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, November 8, 2009

Prisoners Becoming Homeless

Perpetuating the Revolving Door: Ex-Prisoners Precluded from Homeless Housing Programs

Published October 15, 2008 @ 12:21PM PT

Where do prisoners go after they've served their time?

The lucky ones stay move home to families or friends. But for most people leaving the criminal justice system, housing options are extremely limited. Many are forced to turn to the emergency shelter system for food, clothing, and shelter.

Emergency shelters would seem to be a good entry point for ex-prisoners wishing connect to rehabilitation or housing programs.

The problem is, permanent supportive housing programs - especially those based on the Housing First model - are simply not an option for former prisoners. Not only are the waiting lists for these programs long and the housing limited, but their criminal record precludes prisoners coming out of the prison system from qualifying for these programs.

According to Affordable Housing Finance magazine, just about all of the apartments used for Housing First are supported with rental subsidies from Section 8 vouchers or HUD's McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Shelter-Plus-Care program. These programs are administered by local agencies, most of which exclude potential tenants with criminal records.
Furthermore, people exiting prison do not meet the federal definition of homeless. According to the article:
The McKinney-Vento program doesn't recognize anyone who has just completed a month or more in an institution like jail as homeless. That's because to qualify as homeless, clients need to have been in a homeless shelter within the last 30 days or have a number of stays in the recent past. A jail inmate interested in supportive housing will often have to return to a homeless shelter before becoming eligible for funding.
This is alarming. People being released from prison are much more likely to be arrested again if they return to life on the streets or in shelter. According to one study, nearly 20% of parolees who were arrested for a second time (or third, or fourth, etc.) were homeless at the time of their arrest.
"There is a subset of people that are exiting jail or prison; they are guaranteed to go back unless they get support," said Andy McMahon, a senior program manager for CSH (Corporation for Supportive Housing, a national advocacy group). "They don't have the capacity to stay housed or stay out of jail."
While we don't know if incarceration is a result of homelessness or homelessness is a result of incarceration, one thing is clear: safe, supportive housing upon release from prison is absolutely necessary in order to prevent recidivism.


Anonymous said...

Please check the case for Joe Delao case number CR2009-169697. He is a registered sex offender who has been wrongly accused of committing a sexual offense, but his two accusers have retracted their statements and are willing to appear in court to testify that they lied. His preliminary hearing is on 01-04-2010 in Maricopa County Superior Court.

Michelle from Wista said...

I've spent the last two days trying to find a friend and 6 yr ex inmate a place to live. he has no job no money no food no place to go and nobody to help him. I've driven him around all day, called every number I can find, so he's homeless yet another night. It's not right what the justice system does do prisoners who get out and try to make it in the world. I'm so terribly sad and so unsafe for my friend and all homeless.