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:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

HEP C: Pray For the Dead, and Fight like Hell for the Living.

Thanks to Mother Jones and AIDS activists for the inspiration, and thank you to those of you who joined or supported the walkers at the Liver Life Walk, Saturday. The T-shirts and banner invited a number of opportunities to raise awareness about Hepatitis C in jail and prison, and it was good to meet so many other people interested in working towards some common objectives. We also made a huge birthday card for Davon (March 23, 2010). Once I get my 35mm film from the day developed and on a disc, we’ll have the photos and thoughts on the walk up for you.

The new blog is up, now: hit it at Let us know how it works for you, if you have other resource ideas for us to link to or upload, or if you’d like to help organize and keep posts current. I'll be anchoring it for awhile as Julie learns the mechanics, so shoot me an email if you have thoughts on content, links, layout, tone, etc. ( If you need to connect about family organizing stuff, start with Julie. You can track her down fastest at .

The audience here is mainly us: friends and families of prisoners, ex-prisoners, anarchist and Unitarian sympathizers, and hopefully the folks inside as well, since some articles would be good to put together and mail out as a newsletter for those who aren't on-line. We expect the State to be listening in from time to time as well, and will probably automatically shoot them our posts to keep them informed. ADC employees on the line or in health services who share our concerns and have information to offer, we will respect your anonymity. We’re much more about finding out who’s going to take responsibility for helping us through this with as many survivors as possible, than we are about ferreting out who’s to blame for where we’re at to begin with.

Really, I’ve done some research and we’re in about the same place most of the states and the Feds are - only we’re lifting the veil of silence that fell over this epidemic soon after it was announced, a decade ago. They must have realized how much it would cost to treat all those infected, and decided to just watch it, for the most part, until the more important socioeconomic classes were affected. Criminals and their families – and their communities (mostly of color) – are intended to be exploited; that’s why the 13th Amendment was written as it is. It’s interesting that they designated the “duly convicted”, not the “guilty,” as slaves of the state.

Anyway, as for the HARD TIME blog, the authors and editors are us, too. We're developing some basic guidelines for guest blogs/submissions so we can maintain a constructive dialogue, but anyone interested in posting (beyond a comment after someone else's) should contact myself or Julie ( with their interest and the email address they want to use to log on. We still have to decide editorial responsibility, etc. once we have a more developed collective of family/prisoner activists. Since this is the time frame when we work that stuff out - dividing responsibility and power, basically - it would be a good time to get involved.

The Liver Life walk was an amazing experience, by the way, and brought home to me again the importance of what we’re doing. I’ve lost several family members to liver cancer or disease, and am hoping not to lose my big brother that way; his Hep C has already been wreaking havoc on his liver, and he’s not eligible for treatment. He’s nearly 50 now, though, and at least he’s a free man. Not many people can say that, even in their 70’s with no criminal record. I think my brother could honestly say he’s a free man if he was in prison – on a good day, anyway. God knows he’s transcended hell enough time himself – he might as well have been getting shuffled through USP-Lewisburg and beat up each time, as they appear to be fond of doing there…

I’ll be calling on folks for help with that place soon. It’s the federal pen in PA that Leonard Peltier and my buddy Byron Chubbuck are at right now, among others. I have documentation of more than one person’s abuse at the hands of guards, now, which is on its way to the PA ACLU and the DOJ. If any of those prisoners out there are further abused or retaliated against, I want their families to notify us and the DOJ and the PA ACLU immediately. I’m asking directly for a CRIPA investigation of the place, not just blogging it (though I know they read that post). After mailing our letter to the DOJ, we (Arizona Prison Watch) will make sure it gets posted in as many places as possible to increase the intensity of the spotlight on both the BOP and the DOJ.

It should be a far more serious offense for an officer of the law to do violence to an institutionalized person – a captive who is completely at the mercy of them and their institution – than for a prisoner to defend himself against a rogue guard (or six of them with tasers). We expect more of people in uniform than that. The officers in question in each of the abuse cases (I’m sure Warden Bledsoe already knows who they are) should be removed from positions in which they can harm prisoners pending the outcomes of multiple investigations – internal and external alike.

More on the Liver Life Walk once I recover. Thank you to the American Liver Foundation for all the good work you do, and the lives you help save. Please, folks, if you even just drop them $10 with a note to “support Hep C treatment for prisoners,” it would be awesome. There were even some folks from the GLBTQ activist community in drag, there. The Liver Foundation was accommodating of everyone who cared about their constituents. I think this means they consider prisoners with Hep C to be “theirs”, too. That’s actually more than I might have expected, after the way I’ve seen the “duly convicted” treated in recent months – particularly Jamie Scott.

I don’t know what’s up with the Mississippi Kidney Foundation. It would help if a wealthy Mississippi citizen contacted them to let them know you think prisoners have the right to life, too. We throw a lot of victims in with a handful of hungry predators when we fill our jails and prisons with the desperately poor or addicted. In America, the innocent can’t be protected if we don’t assure that the “duly convicted” still retain the access to reasonably speedy remedies for their conviction or sentence. It’s an emergency when people are held against their will in hostile and dangerous environments – vulnerable to fire, disease, medical neglect, sexual abuse, and assault. Remember the Scott Sisters and Courtney: they could be anyone’s kids out there…

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