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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Friday, December 11, 2009

Children of Prisoners.

Upcoming Events

December 15: 5th Special Legislative Session convenes. Be There.

Came across this blog entry tonight just digging around the net. It's from the Journey to Manhood blog, which is "about men, boys, male culture, mentoring, rites of passage, and men helping boys on their journey to manhood." I was impressed with the post and infer that the author has done a lot of work with or about children of prisoners - including those in AZ.

Mentoring the Children of Prisoners

I was recently invited to speak at a conference about Mentoring the Children of Prisoners. It is being sponsored by MANY, the Mid-Atlantic Network of Youth & Family Services in Pittsburgh, PA. This conference comes out of the sad story about the challenges facing the children who have an incarcerated parent. With more than 5.6 million Americans in prison or who have served time, the U.S has the highest incarceration rate in the world (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2003). Right now, one in forty children in the U.S. have a parent in prison. In relationship to this huge need for mentoring and support, there are relatively few agencies or programs to help these children. The result is that children of prisoners are among the most at-risk population of children in our country.

Research from the Arizona Children of Prisoners Bill of Rights Project (2007) showed that just in my winter home state of Arizona, there were 175,000 children with parent/s in jail, prison, or on probation. The discussions and focus groups they conducted indicated that these children often lacked food, shelter, clothing, parental guidance, good role models, love, societal acceptance, a basic sense of security, and stability in their lives. The absence of these basic nutrients almost invites a child into a life of crime for survival. Research indicates these children are six times more likely than other children to become incarcerated at some point in their lives.

To learn more about opportunities for man-making with this very needy population contact the Resource Center. They are a provider for the federal Corporation for National and Community Service. The Resource Center's site offers lots of background information, links to related topics, and suggested volunteer opportunities.

You can also just do a Google search on Mentoring the Children of Prisoners in your state and see what comes up. If you want to be on the front lines of man-making, this could be a very good place to begin.

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