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:

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Poverty in America is a crime: Debtors prisons on the rise.

Check out the reports this article links to below. Seems to be a real problem in Arizona too, with parolees and probationers being reincarcerated for not making their restitution and court payments - some preferring to work off their time back in prison because they can't support their families with the court-imposed debts and jail fees, etc.

So, if they can't collect a few hundred bucks from an impoverished felon, the state removes him from his family, community, and the workforce (where, with a criminal record he can only get jobs that pay dirt) and pays $21,000/year to punish him for being poor, stigmatized, and marginalized - therefore perpetuating the problem (and the budget crisis) - just to give people like Arpaio a few extra pennies a year to misappropriate.

Real bright, Arizona. You sure showed those criminals.

So, other than collection agencies and some jails (if they can take in more than the shell out by rounding up their debtors when they can't pay), I wonder who would profit from these kinds of laws, then. Private prisons, perhaps? Would be interesting to see just what all the private prison lobby is up to. They have to keep finding more reasons to justify imprisoning people, since states around the country (except Arizona) are trying to reduce incarceration in other ways, and private prisons are emptying...I bet we see more go into the business of running local jails soon - and aggressively pushing for these kinds of laws.


ACLU And Brennan Center Reports Expose Resurgence Of Debtors' Prisons

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