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. collective@phoenixabc.org

until all are free -

MARGARET J PLEWS (June 1, 2015)
arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com



AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Perryville: The silent fall of Geshell Fernandez.


(UPDATE: September 21, 2010)

I tried to dig up some
information about Geshell other than court records, but there isn't much out there. In 2007 the courts had her address listed as "transient". Some of Geshell's convictions included drug-related charges and assault, all of which suggest that she was dually diagnosed with a serious mental illness and a substance abuse disorder. As recently as January 09 she had to be restored to competency in order to plead guilty to her crimes.

She had an even worse record in prison: within six months of killing herself, Geshell had been charged with assaulting both another prisoner and a guard. She was considered a 5/5 custody risk and housed in maximum security.

I just keep wondering, though: if she was so ill that the Department of Corrections couldn't manage her without putting her in max, then why wasn't she in a psychiatric hospital? Did they think she was
just being "bad"? That's why women with mental illness get more than our fair share of brutality, chemical restraint, and solitary. Our deviance isn't just a sign of distraction or distress, it's an outright rejection of the social order that Power depends on to maintain control. For that we need to be punished, apparently, to keep the rest of the women in line.

I didn't find any indication in my search that Geshell's family is around - couldn't find an obituary, even. Please feel free to contact me if you have any more information about this woman's life. She was only 28 when she died. prisonabolitionist@gmail.com.

- Peggy Plews (09/21/2010)

--------------------from the original post, all I knew-----------------

Suicide in a community increases the risk to those most susceptible to follow suit. The number to the national suicide hotline is posted in the side column. The reason to call if you need to is in Phil Ochs' song, also in the side column. Stop, listen, call.

Our condolences go out to this young woman's loved ones.


------------------------

ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
JANICE K. BREWER GOVERNOR
1601 W. JEFFERSON PHOENIX, ARIZONA 85007 (602) 542-3133
CHARLES L. RYAN DIRECTOR

For Immediate Release

For more information contact:

Barrett Marson
www.bmarson@azcorrections.gov

Bill Lamoreaux
www.blamorea@azcorrections.gov

July 23, 2010
Inmate Death Notification


Goodyear, Az.- Inmate Geshell Fernandez, ADC#196933, died while in Arizona Department of Corrections custody early Friday after apparently committing suicide.

Medical responders attempted life saving measures in her cell but Fernandez was pronounced dead at 12:48 a.m.

Fernandez, 28, came to ADC in November 2009 after a conviction from Maricopa County for aggravated assault and a drug paraphernalia violation. She was serving 7.5 years and housed at ASPC-Perryville in the Lumley Unit.

The death is under investigation by the Department.

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