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:

Monday, November 21, 2011

AZ county jails seek to reduce liability, not suicides.

While county governments are rightly concerned about the cost of the impending shift of state prisoners to county jails, my greater concern is their effort to avoid civil liability for any suicides occurring in their facilities - see the item in red print below. There's no indication that they want to implement anything special to reduce the risk of jail suicides - just the responsibility they have for them.

I urge all families of prisoners and of free persons with serious mental illness to contact your local papers and county supervisors and complain about that proposal before it's implemented, lest jails begin to slack off on their suicide prevention programs to save money next. The Arizona Association of Counties has a good link to elected officials from each county - use it to express your disgust for that proposal. Their "advocacy toolbox" is also useful and provides links to contact your state legislators: please ask that they not allow counties to opt out on their responsibility to seriously mentally ill and suicidal prisoners.

You may also contact the AACo Executive Director, Nicole Stickler, at Her phone is 252-6563 ext 225.

The AACo's snail mail address is:

Arizona Association of Counties
1910 West Jefferson Street
Phoenix, AZ 85009

There is no good reason why loved ones should not be able to hold county jails accountable if their child or parent or spouse takes their life in their custody. Knowing they may pay for negligence is often the only real incentive county sheriffs have to invest in assuring that their facilities are managing high-risk prisoners safely.


County officials agree inmate-shift next big hit to budgets

Today's News-Herald

Monday, November 21, 2011

Arizona county officials locked down their collective opposition last week during the Arizona Association of Counties Conference in regard to the state’s looming inmate shift set for 2012.

The measure has Mohave County readying to swallow $2 million in additional costs when Arizona Department of Corrections shifts state prisoners back into county jails, or charges counties a service fee to retain prisoners in state facilities.

During a four-day AACo conference in Scottsdale, about 200 county government officials from Arizona’s 15 counties, and business leaders, gathered to identify and organize a game plan to present to Arizona state legislators. Repealing the inmate cost-shift was the big issue at hand, said one local county government official.

“That has the biggest effect on us,” said Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson, R-Dist. 3, on Sunday. “Because of the cost shifting it will affect all departments. In Mohave County, it is $2 million (anticipated costs). We now have to adjust our budget. We’ll have to do more cuts or find $2 million in revenue.”

According to a press release from Johnson’s office, Johnson was elected second-vice chairman to AACo during the conference. And Mohave County Treasurer Melissa Havatone was elected president of Arizona Treasurers Association, which is an AACo affiliate.

Other issues identified for the platform by Arizona county officials include 2012 election measures centering on all-mail ballots and in-full reimbursement of election costs to counties in the collective amount of $5 million to $7 million.

Pressure to implement a declaration to release counties of liability pertaining to inmate suicide, which Johnson said is showing an increasing trend in county jails across the state, also was an issued identified by AACo.

The group also plans to pressure Arizona legislators to address state’s “substantial” cutbacks on mental health services for inmates, Johnson said. The cuts affect availability of medications, therapy and counseling and increase the number of mentally ill inmates within county jails.

Required Board of Health valuation review classes also were nixed by AACo this year with a request to lift the requirement and create training that is at the county level and specific to each county.

Also along the lines of property valuations are AACo proposals pertaining to county assessors to correct errors in county tax rolls and better define regulations to do so, such as a designated time frame.

AACo members also are pushing to better clarify the definition of secondary and primary residence classification linked to new laws that eliminate specific property tax breaks to secondary home property owners in Arizona. The notification process involved with the new law and procedures to remedy incorrect property classifications.

You may contact the reporter at


"The most responsible way to reduce liability costs for jail suicides is the implement evidence-based programs and procedures for working with high-risk prisoners...not to try to be excused from responsibility for them altogether. Especially in Arizona, where we push our seriously mentally ill citizens behind bars at 9x the rate we hospitalize them, our county jails have a high burden of responsibility to keep them safe. If you don't want to pay for incarcerating them dying in your care, then support diversion programs and sentencing reforms for the mentally ill."

No comments: