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:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New Year Websites; Sentencing Reform.

Here's to Truth, Peace and Justice - may all prevail in the New Year.

This information was posted to APW as a comment: seems like good stuff to feature more prominently, though. Our friend said:

The House Interim Committee on Sentencing Reform is taking mail from the public for the support of reforming the criminal code. Send to: 

The Committee on Sentencing Reform
1700 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85007.

(I'd make that to the attention of Representative Cecil Ash)

Ash chairs the committee, and is a good man with astute observations about what's wrong with our CJ system. He also seem to be a good diplomat.  I'm pasting a recent editorial from him below. Contact him with concerns you have for loved ones in prison, if you're not getting any response from legislators ( He will make a sincere effort to help, or to find out who can. If he starts getting bombarded with requests, we have a few capable and knowledgeable people who would volunteer with his office to try to help his staff stay on top of things.

In the meantime,  if there are systemic issues we should know about - like the real effect of the recent 7.5% ADC and other agency budget cuts on prisoners and their families as they trickle down, please write and tell us about it.  Let us know if we can print your letter, if you wan to be anonymous, etc.

Also write and tell us what we're missing - this is a monster we're trying to try to rein in and take down. With enough bloggers and activists committed to this for the long run, though, we could have some pretty awesome websites going that would keep Arizonans posted on all the issues, candidates, bills, and campaigns going on in the state (and at the national level ) that have to do with justice and mass incarceration in America. We think that the truth we have to tell far outweighs the state and private industry propaganda, which gives us a a fighting chance with the people. We want to try to remain focused on the issues in this campiagn, not the personalities, though.

Here are a few things we're looking at pulling together in January:

"Hard Time: HEP C in Arizona's Prisons:"

If anyone out there has a loved one with HIV and/or HEPC in AZ prisons or jails, please contact us at - we're helping some families organize around those issues - look for the website above to hit the net by January 1st (I really am still working on this, Julie!).

From there we may also do a separate site addressing health care in the prison system, or trying to highlight the plight of the terminally ill inside and lobby for compassionate releases to resume.

 "Arizona Juvenile Justice Watch:" 

While modeled some on  AZ Prison Watch, AJJW will focus on the reach of the prison industrial complex into the lives of our communities' children. The site will pay particular attention to the social constructs that places some children at higher risk of being criminalized than others. We'll explore gender, race, and class disparities across the juvenile justice system, look closely at how immigration policies and detention centers are affecting migrant youth and their families, as well as how the anti-immigrant hysteria affects Latino youth who are citizens now treat as suspects via more racial profiling and harassment. We will certainly be an endorser of  Dream Act Legislation, in memory of the youth won't live to see it, and in honor of those youth still working and fighting to make it happen.

We hope this site becomes a resource for family members trying to understand both the mechanisms and the politics of juvenile justice in Arizona, in order to organize a strategy to keep these issues in the forefront of politician's minds throughout the 2010 campaign season. They will begin to recognize us soon at their rallies, as we'll all be armed with the same challenging questions - the answers to which we'll be posting our reports on for others to judge. If they acknowledge us, they may be trying to co-opt us, or they could be sincerely welcoming us as an ally - anyone who wants to make the justice systems better cannot do so without the voices of families most affected by them.

If they ignore us, we'll make a note of that and find out in there's anything in their opponents to work with, that would make our support for them worthwhile. We don't care what political party someone is with so much as what the level of integrity, intelligence, and humanity the candidate or legislator has. What matters is how they vote, not whether they prefer an ass or an elephant on their lapel. Mental illness, developmental disabilities,  addiction, and untreated PTSD cross race, class and party lines all the time, and anyone's child who is vulnerable in those ways is at risk of being criminalized. Republican legislators should be just as concerned about what happens to their constituents' kids in the justice system as the Democrats are, because everyone's beginning to get swept up in this now.

So, families, teachers, PO's, judges, detention center staff, ministers, youth workers ex-prisoners, kids in detention or on probation now, even - whomever has some piece of this puzzle that might shine light on the bigger picture, please chip in your two cents, or the story you know which would make this all  more personal to the rest of us. I'll post full opinion pieces if they're well-founded and articulate, even if I don't completely agree. And I'll respect requests for anonymity.

Please drop us a line (Peggy directly at - we'll look forward to hearing from you.

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