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 4, 2014

FEB 11: Bill Montgomery to meet with AZ Mental Health and CJ Coalition.

This looks worth hitting, and I hope people come with the tough questions for Montgomery that you always bring up with me.

Among the things I'm concerned about: imprisoning people with mental illness who enounter the CJ system due to their symptoms; charging seriously mentallly ill youth as adults; the over-charging of defendants and prolonged pre-trial incarceration of the mentally ill to coerce unfair plea deals; and evidence of wrongful convictions he's refusing to look at - the whole question of prosecutorial integrity and misconduct. 

One such example of wrongful convictions under Andrew Thomas is that of Courtney Bisbee. Over 40,000 people on have read her accuser's recantation, admitting he purjured himself in her trial, and know there's an affidavit in the possession of the MCAO - and yet Montgomery refuses to facilitate a re-examination of her case.

Finally, I have pretty strong feelings about criminalizing immigrants who perpetrate no greater harm on the community than holding down a job and contributing to some poor american's social security fund - he clobbers them with multiple felonies to coerce plea deals that will deprive them of future rights and may result in immediate deportation. His policies and practices when it comes to charging immigrants with work-related crimes are vicious, and results in harm to families and communities far beyond that which he purports to be preventing.