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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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

World AIDS Day: Global CJ/prison reform

From the UN Office on Drugs and Crime...


World AIDS Day 2009 "I am living my rights"

Vienna (Austria), 1 December 2009 -The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "I am living my rights". This strong message reminds us of the right to health, and human rights against stigmatization and discrimination.

UNODC helps people live their rights, particularly those who are marginalized and at risk like drug users, victims of human trafficking, and prisoners. This is part of our comprehensive assistance to countries that includes activities on treatment of drug dependence, prevention of drug use, improving criminal justice systems with a humane approach in prisons, and protecting the health of people vulnerable to human trafficking.

Our aim is universal access to prevention and treatment - both for HIV (as part of UNAIDS) and for drugs (together with the WHO). At the moment, we fall well short of that goal. While progress is being made in some parts of the world, there is disturbing evidence of new epidemics among drug users and in prison settings, particularly in Africa.

UNODC, together with other members of the UNAIDS family, is therefore redoubling its efforts to achieve universal access to HIV prevention and treatment through a new initiative called the UNAIDS Outcome Framework (2009-2011). It calls for joint action to reach the most vulnerable, and bold new measures to break through social, political and structural constraints that are limiting the effective prevention and treatment of HIV.

Using drugs can be dangerous, not only because of addiction, but also because of the spread of disease. While stressing the importance of abstinence and prevention, the UNAIDS Outcome Framework also tries to protect drug users from becoming infected with HIV by making comprehensive, evidence-informed and human rights based interventions accessible to all drug users who are at risk for HIV.

The bottom line is to avert HIV infections and related deaths, to improve the quality of life of people living with HIV, and to contribute to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goal, namely to halt and reverse the AIDS epidemic.

Therefore, on World AIDS Day 2009, UNODC stresses the importance that everyone - including those on the margins of society who are most at risk - should be able to live their rights.

Antonio Maria Costa
Executive Director
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

For more information about World AIDS campaign, please visit

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