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:

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Arrest to be made in CCA Eloy prisoner murder

Arrest expected in prison slaying
By Mary Vorsino
Honolulu Advertiser Staff Writer
Posted on: Thursday, February 25, 2010

Arizona police say they are close to making an arrest in the killing of a 26-year-old Hawai'i inmate at Saguaro Correctional Center, a private prison in Arizona where nearly 1,900 Hawai'i inmates are housed.

The prison remains in lockdown following the death Feb. 18.

Arizona police said Bronson Nunuha, who was incarcerated for three counts of second-degree burglary, died from multiple stab wounds. He was assaulted in his cell sometime before 9:30 a.m. Feb. 18, when prison staff found him. He was pronounced dead about 9:57 a.m.

Local police in Eloy, Ariz., where the prison is located, said yesterday they expect to make an arrest soon in connection with the killing, but did not release further details, citing the ongoing investigation.

A Hawai'i team from the Department of Public Safety is also investigating the death.

Clayton Frank, Public Safety Department director, said the team arrived Saturday and will likely remain in Arizona through the week. "There's still a lot of things that need to be untangled," Frank said.

He declined to say what the team had found so far.

The team could make security recommendations for the 1,897-bed prison, which is owned by Corrections Corporation of America. Some 1,871 male Hawai'i inmates are at Saguaro, and about 50 more are at a separate CCA prison in Arizona. The state spends about $61 million a year to house inmates on the Mainland because there's not enough space for them in Hawai'i facilities.

Nunuha had been behind bars for about four years.

He was scheduled to return to the Islands in a few months to prepare for his release Oct. 31.

Nunuha is the first Hawai'i inmate killed in a private prison on the Mainland since the state began shipping its inmates out of state 15 years ago. Officials have said his killing may have been gang-related.

Reach Mary Vorsino at

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