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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AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Estrella women on hunger strike over Arpaio's moldy, sickening food.

"Indict Arpaio"
Veterans' Day Parade (Phoenix 2012)

Those folks familiar with Joe Arpaio's jails know that the food is notoriously bad. About six weeks ago, however, I began hearing that the food isn't just tasteless or bad-tasting, there is at least one highly suspect, horrifically tragic case of food poisoning as a result. Hopefully mainstream media will be investigating and reporting on that soon - I'm really troubled about the things I've been hearing ever since Graves v Arpaio wrapped up and the judge let him slide without a monitor to stay o top of the fixes he did. In any case, it came as no surprise today to hear that some of the prisoners are complaining to loved ones about their food being spoiled and moldy, not just bland or bad-tasting.

The really remarkable thing about what I heard today, however,  is that the women are organizing resistance in the form of a hunger strike - today was day two. Specifically, the women on Estrella's Cell Block C100 are refusing their meals until they no longer receive moldy, disgusting, dangerous food. They are demanding to be treated like human beings. YOU ALL ROCK!!!

(NOTE: This is what happens, Sheriff Arpaio, when you don't let prisoners file grievances and deal with constitutional violations "appropriately"...)

By the time this hits the rest of the media, it may have been broken up. Already they've apparently placed Rebekah Mellon in administrative segregation (solitary confinement) for "instigating" this collective act of defiance and courage. That woman is already facing serious charges for the murder of the man she says was her abuser - she's not about to sit down for rotten food now, I guess. GOOD FOR YOU!!! Hooray for all of the women who are fighting back now, however they are showing their resistance.

It's so under-reported when woman in prison and jail organize against their keepers and the conditions of their confinement, so anyone with direct info about this action, PLEASE contact me, no matter how far after this occurs it is - especially if you participated. My name is Peggy Plews; call me at 480-580-6807 or email me at Also, send postcards to loved ones with my address on it: AZ Prison Watch PO Box 20494 PHOENIX AZ 85036.

For more about the history of women's resistance to the oppressions of incarceration, read some of Vikki Law's work - she wrote the book. If you have a loved one in Estrella or Perryville Prison, please order the book for them - the women need to know that history!