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, August 3, 2010

Kingman escapes, Eloy riot reveal dangers of for-profit prisons

(FYI: McCluskey and Welch arrested in AZ 8/19/10 post. All escapees back in custody.)

The private prison links in the release below were embedded by me for your reference, not by the AFSC. Contact Caroline Isaacs as listed below for more information from the AFSC-Tuscon office. She knows what she's talking about.

---------from the American Friends Service Committee in Tucson-----------

August 3, 2010

Contact: Caroline Isaacs, (520) 623-9141,

Phoenix: The escape of three prisoners from the Kingman prison on Friday July 30, 2010, highlights continuing concerns about the management of state prison facilities by for-profit corporations, according to the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).

The Kingman facility is run by Management and Training Corporation of Ogden, Utah. MTC also runs the Marana Community Correctional Center, and is one of four prison corporations that have submitted bids to the Arizona Department of Corrections to build and operate up to 5,000 new state prison beds.

This incident comes on the heels of a riot at the Kingman facility in June in which eight prisoners were injured.

The escapes are being blamed on lax security and a failure to follow proper protocol. The prisoners reportedly were able to sneak out of their dormitory and cut through a perimeter fence without being detected.

"You get what you pay for," said Caroline Isaacs, Director of the AFSC's Arizona office. "These for-profit prison corporations are primarily concerned about the bottom line and making money for their CEO's and shareholders." Isaacs charges that the companies cut corners everywhere
they can, but primarily on staff pay and training.

The result is a facility with high turnover rates, where the staff is inexperienced and the prisoners have nothing productive to do. Such a prison is unsafe for the inmates, the guards, and the surrounding community.

This is not the only Arizona private prison scandal to make headlines recently. A prison run by Corrections Corporation of America in Eloy was recently on lockdown after prisoners from Hawaii rioted over an Xbox video game. When a staff member attempted to intervene, he was severely beaten, suffering a broken nose, broken cheekbones and damage to his eye sockets.
The incident was the latest episode in a history of violence that has plagued the facility. Two prisoners are facing a possible death sentence inthe fatal beating of another inmate there last February.

These types of incidents are "alarmingly common" in privately operated prisons, Isaacs says, citing patterns of mismanagement, financial impropriety, abuse, and medical negligence. Further privatization of Arizona's prisons will be a financial boondoggle for a cash-strapped state and a nightmare for the host communities, she warns.

"Arizona's legislature needs to take a good look at the track record of these companies before they spend any more of the taxpayers' money on this failed experiment."


The American Friends Service Committee is a non-profit organization that works for peace and justice both nationally and internationally. The Arizona office, based in Tucson, advocates for criminal justice reform.

Background documents available on request:

"Prison Privatization in Arizona," details the number of private facilities in the state and those in other states housing Arizona prisoners. Also provides budget information on the state's expenditures on privatization of prisons.

"Rap Sheets" on the major for-profit prison corporations operating in Arizona, detailing incidents and scandals in their facilities in Arizona and nationwide.

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