Video by Sallydarity / set to Comin' up from Behind ( Marcy Playground)

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. collective@phoenixabc.org

until all are free -

MARGARET J PLEWS (June 1, 2015)
arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com



AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Violence against queer prisoners: Catching Director Ryan up to speed.




Having a Nice Day at AZ DOC Central Office (July 2013)


Dear Director Ryan;

Don't just take an anarchist's word for it - your LGBTQ prisoners are in danger all across the state, and there's no reason to not work with them and their commuity allies on a reasonable policy to minimize the risks they face in your custody. Your colleagues here don't have the best ideas for how to intervene in the problem, but at least they have the courage to recognize the realities unfolding in front of them. Your people are either lying to you about placing these prisoners in grave danger despite repeated requests for protection, or you have been knowingly complict in the harm befalling them. In any case, as AZ DOC director, you are ultimately responsible for remedying this situation - or paying for failing to do so. Your choice.


-----------from the National Institute of Corrections---------

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Offenders


This web page has been developed in an effort to provide current and useful information to correctional agencies regarding the safe and respectful management of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) offenders. Relying on a best practices approach, this information will enable corrections staff to make better informed decisions about the safety, security, treatment and care of LGBTI offenders by providing academic, cultural and legal perspectives of the issues that make this group unique.

Particular topics for consideration include intake procedures, classification, placement and housing, medical and mental health care and treatment, suicide prevention, potential victimization, policy development, staff and offender education, and supervision in the community, as well as other related areas.

For example, surveys conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics indicate that non-heterosexual adult offenders report higher rates of sexual victimization while in custody, and similar surveys in juvenile facilities show even higher rates of sexual victimization among non-heterosexual juvenile offenders. Similarly, a 2009 research report cited findings that transgender offenders experienced sexual victimization at a rate thirteen times higher than a random sampling of offenders in the same facility. Such evidence indicates that LGBTI offenders are at increased risk for sexual victimization while in custody, and agencies that ignore this may be placing themselves at risk for litigation.

Changes in federal and state legislation, court decisions, settlement agreements and the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) standards are also important factors in the management of LGBTI offenders in correctional settings and should be carefully reviewed.

Agencies wishing to examine and improve their response to the management of LGBTI offenders may apply for limited, short-term technical assistance to aid their efforts.