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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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fight with the Truth, Director Ryan, or get out of the way.

One of my e-mails to Director Ryan and his corporate counsel last week, addressing the shoddy medical evaluation of Davon's condition, and what I think is really underlying a lot of this resistance. We are collectively, silently lending our consent to the widescale extermination of people with addictions and serious mental illness via Hep C, diverting them from hospitals and treatment programs in order to feed the prison industrial complex in the process, where many will ultimately die of neglect.

I must have hit a nerve or two with this one - it was never answered by either of them. I wasn't that surprised - just disappointed. I'd been holding out hope that Ryan just had a bunch of incompetent subordinates who were covering themselves by keeping the truth from him, and that if he knew the truth, he'd step up to the plate himself. But I think he knows full well what goes on in that place, and it's him that his people cover for. What a no-win situation that must be for them.


This is Davon Acklin's prison doctor.


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  1. [PDF]


    - 3:04pm
    File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat
    David Robertson, DO. Surgery. Maricopa Integrated Health System .... had no risk factors for viral hepatitis. She reported 1-2 drinks no more than 2-4 times ... - Similar


Or maybe this is.
(I Googled them both to see what he's doing about the epidemic of Hep C in AZ prisons.)

Your search - "david w. robertson, DO" hepatitis - did not match any documents.


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This is Julie's friend.


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Did you mean: "bill remak" hepatitis

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  1. Millions of Hepatitis C Funding Dollars Hijacked

    Apr 27, 2009 ... William Remak, Chairman of the National Association of Hepatitis Task Forces and a two-time liver transplant recipient due to HCV is also ... - Cached
  2. The Status & Recommendation for Public Health Education ...

    National Association of Hepatitis Task Forces, CA National Association of Hepatitis C Task Force, William Remak, B.Sc. MT, B. Public Health, SGNA, Chairman ... - Cached
  3. [PDF]

    Hepatitis C Virus (HCV)

    File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - Quick View
    The focus of this paper is on the Hepatitis C virus (HCV), ..... William Remak, Chairman, California Hepatitis C Task Force (Phone interview Nov. 2008) ... - Similar
  4. [PDF]

    CALIFORNIA HEPATITIS C TASK FORCE Little Hoover Commission Stuart ...

    File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - Quick View
    Chairman, California Hepatitis C Task Force, Inc. Chairman, National Association of Hepatitis Task Forces. 2X Liver Transplant Patient, Cancer survivor. ...
  5. Bill Remak - Email, Address, Phone numbers, everything!

    Bill Remak is Chairman of California Hepatitis C Task Force ... 04 Continued from Segment .... William Remak Santa Rosa, US. William Remak West Warwick, US ...
  6. CDC DVH - Viral Hepatitis - Resource Center - National Viral ...

    Aug 27, 2008 ... Summary: This workshop will be provide an overview of viral Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E, including basic epidemiology, risk factors, ... - Cached


He also goes by "Bill".


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  1. California Hepatitis C Task Force

    Jan 23, 2009 ... Bill Remak is Chairman of California Hepatitis C Task Force & Chairman of National Association of Hepatitis Task Forces. ... - Cached - Similar
  2. Mission Statement - California Hepatitis C Task Force

    CALIFORNIA HEPATITIS C TASK FORCE BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND ADVISORY BOARD. BOARD OF DIRECTORS. 1) Bill Remak, Petaluma -Chair. 2) Phyllis Borchardt, San Diego ... - Cached - Similar
  3. Bill Remak is Chairman of California Hepatitis C Task Force ...

    He is a survivor of liver cancer and two transplants and is diabetic. He was a laboratory scientist at UCSF, but after his illness he started organizations ... - Cached
  4. Bill Remak (wmremak) on Twitter

    Get short, timely messages from Bill Remak. ... To watch a webcast of the Congressional hearing on Viral Hepatitis, click here... 1:54 ... - Cached
  5. Hard Time: Hepatitis C in Arizona's State Prisons.: Remak: The ...

    May 4, 2010 ... By Bill Remak, B.Sc. MT , B. Public Health, SGNA, AHCJ. ( ) Chair, National Association of Hepatitis Task Forces and ... - Cached

Any questions?


August 18, 2010

Charles L. Ryan, Director
Arizona Department of Corrections
1601 W. Jefferson St.
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Dear Director Ryan,

This is actually the closest to a white flag that you may ever see from me. I'm just showing you part of my arsenal to get your attention because you think I'm outgunned. I haven't posted that Google yet (nor, as far as I know, has Julie, but Facebook is her territory). By the time what I'm offering here expires I'll have thought of something better, though. Hopefully I'll have also figured out the software for my camera so I can upload that video of Julie, too. I don't expect it to ever enter a courtroom, but that doesn't mean it doesn't carry weight.

Davon could be getting well right now, for all the money and staff time you've invested in diverting his mom from getting him appropriate health care. That kid needs to be seen by a specialist competent in treating Hepatitis C before you claim he doesn't have a life-threatening condition with any credibility. So far, I'm not convinced that he's not in imminent danger, and I'm leaning towards thinking there's a whole class of men and women in there who are dying from your neglect.

But no one wins if Davon dies from this illness; we both know there isn't time for a class action suit. You may have fallen for your people's BS (assuming you aren't the source), but we aren't, so please stop sending people who don't know what they're talking about as if we don't get it. You may not have been made aware of this, but Davon's liver enzyme values are not only way out of range, they've multiplied since he was tested nine months ago. He should have been seen by a specialist and considered for treatment immediately. Instead, ever since his most recent labs were done, people have been trying to convince Julie - and now the governor's office - that she's just ignorant and over-reacting.

If the rapid rate at which Davon's liver functioning has deteriorated doesn't trouble you enough, then open his medical chart yourself - the first thing Julie noticed was what was missing. She has volumes of information she provided you folks on his psychiatric history and needs. He had 8 case managers and an ACT team that couldn't keep him out of prison, but you've only given him nine pages worth of care? That's shameful. You're not treating his mental illness, you just have him in chemical restraints.

It gets worse from there. Apart from Dr. Robertson's show of ignorance about his patient's medical conditions and needs, your staff have given Davon medications for illnesses he doesn't even have on more than one occasion. Are we really supposed to be convinced they know him at all? Did Jim Clenney think that giving us some guy with credentials would make us shrug our shoulders and quietly walk away? Did either of you?

Do you know what an aggressive strain of Hep C can do in ten more months? We aren't giving it one more month. I won't wait for the Clemency Board - I'm not putting all my stock in them, and a qualified assessment of Davon's status should have been done at least 3 months ago. You could have had a huge lead on this disease if he started treatment of any kind sooner - he's not even getting vitamin or protein supplements, and Julie's been screaming to your people - and everyone else in range - for months about his fatigue and malaise. There's absolutely NO reason he should be expected to be his own advocate in the face - and custody - of the state. I think he's pretty competent, myself, but he's nonetheless been designated as disabled by the severity and persistence of his mental illness for a long time; his mother even has power of attorney. That should have given someone a clue.

But even the guys who are certifiably sane give up asking medical for help, there. I have volumes of mail to that effect. That tells me a lot. I already know you wanted to save money by revamping how you do things in that arena - like increasing co-pays to discouraging requests for MD visits by people earning pennies an hour (if they're lucky enough to have paying jobs in the first place). I hope you also want to save lives, given the chance, despite the fact that those under your immediate sphere of influence are slaves and criminals. If so, you're investing resources in the wrong places. Prevent lawsuits by offering consistent, decent care.

I don't need an attorney or Julie's okay to tell you that there's nothing more we'd like to see than solid evidence that Davon's health care needs are being competently met and he has a chance to get well. An attorney will want more from you than that, so please don't waste any more time or public resources stalling us. Prove us wrong with the truth. That's what Julie's been asking for all along.

A lot of your other families are hurting too, actually, and the longer you leave me standing out here challenging you, the more there are who will find me. I make no promises to you about how I'll deal with their loved one's illnesses - I won't agree not to come after your department myself again - with an attorney, even - and I'll probably help anyone poor enough to need me. I'll grant that you're stubborn, but you've been wrong about Davon, and your resistance has only made me stronger and more creative as an advocate for prisoners with Hep C - as has time, too much of which has passed now.

It's urgent that Davon is assessed by a hep C specialist - not just have his physician rubber-stamped by a committee. If he was home we'd be calling 911 for an ambulance - a whole lot of people would be.

I can't swing Davon's medical bills - I can't even keep him stocked with peanut butter. Catch up with my credit report if you didn't know that already - I can't keep up with my own doctors. But I'll sell everything I have down to my computer, pledge a part of my monthly income for the cause, sign whatever you draw up that gets the state off the hook for it, and take responsibility for finding more people to help cover it. I'm not shy about asking for help when I find someone in trouble, and I am a witness that this family is in trouble.

I can fundraise a lot easier if this offer is made publicly than if it's just between us, but right now, if you get Davon help this week, you can pretty much write the terms. I'll even surrender my ego - just not other prisoners. I'm sure my little brother - the one who does health policy stuff for the United Way - would tell me that an attorney would never be stupid enough to say such a thing, but I'm not the one with the law degree in the family. Not yet, anyway. I'm already pretty occupied as a writer.

You will ultimately be the villain or the hero here, Director Ryan. In either case, I'll give credit where it seems to be due. I'll figure out my next move in a day or two if you block this one - we aren't playing the waiting game any more with you. Please tell Julie you're having Davon seen by a specialist, and then offer him the option of a full course of the best treatment a guy can get in there - for all any of us know, once he gets a taste of what his mom is fighting for, he'll opt out of interferon treatment until something better for people like us hits the market.

I know what the algorithims boil down to, by the way, that no one wanted to dare say out loud to Julie, because she's going to nail you for it already: treatment "isn't indicated" because he's a bad risk by way of co-morbid psychiatric diagnosis and substance abuse history. Everything else but those things and income level is actually just right for treatment to be recommended, otherwise. In fact, looking at his age and even Dr. Robertson's appraisal of his physical presentation, Davon would be seen by most experts as a really good candidate for treatment now - someone who would probably be successful staying Hep C-free, too.

That's bigger than you, though, I realize. It's the case all across the country, in the prisons and the community (though your standards - as demonstrated by your failure to even assess Davon thoroughly for the Clemency Board's recommendation - are below the community's. You don't even know if he has AIDS???). The scale of the epidemic - and the amount of bureaucratic cowardice in its face - won't stop me from doing everything I can to stop it, though.

In fact, it compels me forward every time I begin to feel too old and tired to keep the pace up. The dually-diagnosed are outright slated to die off from this thing, and I bet the CDC is paying close attention to their mortality rates, co-morbidities, and resiliency factors. If they aren't yet, they should be. But I think it's more insidious than passive observation - they're helping to starve your medical budget by way of issuing treatment guidelines that are way behind current research. A decade, at least. Check it out yourself (don't entrust it to your medical staff, anyway). They're leading the pack in their complicity with something I see as being the equivalent of murdering AIDS victims because they're gay. Only these people are also overwhelmingly poor, too. And people of color - that's why it's taking so long to catch up to HIV.

Can you imagine how many people would be freaking out if they grasped the truth about this disease? They don't have a clue unless their loved one has been to prison - that leaves most of white America in the dark. I'm planning to shine avery bright light in their eyes, too. They think they prevent cirrhosis and liver cancer by being tea-totallers, and they don't even consider the possibility that this could escape like AIDS and kill their own kids. The CDC's leadership role in Hep C wreaking havoc through so many lives may actually be your best defense - but when you have to answer for how you dealt with this epidemic to the generation that will inherit it, do you want it to be "I was just following recommendations?"

You do realize that you're on the front lines, don't you? At least, your prisoners and lowest-paid employees are, anyway. They are directly in the line of fire. They are the fodder creating the illusion of a buffer zone for something that won't be contained and isn't about to burn itself out, at this rate.

I bet mentally ill prisoners with Hep C constitute a large portion of the CDC's control group - the main population that's pretty much guaranteed to be denied treatment. Ever think of that? That's what's driving me to deal with you - it is not the pleasure of your company I seek. I'm much more interested in breaking through your denial - if you have any to begin with - about what's really going on with Hep C than I am in suing you. I need the kind of help you might give someone who was a victim of your merciless enemy - that enemy being Hep C, and hopefully not me. I assure you I will not be shutting up soon about this, whatever you do, so please don't write that into anything I might sign, or it will waste our time. What's happening with this disease in America is extermination.

And my own family has been hit, so don't expect to shake me. I have nothing better to do with my life.

You actually have less than a day, now, before I write again, cc or publish. Consider this to be my call to 911 on Hep C brutalizing someone I love behind your walls - or think of it as your last shot across the bow; that's up to you. It's hard not to post this thing while it's fresh, but like most distress and warning signals no one else has to replay it if it's answered responsibly - it just gets filed. Everyone gets to hear if I have to keep yelling for help from your doorstep, though - and I won't be waiting for you to kill anyone before I holler again.

So, if you're sincere about the public welfare and deserving of any medals for courage under fire, then please stop waiting me out. Invite me in, again, instead. You control the time, the place, and the witness - I only trust Karyn, though, to have both a conscience and a clue. She's the only one I'll talk to other than you without bringing another Copwatcher along.

I'm not asking a lot for Davon, here, but I'm expecting a lot from you. I hope you appreciate what an extraordinary leap of faith I'm taking in both of you to offer to meet you by myself, in fact. That's why this window won't be open very long. Julie doesn't even know that I'm offering to do this, or she would probably stop me - as would most of my friends. You haven't exactly given us much evidence to think that you can be trusted. But, I figured if you were in the pockets of politicians I have good reason to be wary of, I'd already be incapacitated by now.

I'm counting on both your autonomy and your honor really meaning something to you. If they do not, then at least I know that whatever your response is, I will have done what I need to in order to retain mine - and in turn, my own freedom. You may hold a bunch of keys, but that doesn't mean you aren't bound by chains and auctioned off at the market when they're done with you. I won't be; not that way.

This is your chance to stop me, help me, or get out of the way - either way, I need to know where you really stand, and I don't think you can afford to ignore me any longer. I can put this thing on the November ballot, still, by making Hep C in the prisons a pivotal issue. I may yet. Please get back to me today.


Peggy Plews

“The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.”

- Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881)

Prison Abolitionist
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Hard Time: Hep C in AZ Jails and Prisons
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