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

Somerton, Arizona: "Prison County" being courted

I guess this is abut the ADC cruising towns now, not CCA or GEO. In any event, This will be a shot in the head to future generations, so make sure it's really worth that little shot in the arm for you today...this prison comes at the expense of kids and seniors this year, too, you know. That's how important human life really is in Arizona. It's only valuable if it can be bought and sold, not educated or liberated.


Somerton considers prison site

March 14, 2010 3:55 PM


SOMERTON — Somerton officials are looking into the possibility of trying to attract a privately run prison they say would give a shot in the arm to the economy.

The state Department of Corrections needs an additional 5,000 beds for minimum- and medium-security inmates, and Somerton officials say that, depending on the details, they may want their city to be considered as a site by the company that will operate it.

According to preliminary estimates, a prison could create to 800 jobs and generate $2 million in revenue annually for the community that hosted it, he said.

"The proposal is being explored," Mayor Martin Porchas said a recent council work session. "We still don't have many details, but it would be an option for bring revenue into the city."

Porchas said the state is in the process of selecting the company that will build and then operate the prison under contract with the state.

One of the conditions under which the city would host a prison is that it would located away from the downtown and from residential areas, Porchas said.

A prison would require 200 acres, and the city would have to annex land for the site, Porchas said, since there is no existing property in the city large enough accommodate it.

He added that the advantages and disadvantages of the project will become clearer once the company is chosen.

"We are a long way from discussing it or voting on it," Porchas said. "It's nothing more than a proposal we are analyzing.

"At some point we will call the community together for a public meeting to find out its opinion."

DOC officials referred questions about the project to state Department of Administration spokesman, who was not immediately available for comment.

If Somerton were to attract a prison, it would be the third prison site in the county. DOC operates at prison complex south of Yuma and next to the Mexican border, while San Luis, Ariz., hosts a private prison for federal prisoners.

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