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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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Nevada Prisoner Rights: State AG Ombudsman proposed.

Something like this would seem to be in order for Arizona. All the AG's office here does now is defend the AZ Department of Corrections against civil rights complaints, not investigate them. When I went to them last year, after pestering them for months they finally told me to hit the US Department of Justice instead.

--------------------from Nevada Prison Watch---------------

Bill would create ombudsman in Nevada AG's office to hear inmate's complaints

[BY: Deb Weinstein, Associated Press, in: The Republic (Columbus, IN)
March 08, 2011

CARSON CITY, Nev. — A state Senate committee heard testimony Tuesday favoring the appointment of an ombudsman to hear complaints from prison inmates, though some questioned whether it's affordable given Nevada's budget crisis.

Citing class-action lawsuits and accounts of abuse within the state prison system, Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, and Rebecca Gasca from the American Civil Liberties Union spoke in favor of SB201 at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

The proposal would empower an independent ombudsman within the Nevada attorney general's office to vet inmate complaints and determine whether they should be pursued or disregarded. It would protect prisoners from retaliation for filing complaints and require the ombudsmen to report regularly on the complaints received and reviewed.

Parks said such accountability would lift the cloud that seems to hang over the Department of Corrections concerning allegations of abusive treatments and other accusations. He noted costly lawsuits and settlements, such as a recent lawsuit over inadequate medical care at Ely State Prison that cost over $800,000.

Gasca said the ACLU supports the measure because of a history of lawsuits and what she called an overwhelming number of requests from inmates for help.

She said an ombudsman charged with ensuring proper medical and dental care could also drive down medical costs by keeping inmates healthy.

Although the concept of an ombudsman received support from Sens. Don Gustavson, R-Sparks, and Allison Copening, D-Las Vegas, questions about the budget dominated concerns from opponents.

Greg Cox, acting director of the Department of Corrections, said he opposes the bill because it would require the state to meet costly standards that would have a huge fiscal impact.

Read the rest here.

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