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:

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Private Prison Industry Razing Arizona

No source of employment in America that depends on an industry which processes, prices, and profits from people like cattle one which still only sees a poor or black man as being of any value if he's enslaved or imprisoned - is a blessing to cultivate for our children and grandchildren to grow into. Every job and “positive” byproduct of courting their business depends on them successfully marketing to the communities which host them their two biggest sellers: racism and fear.

Private prison corporations will exploit all the resources they have to assure that Arizona continues to criminalize and incarcerate people at a higher rate than most of the nation – otherwise they don’t stay in business. That means they'll be funding campaigns and pet projects of legislators who promote their interests over the public’s. With a new contract and infusion of cash, CCA/GEO etc. lobbyists will take up even more space at the Capitol, where they will have better access to influence and power than our teachers, firefighters, and other ordinary citizens will have. They will be a part of Pearce's inner circle creating an increasingly fascist state. School children, nurses, and families of the wrongfully convicted will still be told we need a permit to gather on a corner of their lawn to try to get our voices heard.

Please don’t be deceived by the promises of riches these mend bring. I have no doubt they’ll make it worth your while to get hooked on what they feed you, but it’s just seduction. While middle class Arizonans slip deeper into debt, lose their livelihoods, homes, and even families, the private prison industry will be working closely with those in our criminal justice system who are most invested in the status quo, drafting legislation that erodes civil liberties, reinforces the power of the corporate state to use violence against the people, and perpetuates, not reduces, victimization. They should have the next new batch of prisons ready for the growing “criminal” class - which many of us may join by default because we are ignorant of the driving forces behind Russ Pearce’s Law.

Ultimately, each community needs to decide if they want to leave something for future generations that corrupts the very essence of what's American - this faith in justice and equality, and the exceptionally high value we place on freedom. To us, the private prison industry should be an utter abhorrence. We should be investing our resources in reducing crime AND incarceration rates - since prisons are still chambers of torture, and incubators of rage and violence.

We are not as brutal or greedy a people as our political and economic leaders represent us to be - they speak only for their own interests. I urge Arizona citizens to pay close attention to this political campaign season, and get rid of as many private prison patrons in the legislature as possible. They will sell us out in a second if it profits them, and we must not surrender our power as a people to define our collective character based on our faith and moral values, not our fear and capacity for vindictiveness.

- Peg

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