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, April 8, 2010


The timing for this seems appropriate, though I think I originally wrote it for the Friends of Marcia Powell and stuck it in a widget soon after the anarchists were accosted by the PPD...anyway, it's in quotes, but it's me, just at a different point in time than today...

If anything should happen to me, by the way, just keep up the “Free Marcia Powell” campaign. I can take care of myself - Marcia will cover everyone. We still need to have that memorial in May.

Anyway, before moving on, since I have everyone's attention: I understand that the former Deputy Warden from Lumley Yard at Perryville prison was the kind of person who often took the time to ask the women what they thought, how they were doing, what they needed – and responded. Bailey, I believe. She's retired now; she was one of the ones who cared, according to a few prisoners I've heard from in recent months.

I don't know what went down with all the ADC folks after Marcia died - I can only imagine what a weight some people still carry. It is not my intention to exploit that tragedy to trouble those who are already haunted. In fact, it is Marcia's Friends, not her ghost, that have been summoned to help us here. Anyone can still be her friend and help us change the world.


I don't know that Marcia will "rest in peace," regardless of whether or not anyone else makes theirs. I do believe she would be forgiving, that she would lend us her name and memory generously if we hadn't just taken it (though I did ask...), that her spirit dances at every direct action we plan and follow through on, and that from wherever she is she smiles at every sidewalk - from Phoenix to Amsterdam - bathed in the pastels of children's giant chalk and urging Arizona to Free Marcia Powell...

she's gotta love that photo we found of her in Phoenix, too. That was thanks to the Alaskan blogger at Frozen Justice. Kick ass up there, my friend. Blogging radical women rock!

Anyway, I don't think it was "God's mysterious ways" that led to Marcia's death even if we make good come from it somehow - they were all our ways, collectively, as a community, in the years leading up to her final hours in a cage. We neglect and abuse our sisters on the street and inside still daily.

But, I also know it's possible to exaggerate the personal sense of responsibility one may have when something like that ultimately happens. So, it seems worth mentioning that I also believe that Love's capacity for understanding and reconciliation is beyond our own imagining, and that She is fully capable of responding to anyone burdened by Marcia's death - or a similar such trauma - who asks for help.

I survived the suicide of a loved one nine years ago Easter Sunday. I know something of which I speak.

------------------on direct actions, etc...-------------------

"Taking a cue from the animal rights activists (who usually don't even put their names and faces on their sites), I thought I should clarify a few things here.

The Friends of Marcia Powell and are not very organized, nor are we affiliated or associated with any other group or organization. We all just crash each other's protests to show solidarity. Me (Peg) - I'm just winging this stuff.

The information and ideas provided on this website are not meant to incite illegal actions or activities, even if it looks like that may be what we're doing. That's not to say we frown on civil disobedience; there's an important place in history for diverse tactics of resistance. We are each only responsible for our own actions, though.

The point is for folks to get involved in the 2010 political campaigns and challenge the BS around the prison industrial complex, but please be creative enough that no one gets hurt or arrested (well, a few lawmen and makers need to be indicted and disarmed, still, but we don't want any more of our friends getting into trouble.)

Do be advised: these are not nice people we're picking fights with, they far outgun us, they make all the rules, the game is already rigged, and if you piss the wrong person off bad enough in this state, you don't even need to break a law to go to jail or prison.

In any case, make sure you have the number you'll need to call for help from jail written on your arm if you think you might get arrested. Live on the buddy system (keep an eye on each other for awhile and check the jail if anyone goes missing). Don't let things you're responsible for drag anyone else down; keep your loose ends neat.

If you do get in some kind of trouble, don't rat out your comrades, and don't automatically believe it if someone says that someone you trust ratted you out first. That's a classic tactic. So is trying to make you think that something perfectly legal you did is a crime. Just because it's secret doesn't mean it's criminal or shouldn't be protected.

Be true to yourself and the cause regardless.

If you have any questions about the legality of any direct action you are considering, we encourage everyone receiving this (or the) action alert(s) to check your local laws and ordinances and think about the possible consequences before proceeding to do anything. Not that you'd be on your own, but most of us are too poor to bail you out, and too politically disenfranchised to otherwise wrest you free."

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