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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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Eric Holder: Stop Prison Rape.

Here's Just Detention International's most recent Press Release on protecting prisoners against rape, which provides many useful links on the subject:



Congressional Leaders, Advocates, and Survivors Call for Urgent Action A Year After Bipartisan Commission Proposed Federal Blueprint to Stop Sexual Abuse Behind Bar

Washington, DC, June 23, 2010. One year after the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission released national standards aimed at ending sexual violence in detention, a bipartisan group of lawmakers, advocates, and prisoner rape survivors called for urgent action as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder missed the statutory deadline to formalize the measures.

"It is inexcusable that the Justice Department would miss the deadline to implement these important regulations," said Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), a leading advocate for strong national standards. "After years of careful study and vetting by the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, the department is wasting time and taxpayer money on costly, duplicative reviews while the president's budget actually proposes cutting funds to implement these regulations."

The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 -- passed by a unanimous Congress and signed by President George W. Bush -- created the bipartisan Commission to develop standards addressing sexual abuse behind bars. Led by U.S. District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton, the Commission released its final recommendations on June 23, 2009. By law, Attorney General Holder was to promulgate a set of "zero tolerance" national standards within one year of that date.

Federal studies estimate that some 100,000 detainees are sexually abused each year in prisons, jails, and juvenile facilities. The Commission's research revealed that these attacks are not inevitable but the result of failures in facility management. The recommended standards outline the necessary policies and practices for stopping this violence, including regular audits to hold agencies accountable for mistreatment.

"I repeatedly reported the abuse I experienced, but officials took no real actions to protect me," said Scott Howard-Smith, a prisoner rape survivor. "People in prison constantly face the same horrible situation I faced. The Attorney General has it in his power to keep this from happening to others."

Just Detention International assembled and leads the Raising the Bar Coalition, a partnership of more than 60 organizations, from all points on the political spectrum, including leading progressive advocacy organizations and conservative faith-based groups, united in support of strong national standards to address sexual assault in detention.

Once the Attorney General issues final standards, the regulations will immediately be binding on facilities run by the Bureau of Prisons and other federal agencies. States will have one year to establish their compliance or risk losing five percent of their corrections-related federal funding.

"Every day that the Attorney General fails to implement these recommendations, men, women, and youth in detention will continue to get raped, even though we know how to end this type of abuse," said Lovisa Stannow, Executive Director of Just Detention International.