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 18, 2013

Governor Brown, CDCR allow degradation of Kosher standards.

As recently blogged here and here, there are problems brewing at Corrections Corporation of America's (CCA) LaPalma Correctional Center, under contract with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to warehouse approximately 3,000 prisoners. 

It appears as if the vendor, Trinity Services Group, has so seriously compromised the Kosher meal program that some prisoners are beginning to refuse the degraded, unkosher food despite the wardens' threats to throw them in the hole as "hunger strikers" - and the CDCR's promise to make sure that one of the most outspoken of the California prisoners "never leaves Arizona" (in case you missed it, that was here): Messianic and Orthodox Jews persecuted at CCA's LaPalma prison.

These men are pretty brave for putting themsleves into my hands now, because I'm going to raise some hell about this and they're the ones still in the line of fire (let me know if anything hits you, guys...). There's a whole bunch of people who should be ashamed of themselves for turning ablind eye to the constitution - not the least of whom is LaPalma Warden Jim MacDonald.

Before it got this far, you see, the prisoners took this up the internal chain of command, assuming the warden would act to enforce CDCR policy and California law in the end... He didn't. So they appealed to all sorts of other people, like CCA Chaplain O'Dell, at CCA HQ in Nashville, who seems to be unconcerned. This letter was sent 1 1/2 year ago.

They also wrote to CDCR food department employee Laurie Maurino, who never responded:


They reported the issue to the American Correctional Association last fall - also no response. Guess you can't really count on the police to police the police...

 And finally they even tried the Governor,  Jerry Brown, through this well-articulated letter from Annie Santiago, the wife of Messianic prisoner Kenneth Santiago. Guess Jerry doesn't have anyone in his office who handles constituent mail, though - or maybe they just don't care about their mail from families of prisoners. Or perhap they're in on this as well - who knows where the prison contract kickbacks go? 

In any case, they should all know now that when you ignore prisoners trying to address violations of their religious rights, chances are they'll just get louder. I'm told that when virtually every other civil liberty and human right has been stripped from you, you don't compromise too easily when told to surrender the tenets of your faith - and these fellows won't.

Here's the letter to good old liberal Jerry. Thanks for caring, buddy.



 Anyway, no one has to do anything just now - the ball is back in CCA's court, and I'm just laying out the evidence. We'll call on you when needed - thank you for your support.