Fight the Treatment Industrial Complex

Fight the Treatment Industrial Complex by supporting the AFSC- Arizona campaign

Fight the Treatment Industrial Complex by supporting the AFSC- Arizona campaign
AFSC-Arizona staff are amazing advocates for prisoners - and as such, are true blessings to our communities. Spend time on their site - lots of resources.

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. collective@phoenixabc.org

until all are free -

MARGARET J PLEWS (June 1, 2015)
arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com



AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fight Terror: End Violence Against Sex Workers.

December 17, 2009. International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. 
http://swop-tucson.org

December 18, 2009. Rally at Arizona Department of Corrections, 
1601 W. Jefferson St., Phoenix. 
High Noon.
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A very good article from last year's International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, explaining the history of the event... from On the Issues Magazine.com (progressive women's mag):
 
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On The Issues Magazine - Fall 2008 Stopping the Terror: A Day to End Violence Against Prostitutes

by Annie Sprinkle


In 2003 “Green River Killer” Gary Ridgeway confessed to having strangled ninety women to death and having “sex” with their dead bodies.

He stated, “I picked prostitutes as victims because they were easy to pick up without being noticed. I knew they would not be reported missing right away and might never be reported missing. I picked prostitutes because I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught.”

Sadly, some Seattle area prostitutes, their boyfriends or pimps, knew the Green River Killer was Gary Ridgeway for years. But they were either afraid to come forward for fear of being arrested themselves, or when they did come forward the police didn’t believe them over the “upstanding family man” Gary Ridageway. It seemed as though the police weren’t working very hard to find the Green River Killer. If the victims had been teachers, nurses or secretaries or other women, I suspect--as Ridgeway did-- that the killer would have been caught much sooner. Ridgeway remained at large for twenty years.

From working as a prostitute myself for two decades I know that violent crimes against sex workers often go unreported, unaddressed and unpunished. There are people who really don’t care when prostitutes are victims of hate crimes, beaten, raped and murdered.  They will say:

“They got what they deserved.”
“They were trash.”
“They asked for it”
“What do they expect?”
“The world is better off without those whores.”

No matter how people feel about sex workers and the politics surrounding them, sex workers are a part of our neighborhoods, communities and our families and always will be. Sex workers are women, trans people and men of all shapes, sizes, colors, ages, classes and backgrounds who are working in the sex industry for a wide range of reasons.  Many of us are out and proud, and spend a lot of time trying to explain to the public that we freely choose our work and we are not “victims.” But the truth is, some of us have been, or will become, real victims of rape, robbery and horrendous crimes.

When Ridgeway got a plea bargain in 2003, he received a life sentence in exchange for revealing where his victims’ bodies were thrown or buried. As the names of the (mostly 17- to 19-year old) victims, were disclosed, I felt a need to remember and honor them.  I cared, and I knew other people cared, too.

So I contacted Robyn Few, the founder of the Sex Worker Outreach Project (SWOP) based in San Francisco and we made December 17th as the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.  We invited people everywhere to conduct memorials and vigils in their countries and cities. Robyn co-produced an open-mike vigil on the lawn of San Francisco’s City Hall.

Since 2003, each year hundreds of people in dozens of cities around the world have participated in this day to end violence-- from Montreal where people marched with red umbrellas, to protests against police brutality in Hong Kong, a candlelight vigil in Vancouver, a memorial ritual in Sydney, a dance to overcome pain and trauma in East Godavery, India. More events are planned for 2008, the sixth year of the event.

The concept for the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers is simple.  Anyone can choose a place and time to gather, invite others to gather and share their stories, writings, thoughts, poems, and memories of victims, related news and performances.  Or people can do something personal, alone at home, such as lighting a candle or taking a ritual memorial bath.  We encourage discussions among friends, by email, on blogs. People are encouraged to list their events at the SWOP website so others can attend them, and to share the power of their actions. People can also participate by making a donation to a group that helps sex workers by teaching them about dangers and how to best survive. Two such non-profits are St. James Infirmary and AIM Healthcare. (Editor’s Note: Read more about the St. James Infirmary in this article in On The Issues Magazine.com.

This December 17, 2008 many sex workers will converge in Washington, D.C. on for a National March for Sex Worker Rights where marchers “will take a stand for justice, and the freedom to do sex work safely. We are calling for an end to unjust laws, policing, the shaming and stigma that oppress our communities and make us targets for violence.” People are encouraged to join SWOP and other activists in Washington and to endorse this march.

Every year when I create or attend a gathering on December 17, it is a deeply moving experience. I take some moments to feel grateful that I worked as a prostitute for so many years and came out alive.  I remember those who didn’t survive and I fear for those who won't unless real changes are made -- namely safer working conditions and the same police protection other citizens get without recrimination.

November 18, 2008

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