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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AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Brewer leaves innocent man to die.

This is so wrong. This man will be 75 years old on August 31st; he's been in prison since he was 40. He could easily be my father - or anyone of us - and will die there for the governor's "personal reasons" if we don't step up and act. There's nothing personal about it - she's supposed to be a professional serving the public when making decisions about pardons and compassionate release. That's why she gets paid. This article came out a month ago, and William sits there still today.

Putting this into context: imagine what a court would say if I kidnapped someone, held them hostage for 35 years, and left them to die in a hole in the desert? They'd send a SWAT team to the rescue if he was still alive, and say that what I did was criminal, not "personal", then send
me to prison for life - or even order my execution if he died.

And what else could they do? If I admitted my crime with no explanation, and was allowed to go free, instead, the judge or jury responsible would not only be raked over the coals, they may well be lynched. Arizonans don't like that kind of impudence - be it from a cold-blooded killer or an indifferent, self-interested career politician. Is there really any difference?

Don't be mistaken: whether perpetrated by a private citizen or an agent of the state, incarceration is violence, and false imprisonment is a serious crime.
William was recommended for release by the AZ Board of Executive Clemency on May 8, 2009. This innocent man has already spent almost half of his life doing hard time - he shouldn't do another day. It isn't costing Brewer a dime to leave him there - we pick up the tab, but William's the one who really pays the price.

Whatever your political persuasion (the more Republicans the better), please show some support to the family: take just 10 minutes and write to Governor Brewer's office asking for a public explanation to the voters and taxpayers of AZ, then save and send a copy to WREX, either snail mail or email. Cc it to the Capitol Times, the Arizona Republic, and the Phoenix New Times, while you're at it. We need to do a full court press, so you might as well send one to the Goddard campaign HQ - he may well be the next governor this falls to.

The address to the tv station is:

WREX (NBC Channel 13)
PO Box 530
Rockford, IL 61105

Their newsroom phone number is 815-335-2710. The email there is

William's contact information is:

William Macumber (#033867)
ASPC-Douglas, Mohave Unit
PO Box 5002
Douglas, AZ 85608

Anyone is free to write him a letter to tell him that you're working on this, too.

Help free prisoner Macumber. Please don't let him die inside.


Rockford man fights to get his brother out of Arizona prison

Jun 15, 2010 5:08 PM

By Katie Nilsson

ROCKFORD (WREX) - An Arizona man with Rockford ties is still in prison for a crime the Clemency Review Board there says he didn't commit. William Macumber was sent to prison in 1975, part of his family lives in Rockford now and is fighting for his release.

Macumber's brother Robert and his wife have lived in Rockford for the last four years. They're trying to figure out why Arizona Governor Jan Brewer denied the recommendation from the Clemency Board for William's release. They say she's never given them a reason for it. "She was quoted as saying it was a personal reason that she had no comment and to this day we have no idea what the personal reason is."

William Macumber was convicted of killing two people in an Arizona desert back in 1975. He was sent to prison for life without the possibility of parole. Macumber's denied involvement in the killings and his family thinks William's ex-wife set him up. "My father and I both looked at all the evidence in the trial first hand at the sheriff's office and there was nothing in there that really could have convicted Bill. It was basically on his wife's testimony."

She worked for an Arizona Sheriff's Department and testified William told her he killed the couple. But according to the Clemency Board who reviewed the case last year, another man Ernesto Valenzuela told his lawyer he did it. In a letter Clemency Board Chairman and Executive Director Duane Belcher wrote to Governor Brewer, the board also agreed some of the testimony wasn't reliable and neither was the evidence presented at his trial. That's why the board unanimously recommended Macumber be released because they say he's innocent. "It's a very rare thing for them to recommend clemency, and it's even more rare, it's freakishly rare for them to recommend clemency on the grounds of innocence," says Rock Valley College Professor and clemency expert P.S. Ruckman, Jr. He thinks the governor owes the Macumber family an explanation for her denial.

Ruckman thinks Brewer's lack of response to the case may be political as she's running for re-election. "We just had that Mike Huckabee scenario a couple months back and Huckabee took a big beating for that, I think unfairly. But he did commute a sentence on the base of a recommendation by a parole board and the person 10 or 15 years later murdered some police officers. I wouldn't identify that as a cause of Brewer's hesitancy, but I would say it's a factor."

I tried calling Governor Brewer's office for comment, but no one called back.


Hang in there, William and Robert. You aren't alone.