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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AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Top Ten Places to Suicide: Arizona.


December 10: International Human Rights Day
December 15: Fifth Special Legislative Session Begins
December 17: International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (Tucson Memorial Service).
December 18: SWOP-Tucson Demonstration at the Arizona Department of Corrections, Phoenix.

This is an impressively-written article, and it's about time people caught on to how to deal with someone who's suicidal - I don't understand what took so long, or why this is novel. I'd like to see all the Department of Corrections and MCSO staff  take that class on managing suicidal crises. 

We've been killing ourselves at twice the rate we've been killing each other in Arizona. That says a lot about the gaps in mental health care, as well as the toll that internalized oppression takes on people here. 

I sure hope some of the 2010 political candidates have a better vision for the future than more prisons to bolster our economic base (and psychiatric "facilities" to keep the people who make us uncomfortable with their suffering off the streets). Look at the prospects they put on the horizon for us now:  no wonder we're all doing ourselves in. 

There's also a link to a very moving memorial following the article. Check it out.

Magellan Health Services alters approach to suicide prevention

Over the summer, feeling overwhelmed by her physical and mental-health problems, Katie Ayotte went into her bathroom and swallowed a large number of pills she took to treat her bipolar disorder

It was a suicide attempt, Ayotte said, one of several the 47-year-old Phoenix resident has made over the years. Ayotte survived, and as she recovered, she noticed a new approach her clinical team was taking.
Before, she would awake in an intensive-care unit to find a doctor
or nurse barking questions.

Did you think this would solve anything? Didn't you think about your family? What were you thinking?
This time, no one blamed Ayotte. Instead, she saw a doctor who got up from behind his desk and sat down next to her. "I'm concerned for you," he said. And together they began to create a "safe zone" for Ayotte, moving her medications
from the bathroom to the kitchen, where she would have trouble accessing them without her husband or another loved one noticing.

Ayotte's doctor had embraced the principles of an approach to treating suicide that is new to Maricopa County. This fall, Magellan Health Services, which was hired by the state in 2007 to improve mental-health care in the county, launched a new plan to reduce suicides.

Arizona perennially finishes in the top 10 nationally for suicides per capita, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
. In 2007, 986 Arizonans died by suicide, twice the number of those who were murdered, according to Magellan. The rate of suicide was 15.9 per 100,000 people; in New York, the rate was 6.9 per 100,000.(read more)


Loved ones Lost to Suicide

The above link is to a slide show at AZ, which someone made to memorialize those whose lives have been lost to suicide. It's quite intimate and worth the journey if you give yourself a little time. 

- Peg

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