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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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

AZ DOC Central Office: "Help Wanted". Ryan should still resign...or be fired.

I spent the morning with freinds protesting outside the AZ DOC's Central Office today...


More photos to follow; you can also find my art on Facebook

After protesting at the DOC my friends and I visited the AZ Capitol Executive Tower to drop off Marcia Powell's cage (above) for Governor Brewer, to whom it was addressed as a gift from the Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ and the Friends of Marcia Powell. I drew the names of the dead on the back of that cage, too, inside the letters that formed the five foot high message: "Dear Mr. Ryan: Please stop killing people." (Can't believe I don't have a photo, but someone else got the shot). 

Security was very cooperative, but the Governor's staff seemed a little perpelexed when they came down to pick up the package from me; I did make a point of telling them it was a gift of both art and history, but they just looked stunned. They appeared to be dragging it on the elevator to head upstairs as we were leaving, though, so here's hoping she got the message and it didn't just end up going straight into the recycing bin.

If you're the loved one of an AZ state prisoner, or otherwise find yourself compelled to care about the disaster unfolding in the AZ Department of Corrections, please thank Gannett (which owns KPNX/CH 12 Phoenix and the Arizona Republic) for covering this - which has thus far been totally missed by the rest of the AZ media, sad to say (except the folks at the Tucson Weekly, today, with a follow-up story...see next post for their response). 

The treatment of our prisoners - truly the most vulnerable among us - reflects so profoundly the level of our society's spirtual maturity and capacity to alleviate victimization in the first place, that I don't know how they can ignore what's going on in the prison, except that such introspection can be painful and doesn't anlways attract viewers or sponsor - especially not in Arizona, I would imagine

That said, after watching the following clip, please send comments/appreciation to Wendy Halloran at KPNX and Mary K Reinhart at the AZ Republic at, and encourage them to keep reporting on the AZ DOC.

From Channel 12/KPNX in Phoenix, July 23, 2013 6pm news.

---------from the AZ Republic-------

Campbell calls for Arizona prison chief to resign

The Republic |  
Tue Jul 23, 2013 6:42 PM
A key lawmaker is calling on the state’s prison chief to resign, citing a high prison suicide rate, security failures, inadequate medical care and inappropriate ties to the private-prison industry.

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, a longtime critic of the Department of Corrections and private prisons, said his call for director Charles Ryan’s resignation was prompted by the suspected homicide last month of an inmate at the Lewis state prison complex in Buckeye.

“Director Ryan has exhibited a pattern of mismanagement and a lack of leadership resulting in an unsafe corrections system in our state,” Campbell said in a statement. “Under his direction, our corrections system has wasted tax dollars, jeopardized people’s lives and damaged the state’s credibility.”

Campbell, who is considering a run for governor in 2014, said Ryan has failed to plug holes in prison security, stem criminal behavior by corrections employees, properly manage private-prison contracts and ensure adequate health care for inmates.

Bill Lamoreaux, a spokesman for the corrections department, said Ryan and other agency officials have responded to Campbell’s concerns and provided “detailed information on ADC’s operations.”

“Earlier this year he was even invited to tour ADC correctional facilities so that he could gain a firsthand understanding of the Department, its employees and operations,” Lamoreaux said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, Representative Campbell did not respond to ADC’s offer.”

Gov. Jan Brewer’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Brewer appointed Ryan to lead the agency in 2009.

Under his tenure, the state has privatized inmate health care and now faces a class-action lawsuit alleging that the department provides inadequate medical, dental and mental-health care to inmates. Also under Ryan, two murderers escaped from a private prison near Kingman in 2010, leading to a nationwide manhunt and the deaths of two people. An internal investigation blamed human error and lax monitoring of the private-prison contract.

Republic reporter Craig Harris contributed to this article.