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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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hep C, Hard Time, and the Right to Life.

Hard Time. March 20, 2010.

Sent this Email out early this am, to a whole bunch of media and activists and other people, including ADC and the governor's office. Don't think it got through to everyone - had to keep trimming the list to not be cut as spam...So, now its on the blogs just in case. This was my attempt at PR. I may have trouble with all the photos right now, but the rest is self-explanatory. - peg


Well, this is pretty loaded and I'm making a unilateral decision to fire off these photos for the Governor. I think this is the only way she'll end up seeing them - if everyone else does. Hope I don't hit any friendlies, though. Duck now, if you're in prison, in case there's return fire (Prisoners are on the front lines, folks, not the garbage heaps. Front lines. This is America. Think young Black/Indigenous/Latino men and canaries. Very valuable, actually, in terms of what we will pay to dispose of them in the interest of the greater good).

Don't let all that alarm you. My dad was a solider. I grew up in Army green, and just talk like that. I'm really much the pacifist. I just think it's important to know how intensely personal and emotional - and absolutely political - this matter is for so many people. We will not just go away if ignored. This Hep C Mom, Julie, has been a vessel for Divine Intervention to happen in the lives of many people. I've seen it.

Don't underestimate her. She's got the raw, engaging humanity of a righteous Susan Sarandon, the faith and fearlessness of Alice Paul, and the fire and flair of Georgia O'Keefe.

And she's a woman who loves her family.

Anyway, I' m breaking this mass-mail up and sending it out (one by one if necessary, all night...forget that. It's on the blogs now) to fellow activists & abolitionists, media, and interested (or soon-to-be) others...and a few folks with the State of Arizona. I really wanted to introduce you all to each other in this email, though, but have been thwarted by antispam software.

I'm the wrong person to deal with media or this would have been done a long time ago, by the way. It was done much earlier today but bounced back. I'm not a technowhiz. Spacebook is beyond me. Blogspot's as sophisticated as I get.

So, about media:
I should never be delegated this task. I have impulses to vandalize media outlets. I don't know why. It hasn't made for good media relations, though. So I'm stuck writing my own stories. This one isn't mine, though - it's about other people's kids and brothers and, it's fine to ignore me because my family is dying or free now - but please don't ignore them. I tried to tell them not to give this to me, but everyone's swamped. I have no good excuse, I guess, except for my anti-authoritarianism. I don't trust "media". I trust people, if they earn it. The only one out there I can say I really trust is Dennis Gilman - and he's not "mainstream" but he can be trusted to find the truth of an experience and let it tell itself. He's awesome.

Alright, so, I know it's just hours now before this event, and most of you are getting this after the fact. I believe it's all perfect timing, in the bigger picture, but I know that's a drag for others when it messes up their schedules. So, I'm sorry. I'm unconventional. It drives my friends and lovers crazy. Don't think we expect anyone but the Governor and a few curious folks from the ADC to be there in the AM, so no pressure - and the Governor hasn't exactly confirmed or anything. Just contact us if you want photos or info afterwards about our organizing activities (now in the works: "Make-a-Wish for Justice..." Who would you liberate with your last wish, and why? Enough of us are dying each day from poverty that we should be able to use our last wishes for mercy and Justice securing eachother's liberation.).

This Liver Walk thing is not an "event" announcement, by the way, so I'm really not late. It's not "our" event at all, anyway. It's the Liver Foundation's!

"please save my brother"

This is really just an FYI so folks know we're out there and make a point of backing up the Liver Foundation if they get any hassles for letting us walk (with what could be seen as pretty provocative signs about hep c - they didn't get this close a preview, so don't hold them responsible - but give them credit).
Put a word in with the Governor about compassionate releases, too - Julie's kid needs one so she knows he's got access to the full range of treatment options before too much damage is done...attached is the note we dropped off for her office this week about the walk. They're the ones who encouraged us to get it to them, so, we'll see. (Hopefully no one thinks I'd ambush them...).

Sorry if you get one or two of these that didn't bounce back, and keep getting more duplicates. I'm winging it here.

Hope all of you are well and up for this.

Don't expect much Anarchy at this, by the way. I'd recommend that ADC follows Julie's lead, frankly - learn to dance more gracefully, or her people will take you out kicking and screaming. They're Unitarians and senior citizens (the banner was sewn by an octogenarian), moms and dads and sisters of prisoners, survivors of the war on the poor - most of them ex-prisoners who evidence some degree of PTSD. They do things like hide their legal documentation outside of their homes in case the state comes and ransacks their place to destroy their defense capabilities. It's apparently quite common...

Thanks for whatever help you can send, by the way. We can use a little amplification out here. It's a desert.
No one notices living or dying bodies in the desert in Arizona except litterbugs and good samaritans/potential terrorists. You can be prosecuted for even knowing that your student's father might not be documented and not reporting your suspicion (the police will follow it up - all you need to do is report suspicions).

How are migrant communities supposed to stay safe if they can't report rapes and murders to the police without fear of entire families being imprisoned?

COPWATCH! That's how. It's cross-movement organizing at it's finest. And Anarchy seems to be the organizing principle.

Give me till after the walk to open up that blogspot - it'll just say it's not accessible until I do.
I'm spent for the night.

Women's Health Week begins with Mother's day this year - begin planning now. And we'll be having a memorial for those who have died in the custody of the state on May 20; location TBA. I believe the 19th is World Hepatitis Day, too, right?

Thanks for your time. It's never too late to check in.

Don't be surprised to see this note go up as my next blog post on all sites, by the way - especially if I can't get these emails through to everyone. Both voices (here and below) are mine.

- peg


FYI - At the Liver Life Walk SAT AM (March 20), Arizona prisoners' friends and families and former prisoners will be walking together and asking the state to respond to the Hep C epidemic in prisons and jails. 40% of women and 30% of men prisoners across the country are confirmed to be infected with hep c - the rates are likely much higher, and it disproportionately affects minorities and people in poverty. Undiagnosed and untreated in prison, HEP C becomes a threat to the community when people are released - which 95% of state prisoners eventually are.

Julie Acklin is your contact. Her son has HEP C, is in AZ prison, and has just been ruled out as a candidate for treatment.

He got Hep C in prison.

Julie's number is 623-594-4433. She is the principal organizer of prisoners' families and ex-prisoners with this new initiative. Children in will be in ADC Orange; Adults in Blood Red. Team is "A Mother's Cry" - Look for "Hard Time: Hepatitis C in Arizona State Prisons." New blog by that name up tomorrow.

Ryan and Brewer have already had a heads-up. No word back from Governor's office - not holding our breaths.

AZ Liver Foundation says advocate for hep c testing, treatment, research, prevention, and save lives.

That takes guts.

Those are Good people.

Support them with a note "for Hep C in Prison", if you can

Catch up with us next week if you miss us tomorrow. Donate to the Liver Foundation. Hit the HARD TIME blog. Tell AZ HEP C prisoners and their families to send us their stories. We'll be organizing support and action groups soon.

- Peggy Plews

The "Hard Time: Hep C in Arizona's State Prisons" blogspot is a free virtual info-type space for Arizona prisoners with Hepatitis C, their families, their friends, and their communities. We aspire to facilitate access to research and gather other resources about Hep C, as well as share stories, in order to collectively build foundations from which to strategize comprehensive, humane responses to the challenges of this epidemic among America's prisoners.

(Coming March 20, 2010...)

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