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:

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Prison Abuse Reporting Pays off.

Thank you Ken Kopczynski from PCI for sending all these emails out.

From Texas Prison Bidness:. A little old, but a good reminder that sometimes it's wise the listen to the people we institutionalize - be they in schools, hospitals, nursing homes or prisons. Their solutions to problems with the system - even just the day to day ordeals of prison life - would be worth soliciting for anyone really wanting to know the "truth" about what goes on inside, and on what should be done to keep people safe - and get them home alive. 

The most pressing issues I've heard of from prisoners and their families across the ADC include substandard, sloppy, and unresponsive medical care; high incidences of suicides; sexual abuse and exploitation of female prisoners by male guards,  callous disregard for prisoner requests, needs, safety. Sanitation is a huge issue in part because the women have to do all the cleaning and aren't allowed adequate amounts of disinfectant (it could be used as a "chemical weapon") to kill things like HIV, HepC, flu and cold viruses, and so on. One has a pretty good chance of contracting a number of diseases in prison - as evidenced by the shorter life span that people have in prison as opposed to the outside. Anyway, here's an article on our favorite multinational private prison corporation, forwarded from


Reporter Who Broke CCA Abuse Case Nominated for Texas Emmy

Wed, 09/26/2007  ( Bob)

The Laredo Morning Times is reporting that local Univision reporter Wendolyn Morales has been nominated for a Texas Emmy for her work covering the case of Tomas Contreras.

As readers of Texas Prison Bid'ness might remember, Contreras is the longtime U.S. resident who detained while re-entering the country on a 18 year-old minor drug conviction. He was subsequently held for months at two Laredo detention centers run by Corrections Corporation of America and beaten when reporting poor conditions.

After Morales' report, U.S. representative Tammy Baldwin became involved in the case and Contreras was released soon after.

Congrats to Ms. Morales on this nomination and we wish you the best of luck covering stories of importance like this.

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