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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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Suicide attempt results in prison for vehicular homicide.

A few months ago I heard a story in a community forum about the criminalization of people who are mentally ill that troubled me deeply. It was reported that the City of Phoenix was prosecuting a man for disorderly conduct due to his attempt to jump off a bridge when suicidal one day. A month or so before that I was told about a man in another county who had tried to kill himself by jumping into traffic, and was being prosecuted for the damage he did to the car that hit him. Last year the AZ Department of Corrections prosecuted a prisoner for arson who had set himself on fire and was burned over 80% of his body. And state prisoner Tony Lester was prosecuted and imprisoned in the first place for injuries friends incurred while trying to prevent him from cutting his throat in a psychotic state. 

All this impressed me as being unnecessarily punitive of individuals who were themselves already victims of suicidal despair and clinical depression, and I have a soapbox set up just for this issue. So when I read about this guy going to prison for killing someone during a suicide attempt, I expected more of the same kind of story. It wasn't. This guy is a real self-absorbed bastard who seems like he'd do or say anything to save his own life.

Now, granted, the prosecution only tells the state's version of a story - that version is the one posted below. If their premise is true, however, then Buot intentionally drove his SUV into an unsuspecting woman's path to hurt his wife by killing himself. That's pretty criminal in my book and deserves prosecution. What this man did was something like firing a sub-machine gun into a crowd while hoping to be taken out by a cop. It was reckless, cowardly, and could predictably end in someone else's grave injury or death. 

In the course of his "suicide attempt" (why would he really think he'd die by plowing his huge SUV into another car is beyond me), Buot killed a young mother of three, and lived to lie about it. Good for Bill Montgomery for holding him responsible. I'm not sure I'd send him to prison for the next 22 years, myself - there must be some better way to teach people not to be so careless when so consumed with self-destructive rage that they're driven to risk lives other than their own in the course of acting on suicidal impulse. Lacking that alternative sentencing option right now, though, I'm glad the guy will be off the streets for awhile.

I don't know if Buot has a serious mental illness that impaired his judgement, or if he's just a selfish, manipulative bully. In any case, my heart goes out to the family of this man's victim, Christine Ann Anderson. Condolences to all her loved ones. I still reject the criminalization of mental illness - but I'll remember what happened to Christine the next time I protest the prosecution of someone who endangers others in the course of trying to harm themselves.

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