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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Friday, January 15, 2010

Arizona brutalizes the poor, sick, dying, and working class. Again.

This is guaranteed to drive more mentally ill and just plain poor people into prison at extraordinary expense - all those costs are just getting passed on to the kids and grandkids. Why is it the poor who always get nailed? Why not increase income taxes on those making over $250,000/year? They aren't about to end up homeless or dead because they lose $50 a week out of their household resources. The rest of us are.

What a selfish state.The Republicans had this planned from the get go, so they could eliminate safety nets and state services, and pour what's left into the new private prisons that will be built to either warehouse or employ future generations to the profit of multinational corporations with no investment in prisoner rights, welfare or re-entry success - or employee empowerment and organizing. 

I can't believe state employees are actually going to put up with this. There should be a massive revolt.


January 15, 2010 
By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer

Gov. Jan Brewer is proposing to empty state facilities of juvenile offenders, repeal a mandate to care for the severely mentally ill, kill state funding for full-day kindergarten, eliminate free health care for more than 300,000 low income people, sell off more state buildings, borrow more money and cut state employee pay by 5 percent to balance the budget for the remainder of this year and the next one.

And even with all that, the governor still wants an immediate hike in state sales taxes, higher fees for businesses and a new levy on labor costs for repairs on everything from automobiles to home appliances.

Of potential note is Brewer's demand that lawmakers enact those higher taxes and fees themselves so that retailers start collecting the extra one-cent levy on the state's 5.6 percent sales tax on March 1. That would require a two-third vote of both the House and Senate.

But Brewer could not even convince a simple majority of senators to support just sending the issue to the ballot.

Gubernatorial press aide Paul Senseman said, though, lawmakers are going to realize the financial situation is worse than they thought. And he said if they don't go along, then the cuts to state programs will be even worse.

Brewer's proposed budget does not cut basic aid to universities, community colleges or public schools, beyond killing the funds for full-day kindergarten programs.

But that is only because she cannot: Once the state took federal stimulus funds it committed not to slash funding below 2006 levels. Prior cuts have put financing there.

That doesn't mean there won't be hits to education. By keeping funding the same, it reduces the amount of state dollars schools get on a per-pupil basis. For K-12, the figure for the coming year will be about $3,370; it was close to $4,000 two years ago.

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