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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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Wrestling Grizzlies.

Hey Friends,

As most of you know, I was assaulted in my home on the eve of the anniversary of Marcia's death. I decided to flee rather than continue to fight the next day (May 20), and have since been living out of hotels, tents, a storage locker, and most recently, my grandmother's spare bedroom. I'm just grateful to have a place to land at night that I don't have to pack up and move again in the morning, frankly. And a regular shower.

Anyway, since I was busy moving all my shit out of the house I loved (that's right stalkers, I am no longer on Willetta Street), I didn't organize any memorials for anyone on May 20th. My friends from the International Prison Watch community covered for me and posted some stuff on my blogs, but I've been mainly too disorganized myself to cover much...and I've been a bit wrapped up in myself as well. Victimization does that to a person.

Violence is nothing new to me, but that's the first time since I was a kid, really, that it actually came screaming into my bedroom at night wearing the face of someone I trusted. I should have seen it coming when he started drinking more, but I was worried he might hurt himself, not me.

I thought it was kind of strange, really: the timing of all that. It was just an hour or so after I got home from the ADC Hep C Candlelight Vigil, where we were joined and blessed by the folks holding down the fort for the anti-SB 1070 contingent at the Capitol. It was really a sacred moment, that point in the vigil. The whole night was pretty sacred. Then I was attacked - the weird thing is that a lot of this guy's rage was directed at my activism. He even tried to take out my computer. It made no sense; we're so like-minded on that stuff.

Moreover, we were friends who respected eachother for the work we do.

Someone must have gotten to him somehow.

Anyway, my bro had joined me that morning for a three week "vacation" out here, and became homeless with me overnight. I was so grateful he was there - at both the vigil and the house. I don't know how I would have coped with things or moved all my junk without him - Thanks, Bill. Same goes for my Mom, really - she arranged for the storage and U haul and hotel rooms, and even my new digs.

I'm still coming in for a landing, though; it's hard being scattered everywhere even for a few weeks, and this isn't a permanent - or even long term - solution. Still, while I think it would be a good idea to have the fire trucks ready, I have a feeling that I might just be landing on my feet this time, catching up these blogs and then out chalking the streets again. I'm mostly just working out logistics right now.

As for having my safety and home violated - I hurled obscenities and threats at him until he backed off, but what's an abolitionist to do in this situation? He's three times my size. Really, if he wanted to kill me he could have - he busted in my door and his hands were around my neck. He didn't even mean to assault me, I don't think - just to scare me out. Perhaps even just to derail me - maybe even for a day - that particular day.

Anyway, it so happens that I'm working through my trauma and discovering some alternatives to pressing charges and using courts and cops, but that's for another night. In the meantime, if you're interested in where I might be going, check out the "Incite! Women of Color Against Violence" site: there's some good stuff on violence and the prison industrial complex.

Back with you again soon.

Free Marcia Powell!
Peace & Blessings,