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:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Human Rights for US Prisoners.

Upcoming Events

December 10: International Human Rights Day.
December 15: 5th Special Legislative Session Begins.

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'm linking to this post again for those who missed it last month. This is just the lead-in; you'll have to back track from here. There was a very thoughtful objection left to my original post characterizing the Israelis as not treating their prisoners well to begin with - I'll put it up when I find it; I held off because I wanted to post a response with it, but now it's floating around my in-box somewhere. 

I have seen extensive documentation of Palestinian prisoners subject to lengthy sentences under horrendous prison conditions, after a questionable process of "justice" was undergone. If my friend from Israel visits again, please bring your documentation in Israel's defense - embed your links, and I might put it up as a guest post instead of just bury it as a comment - we'll see. 

Remember the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights tomorrow. There aren't that many of them - it's easier to memorize than the US Constitution, and the principles in the UN document could set more people free than ours did, if we abided by them.

Unfortunately, our constitution left a lot of people out of the whole freedom promise to begin with. As it is today it still doesn't even protect the rights of prisoners: we made them into slaves of the state. No wonder guards are so ruthless - they grow up taking their cues from the rest of us that some people's rights don't matter...

Some of those people locked up aren't guilty, but none of those of us who are free are innocent, so long as we ignore them when they call for help.

They've been calling for a long time. It's up to us to either answer, or walk away. No one can remain neutral once they hear them, though - as Elie Wiesel once said, neutrality always sides with the oppressor...


Israel: Private Prisons Unconstitutional

From the Yale Law blogs - amazing argument - I'd love to see this play out in the US courts...this articulates an excellent ethical and legal argument against private prisons. Odd that it should come out of Israel, whose prisons are renowned for being over-crowded, brutal, and deteriorating, and are full of Palestinians. The High Court of Justice in Israel seems to pay more attention to prisoner rights than we do...


Prison Privatization Judged Unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Israel

The High Court of Justice in Israel put an end to years of controversy Thursday, November 19, by ruling that privately run prisons are unconstitutional. The full text of this landmark decision is currently only available in Hebrew on the Court's website [here]. I will post the English translation when it becomes available; however, the main reasoning and implications of the case discussed below should be suggestive of its importance.

The panel of nine justices, presided over by Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, ruled in an 8-1 decision that a transfer of authority for managing the prison from the state to a private contractor whose aim is monetary profit would severely violate the prisoners' basic human rights to dignity and freedom. (See Tomer Zarchin, International legal precedent: No private prisons in Israel, HAARETZ)

In 2004, the Knesset passed Amendment 28 to the Prisons Ordinance, which permitted the establishment of private prisons in Israel. The state's motivation was to save money by transferring prisoners to facilities managed by a private firm, to be chosen by tender. The state would pay the franchisee $50 per day for each inmate, but would be spared the cost of building new prisons and expanding the Israel Prison Service's staff...

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