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 who I've been supporting, Jessie Burlew.

I will miss my work and the people who have supported me - but I have been most especially grateful to the prisoners who educated, confided in, and encouraged me. My life has been made all the more rich and meaningful by their engagement.

I have 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)


ALONE: Teens in Solitary Confinement

AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Veterans Day, Phoenix, 2012: For Marty Atencio.

The following photo is from the Veterans Day parade in Phoenix, where Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio rolled out his biggest toy to honor our dead soldiers. I stopped to leave him a message for one dead Army veteran he should be especially mindful of: Marty Atencio. That man should be held criminally liable for the death of his prisoners given the dehumanizing treatment he encourages and the culture of contempt he's cultivated among his officers. 

The chalk is mine, but I can't take the credit for the shot: Lisa Blank took it, and it's all over Arizona Community Press's Community Free Press Facebook page. Thank you Lisa!

Remember Veterans like Marty, Sheriff Joe.
Veterans  Day 2012: Phoenix

Thanks to Stephen Lemons at the Phoenix New Times for this series about Marty's brutal killing by Phoenix Police and Joe Arpaio's deputies at the 4th Avenue Jail last year...

------from the Phoenix New Times----

Joe Arpaio's U.S. Veteran Victim Marty Atencio: Family Files Suit in Superior Court

By Stephen Lemons
Published Tue., Oct. 23 2012 at 12:24 PM

The family of U.S. Army veteran Marty Atencio is filing suit today in Maricopa County Superior Court over his brutal death late last year in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Fourth Avenue Jail.

Atencio, who suffered from mental illness, was off his meds and wandering the streets in a daze on December 15, when he was picked up by Phoenix cops, allegedly because he had frightened a woman with his bizarre behavior.

Read the Atencio family's lawsuit.

That woman later stated that she'd hoped Atencio, 44, would receive the help he needed if he was in custody.

Instead, he received a one-way ticket to a military funeral.

See also:
-Joe Arpaio's Victim Marty Atencio: Family Files Notices of Claim Totaling $20 Million in Wrongful Death Case
-Jailhouse Goons Make Fun Of and Kill a Mentally Ill Inmate
-Joe Arpaio's Victim Marty Atencio Killed by "Law Enforcement Subdual," Among Other Factors, Says Medical Examiner (w/Update)
Joe Arpaio's Victim Ernest "Marty" Atencio Laid To Rest
-Joe Arpaio's Latest Victim Marty Atencio: MCSO Video of His Detention

Though Atencio was processed first without incident at the Phoenix Police Department's southern command station, his experience later in Fourth Avenue would be brief, humiliating and fatal.

There, Atencio was taunted and made fun of by MCSO detention officers, as is recounted in the suit:

After going through the medical screening, Marty was taken to have his mug shot
taken. While Marty was having his mug shot taken, the D.O.s were taunting him, asking him to "clown" for them, telling him to "turn left," "turn right," and making fun of Marty's
inability to follow instructions. 

As the guards made fun of Marty, they told him to make funny faces and the photographer, and a female Detention Officer, kept saying "let's make this one the Mug Shot of the week." After they took a particularly humiliating mug shot, the D.O.s had finished their fun with Marty and took him back to the holding tank.

Along the way, Atencio was escorted by Phoenix Police Officer Patrick Hanlon, who, according to the complaint, led Atencio "with his hands and arms bent in a position which caused Marty pain."
The complaint continues, stating that, "While Officer Hanlon was escorting Marty to the Linescan Room, Marty said `you're making Tony angry, you're making Tony angry.' Marty was telling Officer Hanlon that the officer was hurting him."

Shortly thereafter, in the jail's so-called "linescan room," as millions have now witnessed in video released by the MCSO, Atencio essentially did not remove his shoes fast enough for the officers present, with deadly consequences.

Atencio crossed his arms in front of him, in a non-violent stance. And that's when they pounced, piling onto Atencio, wailing on him and Tasing him, in what the suit refers to as a "jailers riot."

The complaint relates how these goons then dragged Atencio to a so-called "safe cell," where, as Atencio was held down, he allegedly was kneed more than once by MCSO detention officer Anthony Hatton.
Atencio was stripped of his clothes, and left to die. The jail's video system captured a naked Atencio breathing what looked like his dying breath on camera.

Outside the cell, as I've previously reported, Phoenix cops and MCSO detention officers partied like it was 1999.

"After this event," reads the complaint, "the jail's surveillance video outside `Safe Cell 4' shows D.O. Hatton, with a smile on his face, talking to other Officers, while two MCSO women danced and bumped their buttocks together."

Later, Atencio's brain-dead body was revived by officers and rushed by paramedics to a local hospital, where his family ultimately decided to remove him from life support.

The Atencios lawyer, tort titan Mike Manning, who just won a $3.2 million settlement for the family of diabetic mom and Arpaio jail victim Deborah Braillard, observes in the suit that Atencio's death is the direct result of the "culture of cruelty" in Arpaio's vast incarceration complex.

Also, the complaint makes clear, the MCSO is in direct violation of federal court orders instructing Arpaio and the county to provide proper medical screenings of prisoners for mental and physical illness.

Because the MCSO is not in compliance with these orders, Atencio was not properly screened on arrival at Fourth Avenue, where the health care "professional" who examined him noted signs of psychosis, yet did not provide Atencio with the medical help he needed.

Unfortunately, all the court orders, lawsuits and multi-million dollar payouts seem to do nothing to change the reality of Arpaio's disastrously-run jails.

The only real change will come if the voters wake up, and retire Arpaio on November 6 by voting for his Democratic rival Paul Penzone.

Otherwise there will be more victims, more Marty Atencios, and a lot more lawsuits.