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, April 14, 2013

ASPC-Tucson/Rincon Deaths in Custody: Billy D Lee, 54.

Looks to me as if this poor fellow was recommended to the Governor for clemency just a week before he died, which suggests that his death was pretty imminent - or at least no one was expecting him to make it to the end of his  9 year sentence for what is listed in one place in his record as a marijuana violation

That's a lot of time for trying to sell some pot, especially if you're a sick man already. Billy Lee was also so mentally impaired when he was prosecuted for this crime that he first had to undergo competency exams - which appears to have been the case every time he was prosecuted for something. I don't know if he was mentally ill or developmentally disabled, but it looks from court records as if folks were pretty concerned about his capacity for criminality, which must have played into the recommendation to release him early from his term of imprisonment.

Right now, though, that's largely speculation.

I seldom post DOC death notices when causes are "natural", but I heard from the yard that Billy was last on that some of the other prisoners believe he died for lack of his insulin; we need to clear that up. If anyone is close to Billy and knows for sure this situation, please let me know so I can pass appropriate info on to his survivors and get back to the guys on his yard who are worried that he died from negelct.

My condolences to Bily's loved ones.

If you have any information for us on Billy's life or his death, please contact me: 

Peggy Plews 
AZ Prison Watch 
 PO Box 20494 Phoenix, AZ 85036