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)


ANTICOLONIAL zines, stickers, actions, power

Taala Hooghan Infoshop

Kinlani/Flagstaff Mutual AID


The group for direct action against the prison state!

Black Lives Matter PHOENIX METRO

Black Lives Matter PHOENIX METRO
(accept no substitutions)



PHOENIX: Trans Queer Pueblo


AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:

Monday, November 9, 2009

Veterans' Project: NYC

Useful, current information about veterans in the CJ system in New York. 

Only 1% of our population serves in the armed forces, I believe. Yet veterans make up 9% or prisoners in America. I don't think the young men and women who enlist are necessarily more prone to commit crimes than the rest of us. I think this speaks to how trauma and violence can affect people, how complex the overlap between mental health and substance abuse problems are, and how readily we exploit our labor in this country - including soldiers - and toss them aside when they lose their market value.  

As I look through these articles on veterans and criminal justice, I see both explicit and implied the presumption that military service in and of itself - not one's conduct, character, or the actual crime - is what entitles vets to a "break" in the justice system. Lots of people should get a break.

Veterans' Project Offers Support to Those in Criminal Justice

New York Times
Published: July 7, 2009

There are about 70,000 veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan in New York State, many struggling with the transition back to civilian life as Vietnam veterans did, and some at risk of ending up in the criminal justice system.

A new pilot program called the Veterans Project, announced on Tuesday and set to begin in Queens, Brooklyn and Nassau County, aims to help keep them out of prison.

“If a veteran finds themselves in the criminal justice system, they deserve a helping hand,” Jonathan Lippman, chief judge of the State Court of Appeals, said at a news conference to announce the project at the Veterans Affairs Hospital on East 23rd Street.

The project — a collaboration between county prosecutors, the Department of Veterans Affairs and health care providers — will try to divert veterans who commit nonviolent crimes away from prison while helping them with underlying issues like homelessness or substance abuse.

Bruce Burnham, 63, a Vietnam veteran who served on a Swift boat in the Mekong Delta in 1965, welcomed the project.

“I had a cousin that ended up serving time,” Mr. Burnham said, adding that many of his former comrades got into trouble when they returned home. “Now this is a positive step forward,” he said.

As part of the project, defendants with military service will be identified as they soon as enter the justice system. They will be helped to get treatment and support services to address problems that many of them face, like post-traumatic stress disorder.

Those who complete the program may have their charges dismissed or reduced, or win a reduction in their sentences.

According to the Center for Mental Health Services National Gains Center, veterans account for 9 out of every 100 prisoners in United States jails and prisons.

Prosecutors say many veterans get into legal trouble when they use alcohol or drugs to try to cope with traumatic memories. Sometimes the charge is drug possession or theft, but the underlying problem can often be addiction.

Last year a RAND Corporation study said that nearly 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans — 300,000 in all — reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression, but that only slightly more than half seek treatment.

On Tuesday, Charles J. Hynes, the Brooklyn district attorney, said that the project “recognizes the heroic services of members of our armed forces.” He added, “We cannot permit our country to ignore the lesson learned after Vietnam.”

While the project received wide support, some legal advocates said that its scope is too limited.
JoAnne Page, the chief executive officer of the Fortune Society, which promotes prisoners’ re-entry into society, said that the move to keep defendants from prison should not be limited to veterans who have been arrested for nonviolent crimes.

In some cases, she said, violent offenders “can be supervised efficiently in the community without posing community risk.”

Robert Gangi, executive director of the Correctional Association of New York, added that despite their unique status, veterans should not be the only ones to profit from this sort of program.

“A case can also be made — given that treatment is more effective and less expensive — that these kinds of supports be made available to a broader cross section of the population,” he said.

No comments: