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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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Beware the Scary Criminals who make the laws...

Gearing up already with the "scary criminals -v- the law-abiding citizens" talk for the 2010 campaigns, I see. If judges are putting prostitutes in prison for 27 months for blow jobs, I think there are probably a few prisoners in this state who could be released without posing a huge threat to society. In fact, it seems to me we'd all be better off swapping out some of them for the real criminals who drove us into this recession. 

I don't think the politicians in this state quite get it yet: people have been losing their jobs, homes, families, and lives - many or the first time needing a safety net that Arizona's been swiftly decimating. How many citizens are going to keep believing that it's worth $26,000 a year to brutalize women like Marcia Powell, while at the same time the governor cuts funds to the services that might have helped her safely stay off the street?We're just going to keep putting our people in cages?

It's long since time, by the way, to rewrite the criminal codes of this state - the prisons are already bulging at the seams with people whose most grievous crime is being poor. And as for Perryville, we should be storming the gates rescuing the women from that place.

Anyway, this is the article from the Eastern Arizona Courier that set me off today: note how important it is to keep the prisons open to support the local economies in these troubled times.
ADOC cuts would close Fort Grant prison

Budget cut options submitted to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer by Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles L. Ryan include closure of the Fort Grant Unit of the Arizona State Prison-Safford and an admonition that deep budget cuts at ADOC would require rewriting the state’s criminal code.

“The rewriting of the criminal code and releasing thousands of prisoners is neither realistic nor in the best interest of public safety,” Ryan wrote. “Releasing thousands of prisoners because of the budget deficit will place the public at risk and is akin to turning our backs on the law-abiding citizens of Arizona.”

If the Arizona Legislature and Brewer proceed with deep budget cuts to the state’s prison system, a savings of $153,368,700 would result, according to Ryan’s estimates. This a fraction of the nearly $4 billion shortfall the state anticipates over the next two years.

Barron Marson, ADOC spokesman, emphasized that the budget cuts submitted by Ryan are not a proposal. Instead, they are a response to Brewer’s request of all state agencies for budget reductions that could trim 15 percent from their spending plans.

ADOC’s reduction options included closing state prisons or several units within state prisons, including the Fort Grant Unit.

“The closures of 15 prison units will economically devastate the Arizona communities (where they are located),” Ryan said in his response to Brewer’s request.


Other budget-cutting measures would include releasing more than 13,000 inmates, a reduction in force of more than 1,500 prison employees and cuts to prison programs.

A 15-percent budget reduction would also include moving prison inmates who are serving sentences of one year or less to county jails. This would require legislative action to change the state’s criminal code, Ryan said.

New legislation would also be needed to release inmates with a felony class of 4, 5 or 6 after they serve 25 percent of their sentences. The current law allows felons to be released after serving 85 percent of their sentences.

“The impact of this change would jeopardize public safety, and ADC cannot support it,” Ryan wrote.

As state officials contemplate cuts throughout state agencies, the ADOC has vacancies that it cannot fill due to budget constraints. These include 199 corrections officers, 65.5 health-care personnel and 392 “other” corrections workers, according to Ryan’s report.

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