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, March 25, 2010

And they Pre-emptively lock up the Left as Terrorists?

Celebrate the International Observation of the Anniversary of
the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade:


These Tea Partiers and legislators that take such pride in their "right" to be obstructing millions of poor, working, and middle class families from accessing health care are pitiful representations of what I grew up believing were the best qualities of "Americans" - perceptions passed on to me by my Republican elders, ironically. It is the myth that drives young men and women to their deaths or worse in war all around the world. It goes like this:

Americans are champions of the oppressed, always cheering on the underdog; the revolutionary and rebel dominate our folklore - Robin Hood is one of our most legendary European heroes. My great-grandfather, an Iowa farmer who endured the Depression, was named after the outlaw Jesse James. The vast majority of us aspire to build a more just and sustainable world together, beginning with how we resolve conflict or crisis in our homes, schools, and communities so that we aren't just feeding our most vulnerable, troubled kids and naive citizens through the pipeline to prisons. We just can’t see that far past our fear or what may be our family’s economic dependence on perpetuating the cycle of crime and punishment – which only churns out more victims, incapacitating more communities, and destroying more lives...

We need to take responsibility for each other before it gets that far. Most child abusers are never caught because they are, by and large, white men in power - usually a member or close friend of their victim's family. A child reporting a crime like that has about as good a chance of being protected and getting justice (forget mercy) in America as a prisoner does suing his incarcerators. The kids just end up in foster care or detention and get brutalized more. How are we going to improve their odds so they don’t end up enraged and “violent” as adults, or self-destructing rapidly with drugs and dying as a petty offender in jail of Hepatitis.

All our sentencing mandates didn't do a damn thing to protect the most vulnerable women in the state from violence, either: migrants and women in prison and detention. In fact, recent legislation has criminalized them further and made it all the more likely they will be victimized and murdered in silence by legal residents and non-citizens alike: Pearce declared open season on those women with his assault on Sanctuary Cities.

You will no doubt try to hide their bodies as "John and Jane Does" in county morgues until it is time to cremate and bury them. We'll have to dig to get the names, numbers, and causes of death, but we'll try to include everyone in our May 20 memorial for those who have died in the custody of the state.

The preceding day, May 19, we may have a vigil for the 4 hours Marcia Powell was left in the sun, asking for help - perhaps film a guerilla theater piece on it someplace appropriate. That day is also World Hepatitis Day, so we may do a special service for Hep C survivors and victims.

We may spend a good part of our lives striving for financial and material security, but most of us would sacrifice it in a minute if it meant we could really affect something we believed needed to change. The images of nationalism and patriotism and Christian faith that are so readily exploited to snap us all in line are things I take really very seriously. I'm descended directly from the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, founded by the Pilgrims, William Bradford. My direct ancestor who fought as a revolutionary war soldier was Brigham Young's dad. My father spent his life in Military Intelligence in service to his country - to save the world for democracy and freedom.

I can draw on that heritage. It comes from a well deep within me - images of my father, the gentlest man I knew, leaving for the war in uniform when all I could associate soldiers with were Dad, parades and candy. He came home grievously wounded, to a family that was there for him no more. I know what people have sacrificed for the defense of our liberties and privileges as Americans, and I know that it comes from a place of good intention.

I also know that sometimes the greater harm is done to the one who conducts torture than the subject of their violence, simply by virtue of being so consumed with self-righteousness, sadistic glee, or an entitled vindictiveness on behalf of a prisoner's imagined victims. That twists a person's soul, being so brutal and justified on a routine basis.

Anyway, these people (our republican legislators and the tea partiers) haven't been dying like flies the way our people are, and don't have a thing to bitch about - much less to threaten violence to others for. They're whiny, spoiled, selfish, privileged, mostly-white racists all coming out of the closet now because they think Obama's election is "proof" that people of color are no longer disadvantaged in this country - which naturally means that all the white and moneyed people are the real victims, here.

That's them. Poor Tea Partiers. Boo hoo.

I think they would be more comfortable in white hoods, burning crosses on Democrats' lawns.


Hoyer decries talk of reprisals against lawmakers over health care vote

By The Associated Press

Published: March 25, 2010 at 7:55 am

WASHINGTON - House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer voiced concern today (March 25) over warnings of violent reprisals against members of Congress who voted for landmark health care legislation, saying the threats are being taken “very seriously.”

The bottom line is, we need to be very careful in public life that our rhetoric doesn’t incite to violent acts,” the Maryland Democrat said on a network morning news show. He said dealing with difficult issues in a civil and peaceful manner is “at the core of our democracy.”

The FBI is working with lawmakers subjected to menacing obscenity-laced phone messages. In some instances, bricks were hurled through congressional offices, including Rep. Louise Slaughter’s district headquarters in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

At least four Democratic offices in New York, Arizona and Kansas were struck and at least 10 members of Congress have reported some sort of threats, congressional leaders have said. No arrests had been made as of late March 24, but the FBI is still investigating.

Hoyer had said March 24 that lawmakers who felt at risk were to get attention “from the proper authorities.” He declined to say whether any were receiving extra security. Normally only those in leadership positions have personal security guards.

Slaughter, a Democrat, is chairwoman of an influential House committee. She said someone had left her a voice mail that used the word “snipers.”

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., said “it’s an effort to kind of hijack the debate by coercive elements. I’m glad the Republican leadership colleagues denounce it. But they were very late to do that.”

Hoyer did not single out any member of Congress or political party as having made statements that could encourage such acts. But he did say he thought some of the rhetoric “has been far beyond legitimate debate.”

“In our democracy,” he said, “we resolve things, not through violence, not at the point of a gun. If we don’t do that, we will devolve into a society that we’re not going to like.” (a good case for abolishing the police state - peg)

“It is unacceptable in America,” said Sen. John McCain. The Arizona Republican said angry citizens should channel their rage into voter registration for the next election and efforts to repeal the health care law.

House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio said in a statement that while many Americans are angry over the bill’s passage, “violence and threats are unacceptable.”

Some of the anger spilled over in a flood of threat-filled phone and fax messages to the office of Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich. Stupak vowed to oppose the health care package unless given greater assurance that it would not allow federal funding of elective abortions. He voted in favor after the administration agreed.

Stupak’s office released some of the messages, declining further comment.

“I hope you bleed … (get) cancer and die,” one male caller told the congressman between curses.

A fax with the title “Defecating on Stupak” carried a picture of a gallows with “Bart (SS) Stupak” on it and a noose attached. It was captioned, “All Baby Killers come to unseemly ends Either by the hand of man or by the hand of God.”

The vandalism and threats surprised a researcher at a think tank that monitors extremist groups.

“I think it is astounding that we are seeing this wave of vigilantism,” said Mark Potok of the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center.

Hoyer said earlier that people have yelled that Democratic lawmakers should be put on firing lines and posters have appeared with the faces of lawmakers in the cross hairs of a target.

While not directly criticizing Republicans directly, he said “any show of appreciation for such actions encourages such action.”

Gun imagery was used in a posting on the Facebook page of Sarah Palin urging people to organize against 20 House Democrats who voted for the health care bill and whose districts went for the John McCain-Palin ticket two years ago. Palin’s post featured a U.S. map with circles and cross hairs over the 20 districts.

McCain defended Palin, saying it was commonplace practice and “part of the lexicon” to refer to “targeted” congressional districts.

In Virginia, someone cut a propane line leading to a grill at the Charlottesville home of U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello’s brother after the address was posted online by activists angry about the health care overhaul. Perriello also said a threatening letter was sent to his brother’s house. The FBI and local authorities were investigating.

Tea party activists had posted the brother’s address online thinking it was the congressman’s home. The post urged opponents to drop by and “express their thanks” for the Democrat’s vote in favor of the sweeping health care reform.

Nigel Coleman, chairman of the Danville Tea Party, said he re-posted the comment that originated on another conservative blog, including the address, Monday on his Facebook page. The posts were taken down after the mistake was discovered.

“We’ve never been associated with any violence or any vandalism,” he said. “We’re definitely sorry that we posted the incorrect address.”

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