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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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

ASPC-Perryville: Urgent re: Conditions of Confinement

According to the parent of a woman in medium security (Santa Cruz) at ASPC-Perryville, a new policy has just been put into place locking the women down for 22hrs/day, essentially turning the yard into a high security setting. Apparently this is in response to the recent Kingman escapes, not to misconduct on the part of these women.

This news is particularly troublesome because of the heat, for starters, as there is no A/C in the cells they're being confined to, and the swamp coolers seldom work. Families are constantly concerned about the health of those prone to succumb to heat as it is, now even more so since they get such little relief. There's no enclosed, cooled rec room for them to use when they do get time out - they have to spend it outdoors. Their resources are substandard in comparison to what many of the men have. And apparently it's been hard to get through to anyone there on the phone.

Thus far media has been alerted - as have some legislators - but no one is reporting on the horrendous heat and living conditions the women are forced to tolerate. In addition to the added physical strain it places on them to be held like that, such an environment can contribute to an escalation in tensions between prisoners, violence, depression, and suicidality.

Families and prisoners alike are protesting. According to reports from Perryville, some of the women from yard 18 refused to go back inside when rec was over. If this was one of the men's prisons, they'd be rioting and the media would be all over it, asking why. As the mother of one prisoner asks - what does it take for anyone to care about what these women are going through? Another Marcia Powell to die?

I urge readers to contact legislators, (especially Reps Cecil Ash and Kyrsten Sinema), media (Stephen Lemons at the PHX New Times, Morgan Loew at KPHO, JJ Hensley at the AZ Republic), the governor's office, the warden's office at Perryville (623-853-0304) and Constituent Services at the Arizona Department of Corrections (Betty Cassiano 602-364-3945). Tell them that the conditions of confinement for these women are unacceptable and urge them to challenge the ADC to come up with some mechanism for improving their security without compromising the health and safety of these prisoners. They should not be punished for the Kingman fiasco.

You needn't be a family member of a prisoner to speak up - just a concerned member of the community.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I want someone to fight for the women who are serving time in Perryville Prison. I just did a nine month stint on San Pedro Yard. The place is discusting, none of the swamp coolers work, its 120 degrees in our sells. The K-9 dogs stays in cages in the air conditioning. We are treated like animals (worse than animals). The sewer systems on both yards over flow, right in front of the kitchens, YUCK! The swamp coolers are filled with pigeon poop, and we breathe that into our lungs. Every bathroom is covered with mold, the walls , the floors, the shower curtains. One of the kitchens on 8 yard has been condemed, and the prison is not suppost to house inmates in there. BUT THEY DO! As soon as the health inspectors come to check stuff out, they leave and they start housing girls back in there AGAIN!. The medical services on San Pedro is a joke, more than one time I was told to take advil and drink alot of water, and iI have blood clots, and fibromyalgia!!!! Ive Heard them tell the same exact thing to the girls right after the have a seizure! Yhe prison is so over full that we are living in squaller, The smoking section is full of fleas, bugs, ROACHES. The Deputy Warden MUSE is useless, Im surprised she even has a job. IF we get lucky to have a community meeting, and ask her a question, she always puts it off on someone else, she is extremely rude, and inconsiderate. AND LLAAZZYY!! San Pedro is suppost to be a medical yard and i have NEVER seen living conditions like that before.!, and in not just taking someone elses word for it, I lived there. The prison is so broke , why do we continue to hold so many girls that they cant afford to take care of them. ITS your Tax money to hold girl in discusting conditions, Why dont you let alot of them go home to there kids. Come on drug charges for there own personal use (GIVE ME A BREAK). It cost tax payers 30-40 thousand dollard a year to hold mothers, daughters, wifes sisters.... FOR SOME BULLSHIT CHARGES...... Dont any of you have better things to do with your money? Push for the senate bill to lower the 85%, to the 65%, and Fire Deputy Muse, shes not doing one bity of good anyway. Illegal Immigrants had there 85% dropped down to 50%..... The Prison is condimed, and its filthy, if werew we the men at the mens prison, wed riot for what we want, but because were women and were more passive , and we dont riot....WE GET THE SHITTY END OF THE DEAL!!!!!!!! HELP!!!!!HEALTH INSPECTORS ARE ALWAYS SHUTTING THINGS DOWN ON OUR YARD! we EAT DAYS OLD LUNCH MEAT EVRY SINGLE DAY FOR LUNCH! food posioning is common!~