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)


ANTICOLONIAL zines, stickers, actions, power

Taala Hooghan Infoshop

Kinlani/Flagstaff Mutual AID


The group for direct action against the prison state!

Black Lives Matter PHOENIX METRO

Black Lives Matter PHOENIX METRO
(accept no substitutions)



PHOENIX: Trans Queer Pueblo


AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:

Monday, December 13, 2010

Resist Abuse and Conditions of Confinement: Solidarity with Georgia's Prisoners.

Where have I been the past few days? (Sleeping or hanging out at Conspire, I guess.) Hooray for the Georgia Green Party for posting the prisoners' Press Release!!! I'm re-posting it here because it's both historic and phenomenal.

Do we have any political parties with similar guts in AZ? Our prisoners are suffering, too.

Anyway, this is how it began, folks - the massive prisoner resistance to conditions of confinement in Georgia. I'll be posting updates soon (here's a quick one - the fight goes on!).

Arizona prison families and friends: keep in close touch with your loved ones and talk up what's going on at Prison Talk and all the blogs. I'm hearing that surveillance, strip searches, and over-all security has been dramatically stepped-up in recent days, and yards are being locked down for "no apparent reason"....well this is the reason. I bet it's happening all over the country - nothing freaks out jailers more than non-violent resistance and reasonable demands.

Those sixteen women at Perryville who protested being locked down in September all got cuffed up and put into detention as soon as we stopped paying attention, by the way, and the whole yard (Santa Cruz) was screwed for quite some time. Those women still are, really. I originally posted on the Santa Cruz women's protest here, but recently edited it out because I had given too much credit where it wasn't due (to the General Counsel at the ADC). I planned to revise it (and will soon) - I just didn't want my correspondents to get into even deeper trouble. There are still a couple of posts from that month about Perryville conditions (both before and after the protest). I even tried to get Oprah out there.

We need to keep a close eye on both the Georgia resistance and the Arizona Department of Corrections (and all the county jails) reactions - they're going to do whatever they have to in order to make every prisoner look mean and violent to justify their own brutality, if need be - don't believe the BS for a minute if things do get ugly. Call those numbers in Georgia, please, to tell them those prisoners better not get hurt - let them know they'll be held accountable for their crimes, too.

As for this place: if you're hearing real bad stuff from your loved ones locked up here in Arizona, don't just hit the chat rooms and leave it at that: put your complaints in writing to the ADC's General Counsel, Karyn Klausner, and copy it to your legislator, if you think you can trust them not to do something stupid. Follow up with their office, however it turns out; just make a point of addressing the ADC's general counsel directly with serious (urgent health/safety) concerns - and call her people if you don't get a response in a reasonable period of time.

Don't bother with the Governor's staff or the Office of Constituent Services at the ADC, by the way, unless you're talking about visitation hassles, mail being delayed, the cost of phone calls home, etc. Even if your complaint is about upper administration at the prison or guard harassment and you haven't had success at the warden's level, they'll still just pass it back to the people you're complaining about (with the message for them to "deal with it", basically) and someone may get hurt. The legal team at the ADC is there to keep the state from getting sued, so they would be inclined to exercise better judgment, in my unschooled assessment. Here's the ADC's Constituent Services' handbook for friends and family, though, so you know what their standard procedure is for families to address concerns (it's even been updated within the past month).

Prisoners should really file formal grievances about their mistreatment, if they dare to - if they're being threatened, placed in danger, or otherwise retaliated against, report that in your letter to the ADC attorney, or feel free to contact me and we'll strategize about your options - just know that I have no legal training and I'm learning all this from other families as we go.

I include that disclaimer because even legitimate, responsible resistance to the state can be especially dangerous to people in prison - I also have no friends in high places, politicians in my pocket, vast sums of money (I barely scrape by) or other ways of protecting people. I can't promise success; I am an antagonist more than I am a diplomat, so consider what strategies you want to employ carefully.

All I can really offer is what I've gleaned from my experience as an advocate for people who are homeless or imprisoned (including someone I love), the visibility of my blogging and street activism, and the power of a growing network of prisoners and their loved ones - including those presently in litigation with the ADC, some for wrongful deaths. I'm a community organizer and do believe that together we are strong - but no one is invincible (including the state...).

The Day the Fascists Came to Town
November 14, 2010. W. Jefferson/4th Ave., Phoenix, AZ

original photo: Robert Haasch
chalk art/post-photographic rendition: Margaret J. Plews

You may also want to contact Donna or James Hamm at Middle Ground Prison Reform
for some advice - they do have some legal connections and experience, and have been at this longer than I have. I suspect Donna is far more of a diplomat than I am. They should be your first resort, actually - I'm usually the last resort for prisoners - mostly the poorest ones. Their address is 139 East Encanto Dr. Tempe, AZ 85281. Phone: 480-966-8116.

In any case, make sure the prisoner him/herself feels as if these are issues worth fighting for - even this fight in Georgia isn't just about cigarettes - it's about respect, and dignity, and autonomy for people who have been stripped of all. We should be focused on their health and sanity and civil rights, not just their leisure and privileges; they will pay for your activity and support the most. Be mindful, though, that she/he has no expec
tation of privacy (nor do you) when you communicate about these things - all calls and mail can (and probably will) be monitored. It can be a difficult balance to get their direction and consent while not making them a target. Sometimes I have to go with "I trust you" after making sure they know what the possible ramifications may be.

That said, here's the ADC contact info you need (Karyn's really going to love me for this):

Karyn Klausner
Office of the General Counsel
Arizona Department of Corrections
1601 West Jefferson St.
Phoenix, AZ 85007
(602) 542 1532

If you send a copy of any of that documentation to me, though, I'll put it in the hands of the ACLU and the Department of Justice - with or without identifying you and the prisoner, as he/she wishes (if it's not possible to consult them on that privately, I'll hold back names for now).

The ADC website has policies posted on it, by the way, and my sites have a Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook and an even more comprehensive Jailhouse Lawyer Manual. Explore them all so you know what you're talking about. Don't just take my word for everything - or theirs.

Here's the main contact info for the AZ state legislature:

Arizona State Senate/
House of Representatives
Capitol Complex
1700 West Washington
Phoenix, AZ 85007-2890
(toll free) 1-800-352-8404

And here's the main event. I'll try to stay on top of this now.

-----------------------From the Georgia Green Party--------------------

GA Inmates Stage Historic One Day Prison Strike Today

By Bruce A. Dixon

In an action which is unprecedented on several levels, black, brown and white inmates of Georgia's notorious state prison system are standing together for a historic one day peaceful strike today, during which they are remaining in their cells, refusing work and other assignments and activities. This is a groundbreaking event not only because inmates are standing up for themselves and their own human rughts, but because prisoners are setting an example by reaching across racial boundaries which, in prisons, have historically been used to pit oppressed communities against each other.


The action is taking place today in at least half a dozen of Georgia's more than one hundred state prisons, correctional facilities, work camps, county prisons and other correctional facilities. We have unconfirmed reports that authorities at Macon State prison have aggressively responded to the strike by sending tactical squads in to rough up and menace inmates.

Outside calls from concerned citizens and news media will tend to stay the hand of prison authorities who may tend to react with reckless and brutal aggression. So calls to the warden's office of the following Georgia State Prisons expressing concern for the welfare of the prisoners during this and the next few days are welcome.

Macon State Prison is 978-472-3900.

Hays State Prison is at (706) 857-0400

Telfair State prison is 229-868-7721

Baldwin State Prison is at (478) 445- 5218

Valdosta State Prison is 229-333-7900

Smith State Prison is at (912) 654-5000

The Georgia Department of Corrections is at and their phone number is 478-992-5246

This is all the news we have for now, more coming.

One in every thirteen adults in the state of Georgia is in prison, on parole or probation or some form of court or correctional supervision.


Press Release


Thousands of Georgia Prisoners to Stage Peaceful Protest

December 8, 2010?Atlanta, Georgia

Contacts: Elaine Brown, 404-542-1211,; Valerie Porter, 229-931-5348,; Faye Sanders, 478-550-7046

Tomorrow morning, December 9, 2010, thousands of Georgia prisoners will refuse to work, stop all other activities and remain in their cells in a peaceful, one-day protest for their human rights. The December 9 Strike is projected to be the biggest prisoner protest in the history of the United States.

These thousands of men, from Baldwin, Hancock, Hays, Macon, Smith and Telfair State Prisons, among others, state they are striking to press the Georgia Department of Corrections (?DOC?) to stop treating them like animals and slaves and institute programs that address their basic human rights. They have set forth the following demands:

A LIVING WAGE FOR WORK: In violation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude, the DOC demands prisoners work for free.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: For the great majority of prisoners, the DOC denies all opportunities for education beyond the GED, despite the benefit to both prisoners and society.

DECENT HEALTH CARE: In violation of the 8th Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments, the DOC denies adequate medical care to prisoners, charges excessive fees for the most minimal care and is responsible for extraordinary pain and suffering.

AN END TO CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENTS: In further violation of the 8th Amendment, the DOC is responsible for cruel prisoner punishments for minor infractions of rules.

DECENT LIVING CONDITIONS: Georgia prisoners are confined in over-crowded, substandard conditions, with little heat in winter and oppressive heat in summer.

NUTRITIONAL MEALS: Vegetables and fruit are in short supply in DOC facilities while starches and fatty foods are plentiful.

VOCATIONAL AND SELF-IMPROVEMENT OPPORTUNITIES: The DOC has stripped its facilities of all opportunities for skills training, self-improvement and proper exercise.

ACCESS TO FAMILIES: The DOC has disconnected thousands of prisoners from their families by imposing excessive telephone charges and innumerable barriers to visitation.

JUST PAROLE DECISIONS: The Parole Board capriciously and regularly denies parole to the majority of prisoners despite evidence of eligibility.

Prisoner leaders issued the following call: No more slavery. Injustice in one place is injustice to all. Inform your family to support our cause. Lock down for liberty!?

Contacts: Elaine Brown, 404-542-1211,; Valerie Porter, 229-931-5348,; Faye Sanders, 478-550-7046

No comments: