitate this violence; when sex work is criminalized, prostitutes can't turn to the police for protection without risking prosecution themselves. Sex workers remain one of the largest marginalized populations in existence without the benefit of the basic civil rights that everyone else takes for granted.

Each year, December 17th marks the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Last year’s event in Washington, D.C. was a big success and this year, sex workers and their allies from across the U.S. will gather together in Tucson, Arizona to remember and honor sex workers who have been victimized by virtue of their chosen profession - including rape, assault and murder.

You are invited to join us on December 17, 2009 in Tucson, Arizona to honor the memories of the fallen. (A schedule of events is at the end of this letter). This year is especially poignant for us in Arizona because in May, 2009, Marcia Powell, an inmate at the Perryville women’s prison outside of Phoenix who was serving 27 months for prostitution, died when she was left outside in a holding cage in 107 degree heat without shade, food or water. Marcia Powell’s death is not only a travesty of justice and a failure of the prison system, but of the unjust laws which continue to oppress sex workers everywhere. We are outraged and saddened by both the loss of freedom and of lives, and we ask for your participation in putting an end to the violence.

Here’s How You Can Help

Please join us in honoring sex workers who have fallen victim to the travesties of violence and injustice. You can:

Attend the IDEVASW event in Tucson, Arizona on December 17th; we have plenty of resources for free housing and transportation.

If you can’t join us in Tucson, organize your own IDEVASW event in your hometown.

If you’re a business who’d like to help the Tucson event by sponsorship, please contact We need both money and volunteers.

Circulate this letter to your own listservs and use social media to get the word out - blog about this, add this letter to your website, Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, etc.

Donate to the Sex Workers Outreach Project. Visit to find out more.

If silence is the voice of complicity, then your presence in Arizona on December 17th would be a powerful message for justice to be heard across the world. Thank you.

In Solidarity,
Sex Workers Outreach Project - USA Sex Workers Outreach Project -Tucson
For more event information, please visit:

IDEVASW Event Schedule - Tucson, Arizona
Volunteers are still needed – please contact !

December 17, 2009

5:00 – 6:00 p.m. “No Human Involved” Event El Presidio Park, 160 West Alameda Street, Tucson, AZ. Performance art/art installation with the theme, “No Human Involved.” The central image will be a physical representation of the Perryville Prison which will honor Marcia Powell and sex workers everywhere who have been victims of violence; a performance piece/die-in and live music.

6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. “Remembrance Memorial” El Tiradito Shrine, 354 South Main Avenue, Tucson, AZ. Join us in remembering and honoring sex worker who have been victims of violence. Live music, performance poetry, ritual, candlelight vigil and refreshments. El Tiradito is a national historic shrine dedicated to the “castaway sinner” and holds a special place in the hearts of Tucson sex workers.

December 18, 2009

Political Rally at the downtown Phoenix offices of the Director of the Arizona Department of Corrections to protest current anti-prostitution laws and prison conditions. Did you know that in Arizona, a fourth conviction is a mandatory Class 5 felony with 180 days of prison for consensual sex between a client and a sex worker? Please visit for more details. Volunteers are needed to organize this day!

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