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:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Two More Suicides at the AZ State Prisons.

This is getting very disturbing. For those of you who missed it, there have been a lot of prisoner suicides (Adams, Kulp, Bybee, and now these two fellows) and homicides (Tsosie, and the two Hawaiians - Medina and Nunuha in the CCA prison in Eloy) of late...what are they doing to those guys, anyway? They sure don't appear to be providing them with mental health treatment or supervising them very closely, considering that the ADC gets almost 10% of our total state budget to run their show. That's more than we spend on educating our children. Why can't we keep our prisoners safe?

It just seems real strange that Lester and Medina would manage to kill themselves the same day, and there's no information as to how. With all the homicides and gang stuff going on in our state prisons lately, I sure hope they get thoroughly investigated by someone. These were young men who were not facing life in prison or a death sentence.

To the guys on the yards these fellows were from
(families - get the message in there): look out for each other and hang in there. Write to us if you need to connect with someone out here. We may not be able to do anything more than listen - and perhaps amplify your voice. We just don't want to see you killing yourselves or each other off any more, and every time someone suicides it increase the risk for all the other guys who are thinking the same thing.

Our condolences to Anthony and Robert's families and loved ones - as well as their buddies inside, if they had any.


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For more information contact:
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July 12, 2010

Inmate Death Notification

Tucson, Ariz. – Anthony Lester, 26, ADC #253529, died at University Medical Center Monday after being transported to the hospital following an apparent suicide attempt Sunday night.

Lester, sentenced out of Maricopa County, was serving 12 years for aggravated assault. He came to ADC May 18, 2010 and was held at the Manzanita Unit, ASPC-Tucson.

The death is under investigation by the department.


July 12, 2010
Inmate Death Notification

Florence, Ariz. – Inmate Robert Medina, 29, ADC #121433, died while in Arizona Department of Corrections custody Sunday after apparently committing suicide.

Medina was found in his cell where he was pronounced dead after medical responders attempted life saving measures.

Medina, sentenced out of Maricopa County, was serving 15 years for kidnapping and armed robbery. He came to ADC April 28, 2009 and was held at the maximum security Browning Unit, ASPC-Eyman.

The death is under investigation by the department.