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:

Monday, February 2, 2015

Chuck Ryan's legacy: Gangs and rapists rule the AZ DOC.

#CHUCKCHUCK #DARTHryan #DarkSideRyan  #FireChuckRyan" 


hope @dougducey has the balls to deal with this guy Ryan...

As many folks who follow this site are aware, a prison teacher was stabbed and raped at the AZ DOC a year ago; the court hasn't dismissed her case yet, thank god. Hopefully her suit will be a small vindication to those of you who haven't been able to hold the AZ DOC's feet to the fire on this issue - and a great use to those of you who are currently litigating on these issues, as well. This remark from the victim about who bears responsibility for the high level of violence in AZ prisons bears paying attention to, especially if you've lost someone to it:

"The attack raised questions about prison security after reports showed she was put into a room full of inmates with no guards nearby.

Authorities said Harvey had lingered behind after others left the room, then repeatedly stabbed the victim with a pen before raping her.

In a September interview with the AP, the woman said she primarily blamed Corrections Director Charles Ryan for putting her in danger. She said rampant understaffing meant no one checked on her while she was in the classroom."

Surviving the violence is a serious issue at the AZ DOC, as far as prisoners and the parents of prisoners, are concerned, too - like those of Neil Early, mudered at ASP-Kingman last month. Prisons are run by state and gang violence, and are thus inherently unsafe institutions to live or work in. But Arizona's are also grossly short-staffed (presumably so we can divert more money to the pocketbooks of out-of-state profiteers), so employees and prisoners alike are often left to fend for themselves. With plenty of blind spots to allow the prison heroin traffic to readily flourish (which sedates the masses, you see), the most vulnerable are easy prey.

That explains, in brief, why one union for AZ correctional officers, the Arizona Corrections  Association, has asked Judicial Watch to intervene due to the high incidence of assaults on officers under Ryan's tenure. In fact, Here's the AZCPOA 2011 letter of no confidence in Charles Ryan's leadershipNote how the AZCPOA letter in that second link makes references to documents being routinely falsified and officers being punished for reporting security concerns.

Here is a list of links to other AzPW posts about prison safety, specifically for those of you helping someone fight the AZ DOC for protection from gangs, bad debts, racists, homophobes, or certain death out on the GP yards.

Follow the links above, and hold Chuck Ryan accountable for your loved one's safety by addressing him here: Be sure you put your legislators in the cc line - they fund his department, even though the governor is his boss. Don't bother with Ryan's subordinates, unless they are actually helping you. Send all your communications about the danger your loved one faces to his in-box, and insist on confirmation that it's been received.

Meanwhile, if you cant print and send them the things they need yourself, tell prisoners to write to Phoenix ABC at PO Box 7241 / Tempe, AZ 85281. They should ask for info about the issue they're dealing with: folks at the ABC will send self-help articles about their rights, copies of relevant policy, etc. PHX ABC may also be reached via email at Or find them on Facebook here.

Finally, here is the list of attorneys I'd send you to if you needed help suing the AZ DOC. None of them asked to advertise with me, by the way - I put this together for you, not for them: 

-------------from the AP/East Valley Tribune-------------

Arizona wants lawsuit filed by raped prison teacher tossed

Posted: Monday, February 2, 2015 12:42 am

PHOENIX (AP) — Lawyers for the state of Arizona will urge a judge on Monday to dismiss a civil-rights violations lawsuit filed by a Department of Corrections teacher who was raped by a convicted sex offender in a prison classroom.

The lawsuit blames corrections employees for failing to establish proper security and the department's health care provider for improperly assessing prisoner Jacob Harvey's mental health. That allowed the then-20-year-old convicted rapist to be classified as a relatively low-risk offender and gain access to the classroom on Jan. 30, 2014.

A federal judge will hear arguments on the state's request to dismiss the case Monday. A deputy attorney general wrote that the teacher routinely worked in classrooms at the Eyman prison complex in Florence, and there is always a risk of assault when working with prisoners. He wrote the case should be dismissed because the teacher can't show the defendants had actual knowledge of or willfully ignored impending harm.
"By being placed in a classroom at the complex, the officers were not placing plaintiff in any type of situation that she would not normally face," deputy attorney general Jonathan Weisbard wrote.

The victim's lawyer says there is nothing normal about his client being placed unguarded in a classroom with convicted sex offenders.

"To the contrary, the complaint alleges in substantial detail (and plaintiff will prove) that there is nothing 'normal' or 'routine' about a teacher being left alone in a room for nearly ninety minutes with six or seven sex offenders and special needs inmates, including at least two who were convicted of violent sexual crimes," attorney Scott Zwillinger wrote.

The woman, who is not being identified by The Associated Press because she's a sexual assault victim, also is suing prison health care provider Corizon Health Inc. Lawyers for Corizon also are asking that the case be dismissed and deny wrongdoing.

A claim the woman made against the state before filing the lawsuit sought $4 million.

The attack raised questions about prison security after reports showed she was put into a room full of inmates with no guards nearby.

Authorities said Harvey had lingered behind after others left the room, then repeatedly stabbed the victim with a pen before raping her.

In a September interview with the AP, the woman said she primarily blamed Corrections Director Charles Ryan for putting her in danger. She said rampant understaffing meant no one checked on her while she was in the classroom.

"Safety's got to come before everything, and there's just this attitude that we have the number of staff we need because we say we do," she said.

A prison spokesman called the rape "a cowardly and despicable crime, for which the inmate is rightfully facing prosecution" and said safety is always paramount.

Harvey is awaiting trial on rape, assault, kidnapping and other charges. He has pleaded not guilty.