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, June 4, 2011

Mentally ill prisoner abuse: Keesee walks.

I just don't know how this all works sometimes, folks...


Looks like the Maricopa County Attorney's Office doesn't think it can make a case stick against former MCSO detention officer Alan Keesee, despite the Youtube video we all saw of him assaulting William Franklin Hughes in the psychiatric wing of the Lower Buckeye Jail while the kid was fully-restrained. They must just not care how brutalized we are - I should have seen this coming after they sent the Game Boy kid in to handle Gerster's prosecution.

This is really pathetic. Talk about being soft on violent crime.

This means that Keesee will probably be reinstated at the jail, of course - with seven months back pay. No labor in this state has rights unless it's a cop of some kind, it seems. All the guards who helped kill Marcia Powell got their jobs back, too...and the MCAO didn't have the guts to prosecute them, either - that was on Rick Romley's watch. What does it take in this place to get justice for the poor when we get beaten up or killed by law enforcement officers?

Meanwhile, the county attorney's office prosecuted William - despite his mental illness, the benign nature of the charges against him, and the beating he took in the jail by both Gerster and Keesee. I'm pretty confused about the direction of the MCAO now - I thought Bill Montgomery was against such abusive prosecutions of people who - but for the symptoms of a psychiatric disability - would not be in the criminal justice system. I was so sure he was I wished him a hug.

William was so impaired when he was arrested for indecent exposure that the judge who arriagned him ordered a rule 11 hearing and refused to release him - which is when he was beaten, disturbingly. You'd think if no one else was outraged about Keesee being let off, that judge who put him in their care would be. I sure am.

Guess victims in custody really don't have any rights in Maricopa County, pre-trial or otherwise - especially the most vulnerable and seriously mentally ill.

You all know who to complain to about this.
Don't just leave it as a conversation between him and me.

Bill Montgomery
Maricopa County Attorney

301 W. Jefferson St.

Phoenix, AZ 85003


Original Court Minutes

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