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, April 21, 2010

Capitol Nine kicks off Mass Resistance to SB 1070

Chained Capitol protestors freed, arrested

Capitol Times
By Josh Coddington

Published: April 20, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Nine Arizona State University students were arrested today as a crowd of about 100 people gathered at the Capitol to protest a polarizing anti-illegal-immigration bill, which is now just Gov. Jan Brewer’s signature away from becoming state law.

The sea of protestors went beyond carrying signs and beating drums to get their message across - some of them chained themselves to the door handles of the old Capitol building, blocking access to the public facility, according to the Capitol Police report.

“We wanted to know what their intentions were when we approached them,” said interim Capitol Police Chief Andrew Staubitz. “We said if this is a photo op and they want to get their photo taken and leave peaceably, we set a time limit of 10 minutes.”

Staubitz, who had all eight of his officers and supervisors on hand, plus 10 officers from the Department of Public Safety said his department balances the rights of protestors to free speech with the need to maintain a safe environment.

“We support everyone having the ability to express their viewpoints, and we also support having a safe Capitol area where everyone can do that,” Staubitz said. “When people create an unsafe situation by blocking doors, then we have to take some action.”

Staubitz said he got the impression the protestors who had chained themselves to the doors wanted to get arrested. “They were told they would be arrested and booked into the county jail,” he said.

“Their decision came very quickly, which was that they would not communicate with us at all.”

After Capitol Police used bolt cutters to free the protestors from the doors, they were arrested without incident.

Attorney Antonio Bustamante, who represents one of those arrested, told the Associated Press the students chose to chain themselves to the Capitol doors to “block the bigotry that was emanating from the Legislature” and send a message to Brewer.

As the arrested protestors were being loaded on a bus to go to jail, a group of people containing protestors and cameramen swarmed the area. “It wasn’t my impression that they were trying to stop the bus,” said Staubitz. “I think there were several people trying to get photographs of the people being loaded on to the bus.”

It is a truly rare event for the Capitol Police force to arrest protestors, said Staubitz. He can’t even recall a time in the previous 10 years that an organized group was arrested at the Capitol.

“We really don’t make a whole lot of arrests with protestors,” he said. “I can’t think of a time that we have arrested a group. With people chaining themselves to doors, it’s a fire hazard, and it is illegal to block entry to a public building. It’s a safety issue.”

Today is the second day in a row of demonstrations on the Capitol grounds regarding S1070, which passed the Senate yesterday along a nearly party-line vote. Sen. Carolyn Allen was the only Republican to vote against the measure.

The bill, if signed by the governor, would require local law enforcement officers to verify the legal status of anyone they suspect might be in the country illegally, and it would allow trespassing charges to be brought against all illegal immigrants.

The bill also would provide grounds for anyone to file a lawsuit against a local government that is not enforcing laws to prevent illegal immigration.

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