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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Monday, February 1, 2010

Does Wickenburg have what CCA wants?

Does CCA have what the children of Wickenburg want? You know that if they can't find a job there, at least they could go live there...the lobbyists these people bring with them will make sure that there's no lack of criminals and  victims in Arizona, if we let them build this anywhere. 

We should be resisting new prisons everywhere. Before we build more we need to find out who we've already got locked up and why (I don't really trust the ADC records...they didn't even know Marcia had a guardian and family). Surely we don't need to be imprisoning this many people. Maybe we can let loose a few dying and wheelchair-bound prisoners, and if a few key prosecutors would reopen some cases and exonerate the innocent, we could free up a few more beds...

Then we need to do something about sentencing - we are far too brutal on people in some parts of this state...Russ Pearce wants us all to be like that. As for me - I want us all to be more safe and well.

I keep forgetting that there's a serious lack of courage in this state - among people in power that is. They're afraid of the terminally ill, drug addicted grandmothers, and women who write bad checks. Oh - and those people who keep dying in the desert trying to reach their families or make a better life  - they're a real scary bunch...

I have to say, I would not to raise my family in a town where mass incarceration was not only the norm, but a desired goal. Folks going down that road just seem to lack vision - they don't have enough creativity or faith in their people to believe that they will have no future if they don't build a prison.  

That's pretty sad. Surely something more beautiful can be built that will attract people who want to be there instead of import human beings who are chained and caged there.


Wickenburg Sun
January 27, 2010
Janet DelTufo, Assistant Editor

A proposed privately run prison project in Forepaugh remains a possibility, although talks between town officials and the prison operator have been quiet in recent weeks…

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