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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Friday, June 4, 2010

May 2010 at Adobe Mountain: PHX New Times

Sorry folks: this is from almost two weeks ago. I've been caught up in my own personal and family crises since the night of the 19th; unless someone was covering this for me, we didn't post this from the New Times - Amy Silverman does pretty good work. 

I'll look for follow-up, and post updated info on the ADJC as soon as I can. I probably won't come in for a landing myself until sometime next week. Once I'm settled, I'll be more on top of things again.

 Folks particularly interested in Juvenile Corrections should check out Juvenile Prison Watch - it's new, can use some more research and development; we'd love to have a few family members work collectively on maintaining it. Contact myself or the International Prison Watch staff listed on their websites for more info.

- Peg


Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections Death Was Suicide, Inside Sources Say

Staff at Adobe Mountain School in Phoenix are reporting that the death of a youth yesterday was a suicide.

And they wonder if the incident is tied to the "hush, hush" suicide earlier this month of a corrections officer from the same facility.

The boy was found in his cell at the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections' Adobe Mountain at 6:30 am May 25, according to Laura Dillingham, spokeswoman for the department.

She would not reveal any other details. Next of kin has not been contacted yet, she said, adding that an investigation is under way by the Department of Public Safety, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office and the Department of Juvenile Corrections.

Dillingham refused to respond to questions regarding whether the incident was possibly a suicide.

Two current employees of Adobe Mountain and one former employee of ADJC have contacted New Times to say the boy likely took his own life.

According to the employees, one of whom works on the unit Crossroads, where the boy was living at the time, the boy was found with a plastic bag tied over his head and a blanket over that. He was reportedly dead for quite some time when the morning shift staff found him.

Dillingham said department policy calls for welfare checks every 15 minutes through the night, and said the checks were, in fact, done in this situation. She said the childrens' faces cannot be kept covered, raising questions about whether the checks were done correctly.

She also said that Adobe Mountain School is fully staffed. Employees strongly disagreed.
Until very recently, the employees said, the boy had been placed at Triumph, the mental-health unit at Adobe Mountain, where he'd been for at least a year. The Crossroads employee said the boy was moved to Crossroads -- Adobe's unit reserved for violent kids -- after he was involved in an assault.

The employee said it was well known that the boy had "suicidal ideations" and added that the boy reportedly told the school superintendent recently that he wanted to be moved from Crossroads and would "do something" if he was not. The employee said that Crossroads staff wasn't informed of that conversation until after the boy had died.

Within the last several days, a youth corrections officer at Adobe Mountain took his own life.

Dillingham confirmed this but refused to release details. She said the staff and kids have been receiving counseling since the officer's suicide, but employees said the event has been kept "hush, hush" and there has been no counseling, though word has gotten out. They also say that ADJC director Michael Branham came to the facility and told them not to fly the flags at half-staff, saying the man did not die honorably.

It is unknown whether that suicide led to the possible suicide yesterday, but experts stress the importance of providing immediate counseling in such situations. ADJC's statements emphasize the counseling they are providing in the wake of yesterday's youth death. The statements do not mention the older man's death.

In 2002 and 2003, there were three suicides at Adobe Mountain School. The suicides, along with an investigative series by Phoenix New Times, led to a federal investigation into conditions at the agency's facilities, including Adobe Mountain. Last year, New Times published a story about continuing problems -- including mental health issues -- at ADJC.