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, March 19, 2010

CCA Workhouse gang fight.

Witness Describes Gang Fight At The Workhouse

posted March 15, 2010 (Tennessee)

An official of the firm that operates the workhouse testified Monday about a fight at the Silverdale facility that she said pitted members of one local gang against another.

Michelle Johnson, of the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), was a witness at a sentencing hearing for Ladarius Springs.

She said the day after Christmas, there was an altercation involving 7-8 inmates in a sector that houses 64 prisoners.

Ms. Johnson said it started as "an argument between two inmates who are members of rival gangs."

Of the ensuing brawl, she said, "Pretty much everyone involved was a member of one gang or the other."

She said Springs was seen in a video swinging a sock wrapped around a lock at several other inmates. She said the sock with the lock inside was afterward found in Springs' cell.

Ms. Johnson said letters were found in Springs' cell involving STG (Security Threat Group) gangs.

She said the letters related specifically to the Traveling Vice Lords.

She said there were other incidents involving Springs at the workhouse so he was sent back to the County Jail.

A jail deputy said on Jan. 10 that Springs was throwing urine into an adjacent cell. He said a search of his property box turned up a plastic shank.

Springs denied being involved in a fight at the workhouse or of having any knowledge of the plastic shank.

Judge Barry Steelman ordered that a six-year prison sentence against Springs go into execution.

He noted that Springs has already been in custody about two years. He said, "He just poses too much of a danger to the citizens of Chattanooga to be allowed on the streets."

The judge added, "The laws being what they are, he may be back out on the streets before I do this evening."

Judge Steelman noted that Springs had pleaded guilty to involvement in a violent home invasion when he was 18. He had been ordered to serve 11 months and 29 days of a six-year sentence. But he was arrested for assault eight days after being released.

The judge said the assault occurred in a local housing project at 3:05 a.m.

Springs, who is now 20, is the younger brother of Eric Lebron Springs, who was convicted in Federal Court in December of involvement in a string of "shock and awe" robberies.

He is awaiting sentencing.

Ladarius Springs said the letters about the Vice Lords gang came from his brother.

Attorney Ben McGowan said the mother of the Springs brothers is a cocaine addict who gave up the children when Ladarius was eight.

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