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 3, 2010

US citizen suspected in AZ rancher's murder

God bless the person who brought this investigation to light, since Krentz' murder in March resulted in every undocumented brown-skinned migrant being scapegoated for it - and it no doubt contributed to the passage of SB 1070 in April. Hundreds of ranchers descended on the Capitol the day before it was passed demanding action. 
As reported this AM on our Phoenix NPR station, KJZZ, violent crime in America actually decreased at the same time the population of undocumented immigrants here doubled. The AZ Republic this weekend reported that violent crime along the border has decreased or been flat for the past ten years - despite the hysteria of politicians and nativists that would lead us to believe otherwise.
Other data I've seen reinforces the argument that communities with higher concentrations of immigrants do not experience higher rates of crime; in fact, some communities known to have many undocumented residents are safer than those full of good old American boys. I strongly suspect that more citizens than non-citizens in this country - definitely in this state - carry guns and are more prone to address social and interpersonal conflict with violence than with avoidance or grace.

American is focus in Krentz killing

The killing of a Southern Arizona rancher that sparked an outcry to secure the border was not random, and investigators are focusing on an American suspect, the Arizona Daily Star has learned.

High-ranking government officials with credible information spoke to the Star, citing a desire to quell the fury over illegal immigration and drug smuggling set off by the shooting death of longtime rancher Robert Krentz on March 27.

They said Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever is investigating a person in the United States, not in Mexico, in connection with the shooting.

The Star's policy is not to use unnamed sources except in instances in which the information is of high public interest.

Reached Sunday by telephone, Dever would not comment.

Krentz was found gunned down on his ranch northeast of Douglas a day after his brother reported drug-smuggling activity to the Border Patrol that led to the seizure of 290 pounds of marijuana and the arrest of eight people on the ranch.

The night of the killing, officers followed a single set of footprints to the U.S.-Mexico border, Dever said.

That sparked widespread speculation that Krentz was killed by an illegal immigrant or a drug smuggler from Mexico. In the ensuing weeks, the killing became symbolic of Arizona's porous and violent border, setting off a flurry of demands from residents, politicians and law enforcement leaders for more troops and resources to the border.

"Rob has become a martyr for this cause, a symbol," U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Hayworth said at a community meeting held on March 31 in the unincorporated community of Apache, near where the Krentz family has worked its 35,000-acre ranch for 100 years.

Many, including Dever, believe the killing propelled into law an immigration-enforcement bill passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Jan Brewer that has thrust Arizona into the international spotlight.

"The fact that it got passed has a lot to do with the reflection and response to the Rob Krentz murder," Dever said from Washington, D.C., on April 20 after testifying before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

During testimony that day, Dever said Krentz "was senselessly gunned down on his own property" and that "his murderer was tracked to the Mexican border, and has since evaded capture," according to a copy of the testimony.

"We cannot sit by while our citizens are terrorized, robbed and murdered by ruthless and desperate people who enter our country illegally," Dever said.

Forty-eight hours after the killing, Dever told reporters that investigators believed the shooting was carried out by one person, but that they didn't know if it was a man or a woman, or the person's nationality. But Dever said they had reports that Krentz made reference to an "illegal alien" over a two-way radio he used to communicate with his brother while working that day on the southern part of their ranch.

"Given the location, (I) guarantee it was not somebody on their way to Walmart to go shopping," Dever said on March 29.

The Southeastern Arizona valley where Krentz was killed is a heavily trafficked people- and drug-smuggling corridor that has seen an increase in burglaries in recent years. Sheriff's investigators and most residents believe the crimes are being committed by drug smugglers heading back to Mexico.

Ranchers and residents in the valley said the Krentz killing had cemented the transformation of illegal border activity from irritating to deadly.

Politicians from both parties across the country have weighed in on the killing and proposed plans for how to protect border residents.

Dever himself has appeared in political ads for candidates advocating for more border enforcement, including a new radio spot for Sen. John McCain.

In it, Dever says, "The drug wars in Mexico spilled over into our state - burglaries, home invasions, even murder."

On StarNet: Find extensive coverage of immigration and border issues at

Contact reporter Brady McCombs at 573-4213 or

1 comment:

Unknown said...

You know, I thought about this from the beginning. The shooting was too localized to be random. I was not surprised that it was used to mobilize a specific cause, but I am saddened by the fact it was mobilized the way it was. I have in fact a lot of questions about the Saturday shooting in Pinal County. My husband, who was among the responders, could not explain the circumstances, logistics and nature of the "crime" to me - as a former criminal investigator, I am used to ask these questions. I think we are becoming biased - yes, more than what we already are- and allowing other people's impressions become our points of view.