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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Friday, December 10, 2010

Bury my Heart in an AHCCCS Patient

I felt strong enough for the first time in weeks to go out chalking today, so headed up to the Capitol Complex and Wes Bolin Park, one of my favorite spots to practice my free speech (That's 17th Ave I'm on, between W. Washington and W. Jefferson, right across the street from the legislators and governor's office buildings. The media and visitors and legislative aides all cross that sidewalk from the parking lot to get over there).

Kids were all over the place singing Christmas
Carols, and naturally curious about what I was writing about. So I told them about the people who are so sick that their insurance plans wouldn't cover their most critical medical treatment, and how they needed the state to pay their medical bills through the AHCCCS program - which the Arizona republican governor and legislature, the ultimate compassionate conservatives, decided isn't going to pay for their organ transplants anymore.

Then I told the kids that if Governor Brewer doesn't restore that funding, those people will die. I even named some of them:
Coach Tiffany Tate, a cystic fibrosis patient who needs a double lung transplant, Randy Shepherd, a father of 3 who needs a heart transplant, and Francisco Felix, a survivor - so far - of the deadly damage of Hepatitis C. His dying family friend even tried to give him her liver, but AHCCCS still wouldn't pay for the transplant.

I didn't mention "Death Panels" to the kids, though - I thought what I told them was heavy enough already.

In the meantime, someone called the Capitol Police on me ( they always do), assuming that what I was doing was a crime. They all know my name now, but wanted to see some ID anyway - and tried to convince me that my conduct was, in fact, against the law - they just weren't going to arrest me because I was technically in the territory of the Phoenix Police.

One of the guys was actually pretty nice about trying to intimidate me in to leaving (not this one above - he was really hostile to me when I was caught alone by him on Halloween night). I was actually pretty much done for the day, but stayed long enough to argue with the cops that not only was my mode of expression not criminal (I keep it on the ground and on city sidewalks), but that the vigor with which the state solicits the poor to harvest our organs upon our death, while justifying why we or our loved ones aren't deserving of receiving transplants in life is truly criminal.

They didn't put up much of a fight on that one.

Here's the finished product - not the greatest picture, but you get the gist...

I signed it "future organ donor against Brewercare."

Happy World Human Rights Day


Anonymous said...

please tell the truth or at least find out the truth before doing something this stupid again.

Brewer begged the feds to unfund gastric bypass surgery and other non essentials before they took this step. The obama administration said hell no.

Not all transplants have been discontinued.

None of the changes affected children’s benefits whatsoever. Also, members with incomes at or below 100 % of the federal poverty level (FPL) who are also Medicare eligible will continue to receive Medicare covered services that are no longer covered by AZ. For members with incomes greater than 100% FPL who are also Medicare eligible will not receive the Medicare covered services that are no longer covered by AZ.

Lung transplants are still covered for patients in AZ who are 21 and younger. The details of the new law on transplants in AZ (entire document here: )

Summary of transplant coverage in AZ follows below:
Heart Transplants- Covered except for non-ischemic cardio myopathies
Heart & Lung Transplants- Covered for members 21 and younger
Lung (single and double) - Covered for members 21 and younger
Liver Transplant- Covered except for members with a diagnosis of Hepatitis C
Kidney (cadaveric and live donor)- Covered
Simultaneous Pancreas/Kidney (SPK)- Covered
Pancreas after Kidney (PAK)- Covered for members under 21
Visceral Transplantation (includes intestine alone, or intestine +pancreas, +liver)- Covered for members under 21
Pancreas Only- Covered for members under 21
Stem Cell Transplants- Covered in all instances except for Allogeneic Unrelated for members over 21
Cornea- covered
Bone- covered
I did find out that transplant eligibility remains for patients currently on the transplant list, so people we are on the transplant list are not left high and dry. It is the new law and you can find it on page 25 here:

Margaret Jean Plews said...

Thank you for investigating Arizona's health care system and sharing it with us all the way from Texas - though it wasn't necessary to imply that I'm either lying or stupid. In all my posts on this topic I've never once said that transplants were cut for children on AHCCCS (nor have I heard it alleged)...but the kids have definitely been hurt in a lot of other ways here. If you love our politicians so much, please invite them to your state. I'll take Obamacare over Brewercare any day.