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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Monday, May 10, 2010

Boycott this Brutal, Murderous State.

After hearing a brief report about this reported undocumented migrant's murder on KJZZ, the local NPR station around 5:00 or 6:00 this AM, and finding the article I originally posted below about it (along with a separate one which identified the suspects as citizens, but didn't identify the victim as an undocumented or illegal immigrant), I headed downtown to the Phoenix Police Department to find out the full story. 

They referred me to their public records office on the other side of town. 

They in turn, sent me to Maricopa County's Superior Court complex where the suspects were to be arraigned, but since I didn't have their names with me and "this happens all the time", no one there could direct me to the right court room. Besides, someone said, they were probably being arraigned in the jailhouse courtroom, not there.

So, since I was in the same building as the HQ for the Maricopa County Sheriff's office, I stopped in and asked them for help, certain that they would have the suspects names and maybe even a press release by then, since they apparently handled the arrests - nothing was forthcoming from the information desk, however, except the phone number of their press office (not even a name). 

Now, I checked the MCSO website before leaving home on this excursion. Since the "crime of the week" featured there this AM was not the murder of immigrants, but rather, sex offenses (featuring a complete cast of suspects of color in their mugshot line up) - and there was absolutely nothing on the site about the murder - I didn't bother calling the MCSO press officer to try to get more information.

Instead, I actually paid for an Arizona Republic, sure that there would be at least a blurb in there, giving me the names I'd read earlier on the KPHO website, so I could get to the arraignment and find out first hand what was going on. Not a word. 

By then I was pretty steamed, so I called the Republic, and spoke to J.J. Hensley. He was aware of the body found in the fire last Wednesday, but not the story that unfolded Sunday as I relayed it to him - the MCSO was keeping that pretty hush hush. He was sure interested, though, and Googled the same info I found as we spoke, promising a follow-up from their paper.

So, what follows is the result of the AZ Republic's "investigation", published a few hours after that conversation - which conveniently leaves a few blanks to fill in after making sure we all know that the still-anonymous victim brought this on himself by having sex with the poor murderer's mother. 

No one seems to know or care whether or not this man was so casually murdered and set ablaze because he was undocumented. Or, maybe the Republic is just exercising responsible journalistic restraint, not wanting to make a bad situation here worse by reporting that undocumented migrants aren't all criminal aliens and murderous drug dealers - many are in fact victims of crime at the hands of citizens who count on no one caring what they do to them.

I don't think it's journalistic ethics that dictated the lines - and the blanks between them - in the story below, though. I think the Republic is in bed with the power elite here who just don't want more bad publicity; the "truth" be damned. This state has no journalistic integrity - save for a few good folks at the Phoenix New Times. 

For perspective: flash back a week or so ago to that deputy who was shot by "suspected illegal immigrants" who were "believed to be smuggling bales of marijuana" (on foot through the desert, of course, pursued by this lone deputy) at the time he was fired on with AK-47's. Or the rancher a few months ago who law enforcement "suspected" was murdered by illegal immigrants involved in drug trafficking. 

Where was the journalistic restraint seeking all the facts before reporting speculation then? And what about the MCSO's fiery press releases about how they're protecting us by rounding up undocumented brown-skinned drivers, and all of Russ Pearce's histrionics about how many citizens are being murdered and raped by illegal immigrants? 

So, read this story now having put things into context. Doesn't it seem like something's missing here? Like maybe some sense that the life that was lost was sacred, valued, innocent, even worth being elevated to nobility for having been so brutally victimized? Maybe even a candlelight vigil to remember him and all the other migrants whose lives have been so brutally taken by good Arizonans?

Here's the problem, I think: In the Arizona storyline, the victim is supposed to be a US citizen; the perpetrators are supposed to be criminal aliens (from Mexico, of course), and the murder is supposed to justify SB 1070 and shame those calling for a boycott into silence. What's the truth that should be reported here? That we have so devalued the lives of non-citizens that their murders (which "happen all the time here", as I was told in Superior Court earlier) aren't news - only their crimes are. The Republic doesn't even say what the victim's or suspects citizenship status are - and we all know that those details these days matter a great deal. And even KJZZ hasn't mentioned the story again since before the morning rush hour commenced.

Note how the Republic doesn't even once call this murdered man a "victim"...

BOYCOTT this ugly place, America. Bring all these bastards to their knees. Don't worry about the poor they say you're going to hurt by doing so; they sure don't care about us - we're already screwed by them anyway. Don't give this state another dime until they account for all their crimes and make restitution to their victims' families. 

That means repealing a whole lot more than just SB 1070. Otherwise, this kind of thing will never end.


Slain Phoenix man reportedly slept with suspect's mom

by Jessica Testa - May. 10, 2010 01:12 PM
The Arizona Republic
Three men were arrested Sunday in connection with death of a man who was beaten and had his throat slit in Phoenix, apparently because he slept with another man's mother.

Adan Gonzalez, 20, Matthew Moreno, 19, and Booz Moreno, 23, are suspected of attacking a man who they thought was having an affair with Gonzalez's mother, according to court documents released Monday.

Last Wednesday, the trio apparently went to the man's house near 35th Avenue and Baseline Road, forcing their way in armed with a shotgun. They are suspected of beating the man who lived there.

The trio was accused of using a shotgun and a steel pipe to beat the man, eventually slitting the man's throat with a knife and setting fire to the house after stealing several items.

Witnesses reported seeing the men approaching the house, entering and then leaving a short time later as the house went up in flames, the court documents said.

The witnesses provided police with descriptions of three men and their vehicle's license-plate numbers. Police used the information to track down the three men.

The men were arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder, arson, kidnapping and burglary.

The documents noted that Matthew Moreno and Gonzalez initially said they were not connected to the case, but eventually said they beat and killed the man.

Booz Moreno was found to be friends with the homeowner's son, according to the documents. He has been charged with extreme DUI and is being held without bail. Matthew Moreno is being held on $1 million bond.

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