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, December 16, 2011

Brewer: AZ rich enough for state to keep prisoners.

Despite desperate overcrowding and the threat of class action suits for gross medical negligence and the abuse of mentally ill prisoners, Brewer would never have allowed that kind of state prison population decrease to happen in the first place , so this isn't really news - it's propaganda. How could she justify financing 5000 more private prison beds for state prisoners otherwise? 

The ones who would have been transferred to local jails would most likely have been from private prisons, which only tend to accept lower risk/custody level prisoners to begin with (the same kind that county jails would be more likely to hold onto, leaving the violent, ill, and other high risk prisoners to the state to deal with). Due to contractual obligations, the state would have then ended up paying for a lot of empty beds (at our expense, of course). The AZ state Regents on the Board of CCA wouldn't stand for that. The legislature would also figure out pretty quick that they could fill them with warm bodies by prosecuting as many of us as they could for felonies over our resistance activities, so be careful out there if those beds start opening up - many of us are already near the front of the line to be auctioned off next. 

Anyway, the contract should be awarded any day now, unless it's pulled from the table at the last minute. I frankly don't think the people of this state will allow them all to be built in the end, though - thanks to the work of journalists like Beau Hodai at In These Times, Paul Rubin and Stephen Lemons at the Phoenix New Times, Bob Ortega and Mary K. Reinhart at the Arizona Republic, and Wendy Halloran at KPNX. Thanks also to the ACLU of Arizona for taking them on over detention abuses - and especially to the American Friends Service Committee's staff and legal team for trying to block prison privatization all along the way. Finally, blessings to all the ALEC resisters, especially those who risked being prosecuted to help expose corporate and political collusion at it's finest. It's more clear every day the state is in on a big scam with the for-profit prison industry, and that it's taking its toll on us all, in more ways than one.

  ----from the Associated Press, as posted at Deseret News---

Brewer seeks end to 2 big cost shifts to counties
Dec. 15, 2011 4:39 PM ET
PAUL DAVENPORT, Associated Pres

(AP) — With Arizona's fiscal picture improving, Gov. Jan Brewer wants to cancel a plan to shift thousands of prison inmates to counties and end another raid on counties' treasuries.

The governor's proposed next state budget would eliminate a planned shift of thousands of prison inmates to counties, Brewer budget director John Arnold said Thursday.

The shift of prisoners sentenced to a year or less in prison would have cost counties tens of millions of dollars beginning with implementation in mid-2012, and county officials said their still-struggling budgets could not absorb the added costs.

Arnold said Brewer also will propose ending cash payments that the state has required the most populous counties to make to help balance the state budget.

The counties' payments total $38 million in the current budget, with the money coming from Maricopa, Mohave, Pima, Pinal and Yavapai counties.

Arizona is regaining its fiscal feet after struggling to emerge from a budget crisis that began in 2008 due to the collapse of the homebuilding industry and other job losses. The state has slashed spending for health care, education and other services while resorting to borrowing and raids on special state funds and local governments' money.

"When we see things turning around, it was very rewarding to me to come here to share some good news," said Brewer, a former county supervisor herself.

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