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

NO MORE Deaths! RESIST SB 1070!


As most of you know by now, Arizona is gearing up to be the first state in the country to dramatically expand police powers to stop, question and detain individuals for not having proper identification.  The Governor will be expected to sign this bill into law this week...unless we fight to stop it! Please get involved in whatever way you are able.  There will be actions every day at the Capital until she VETOES this bill (or signs it).

 Here are things you can do to help:

1.  FIRST...if you haven't already called or e-mailed the governor, do it NOW!  Tell her to VETO SB1070!
Call her at 602-542-4331
Or, e-mail her at:

2. Daily activities at the Capital (subject to change)

Monday - 
- Funeral & Mourning for Courage and Leadership - 12noon
- sponsored by Border Action Network
In front of Senate Building

- Daily vigil in front of Governor's office -11:00-1pm

Tuesday - (this is the day the Governor receives the bill for her signature)
11am - Press conference - at Capital
11-12 - Interfaith Prayer Vigil - at Capital
11:30 - Delegation to Governor's office
- Daily vigil in front of Governor's office -11:00-1pm

Wednesday -
- DC press conference, in front of the DHS office.
(for those living near the DC area...come out and support this)
- Daily vigil in front of Governor's office -11:00-1pm

Thursday -
- Protest at CPLC Dinner (more information tba)
- Daily vigil in front of Governor's office -11:00-1pm


ACLU of Arizona Condemns Passage of Immigration Enforcement Bill

For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, April 14, 2010                                
Contact: Alessandra Soler Meetze, 602-773-6006(office) or (602) 418-5499(cell)

PHOENIX – Following a vote in the House of Representatives to dramatically expand police powers to stop, question and detain individuals for not having proper identification, the American Civil Liberties Union today condemned the passage of SB 1070.

“From business groups, faith leaders, and privacy advocates to municipal governments, police chiefs and prosecutors, Arizonans from all walks of life came forward to oppose the bill,” said Alessandra Soler Meetze, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arizona. “We are extremely disappointed that House members chose to ignore the serious concerns they raised in favor of political expediency.  History has taught us time after time that it does not pay to trade in our basic liberties for fear mongering.  Arizona will unfortunately have to learn that lesson again.”

The bill requires police agencies across the state to investigate the immigration status of every person they come across whom they have “reasonable suspicion” to believe is in the country unlawfully.  To avoid arrest, citizens will effectively have to carry “their papers” at all times.  It also attempts to make it a state crime to violate the federal laws on registering with the Department of Homeland Security and carrying registration documents, curtails the free speech rights of day laborers, and encourages unchecked information sharing between government agencies. The bill will likely be transmitted to the Governor in the coming week after a vote on the Senate floor to reconcile the House version with a prior version that passed out of the Senate in February.

“Instead of working on real solutions to the immigration crisis, our legislators have devised a proposal that is full of shortcuts,” added Meetze. “Contrary to what proponents of SB1070 say, the bill does not prohibit officers from relying on race or ethnicity in deciding who to investigate.  Police untrained in the complexities of immigration law will have a green light to harass anyone who looks or sounds foreign.”

The ACLU said that the provision that makes it a state crime to violate federal registration laws will likely be found unconstitutional. The Supremacy Clause gives the federal government exclusive power to regulate our borders, and with very few exceptions, states are not free to create their own laws regulating immigration.

Similar attempts by other localities to create their own immigration laws have been repeatedly struck down by the courts. Just last month, a federal court in Texas permanently enjoined the City of Farmer’s Branch from implementing a housing ordinance prohibiting rentals to undocumented immigrants.  This was the City’s third attempt at drafting such an ordinance, a failed experiment that has cost residents about$3.2 million in legal fees to defend.  Other ordinances have been overturned in Riverside, NJ, Valley Park, MO, and Hazelton, PA.  

“This bill is so far-reaching that many U.S. citizens, Native Americans, and lawful residents will predictably be swept up in its application,” said Dan Pochoda, Legal Director of the ACLU of Arizona. “The enforcement provisions rewrite the Constitution by turning the presumption of innocence on its head.  When the community loses trust in law enforcement, we all pay.”

Read the ACLU of Arizona’s updated analysis on the bill that passed the House on 4-13-10.
Read written testimony delivered before a Senate committee on January 20, 2010.
Read written testimony submitted to a House committee on March 31, 2010.

These materials also are available under the “legislature” section of the ACLU of Arizona Web site at:

Laura Ilardo
No More Deaths-Phoenix

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