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, July 17, 2012

ACLU-AZ: SB1070 and the fight over Section 2B

No one will comply...

Independence Day, 2012 
Central Phoenix, Arizona 

-----from the ACLU of Arizona------

July 17, 2012


Alessandra Soler, ACLU of Arizona, (602) 773-6006 (office) or (602) 301-3705 (cell)
Adela de la Torre, NILC: 213-674-2832;
Steven Gosset, ACLU: 212-549-2666;
Laura Rodriguez, MALDEF: 310-956-2425;

PHOENIX — A coalition of civil rights organizations today asked a federal district court to block implementation of the “show me your papers” provision of SB 1070, Arizona’s racial profiling law, until the court has had time to consider additional legal claims that the law is unconstitutional.

The civil rights organizations’ lawsuit includes evidence and claims that are not present in the federal government’s separate challenge to SB 1070, on which the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision last month. In its decision, the Supreme Court struck down three other provisions of SB 1070. The Court noted potential constitutional problems with section 2(B), the “show me your papers” provision, but did not strike it down based on the evidence and claims that the federal government brought in its case. The Court noted, however, that other challenges could be brought against the section.

In their motion today, the civil rights groups contend that section 2(B) unlawfully discriminates against Latinos and individuals of Mexican origin. The groups present evidence that legislators who supported the law routinely used false “facts” and discriminatory language and that they intended section 2(B) to impose statewide the racial profiling tactics used by Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County. The groups also introduced new evidence demonstrating that, if it is allowed to go into effect, section 2(B) will violate the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment and the well established principle, which the Supreme Court reaffirmed in last month’s decision, that federal immigration law preempts state immigration enforcement laws. Finally, the groups ask the district court to block a separate provision of SB 1070 that creates a state crime for “harboring” undocumented individuals, which the Supreme Court’s recent decision makes clear is unconstitutional.

“Assertions from politicians and law enforcement officials in Arizona that nothing will change once section 2(b) goes into effect are simply false,” said Alessandra Soler, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona.  “‘This provision requires that local agencies shift priorities to aggressively seek federal immigration violators, sending a clear message to Latinos that they are not welcome in Arizona. “ 

The request was made on behalf of plaintiffs in Valle del Sol v. Whiting, et al. (formerly known as Friendly House v. Whiting, et al.), a class action lawsuit challenging SB 1070, which was filed in May 2010.

“Our Constitution protects us from state laws that intend to discriminate based on on the color of a person’s skin or her or his nationality,” said Karen Tumlin, managing attorney with the National Immigration Law Center. “The district court should block this hateful provision that threatens countless Arizonans’ basic right to live free from fear of harassment or prolonged detention.”

Police chiefs across the country have long concluded that section 2B could not be implemented in a race-neutral manner. Immigration experts agree that there is no way to determine immigration status based on external or physical characteristics and that police will end up using race and ethnicity to decide who could be in the country without authorization.

“In a state that’s more than 30 percent Latino, requiring police to act as immigration agents is an invitation to racial profiling on a massive scale” said Omar Jadwat, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “Police chiefs and communities know these laws don’t work, and we hope that the courts will continue to block them from going forward.”

“The ‘papers provision’ is unconstitutional and the people of Arizona should not be subject to this law for even a single day,” said Victor Viramontes, MALDEF National Senior Counsel. “This law would result in Latinos being illegally arrested and detained across Arizona.”

The coalition includes NILC, ACLU, MALDEF, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, the ACLU of Arizona, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center and the Asian American Justice Center, both members of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, as well as the NAACP. The law firms of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, Altshuler Berzon LLP, and Roush, McCracken, Guerrero, Miller & Ortega are also acting as co-counsel in the case.