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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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Disabled in Prison: Surviving a Stroke at ASPC-Perrryville

This is one of the few letters I've received from the women at Perryville prison this month - it came just before my mailing to them about asserting health care rights was confiscated and my communication with existing correspondents there virtually severed. This kind of thing that Judith describes is why prisoners riot - they're tired of being treated as less-than-human. Empowering people to assert their civil rights appropriately, provided that the channels are accessible and responsive, should help decrease prison violence, if anything.

I contacted Richard Pratt, Director of the Health Services Division at the AZ DOC, inquiring about a reasonable accomodation that would allow Judith to go out for physical therapy. Any reasonably prudent person could see that the chances of her suffering harm from not getting that rehab are pretty good - why would the DOC not help her get there? His response was as follows:

 "I have forwarded your concerns to our monitoring team in Perryville to review the records for restrictions that may be in conflict with ADA..."

He said nothing about her particular circumstances, though, which is a way of avoid taking responsibility for solving the problem, so I suggested the following to Judith:

1. file an HNR requesting a new referral for physical therapy, 

2. submit a grievance about the transportation policies  requesting a reasonable accommodation to her disability, 

3. contact the ACLU-AZ and the AZ Center for Disability Law (because they're suing the DOC re: negligent health care), 

4. file an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) complaint with the US Department of Justice.

for more resources, see the 8/3/12 Arizona Prison Watch post:

----correspondence from Perryville prison---

SHAME on the AZ DOC for how they have neglected this woman...