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, September 21, 2010

AZ Freedom March for the Wrongfully Convicted

Saturday, October 2, 11am
AZ Capitol Lawn

Join our fight to "free the innocent" and to restore fair justice in Arizona!

These Arizona cases involve overzealous law enforcement and prosecution resulting in wrongful convictions when Constitutional Rights are violated. The dire economic consequences of draconian mandatory minimum sentencing that puts non-violent, first offenders in prison for decades can no longer be ignored. Taxpayers can no longer sustain the alarming growth of the mass incarceration of Arizona's people, putting all at risk.

It's time for immediate change from a system that has operated out of control with no accountability for decades and is destroying thousands of innocent lives and the future of Arizona. Help us restore fair justice for all in Arizona!

Falsely accused, wrongfully convicted and wrongfully imprisoned people in Arizona: It's time to "right the wrongs"!

Featured Speaker: Alison Hicks, author and producer, "Backspin" - her experience in a rush to judgment arrest by Sheriff Arpaio, shattered lives of mother and child, Tent City gulag and a warning to others. Successful women are vulnerable in Arizona. A movie in the works.

Free Courtney Bisbee, "Anatomy of a Wrongful Conviction", falsely accused in February 2004, of an "alleged" crime that never happened, never investigated in a rush to get a "high-profile" child molest case during a Presidential election year. A "he said, she said" case with no investigation and a total disregard for Constitutional Rights and established protocol resulting in a manifest injustice. New Evidence-Proof of innocence, recantations, affidavits and depositions - demanding a New Trial --is swept under the rug by an out of control Maricopa County Attorney's office that the public has been aware of for years.

How many millions of taxpayers dollars have been wasted on this bogus case?

Free William Macumber, an innocent 75 year old man, Clemency Board voted 100% to release; Arizona Justice Project has been working on his case since year 2000. Governor Brewer recently denied his release. Taxpayer dollars wasted on a person who is no harm to society.

Authors' real life experiences with the Arizona criminal justice system, jails and prisons:

Jim Rix, author, "Jingle Jangle", story of Ray Krone, exoneree, who spent almost 20 years in the Arizona state prison as an innocent man until he was exonerated. Raises questions about the integrity and competence of Forensic labs.

Daniel Horne, author, "Accidental Felons" and his story of overzealous prosecution resulting in shattered lives, horrific experience incarcerated in Tent City and lived to tell about it. A DUI, car accident and then "labeled" "violent felon".

Contact Camille Tilley at


-------------From's blog-------------

DNA Tests Have Freed 260 Wrongfully Convicted People

by Matt Kelley August 17, 2010

In case after case, people who were wrongfully convicted are finally seeing their freedom.

In Virginia, Calvin Wayne Cunningham will soon be exonerated for a rape he never committed — 30 years after his conviction. In Texas two weeks ago, Michael Anthony Green was freed after serving 27 years for a rape he likewise never committed. In Minnesota, a man was freed earlier this month, after a judge decided a defect in his Toyota Camry could have caused an accident for which he had been sentenced to prison.

All in all, fully 258 people have been exonerated through DNA testing in the United States, while hundreds more — perhaps thousands — have been cleared through non-DNA evidence.

Now, more than ever before, the road to exoneration is starting in an unlikely place: a prosecutor's office, or even the governor's desk. In Virginia, though Cunningham had begun asking for forensic tests in 1982, shortly after his initial rape conviction, it took a state review of old cases launched by former Gov. Mark Warner that finally turned up Cunningham's file decades later for closer scrutiny.

And then there's the case of Michael Green. Convicted in Houston in 1983 of a rape he didn't commit, though Green requested DNA testing in 2005, his appeal languished for several years — until the Harris County Prosecutor's Office began reviewing innocence claims and requests for DNA testing. Eventually, such attention from the prosecutor's office proved Green's innocence. (Though proof of wrongful convictions may seem to put prosecutors' offices in harsh light, wise district attorneys know that the same evidence which frees an innocent person also often points to the crime's real perpetrator.)

Across the nation, efforts to overturn wrongful convictions are spreading. Milwaukee recently launched a Virginia-style evaluation of old convictions, using DNA testing. Several other counties and cities are considering this approach, as well. In Ohio, the governor recently called on judges and prosecutors to grant DNA tests in seven cases in which they were previously denied.

Is your local district attorney up for election (or reelection) this November? Ask them whether they support reviewing claims of innocence from prisoners or decades-old convictions. A progressive platform emphasizing overturning wrongful convictions can get a district attorney elected, help overturn countless injustices and point to the real perpetrators of crimes — all at minimal cost. It's a win-win all around.

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