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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Saturday, December 19, 2009

AEA Legislative Update: The Deals Are Done.

From Doug Kilgore at the Arizona Educators Association Legislative Center: Thanks, Doug. You've been a good resource.


December 14 - 18, 2009
Inside This Issue...

  • Arizona Legislature Approves Agency Cut Bill
  • News Links

Arizona Legislature Approves Agency Cut Bill
The state legislature's fifth special session ended today after the House approved S1001, a bill that would cut over $200 million from agency budgets.

The Senate had already approved the bill on Thursday, but House Democrats insisted on being given enough time to read through the bill and would not waive the three-day rule required by the state constitution to consider a bill.

The bill would cut 7.5 percent from state agency budgets and sweeps some special purpose funds.  When Governor Brewer originally called for the special session, the agenda was going to also include ballot referrals for the one-cent sales tax and three-year suspension of the Voter Protection Act, Prop 105, which protects spending on voter approved programs from cut-happy legislators.  Due to the number of votes, neither of these ballot measures were put on the agenda and the agency cut bill was the only one that ended up being voted on this special session.

Since the sales tax referral wasn't on the agenda for this special session, it has missed the deadline to be put on the March ballot.  And although the suspension of Prop 105 didn't get voted on, this likely isn't the last attempt we'll see at removing it in an attempt to go after Prop 301 education funds and other funding for vital health and human services.

Arizona needs to start getting serious about closing up its 1.5 billion dollar deficit.  Spending cuts are not the only answer.  AEA and the Arizona Budget Coalition have outlined several budget options that do not rely on cuts.  This special session is the same as past sessions where the legislature is divided along party lines and a balanced budget is not reached.  Legislators need to come up with a bipartisan solution to balancing the budget that does not reduce Arizona's opportunities for future growth.

News Links
Tuition Aid Eludes Needy
Scholarships not widely known, fall far shy of school expenses

Is Horne Trying to Out-Thomas Thomas?
Clearly, Superintendent Tom Horne is in election mode. He revved up his campaign for attorney general this morning by putting out a press release, decrying the fact that students who live in Mexico are crossing the border at Lukeville to attend public school in Ajo.

Tom Boone Decides Against Senate Bid
Rep. Tom Boone has dropped plans for a state Senate bid, saying he's too busy with a business that caters to school districts to take on another two years at the statehouse.

Contact Us
The Legislative Update will be on holiday break for the next two weeks and return on January 8, 2010.  Due to organizational changes, future Legislative Updates will be sent out by Sheenae Shannon, Communications Organizational Consultant, who can be e-mailed at

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