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 25, 2009

AZ Cities and Towns Sue the State's A**

That was deceptive and anti-democratic to slip these anti-immigration provisions into the budget bill. Shame on them all. They are starting to catch on, though, that the immigrants they should be worried about are the citizens moving here from other places in the country in time to VOTE! So, it is not enough to criminalize simply existing as an undocumented immigrant, they must now criminalize anything that a lefty sympathizer might do, like assisting a dying migrant found in the desert (Pearce is working on repealing Sanctuary Cities on the general ballot as a "citizen initiative"). 
Worse yet, a government employee can be charged for failing to report an illegal immigrant. Doe anyone know how many state workers that will affect, and what the scope of that is? Are homeless outreach workers supposed to start verifying citizenship now, before they can offer food or a blanket? Will a program for survivors of domestic violence turn undocumented women out into the cold - or over to ICE - once they finally place that call for help?

This is a real problem, folks, the mentality behind some of this legislation. And here the Governor and the bad boys of the Legislature are chastising cities for suing them for that end run they did around democracy. Note that it's not because the cities are taking an ethical position about the politics of immigration laws. Still, it's about time they did something.

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and top Republican legislators blasted Arizona municipalities for going to court to challenge the constitutionality of parts of a budget law, including provisions that deny government services and benefits to illegal immigrants.

The lawsuit filed by the League of Arizona Cites and Towns amounts to siding "with lawbreakers over lawkeepers," said Sen. Russell Pearce, a Mesa Republican who championed the provisions targeting illegal immigration.

Pearce appeared with Brewer, Senate President Bob Burns and House Speaker Kirk Adams at a news conference on Tuesday, one day after the league's lawsuit asked the Arizona Supreme Court to overturn multiple sections of the budget law, which lawmakers passed in August and Brewer signed Sept. 4.

The governor said it was "outrageous and shocking" that the league would challenge the budget law and its immigration provisions "at a time when Arizona is suffering from budget deficits of unprecedented proportions and the state is struggling to meet the basic needs of its citizens."

The illegal immigration section toughened existing prohibitions on providing services or benefits to illegal immigrants. It also makes it a misdemeanor for a state or local government employee to fail to report immigration law violations detected while administering a public benefit or service, and it allows anyone to sue the state or local governments to enforce the prohibitions.

League Executive Director Ken Strobeck said later that the league's concern with the immigration sections stems from the possibility of municipal employees being sued or criminally charged.

"We're not talking at all about the provision of benefits to people that are in the country illegally," he said. "That is something that people in cities and towns do not do."

The league's lawsuit said the challenged provisions were enacted unconstitutionally because they fell outside budget-related topics listed by Brewer when she called lawmakers into special session and because unrelated legislation was packaged in one bill.

Besides the immigration provisions, the league also is challenging sections concerning building codes, impact fees and construction contract taxes.

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