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, February 8, 2012

Bjork: The next to last song

For all those of you wishing to  witness an execution, skip Moorman and Towery: here's one worth a few minutes of your time...


----------------from the AZ Republic--------------------- 

3 Arizona inmates sue over execution protocol

With two executions scheduled in the next month, the Federal Public Defender's Office in Phoenix has again filed a lawsuit against the Arizona Department of Corrections over its procedure for carrying out lethal injections.

The lawsuit, filed Monday on behalf of three Arizona death row inmates by Assistant Federal Public Defender Dale Baich, claims that a new execution protocol put in place last month gives too much discretion to the state's corrections director. It suggests that the slackening of requirements in the new protocol may not pass muster with a U.S. Supreme Court decision regulating executions by lethal injection.

And the office again questions whether execution drugs purchased secretly in Britain are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

A spokesman said the department had not yet examined the suit and could not comment on it.

In 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Kentucky's protocol for lethal injection and invited other states to challenge their own. The Kentucky protocol, in effect, became the baseline for lethal injection, and in 2009, a U.S. District Court judge in Phoenix ruled that Arizona's measured up. That ruling was upheld in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

But last December, the same federal judge in Phoenix acknowledged that the DOC had frequently varied from the 2009 court-approved protocol. However, he ruled that the variances were excusable or justifiable and did not violate the rights of death-row prisoners.

Issues in the December court case were that the department consistently used a surgically implanted catheter in the groin instead of less-invasive catheters in an arm or leg to inject the chemicals; that the department had not performed adequate background checks on the executioners; and that some of the chemicals used in executions were not lawfully obtained.

In January, the DOC issued a new protocol, this time giving full discretion to director Charles Ryan on how and where the drugs are injected. It also loosens the experience needed by those people who carry out the execution and gives total authority to Ryan for their selection.

The new lawsuit claims that this may put the state out of compliance with the 2007 Supreme Court decision.
Ryan also gets to choose whether to use a barbiturate called pentobarbital or an older drug, thiopental, which is no longer available in the United States.

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration has determined that thiopental imported to Arizona for executions in 2010 and 2011 was not lawfully obtained.

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