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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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Youth Promise Act: Contact Congress!

 Upcoming Events

December 10: International Human Rights Day.
December 17: International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (Tucson Memorial).
December 18: Sex Workers Outreach Project Protest at the AZ DOC in Phoenix.

From the ACLU's Blog of Rights

Congress – Finally Getting Smart on Crime

Posted by Ian Thompson, Washington Legislative Office
Dec 2nd, 2009 at 3:16pm

Earlier this morning, the House Judiciary Committee, on a vote of 17-14, sent the Youth PROMISE Act onto the House of Representatives for a vote in the near future by the full chamber! It has taken several years of hard work and determined advocacy to get us to this important victory, which really marks a turning point in how Congress addresses issues of crime, youth violence and gang activity.

This legislation advances a new, forward-looking, “smart on crime” approach to confronting these issues by focusing resources on cost-effective, evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies rather than the usual mix of longer sentences and more prison beds. For example, rather than waiting until after a crime or violent act has occurred, the Youth PROMISE Act will empower communities to work in positive ways with at-risk young people. Additionally, the legislation was actually strengthened during today’s mark-up by ensuring that these prevention and intervention strategies also take girls into account, whose needs are often ignored by the justice system. The legislation’s focus on front-end prevention strategies will help to prevent both boys and girls from falling into a cycle of violence and incarceration.

As a testament to just how much support this type of approach is garnering in Congress, 232 bipartisan members are currently cosponsors of the legislation. For those Congress wonks out there, that’s over half of the entire House of Representatives (435). While it may seem like this bill is a legislative slam-dunk (it certainly should be), today’s vote, and the level of opposition from the Republican members of the Judiciary Committee, shows that we cannot let up the pressure. Please continue to email and contact your members of Congress and let them know that you support policies like the Youth PROMISE Act that are smart on crime and good investments in our future.

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