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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AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:

Monday, December 7, 2009

Invest in Education not Incarceration.

Upcoming Events

December 10: International Human Rights Day.
December 17: International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (Tucson Memorial).
December 18: Sex Workers Outreach Project Protest at the AZ DOC in Phoenix.


I must say that the Arizona State legislature we've put up with the past few years has to be the most mean-spirited body of lawmakers in the country - and boy, have they been vicious going after the teachers and the unions...This is about the School Board association taking up more of an advocacy role, which is great because it embraces a broad spectrum of people with interests in the schools. 

I'm still impressed at how the AEA came out fighting this year - good organizing, way to keep us all posted, smart strategy of finding common ground with other groups and building alliances. We're going to need all the organizing you've done to get those selfish, racist right-wing extremists out of power, now. They'd sooner build more prisons than pay for all-day K...that's troubling.


Budget cuts inspiring advocacy for schools 

by Emily Gersema - Dec. 6, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

School-boards group offers class on legislative process

Frustration has simmered among school supporters this year since state lawmakers began slashing the K-12 budget, most recently cutting $144 million from a fund that pays for desks and other classroom needs to offset a state revenue shortfall that tops $2 billion.

The pre-Thanksgiving budget cut was one of several rounds this year that have inspired parents to attend the Arizona School Boards Association's new statewide workshops on grass-roots advocacy.

ASBA spokeswoman Tracey Benson said the organization, a non-profit representing school boards across the state, has held nine workshops on advocacy so far this year in all but a few Arizona counties.

It's the first time the organization has led such an effort, and it taps into the emotional fight over school funding.

ASBA workshops have attracted huge turnouts "even in areas you wouldn't expect," Benson said.

About 45 people came to the workshop this fall in Safford, said Beth Sauer, the ASBA government-relations analyst who leads the workshops.

At other workshops, "we average about 20 to 25 people," she said.

Sauer said the idea for the workshops came up last year when association President Bob Rice suggested at a retreat that the organization start forums to inspire a grass-roots effort.

The goal is to teach community members to start putting pressure on state legislators or members of Congress to protect or promote certain issues, such as K-12 school funding.

As the workshop presenter, Sauer offers attendees basic tools for either advocating alone or forming coalitions. She also explains to community members the process of bill drafting and legislation, describes several efforts that can be made to fill in legislators on the potential impact of new bills as they move through the process, and gives tips for approaching and contacting legislators who could help their cause.

Sauer noted 2010 is an election year - an opportune time to meet with legislators.

The ASBA is a non-partisan organization that does not take positions on how supporters should vote. Its workshops have attracted parents who have cited budget cuts as the main reason they are interested in taking a stand for their districts... (continued back at the Republic)

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