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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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Victims of the State: The family of Tony Lester to Steve Twist.

The aunt of Tony Lester and the mother of Dana Seawright
remember other victims and survivors of state violence, neglect and abuse
at the AZ Crime Victims' Memorial, AZ State Capitol.
(March 9, 2012)

Steve Twist's June 16 editorial in the AZ Republic defending the AZ DOC (dismissing the research and articles done by investigative journalist Bob Ortega earlier this month as "malicious) has invited a response from the family of Tony Lester. His Aunt, Patti Jones, forwarded the following comment to us. 

I urge other families who have lost loved ones to the state prison system due to violence, abuse and neglect to read Twist's letter and post to the AZ Republic's site as well. He's the guy who explicitly wrote prisoners out of the AZ Victims Bill of Rights, making the state and state agents the only criminal perpetrators whose injured and dead are constitutionally deprived of the rights all other victims (and their survivors) can count on.

I think we should invite Mr. Twist and his prosecutorial colleagues to help us rewrite that part of the state constitution, so that every rape, murder, and abuse victim's rights are equally protected, whether or not they are in custody for an offense...if he won't then at the very least he should get out of the way of those trying to reduce further victimization of prisoners and trauma to their families...

------------from Patti Jones---------------

"First of all Mr. Twist I realize that we as United States citizens are entitled to freedom of Speech that is what I LOVE about our country so well.  I certainly appreciate your input regarding your opinion in regards to the INHUMANE TREATMENT within our AZ Prisons, but I am a NAIVE OUTSIDER looking in; to the treatment of the mentally- ill prisoners within our prisons.

It was not until my Nephew Anthony Lester was placed into the ADOC that our Family realized the mentality of all prison officials regarding the care and treatment of our mentally-ill. Especially when all prison staff and administrators were repeatedly warned of Tony's fragile mental state of mind and when Doctors within the prison were warned of the voices that Tony heard and all prison staff referred to Tony as a Manipulator and Gaimer of the system....

From the moment our family received the news of Tony's injuries we were told that he was taken to hospital with non life threatening injuries, and then to receive  a call a few hours later that Tony had died!!!!   Then  the worse thing was to view this ICS Video taken that night that Tony committed suicide which showed a  nineteen and half minute video in which for approximately twelve minutes correctional officers stood, rummaging through the cell looking for a suicide note shining a small flashlight on Tony watching him bleed, gurgle, gasp moan struggle to breath, not one officer stepped forward to even try to render aid, now there excuse not to render aid is that he was pretty much dead so there was no need to render aid although medics when they arrived did not think twice whether or not to render aid..... What kind of human being stands around and watch someone bleed to death?????

Now the state and ADOC have placed a protective order upon this video, if these correctional officers did their job and rendered aid then why is there a protective order placed upon this video????  Answer is that if anyone were to see this it would show the total disrespect for human life...

Tony and our entire family accepted his punishment and trusted the system and the system failed Tony and more importantly my sister Tony's mother Eleanor lost her only child.  Prisons are for punishment not for the mentally ill to be warehoused and abandoned, especially when several judges recommended that Tony be placed in a mental health unit and court ordered to stay on psychotropic medications.  

I realize Mr.Twist you feel prisoners are treated humanely, but how many family members and ex prison inmates tell you repeatedly how the treatment is inhumane; you feel there is humane treat but that is what ADOC and the state would like one to think, that's what I thought until our NIGHTMARE began!!!!!

We are so much better than this we are the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!!!!!  Not a third world country, we can close our eyes to these injustices this cycle of inhumanity will continue other mothers will loose their children, the mentally-ill will be abandoned as outcasts rejects of society unless people such as Bob Ortega, KPNX channel 12 Wendy Halloran step forward and expose these travesties...."