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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Friday, February 14, 2014


PUENTE means bridge in Spanish, which is what these folks build - bridges to help eachother be more empowered and liberated. They've done amazing work recently helping community members get released from detention, stopping deportations, and publicizing the injustices of immigration raids, laws, and prosecutorial practices, particularly in Maricopa County.They have taken on the prison industrial complex most impressively, even locking themselves down in front of busses and to the gates of a detention center. Responding to the concrete needs of families, too, they did a fundraiser and purchased a van to make sure people can visit their imprisoned loved ones when detained in Florence pending hearings. THe art that comes out of PUENTE is moving and powerful, and they do their own silkscreening.

PUENTE can speak for themselves, though - below is their latest press release. I plan to be there to support them Monday - I hope other readers will turn out as well.  Below is the facebook link for the action.

 from their site:

"PUENTE Arizona is part of the global movement for migrant justice and human rights. As a grassroots community-based group Puente promotes justice, non-violence, interdependence and human dignity. Puente Arizona works to empower the community and build bridges by working collaboratively with various organizations and individuals."

-----from PUENTE (2/14/14)---
español abajo

Sometimes tactics and strategies are planned far in advance, developed and premeditated, other times it comes from a place that cannot be designed. In this case it comes from a mother’s will and community desperation, an expression of suffering and willingness to do anything to keep families together.

Most undocumented families in the United States have already lived through the risks of getting here and the dangers of the work we do. We’ve lived through days of unplanned hunger and now accept it willingly.

Starting on Monday February 17th on Presidents Day, members of our communities will have our last meal and start a hunger strike, to demand Not One More Deportation. We will be in Front of the Phoenix ICE office 2035 N Central Ave Phoenix to demand the release and halt the unnecessary deportation of our loved ones.  We also wish to expose the most important piece missing from this debate, the human cost caused by the extraction of members from our community.

RSVP on Facebook to stay updated about ways you can support our hunger strike in person and from wherever you are

We’ve watched the debate in public and suffered in private. We have gone to bed with our arms empty, aching for our loved ones, and now it is time to make that suffering known to the world.  Anselma’s son, Elder, has been in immigrant detention for two years and is at the brink of deportation. It was her who in a community meeting said she had nothing else left but to sacrifice herself and her health for her son and to end all the suffering in our communities.

It will be a joint effort from families on the outside and detainees on the inside, detainees who not only risk their health by not eating but the punishment they will receive by guards while on Hunger Strike inside detention.

We have no one but ourselves to look too, this immigration debate continues to be a political game in which both parties are content with the status quo that they take to the polls for elections, cements a permanent underclass and creates a constant flow of profits.

Politicians may tell us to be patient. Advocates may say that our tactics threaten the debate. But if there is not room for us, mothers who miss our sons, at the center of this conversation, than we hope our empty stomachs change that conversation.

As long as we keep our suffering to our kitchen tables and half empty beds, they will keep their policies the way they are.  Our sons’ imprisonment hasn’t been enough to get them to act. We hope our hunger strike will. If not, what happens to us will be on their hands.

Join us, and support the Hunger Strike for Not1More Deportation!

Thank you,

 The Hunger Strikers: Lourdes Hernandez, Hermina Gallego, Anselma Lopez, Jose Valdez, Jovana Renteria, and our loved ones currently in detention


Hay situaciones cunado tácticas y estrategias son planeadas por adelantado, desarrollado y premeditado, en otras situaciones viene de un lugar que no puede ser diseñado. En este caso viene de la voluntad de una madre y la desesperación de nuestra comunidad, es una expresión del sufrimiento y voluntad de hacer lo que sea para mantener nuestras familias juntas.

La mayoría de familias indocumentadas en Estados Unidos ya han vivido los riesgos al venir aquí y el riesgo del trabajo que hacemos. Nosotros hemos vivido por días si hambre no planeada y ahora la aceptamos por nuestra propia voluntad.

A partir del lunes 17 de Febrero  el Día de los Presidentes, miembros de nuestra comunidad van a tener su última comida y comenzar una huelga de hambre, exigiendo Ni Una Más Deportación. Vamos a estar en frente de la oficina de ICE en Phoenix 2035 N Central Ave, para exigir la liberación y parar la deportación innecesaria de nuestros seres queridos. También queremos exponer el pedazo más importante que falta en este debate, el costo humano causado por la extracción de los miembros de nuestra comunidad .

RSVP en Facebook para mantenerse informado acerca de las maneras en que puede apoyar nuestra huelga de hambre en persona y desde donde se encuentre

Hemos visto el debate en público y sufrimos en privado. Hemos ido a la cama con los estómagos vacíos, sufriendo por nuestros seres queridos, y ahora es el momento de hacer que el sufrimiento se conozca por todo el mundo . El hijo de Anselma, Elder, ha estado en detención de inmigración por los últimos dos años y está en el borde de la deportación. Fue ella quien en una reunión de la comunidad dijo que no tenía nada más, sino sacrificarse ella y su salud para su hijo y para poner un fin a todo el sufrimiento en nuestras comunidades.

Será un esfuerzo conjunto de las familias en el exterior y de los detenidos en el interior, los detenidos que no sólo arriesgan su salud al no comer, pero el castigo que van a recibir por los guardias, mientras que participan en la huelga de hambre en detención.

No tenemos a nadie mas que a nosotros mismos en que depender, este debate sobre la inmigración sigue siendo un juego político en el que ambos partidos están satisfechos con las cosas como son, beneficiándolos en las urnas, asegurando una subclase de personas permanente y creando un flujo constante de ganancias.
Los políticos pueden decirnos que seamos pacientes. Los que dicen hablar por nosotros en Washington pueden decir que nuestras tácticas amenazan el debate. Pero si no hay espacio para nosotros, las madres que pierden a nuestros hijos en el centro de esta conversación, entonces esperamos que nuestros estómagos vacíos cambian esta conversación.

Mientras mantenemos nuestro sufrimiento a nuestros hogares y camas medio vacíos, van a mantener sus políticas tal y como son. El encarcelamiento de nuestros hijos no ha sido suficiente para que ellos actúen. Esperamos que nuestra huelga de hambre lo hará. Si no es así, lo que nos sucede estará en sus manos.

Únete a nosotros, y apoya la huelga de hambre para Ni1Mas Deportación!


 Los huelguistas de hambre : Lourdes Hernández, Hermina Gallego, Anselma López, José Valdez, Jovana Rentería, y nuestros seres queridos en detención.