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, May 7, 2010

Fewer border crossings; more desert deaths.

This comes via Laura llardo, at "No More Deaths - Phoenix". The pdf report this refers to is here: NFAP Policy Brief: Death At the Border.

The website has some other interesting reports, listed here.

The best source I know for commentary on migration and immigration law, however, remains the Phoenix blogspot "Chaparral Respects No Borders". She covers stuff you wouldn't otherwise even think of , but that needs to be a part of the national dialogue.


U.S. laws blamed for migrant deaths

A national think-tank report released Thursday blames the deaths of thousands of people who died trying to cross the U.S.-Mexican border on the failure to reform immigration law and asserts that congressional inaction has empowered violent human-smuggling organizations.

The Virginia-based National Foundation for American Policy Reform says the lack of a legal entry system for immigrant workers "has contributed to more than 4,000 men, women and children dying while attempting to cross to America since 1998."

The foundation is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization formed in 2003 to conduct public-policy research on trade and immigration.

Its report, written by Executive Director Stuart Anderson, points out that immigrant deaths increased last year despite a drop-off in the number of arrested immigrants. Fewer people are trying to cross the border due in part to America's recession and increased security.

It concludes that, because the border is more difficult to penetrate, immigrants wind up hiring criminal guides at high prices to lead them on long and dangerous treks into the United States.

"The only plausible way to eliminate immigrant deaths at the border, as well as reduce illegal immigration in the long term, is to institute a new program of temporary visas or portable work permits for foreign workers," Anderson writes. "Strong evidence exists that the current 'enforcement-only' policy has strengthened criminal gangs."

Other border researchers, including the southern Arizona group No More Deaths, have condemned border-security programs designed to push illegal immigration into remote desert areas. In 2008, the Congressional Research Service issued a paper that said "border crossings have become more dangerous since the 'Prevention through Deterrence' policy went into affect in 1995, resulting in an increase in illegal migrant deaths."

Steven Camarota, director of research at Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates immigration reductions, said Anderson correctly assails U.S. policy, but for the wrong reasons.

Camarota said all the research shows that the flow of undocumented immigrants would plummet if a workplace-enforcement program was made mandatory, thereby shutting down the jobs that lure illegal immigrants.

Regardless of the policy in place, Camarota said those who risk death to cross the border unlawfully must take responsibility for their fates.

"The illegal immigrants themselves are partly to blame," he said.

According to Border Patrol data, approximately 1.5 million illegal border crossers were apprehended in 1998, when 263 deaths were reported. Last year, 541,000 immigrants were captured; there were 417 deaths.

Meanwhile, Anderson says, "current (enforcement) efforts seem to have produced the unintended consequence of swelling the illegal immigrant population" because those who safely enter the United States - fearful they could never make it through the border again - seldom return home.

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