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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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Women's Resistance at Perryville Prison

(Just edited and moved this up a day, to the top of the page. Back later.)

This comes from Jon's Jail Journal - the post for January 3, 2010. I'm giving you the lead and linking you back there for the rest, because if you haven't checked out his blog, you need to now. It's a blogspot for bloggers from jails and prisons - with a special focus on our own Tent City and Joe Arpaio. I also have copies of the zine "Tenacious", with art and writings compiled by Vikki Law from women in prison, which has Renee's story about Marcia's death in it. Contact me if interested.

I know Director Ryan will be seeing this post soon enough, and hunting down the blogger who wrote it. I hope she's able to maintain contact with the people she's in touch with, so we all know she's not experiencing any kind of retaliation. The sounds of the new DW is troubling. I would expect Director Ryan would want to make a point of assuring that Renee isn't harassed or punished for expressing herself on the issue - perhaps if his office was more directly involved in what prisoners had to say instead of trying to have them silenced, they wouldn't be finding out what's going on there from blogs. He should actually follow this up as an anonymous complaint, one likely shared by many too fearful to say anything. Leave Renee alone.

Get word inside that we hear them, and to keep writing - but be low key (not like me). Women's resistance is worth making the extra effort to pay attention to. We need to figure out how to support them, which starts with letting them know we're here, listening. They just need to be mindful that everyone else is listening, too. Hopefully, the visibility of blogging will protect them. But we can't promise anything; prison is not a safe place to be when you complain about it.

Hang in there, sisters.

Changes at Perryville Women’s Prison (Part 1 by Lifer Renee)

Renee – As a teenager, Renee received a 60-year sentence from a judge in Pima County. 15 years into her sentence, she’s writing from Perryville prison in Goodyear, Arizona, providing a rare and unique insight into a women's prison.

After Marcia Powell died because of the guards, so much has happened. I went a round or two with depression. Her death was a slap in the face of what the reality of my life is. All of us who reside in this prison felt it. It was hard to deal with, but life goes on.

Her death has changed the dynamics of life here drastically. There are now larger “rec enclosures” no longer to be referred to as cages. In the guards’ inner circles, they are referred to as “play pens.” There are mister systems and shade structures.

There is a new administration: DW [Deputy Warden], ADW [Assistant Deputy Warden], and captain. The DW is out of control. If you have an opinion, something to say and it goes against what he says, you’ll find yourself moved to the hole in the blink of an eye. This has happened to several women. They also move you into the kitchen with 56 other women if you ask for a room change because you do not get along with your roommate, and this is escalating the fighting....

Back to Jon's for the rest. It's kind of big.


Thanks, Shaun, for being there to amplify the voices of so many prisoners. And thanks, Renee, for taking the chance to get word out about what's going on these days. Keep writing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm a skinny OLD dude & all of my hey day shit is far -- FAR behind me but w/ all of my shout out's to MOM!!! ( & DAD) GONE: all's I can say is: YES, I have a loved one behind bars and she's only half way through -- her crime was shitty but not bloody -- I don't approve but I Love her with all my heart & I've seen every single stupid ass episode of Orange on Black & blah blah blah drug addicts still need to be assisted -- not harmed for ages on end -- getting high may indeed be a bigger and bigger mistake these days but real crimes are still the shit that people should be punnished for: WHY CAN'T WE KEEP THIS SHIT in context? A stoned out hooker who really gets into some "crazy" Marylin Manson song is a far cry from Sadie May Glutz, herself -- didn't our humble government used to -- periodicly, put the prisons all out onto the sea? Instant USN? Some ridiculous ganga lush is the chick you wanna put to sea -- for U.S. in war time? COME ON!!! WHY don't all of the GOODY-GOODY TWO SHOES just enlist? They can talk as much smack as they want to: OVERSEAS and idiot pole dancers who fucked up while they were loaded can come back home to MY HOUSE & sleep on the fucking couch!!!! I'll spin some old U.F.O. r something -- damn!!!