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:

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Prisoners, not Produce

An articulate editorial from Pennsylvania about why prisoners should not be shipped out of state or sold to the lowest private bidders...(thanks to Ken Kopczynski from PCI for this)

Our opinion: They're prisoners, not produce

from The Leader-Vindicator (New Bethlehem, PA)


Pennsylvania is thinking of doing something very, very unAmerican.

The state is considering sending some of its prison inmates to vacant prisons in Michigan, and is thinking about sending others to county prisons in Armstrong, Bedford, Cambria, Centre, Clinton, Indiana, and Wayne counties.

Pennsylvania has 50,000 people imprisoned, which is over capacity, according to Susan Bensinger, so something must be done.

We have no problem with the state using county prisons to house state-level prisoners in some circumstances, provided the details can be worked out.

Those details are not inconsequential. Some services that are available at state-level prisons are not available at county-level prisons. We aren't talking coddling inmates here, but we do see value to educational programs, drug/alcohol abuse programs and other services that make it less likely that prisoners - who will be released one day - will do further violence to the rest of us or to our property.

So we're cautious about using county prisons as more than stopgap, short-term fill-in facilities. If Pennsylvania needs more prison space, it should build new prisons or expand existing ones. That is a fundamental duty of government.

We are totally opposed to sending Pennsylvania prisoners out-of-state.

That's almost as bad, in our view, as having "private" prisons, which are another term for slave encampments. What else does one call it when people are held against their will by private firms or individuals?

Imprisoning people is one of the most solemn, serious functions of government, only slightly less so than executing people or forcing people into military service.

Government has no business delegating this responsibility.

Government must manage its prisons directly, to ensure that the people running the government are directly responsible, both for abuses of prisoners and for lapses in security that threaten guards, other inmates or the rest of us outside prison walls.

Pennsylvania's Legislature and governor need to tell the Department of Corrections that prisoners are not produce. Nor are prisoners commodities.

These are people - dangerous people, sometimes brutish people, but people nonetheless. We have taken away their freedom, for justifiable reasons. We owe it, not to them, but to those of us who might one day be imprisoned, perhaps unjustly, to ensure that the state prison system is run effectively, efficiently and responsibly, and that means doing it ourselves, not delegating the task to another state or to modern-day slavemasters.

- Denny Bonavita

No comments: