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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AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

ASPC-Lewis 2013 uprising: STRIKE!!!

APRIL 17 UPDATE: (this anonymous DOC worker had some caustic things to say about prisoners in addition to this account of the Morey strike, but I have no reason to doubt his version of events. It's consistent with a couple of other things I've heard of late, too...)

if anyone knows more, please contact Peggy at 
480-580-6807 or

"The  disturbance at the Morey Unit on 04/09/2013 happened because the kitchen crew was replaced. The kitchen crew was warned on no less than five occasions that if equipment kept being damaged... they would be replaced. The damaging of the ice machine (which only benefits the inmates) was proverbially the last straw. The Morey inmate leaders were informed that the kitchen crew were being replaced by lower security level GP inmates from the Bachman kitchen, and that they were not PC (protective custody) inmates. This happened days before said disturbance.

The disturbance started when inmates refused to exit the chow hall so the next house could eat. Ex-Morey kitchen workers stirred things up by claiming that the replacement kitchen workers (you called them scabs?) were PC inmates. The kitchen workers were locked in a storage room by a CO for their own safety. At this point inmates semi rioted, tearing apart what they could of the chow hall and outer building area. Chemical agents and canines were brought in to quell the situation. Some staff were injured, but it was minor..."



originally published April 9, 2013:

The following narrative of the AZ DOC's version of what's happening in our prisons was hardly on par with the AZ Republic's otherwise thoughtful treatment of prison issues, and doesn't even acknowledge other recent such prison "disturbances" and all out race riots of late

Hmm. I certainly wonder why the prisoners are protesting so loudly - especially since they don't seem to be fighting each other this time and have apparently turned their frustrations against the state.

Maybe prisoners are tired of the AZ DOC medical staff leaving their peers to die in agony, like Tony Lester, Anthony Brown Ferdinand Dix and Brenda Todd were

Or maybe it's all the suicides and the abuse of mentally ill prisoners they're upset about . Or maybe its the overall indifference to human life that underlies the class action suit about gross medical and psychiatric neglect

Of course, it could be the murders and gang violence the prisoners are tired of... or maybe the proliferation of heroin and all the overdoses...

Could also be the plans to build a new Supermax prison 

Really, it could be a lot of things, I guess - prisoners are dropping dead for unknown reasons and some are coming down with bizarre illnesses, like botulism And the body count keeps growing...

If you decide to file grievances instead, guys, here's a little help...

Write to me if you want to expose prison abuse and neglect, too! 
Arizona Prison Watch
PO Box 20494 
Phoenix AZ 85036

from the AZ Republic, a sadly superficial report coming a day late and a dollar short...

The Republic |  
Wed Apr 10, 2013 10:42 PM

A “chemical agent” like pepper spray was used by correctional officers to quell a disturbance this week involving approximately 40 inmates at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis in Buckeye, an Arizona Department of Corrections spokesman confirmed.

Bill Lamoreaux, the department’s spokesman, said the inmates refused to leave the dining hall in the Morey Unit and began to damage property after 8 a.m. Tuesday.

The disturbance lasted about five minutes. Lamoreaux said the inmates were brought under control, cuffed and taken away.

Minor injuries were suffered by an undisclosed number of staffers and inmates, Lamoreaux said.

The Arizona Republic and 12 News were first notified of the incident by a confidential source who said a riot had occurred. Lamoreaux said the source’s characterization was untrue.