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)


ANTICOLONIAL zines, stickers, actions, power

Taala Hooghan Infoshop

Kinlani/Flagstaff Mutual AID


The group for direct action against the prison state!

Black Lives Matter PHOENIX METRO

Black Lives Matter PHOENIX METRO
(accept no substitutions)



PHOENIX: Trans Queer Pueblo


AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

"No Man's Land" and short-staffing at ASPC-Lewis: Appeals court keeps Cortez case alive.

The following ruling is important, so follow those links and read the complaint and decision. And please be sure you have an attorney who knows prison law, folks, if you have lost a loved one inside, or are trying to save one still. 

If you need a list of lawyers who have sued the AZ DOC, one is here (pg1) and here (pg2). 

I compiled it myself for prisoners and their families to find help, not for the lawyers to get clients -  they didn't even ask me to list them - nor are there any guarantees that they will be great. Just interview them yourselves, and trust your better judgement. The firm litigating this case isn't on my list yet, so I'll put them down here - kudos to them for salvaging this claim.

The Leader Law Firm
John P Leader, Esq.
1715 E. Skyline Dr., #121
Tucson, AZ 85718
Phone (520) 575-9040 

05/18/19 UPDATE see the current campaign to oust Charles Ryan from the AZ DOC - 
same old story year after year and no one has the guts to deal with him, still. 
poor @dougducey  probably wont sack him even now...

#CHUCKCHUCK #DARTHryan #DarkSideRyan  #FireChuckRyan" 



By JAMIE ROSS /Courthouse News

Monday, January 26, 2015

 PHOENIX (CN) - Arizona may be liable for claims filed on behalf of a prison inmate who was assaulted by two others while a prison guard escorted them through "no man's land," a back-alley area without cameras, the 9th Circuit ruled Monday.

     Marty Cortez filed suit against Arizona and Bill Skol, the prison guard, in 2009 for failure-to-protect and negligence on behalf of her now-deceased son, Philip.

     On Nov. 16, 2007, officers applied belly chains -- but not leg irons, as allegedly required by prison policy - to move Cortez, Juan Cruz, and Steven Lavender from the detention unit to the visitation building. Skol, a visitation officer, was responsible for escorting inmates between the two structures.

     While in "no man's land" - a back alley hidden from cameras and non-escorting officers - Cruz and Lavender attacked Cortez and stomped on the back of his head as he lay on the ground, handcuffed. Skol allegedly used pepper spray on Cruz and Lavender, but did not physically intervene in the attack, which allegedly lasted for five minutes.

     Cortez suffered a brain injury from the assault, was granted clemency and released from prison. He later died of an apparent drug overdose.

     The defendants filed motions for summary judgment, and a magistrate judge found that the evidence supported her claims. U.S. District Judge Jennifer Zipps disagreed, however, and found for Skol and Arizona.

     "Given the inherently risky environment in which plaintiff Cortez's injuries occurred, there is no material issue of fact regarding whether plaintiff Cortez was exposed to an unreasonable risk, nor is there evidence to suggest that it was highly probable that harm would result," Zipps wrote.

     Cortez promptly appealed. On Monday, the 9th Circuit held that there was enough evidence to show the "high-security" inmates were undermanned, and that Skol acted with indifference to Cortez's safety.

     The opinion written by U.S. Circuit Judge Michelle T. Friedland, on behalf of a three-judge panel, noted that Skol admitted to an investigator that he overhead "a lot [of] talk and harassing words between the three inmates in the back cage," had reason to know that Cortez was in protective custody and was at risk for attack by other prisoners, and knew that prison policy required leg restraints.

     "Skol's admitted awareness of the policy, combined with the prison administrators' testimony regarding its effect, raises a genuine issue as to whether Skol proceeded with the escort despite knowing that the inmates were not properly restrained," Friedland wrote.

     Since there was enough evidence to show Skol acted with "deliberate indifference" toward Cortez, the State of Arizona still faces negligence claims against it, the panel said.

     "Because we have concluded that there are material fact disputes with respect to deliberate indifference, and because Arizona's gross negligence standard is lower than the federal deliberate indifference standard, we necessarily conclude that there are also material fact disputes with respect to gross negligence," Freidland wrote. "Indeed, in addition to being responsible for Skol's behavior, the State may also be liable for the aggregate conduct of other prison staff."