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, February 25, 2011

Executing "Justice": Arizona still kills.

Right wing Arizona militia-woman Shawna Forde was sentenced to die this week for murdering 9-year old Brisenia Flores and her father in a botched Tucson robbery whose proceeds were intended to finance weapons and other resources for anti-immigrant activities. I can't think of many things more criminal than what she did to that family and our community, but still can't condone the death penalty. Besides, she isn't the only one culpable in all this - there's a whole public and politic here which cultivated her hate. We know who to assign guilt to for the Flores family tragedy, but who is responsible, and how will killing Shawna Forde reinforce our ability to honor all life here?

I resist not so much for the sake of Shawna Forde's "right to life" as for the sake of our collective humanity, though - I have no sympathy for Forde. We are punishing her for devaluing human life by extinguishing human life, and it does nothing to stem the tide of violence and hate crimes against Latinos in this state...if anything, it lulls too many citizens into thinking that by executing a perpetrator, we've done what we need to do about it until we execute the next one, and the next. How, then, does the victimization and crime end in the first place, if all we do is react with pure vengeance after the fact?

It's not difficult to see that this little corner of the nation is a hotbed of hypocrisy, simple-mindedness, vindictiveness and greed (no wonder the Tea Partiers are having their summit in Phoenix). Plenty of the same people who will readily condemn Forde to death for her sins are blind or indifferent to the real harm they themselves perpetrate on immigrants by supporting our current government; many will continue to actively seek to do maximum damage to people's lives. I won't lend my voice to any of it, nor will I consent with my silence.

The rest of the nation is evolving around us, while Arizona mires itself deeper and deeper into repressive government policies and the people - with
a few notable exceptions here - do little more than bleat an objection when their own interests are threatened, then fall back in line with the other sheep to get comfortable again.

Below is the way the state finds witnesses to its executions. Here is our Death Row. At least one woman sits there who has a strong case for exoneration, Debra Milke. Hopefully she will get a fair hearing in court before we decide to proceed to execute her. A Texas judge ruled the death penalty there unconstitutional last year because of evidence that an innocent man was executed, among other things.

What's taking us so long to catch up? I think all these rich white men holding the reins of power have something to do with our inability to make any social progress in this state. They're trying to figure out how to make us the least progressive state in the nation, in fact, even looking at cancelling Medicaid for citizens and forming some crazy committee to declare whether or not federal laws are constitutional and obligate Arizona to follow them (seriously...). They're also using all our tax dollars here suing - well, suing US, the People.

Tuesday, March 1, is International Day to Abolish the Death Penalty, by the way. Here are a few useful resources towards that end:

Coalition of Arizonans to Abolish the Death Penalty

Facebook group

National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

Amnesty International

Equal Justice USA


1601 W. JEFFERSON PHOENIX, ARIZONA 85007 (602) 542-3133

Media advisory

For more information contact:
Barrett Marson
Bill Lamoreaux

Feb. 23, 2011

Execution witness requests

Phoenix, Az – The Arizona Supreme Court issued a March 29, 2011, warrant of execution for inmate Eric J. King, #46518.

Members of the media may submit a written (email) request to witness the execution to the Media Relations office. Each request must include the name, social security number and birth date of the journalist requesting access. Five members of the media will be selected to represent the media pool. The media pool consists of representatives from the AP, television, radio, print and the local media where the crime occurred. Witnesses will be selected 15 days prior to the execution.

The execution is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Tuesday March 29 at the Central Unit of ASPC-Florence. Selected witnesses must be in the media staging area by 8 a.m.

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