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, November 18, 2009

Arizona Budget Coalition's Counterproposal to LEGS


Arizona’s Fiscal Imbalance is severe and applies to both the short term (FY 2010 and FY 2011) and the
mid/long term (FY 2012 and beyond). The magnitude of the difference between projected annual
revenues and expenditures in the next few years is at least $2 billion and may exceed $3 billion each
year for the foreseeable future.

Arizona’s budget deficit is incredibly large for several reasons. We have worsened the deficit by
shrinking our revenue base through a series of tax cuts enacted over the past two decades. In addition,
the national recession and the mortgage crisis have had a dramatic impact on our state and local

Governor Brewer and the state legislature have already enacted severe budget cuts to health, human
services, education, and jobs. Even more severe budget cuts are on the table with options prepared by
the state agencies that will further reduce benefits and services to Arizona’s citizens.

The Arizona Budget Coalition stands united in our call to executive and legislative leaders for a
comprehensive approach to balance our state budget. We urge our elected leaders to aggressively
pursue a combination of revenue options that will provide: 1) “Bridge Funding” in the short term (FY
2010 and FY 2011) to help Arizona get through the economic downturn while protecting education,
health and human services, and 2) Permanent Revenue increases for the long term to restore the state’s
fiscal balance between ongoing revenues and expenditures.

REVENUE OPTIONS: The Coalition believes that the following six Options should be pursued prior
to enacting further damaging budget cuts:

1) Monetize Revenue Streams. As has been successfully accomplished in many state and local
governments across the country, Arizona has the opportunity to monetize existing revenue streams. This
strategy provides a one-time lump sum for each revenue stream to help Arizona through the current
economic downturn. Prime candidates for monetization include revenue streams for the:

a) Lottery ($500 million)
b) Tobacco Settlement Agreement ($900 million)
c) Vehicle License Tax ($500 million)

These financial bridges would be used to help balance Arizona’s FY 2010 and FY 2011 budgets and
help avoid further damaging budget cuts.

2) Explore Health Care Provider Assessments (HCPA). There has been much discussion and
speculation in recent months regarding the feasibility of enacting a health care provider assessment with
some estimates of $500 million or more. Federal law permits states to collect revenues from certain
categories of health care providers or services – including hospitals, health insurers, and others – and use
the proceeds to draw down federal matching funds.

Federal matching dollars may be used to fund various activities including raising provider rates and paying for a portion of the state’s share of Medicaid programs. Currently 44 states have some type of a provider assessment. Given that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services must approve any health care provider assessment that seeks to draw down federal Medicaid matching funds, the ABC urges the Governor and the Legislature to pursue the feasibility of any HPCA with the intent that proceeds be realized in FY 2011 or as soon as practicable thereafter.

3) Restore DOR Auditing/Collections Staffing to FY 2000 FTE levels. The Department of
Revenue’s auditing and collections staff were reduced through layoffs in FY 2009 by 250 to 300
positions. Reinstating these positions and re-employing laid off workers by March 2010 will net the state
more than $125 million in revenue collections in FY 2011. Returning staffing levels at DOR to the
authorized FTE levels in FY 2000 will generate an additional $75 million for FY 2011, assuming that
new hires complete training by the start of FY 2011. It is unfair and irresponsible for revenue that is
owed to the state to go uncollected due to staffing shortages.

4) Approve Ballot Referendum for Tax Increase. To achieve long term fiscal balance in Arizona
between revenue and expenditures, a substantial permanent increase in tax revenues will be required.
Arizona voters will effectively be asked to restore funding that the state has lost through tax cuts enacted
over the past two decades. A permanent 1-cent increase in the sales tax rate with allowance for an
offsetting tax credit for low income families would raise up to $1 billion per year and represent a first
step in achieving long term fiscal balance for the state.

5) Encourage President and Congress to enact a second round of Fiscal Stabilization Funds for
Once Congress and President Obama reach closure on the Health Insurance Reform package,
their attention will be refocused to other matters including the economy and a possible second round of
stimulus funding. We urge Governor Brewer to work with the National Governors Association (NGA)
and Arizona’s legislative leadership to work with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)
and Arizona’s Congressional delegation to advance a second round of “Fiscal Stabilization” funds.
Additional federal aid could approach $1 to $3 billion for Arizona.

6) Adopt Other Revenue Options. There are several accounting changes, fund adjustments and agency
user fee increases that could collectively increase available revenue by in excess of $100 million. These
include: 1) Reinstatement of estimated sales tax threshold at 2006 level; 2) Agency fund balance
transfers; 3) Agency user fee changes; and 4) Reclaiming sales tax collection fee. In addition, there is
the possibility of modifying the private and public school tuition tax credits for corporations and


The Governor and the Legislature have the opportunity to minimize more permanently damaging budget
reductions that could potentially retard or even destroy Arizona’s future economy and the quality of life
so treasured by its citizens. The six Revenue Options above have the potential to provide up to
$6.7 billion in additional revenue to the state. The ABC believes the options are both doable and viable
in the short term while Arizona leaders take a long-term, comprehensive approach to achieve permanent
fiscal balance.

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