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, February 14, 2010

AZCOPS and Protect Arizona.

Okay all, I gave the cops and firemen a hard time for being on board Russ Pearce's campaign in my tax shift shuffle post, and owe them an apology. Here's what the AZCOPS are working on - it's from their website. I hope they don't mind the link; they appear to want the publicity. I was hoping to have a Juvenile Prison Watch for AZ up before the DJC was slated to close - still probably a couple of months away from that, so I'm glad to see someone staying on top of this.

I'm still way too ignorant to weigh in articulately about this - I know I don't support the plan to unravel that place this way, but I need some time to make an argument for a better vision of just how it should be unpacked (which is my ultimate goal, after all), because the place is still a nightmare for kids - and I'd think for people working in some of these facilities, too. I'm skeptical about the governor's agenda - it's not made in the best interests of youth - but I also don't think the legislative resistance is much more than show for certain constituencies - they know no one needs their votes on this anyway, so they can seem to be on the side of the working people once in awhile.

The real problem is that if the department unravels but we aren't dismantling the rest of the beast and really reworking juvenile "justice", then kids and resources will just get chewed up at the local level doing this same thing. That means men like Arpaio (and our ever-so-understanding county attorney's office) end up with discretion over who's criminalized and how critical resources for youth are distributed. All we'll have time to do anymore is react to abuse and neglect complaints and scramble to save our mentally ill kids from the adult prison system. Meanwhile, the private prison industry is proactively employing lobbyists who have much better access to power there than any of the rest of us do (just try approaching an important man
at the Senate about violence against sex workers, and see what happens). They know those bodies are going have to go somewhere, and that the public - via our legislators - has decided we don't ever want some of them back again.

So, why not make a little cash off our families' suffering? make sure the laws and sentencing mandates are tight enough to boost the next quarters' earnings' report. I'll bet we see a lot more children being charged as adults, now, too. That's the most disturbing probability of all. Keep an eye on who fights the hardest to lock young children away for life without parole - it's not all just law enforcement; someone's making big bucks from that.

I haven't checked their site out yet - just in and out of here today, so keep in mind that it's the cops' place when you drop in and take a look around. I don't imagine there are many abolitionists in the bunch at AZCOPS, but maybe we'll learn something from following what these folks have to say about the departmental closing as it unfolds. We may even find ourselves protesting on the same side of the street over some of these issues.

Wouldn't that be strange?

Don't forget your bandannas, if we are.


AZCOPS launches campaign to stop Governor from closing juvenile prisons

(Posted: Feb. 10, 2010)

This week, AZCOPS unveiled a new website that will serve as an online presence in a campaign to stop Gov. Jan Brewer from closing the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections in July.

PROTECT ARIZONA! ( contains the truth about the Governor's plan to close juvenile correctional facilities and the impact on public safety. The website is one component of a media campaign to warn the public about the plan. Radio commercials and direct mail will also be used to communicate with citizens across the state...

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