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:

Friday, January 14, 2011

2011 Update on Clark Fish

There's continued to be a lot of interest in the story of Clark Fish on this site: I think folks can settle down now, though - he's not going anywhere. On August 2, 2010, Clark Fish was committed to the Arizona Department of Corrections to serve a life sentence for the murder of Elizabeth Anne Friedel.

Beth Friedel's family are the ones who had the grace to ask the prosecutor to shelve the death penalty for him this summer and offer him life without parole, otherwise he would likely still be facing execution for kidnapping, torturing, and killing her as he did...which he denied doing until he was actually convicted, only at which time his attorneys claimed the PTSD made him do it.

See, there's much more to Clark Fish than PTSD, as Beth Friedel's brother pointed out to me - so don't be fooled. Just donning a military uniform does not make one a hero to be exempted from the responsibility of his/her actions, either. As many soldiers well know, in fact, there are an awful lot of people who just pull out their uniforms to hide their own inadequacies, and wrap themselves in ribbons and medals the way that politicians wrap themselves in the flag. It's show.

Vets and others out there with PTSD that's messed up your lives - Clark Fish is no sympathetic martyr to identify with. Women - he's a wreck alright, but tormenting and taking the life of an innocent human being can take its toll on the mind and soul. Do not be sucked in by his victimized appearance. He may not be very brave, but he survived Maricopa County's jail so he's tough enough. He'll find his place in prison in time. Maybe he'll even get a grip on his rage and abusiveness and help teach other vets to do so as well so they don't re-offend. Stranger things have happened.

Clark's biographer got quite close to him over the course of his trial, which may have obscured some more deeply disturbing things about his crimes and defense, but you can easily find some pretty decent human beings who have endured unbelievable trauma and never turned around to hurt anyone in response. Rape survivors don't regularly go on a nut and kill creepy men because of their trauma; most children who were sexually molested do not grow up to be pedophiles; and the vast majority of soldiers who have been in combat and seen violence first-hand don't come back and re-enact it in our streets and libraries.

That said, it appears enough people want to know how to reach prisoner Fish now that he's out of Joe's jail and in prison that I should post it. The ADC link at the top should help you keep current if he gets moved - though once someone lands in SMU, it can be a good long time before they're able to climb out and get into a less-restrictive hole. Follow this link for policies you should be aware of if you want to correspond. Here is also the family & friends guidebook.

Clark A. Fish (ADC #255567)
P.O. Box 4000
Florence, AZ 85132

As a final note, though, if you want to do something good for veterans caught up in the criminal justice system, look for your local veterans court, if you have one, or inquire at your closest homeless shelter or VA hospital. There are lots of traumatized souls behind and beyond the razor wire who could use help putting their lives back together, who have hurt only themselves. My bet is that they could use the kind of fan club that Clark Fish already has behind him, so please look before you leap with your good intentions.


Anonymous said...

As someone who has personally known Clark before, and after the Military, let me tell you this guy has been loco for a long time. When this happened, not very many people were surprised.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone wakes up in the morning wanting to be a killer by the next day. A lot of soldiers go into the Army, Marines, Navy..etc., wanting to leave a broken home or leave that little town in the middle of no where. If in fact, had behavioral problems then obviously some things were not okay with his up bringing. However, as a soldier myself I really think Clark wanted attention and he finally got it. When the Army gets rid of a soldier it doesn't take much for the Army to mark that soldier as a bad one or even crazy, trust me..I know, I process paperwork like that all day long. However, the Army never really does much to help the military member deal with whatever issues they really got. So, I feel that the Army gave us a Clark that society was not ready for and now we must deal with the consequences of that. A life lost and two families affected. Because just like the victim, Clark has too a family.

Anonymous said...

The analogies to rape and molestation survivors show that you clearly have no understanding of PTSD. Part of PTSD is dissociative reality, in which people relive their trauma. Many rape victims with PTSD do relive their trauma, but they don't become violent because they relive being victimized. A soldier who is in a dissociative reality will become violent because they relive combat situations in which everything may be perceived as a threat. It is people like you who stigmatize mental illnesses that prevents people from receiving the help that they need, especially with the mentality that he needs to "get a grip."

After the Vietnam War, one in five people in prison were veterans, and that statistic is expected to go up with Iraq/Afghanistan veterans. As our understanding of psychological disorders grows, it is becoming clear that it is rare to come out of such a violent combat situation without some of the classic symptoms of PTSD. We need to stop treating mental disorder as personal failure and addressing it as we would any other medical condition.

Anonymous said...

I know Clark. Before.. During (as I was in supermax with him) and after his case.. I think this is crap.... While I am terribly sorry to the family a young lady is gone... I have reviewed paperwork.. Firsthand.. And I don't believe this was a fair shot... I think so much was let in for prosecution, but so little was let in for the defense... Such as when this young lady burnt herself with a curling iron, called police blaming Clark, and was found out to be lying, and was almost charged with filing a false police report... Why was this not allowed in the courtroom... Uggh... And I'm off to watch family guy.. About the only truth left in the world...

Anonymous said...

So, what, she fake choked herself to death in bed while he was asleep next to her, I guess? Feasible.

Momma110610 said...

Soooo true, I wish we could spead your words! You said it perfectly: mental illness is no one's fault or choice, it's a medical condition that attacks the patients brain, behavior, etc. Mentally ill people deserve treatment just like anyone with a physical illness!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Really? Fish's family didn't lose a damn thing. They can go to prison and say hello to their nut job who is still alive and wasting the air we breath. His heart is still beating and Beth's isn't and you feel sorry for him and his family? What is wrong with you? I miss my dear friend every minute of every day. So when you say two families have lost a loved one I have to ask, if a loved one of yours was brutally murdered would you and your family feel the same way? That murderer would never get my sympathy nor does he deserve anybody else's.