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, January 8, 2010

Look what Copwatch just passed on...

The time seems right to indict...


Sheriff Joe Arpaio investigated by grand jury, officials confirm
by JJ Hensley and Yvonne Wingett - Jan. 8, 2010 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

Two Maricopa County executives said Thursday they will appear before a federal grand jury next week to testify about allegations that Sheriff Joe Arpaio and others in his office have abused their power.

County Manager David Smith and Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson said they met with representatives from the U.S. Attorney's Office on Wednesday to prepare for the grand jury.

Arpaio denied knowledge of the grand jury. "I'm not commenting about the grand jury or what's occurring," he said. "If people are saying it, let them say it. We're going to continue doing our job."

Federal grand juries composed of local residents meet in secret to hear testimony to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to hold a trial.

Witnesses, however, are not prohibited from talking about the grand jury, which uses subpoenas to gather evidence.

If the grand jury hands up an indictment, a trial would determine guilt or innocence.

Smith and Wilson are scheduled to appear at the federal courthouse in downtown Phoenix at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday. They were told that their testimony may take several hours over several days. "We were told that we are now federal witnesses, and we will be protected," Wilson said.

Based on their discussions with the U.S. Attorney's Office, Smith said the grand jury appears to be focusing on a variety of issues.

Among them are budget negotiations, the county's courthouse project, deputies questioning county employees at their homes, threats of investigations of county employees, and a fight over a criminal-justice computer system.

"I'm certainly gratified that the system is starting to work, where this kind of abuse of power is looked into by a competent authority," Smith said. "A lot of people have suffered; now I think that from the U.S. attorney, with respect to Sheriff Arpaio, justice will be served."

The Justice Department announced last year it was also conducting a civil investigation into allegations of racial profiling against the Sheriff's Office.

Representatives from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Phoenix, the Department of Justice in Washington, D..C., and the FBI office in Phoenix would not comment on the grand jury.

Since at least May, county employees have regularly met with FBI officials about Arpaio and allegations of misuse of power, according to Republic sources interviewed by federal agents.

However, sources said Thursday it's unclear if the grand jury is a result of those conversations.

Over the past year, county leaders have fought over money and authority.

The fights originated among top officials at the county, the Sheriff's Office and the County Attorney's Office but have recently enveloped midlevel employees in other departments..... (hit the AZ Republican for the rest)

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