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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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fascist Architecture of the AZ Legislature.

This is what I was talking about: fascism. I bet a lot of Arizona's legislation is crafted in part by folks from ALEC, isn't it? Big private/public partnership that has absolutely no one's interests at heart except their own, going around the country posing as experts and tweaking laws to make our lives harder, and their privilege more easily excused. They have no idea what bad fallout has been hitting the rest of us in the real world as the result of their policies...

Or maybe this is exactly what they intended. After all, they have their own investments in seeing the private prison business take over for government, and making sure they keep us all under control. This is one more mechanism of asserting their control over our ability to resist - threatening us like this. I can't believe state employees would let them get away with it.


Bill would restrict political activity of government employees

By Jim Small -

Published: February 23, 2010 at 7:50 pm

Teachers who gathered at the Arizona Capitol last year to protest budget cuts wouldn’t be able to do so again unless they took a vacation day under a bill approved by a House committee Feb. 23.

The House Public Employees, Retirement and Entitlement Reform Committee approved a measure Feb. 23 that would prevent government employees from lobbying lawmakers, participating in protests and rallies and conducting political activity during work hours. The bill would apply to all levels of government in Arizona, including school districts.

The bill, H2344, mirrors a similar federal law known as the Hatch Act, said its sponsor, Rep. Frank Antenori.

“It does not prohibit free speech,” the Tucson Republican said. “What I’m talking about is someone who comes up here (to the Capitol) on government time for their own, personal political purposes.”

However, David Mendoza, a lobbyist for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, said the law isn’t needed. State government employees are already prohibited from engaging in political activity while on the clock, he said.

Plus, Mendoza said, the measure would silence government employees who want to have their voice heard, while government lobbyists would be exempted.

“If the intent is to save taxpayer dollars…then why should we have lobbyists representing agencies on the taxpayer dime? Make it even,” he said.

Antenori said legislative staff was unable to find a similar provision already in law, though they didn’t examine rules adopted by the Arizona Department of Administration.

Rep. Phil Lopes, a Tucson Democrat, said he didn’t think the new law was needed. Employees who are conducting political activity while being paid by the government need to be reported and disciplined, he said, but this proposed law aimed to solve a problem he isn’t sure exists.

“I don’t think we need this kind of hammer to kill an ant,” he said.

The bill approved the bill by a 6-3 vote, with the panel’s three Democrats opposing it. It now heads to the House floor via the Rules Committee.

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