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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Monday, October 21, 2013

Witness: Yuma prison May "Melee" was another race riot.


From a witness to May's "Yuma Melee" (statement dated October 9, 2013)

"I was an inmate during the time at the Dakota Unit when the riot occurred and I was fortunate to not be invovled, but I happened to see the ordeal at its entirety. The initial issue stemmed from a black inmate who sold a Chief (member of the Native American gang) inmate some black tar heroin cut with coffee - the other races had requested for the blacks to "clean up their back yard" and smash that black guy for his actions, but they continued t refuse so during recreation on May 29th, 2013, I had a birds' eye view out of my cell window when all the Mexicans (New Mexican Mafia) Whites (Aryan Brotherhood) and Chiefs went after all of the blacks.

Now be assured this consisted of over 400 inmates for almost 8 minutes. There are two rec fields that consist of 200 inmates, two housing pods were staging/lining up for the chow hall which consissted of another 100 inmates, two chow halls had 50 inmates in each one, the kitchen workers and education building all sturck full force at the same time. The CO's were in complete panic firing off tear gas from the gun tower. Several inmates were even stabbed. I seen it with my own two eyes. It was ugly and nerve-wracking...

The state/DOC seems to be working with the AB and the EME (New Mexican Mafia) gangs which somehow stems to money. The drug trade in here thrives before ANYTHING else - no other thing matters or comes first - drugs of all kinds flood the GP yards statewide and lots of money is made..."

see also:

ASPC-Tucson/Santa Rita: September Prison Riot.

ASPC-Tucson/Whetstone Race Riot Update: Ryan has lost control.

AZ DOC's Protective Custody fight: tend to both body and soul.


FYI: I'm compiling a report for the US Department of Justice right now about the violence in AZ DOC prisons and the problems with the protective custody process (805), whereby it's impossible for male prisoners to refuse to "join" the gangs (which often involves assaulting another prisoner)  - much less just refuse to follow their stupid racist, homphobic, patriarchal rules - without being victimized themselves, yet many guys still refuse. All reports of violence that folks are aware could be useful as I put this thing together, so please send them to me at

---------------from the Yuma Sun-----------------


May 29, 2013 22:48:01
Six inmates at Arizona State Prison Complex–Yuma were transported to the hospital Tuesday after being injured during a melee. None of their injuries were life threatening.

According to Andrew Wilder, Arizona Department of Corrections director of communications, at about 2:30 p.m., two inmates began fighting inside the close-custody Dakota Unit yard.

“This fight escalated to involve additional inmates,” Wilder said. “There were a total of about 100 inmates in the outdoor yard area at the time – however it's not the case that all of these inmates participated in the incident.”

AZDOC officers responded quickly to stop the fight and were able to secure the unit within three minutes, Wilder noted, adding there were no injuries to prison staff reported.

The Dakota Unit will remain locked down while this incident continues to be investigated. No other details were available as of press time Wednesday.

ASPC–Yuma is located at 7125 E. Juan Sanchez Blvd. near San Luis, Ariz., and houses over 4,000 inmates in five separate units.