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. email@example.com
until all are free -
MARGARET J PLEWS (June 1, 2015)
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Budget Crisis Solved: Car Washes! Raffles! Donations!
Arizona is in trouble. Facing a $2.2 billion deficit, and with a November Pew Center study showing the state as having the second worst fiscal problem in the country (tied with Rhode Island behind California), state legislatures know they must come up with a solution. But the Republican controlled legislature refuses to consider raising taxes to address the problem. Thirty nine Republican legislators went so far as to sign a no-tax pledge at the urging of conservative Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform based in D.C.
With their hands tied by that no-tax pledge, this week Republican legislators floated another idea to save the state of Arizona: ask for donations.
Calling it the "I Didn't Pay Enough" fund, Republican legislators want to let Arizonans voluntarily tax themselves by adding more to the amount they pay in state income tax. Thirty four state representatives, all Republican, have already backed the idea, and their erstwhile leader, Grover Norquist, heartily approves, calling it "a noble idea...so that people who feel they are undertaxed have a place to send their money."
According to the report in the East Valley Tribune the sponsor of the bill admits donations won't make a dent in the overwhelming Arizona state deficit. Republican Representative Judy Burges agreed that at least part of the reason she proposed the bill was to make an ideological and political point, to show up those who claim that Arizonans will pay more taxes for better services. Norquist, too, agrees it's little more than a political joke, since such funds have done little or nothing to help states in trouble in the past. When a similar bill was proposed in Kentucky under the title "Tax Me More," Norquist said: "Tax Me More Funds and their sickly low balances are just what the doctor ordered."
The editors of Arizona's two largest newspapers immediately slammed the proposal as a gimmick from the anti-tax crowd. The Arizona Republic in Phoenix published an editorial calling the idea "an ideological stunt," telling the legislature to "spare us the tax jokes" in a time of fiscal crisis. Tucson's Arizona Daily Star called the idea "a distraction," saying "it was crafted to make a point and not to solve a problem." One of Arizona's most active political blogs, Blog for Arizona, called it the latest entry from the "GOP 'Gimmicks R Us' Shop." Jeffrey Rogers, Pima County Democratic Chair, simply said the bill was "absolutely ridiculous."
Arizona is in trouble. And once again members of Arizona's GOP have shown where their real loyalty lies: with Mr. Norquist, not their own constituents. As Arizona residents wait for their legislature to propose serious solutions to the ever-growing deficit, as we watch growth lag, foreclosures mount, and the state deficit inch closer and closer to $3 billion, we wonder when legislators will finally do something to help the state they supposedly serve. Considering this latest joke from the GOP, solutions won't come from the Republican controlled legislature anytime soon. And that could mean disaster for the Grand Canyon state.