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 14, 2010

VETO SB 1070; Chomsky on Fascism.

I will have more on yesterday's Capitol protest later; this seemed relevant, though. Chomsky describes the Tea Party contingent well. They were there yesterday - indistinguishable from JD supporters, hundreds of ranchers, and rabid anti-immigrant forces. Hundreds of them, all told. And maybe 25 of us, mostly youth of color. Our opposition has no foundation for their claims, so they just called us names ("losers", "idiots") and told us to "go back to Mexico" (I'm a direct descendant of the first Pilgrim Governor, actually, and carry Brigham Young's genes in my blood). 

Actually, I'm surprised I wasn't assaulted by one of the anti-immigrant  people, because they were so agitated that a few of the women chased after me screaming when I went by them with DREAM Act fliers ("how about the 'Go Home Act'?"). Terrified people are easily exploited by men like Pearce and Thomas, and they turn into vicious, vindictive, brutal, entitled, racist, fascist beings. 

Just watch what they do to us next - to both the migrants and their sympathizers. After yesterday's event, I wouldn't be surprised if Joe Arpaio was elected as a Human Rights commissioner or something by AZ voters. As for us - I think we'll see lynching come back soon - or at least a surge in vigilantism/hate crime, police harassment, and abusive prosecutions against racial and political minorities in this state.

Boy, was there a lot of hate and fear on the State House lawns yesterday, and it wasn't coming from us. We know the arc of the universe bends towards justice - our kind, not theirs. We will work with her timeline. The Pearce/JD/Tea Party/White Supremacist crowd are the ones who are so afraid of the world out here that they have to carry guns everywhere - even though we're really the ones (the poor) who get gunned down the most.

SB 1070 passed the House and goes to the governor now, by the way.

This will be a dark era in Arizona's history. We might as well have segregated bathrooms and Jim Crow laws...

Actually, I guess we do. 

We are already the most fascist state in the country, and the lemmings here - all caught up in their own self-interest and privilege and fear - have no idea what has just been done to democracy...having forfeited the rights of others, we have forfeited our own.

All out of fear.

More people - US veterans, even - have been killed by the lack of health insurance this year than those killed by every single possible nuance of illegal immigration that can be milked from crime statistics. So, this has nothing to do with public safety or welfare, or Russ Pearce would have led the charge for health care reform and other things that really could save a lot of American lives. He's destroying the fabric of our Constitution instead - and the Republican Party is bending over backwards to help the likes of him. 

They're doing it because they know that under a true democracy they would have to share power. These people are convinced that not only do they not have to share anything, but that asking them to share any kind of resource, even in a  recession, is a direct assault on their liberty, livelihood, and even family. Thus the violent reaction to health care reform from this small segment of the community. They have intimidated their own party members into bowing down to fascism in the legislature.

That's pretty troubling, because that means that people like my grandpa and my dad, who are anti-racist at heart, despite being Republican white men, are being taken in by the flag-waving rhetoric and exploited to support things they would give their lives to fight against if they had even a clue of where we are heading. Hell, Dad already spent his life fighting this.

But even good people led astray can be capable of horrible things...there is nothing my dad wouldn't do to protect his family if we were under attack. We have to somehow make it harder for Pearce et al to turn our resistance to them into attacks on our neighbors, or we are all doomed.


Chomsky Warns of Risk of Fascism in America

By Matthew Rothschild, 
The Progressive 
April 12, 2010 
Noam Chomsky, the leading leftwing intellectual, warned last week that fascism may be coming to the United States.

“I’m just old enough to have heard a number of Hitler’s speeches on the radio,” he said, “and I have a memory of the texture and the tone of the cheering mobs, and I have the dread sense of the dark clouds of fascism gathering” here at home.

Chomsky was speaking to more than 1,000 people at the Orpheum Theatre in Madison, Wisconsin, where he received the University of Wisconsin’s A.E. Havens Center’s award for lifetime contribution to critical scholarship.

“The level of anger and fear is like nothing I can compare in my lifetime,” he said.

He cited a statistic from a recent poll showing that half the unaffiliated voters say the average tea party member is closer to them than anyone else.

“Ridiculing the tea party shenanigans is a serious error,” Chomsky said.

Their attitudes “are understandable,” he said. “For over 30 years, real incomes have stagnated or declined. This is in large part the consequence of the decision in the 1970s to financialize the economy.”

There is class resentment, he noted. “The bankers, who are primarily responsible for the crisis, are now reveling in record bonuses while official unemployment is around 10 percent and unemployment in the manufacturing sector is at Depression-era levels,” he said.

And Obama is linked to the bankers, Chomsky explained.

“The financial industry preferred Obama to McCain,” he said. “They expected to be rewarded and they were. Then Obama began to criticize greedy bankers and proposed measures to regulate them.

And the punishment for this was very swift: They were going to shift their money to the Republicans. So Obama said bankers are “fine guys” and assured the business world: ‘I, like most of the American people, don't begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free-market system.’

People see that and are not happy about it.”

He said “the colossal toll of the institutional crimes of state capitalism” is what is fueling “the indignation and rage of those cast aside.”

“People want some answers,” Chomsky said. “They are hearing answers from only one place: Fox, talk radio, and Sarah Palin.”

Chomsky invoked Germany during the Weimar Republic, and drew a parallel between it and the United States. “The Weimar Republic was the peak of Western civilization and was regarded as a model of democracy,” he said.

And he stressed how quickly things deteriorated there.

“In 1928 the Nazis had less than 2 percent of the vote,” he said. “Two years later, millions supported them. The public got tired of the incessant wrangling, and the service to the powerful, and the failure of those in power to deal with their grievances.”

He said the German people were susceptible to appeals about “the greatness of the nation, and defending it against threats, and carrying out the will of eternal providence.”

When farmers, the petit bourgeoisie, and Christian organizations joined forces with the Nazis, “the center very quickly collapsed,” Chomsky said.

No analogy is perfect, he said, but the echoes of fascism are “reverberating” today, he said.
“These are lessons to keep in mind.”

Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine.

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