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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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Brewer and the State of the Border.

From Border Action Network:
Press Statement
For Immediate Release: January 14, 2010

Hilary Tone, Communications Coordinator
Work:  520.623.4944
Cell:  520.481.6482

The following is a statement from the Border Action Network’s Executive Director Jennifer Allen in response to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s State of the State Address delivered on Monday, January 11, 2010.
Governor Brewer delivered her State of the State Address, in which she proved not only disingenuous about her commitment to resolving Arizona’s economic crisis, but also demonstrated more concern about votes than facts and the dignity of Arizona families and workers. 

The Governor stated: “Doing the right thing almost always means doing the hard thing.” It appears that the Governor has chosen the easy and wrong way out by succumbing to scapegoating immigrant workers and their families and continually fanning fear about our border. 

The Governor labeled the Arizona-Mexico border as out of control, declaring,  “Enough is enough” and pledging her commitment to doing what the U.S. government has failed to do. In reality, the US-Mexico border has never been as heavily surveiled as it is today: 15-foot walls extend for hundreds of miles; 24-hour lighting shines along the border; Apache helicopters hover above; 30-foot camera towers and ground sensors dot the desert landscape; and tens of thousands of Border Patrol agents dominate the border region.  To label it anything other than “controlled” is a simply playing politics with people’s fears and using the border region as pawns to sound tough.

The Governor promised to work with the Legislature to enact measures that will prevent illegal immigration.  Dozens of Arizona legislatures have signed on to Reform Immigration for America, a national campaign bringing together elected officials, business, faith, community and labor groups to ensure a meaningful overhaul of our nation’s failed immigration system. The Governor could demonstrate her commitment to real solutions that will benefit all Arizonans by signing on to the campaign and urging Congress to keep the debate for immigration reform moving forward.

In fact, a recent report by the Immigration Policy Center and Center for American Progress demonstrates that immigration reform would be an economic boon for the nation, equaling $16 trillion in added U.S. gross domestic product over 10 years.  In addition, the Udall Center for Public Policy has repeatedly demonstrated that immigration has been a net economic win for Arizona.

In the interest of her state and of her constituents, Gov. Brewer should make supporting the federal government’s efforts to create safe, legal and orderly paths to enter the U.S. through Arizona a priority.  Repeating hollow sound bytes like “Enough is enough” does not provide or support meaningful, long-term solutions.

Throughout the coming legislative session, Border Action Network will monitor the legislature and the Governor, pushing them to roll up their sleeves, shirk the sound bytes, and support real solutions that can move everyone in Arizona forward, together.

We will push back on anti-immigrant bills and other attempts to undermine the rights and dignity of Arizona families to promote real solutions, including calling for enforcement of wage and hour laws, supporting immigrant integration and naturalization and public safety measures that reach out to immigrant communities.

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