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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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Another CCA/ICE Death in Custody: Jorge Garcia Mejia, 40.

To this man's family: I am so sorry for your loss.Lo siento por tu pérdida. 
If you haven't already been in touch with the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, please contact them, at least so they know more about what happened. They may be able to connect you with other resources. Their contact info is:

Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project 
P.O. Box 654 | Florence, AZ 85132
Phone: (520) 868-0191
Fax: (520) 868-0192 

You may also want to report the details of your loved one's death to the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona,  which has done some work on the conditions in detention centers, prisons, and jails across the state. Their contact info is:

P.O. Box 17148 
 Phoenix, AZ 85011

 Here's a list of the publications they have on Immigrant Rights' issues:
The ACLU of Arizona honored International Human Rights Day by joining advocates and allies from across Arizona to deliver messages of hope and solidarity to detainees held at Pinal County Jail. 

Rights of Immigrants in a Workplace Raid: A Resource for Communities Before, During and After a Raid: This bi-lingual handbook informs people about their rights during a workplace raid in Arizona. The handbook, which is the first of its kind in Arizona, also provides general information about what workers, families, and communities can do to prepare for a raid, and steps they can take after a raid. Oprime aquí para bajar esta guia en Español. 

  Finally, if you have family in the Phoenix area, you might what to check out the community of migrant justice folks at:

1306 E. Van Buren St.
Phoenix, AZ 85006
(602) 252-1283

To my congress members:  stop wasting my money killing people like this!!!!

Hispanically Speaking News
May 4, 2013

Activists described as alarming Friday the fact that two Guatemalan immigrants died in less than a week at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Arizona.

“I’m concerned that there is no way for independent groups to verify what is happening inside these detention centers. It’s terrifying there were two Guatemalan suicides in such a short time and in the same detention center,” Sebastian Quinac, representative of the Guatemalan Ixim Ulew Committee in southern Arizona, told Efe.

We have to know whether people guarding the detainees are paying them enough attention and supervision, or if they’re putting the detainees under some kind of pressure,” the activist said.

ICE reported Thursday the apparent suicide of Jorge Garcia Mejia, 40, who was found unconscious in his cell at the Eloy Detention Center.

Elsa Guadalupe Gonzalez, 24, was also found unconscious in her cell last Sunday by other Eloy inmates.

Both had been in ICE custody since late March.

ICE said it would investigate whether suicide-prevention measures are in effect at Eloy.

The executive director of the ACLU in Arizona, Alessandra Soler, said the main problem is the “punitive” conditions in which the undocumented live in detention centers.

“Immigrants must not be treated like criminals. They are detained for administrative violations of migration, but the policy is to jail them in subhuman conditions where they are treated like prisoners, and the practice of locking them up in isolation is common,” she said.