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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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Surviving Susan Lopez: Mother's Day Grief.

One of the hardest, yet most profoundly meaningful, aspects of the work I do is to bear witness to the suffering of others and help them amplify their voices in any number of ways, in hopes that the rest of us are moved enough by them to change the trajectory we're on.

This is the grief of the parents of Susan Lopez, going into this past family-oriented weekend. Soon it will be their first Father's Day without her, each of her kid's birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the anniversaries of her birth, and of her death...

"When Jesus was a prisoner"
Matthew ch 25: v 35

Christmas, 2010
Phoenix, AZ

Rick Lopez and the Flores families have a difficult, deeply painful road ahead yet - all of the survivors of prison violence and neglect do. May we never again need to hear the grief of a mother who has buried her child in order to bring about a fundamental change in how we view and treat each other here, whatever our respective status or class...

Thank you, Sammy and Gina, for sharing this with us. Our condolences to the entire family.

-----------------left with broken hearts #2------------

A few years ago, my husband and I, together with Susan and her husband Rick, built a beautiful horse corral. I bought a mare, and someone gave us this big black gelding. Susan loved him. One day I went outside our 2 1/2 acre home, and I saw Susan on top of Moose, Rick leading the horse with a rope. I couldn`t believe what I saw, Susan riding Moose! She looked like a giant, but she was so happy, it seemed like nothing in the world mattered. Rick looked nervous, and would tell her "come on get down, get down!"

She loved horses like her mom. She loved cats, they were her life. She hated when anyone messed with them. She loved to look at the stars, and loved Jesus with all her heart. Our hobby was taking care of the horses; me and Susan would feed them and bathe them. I will always miss that...

From my horse corrals, about 4 miles from my back yard, you can see a hill with two giant water tanks. My daughter is buried on the other side of that hill. I am torn apart in my heart, its so hard to go feed the horses. Everytime I do, I see that hill, and I think of her. I break down crying; I'm torn apart. I then go to my front yard to sit on my deck. I look to the right and again I see the hill. I drive to town and I see the hill. It hurts, we loved her so much.

If you, the people working in Perryville prison, have any children then you know the love a parent has for their children, if you truly love them. I know me and my husband do; we loved Susan. And if you, the people working at Perryville prison, would have just listened to the cry of a wonderful woman, she may have touched your heart. And you might have change your ways, and done your job right. My daughter Susan would probably still be alive, that's what she was about. A beautiful woman full of love and kindness.

Again, whoever is responsible for the wrongful death of our daughter: God knows the truth. and may he find it in his heart to forgive you.

sammy & gina flores

(dad, mom)

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