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

Prison + Children = Suicide

I'm sorry I didn't get this out when it first happened. I hope this kid's sentencing judge heard about his suicide, and thinks twice about how he sentences children in adult court. We have to think of better ways to work with these kids - and sooner.

As a survivor of sexual assault myself, even I don't believe that prison is the answer, especially for kids. It just traumatizes and twists people more deeply, and either makes them more mean or more self-destructive: in either case, there's a high recidivism rate pointing to the fact that prison fails most prisoners. A few rare souls may emerge "better" people, not because of the prison so much, though, as because of who they already were going in. My bet is that prison destroys more lives than it helps to rebuild...lives like Jerry Kulp's.

Our condolences to Jerry's family and friends.

Teenage state prison inmate dies in Tucson

Associated Press

Posted on May 12, 2010 at 6:19 PM

Updated Thursday, May 13 at 9:31 AM

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Authorities say a state prison inmate has died at a Tucson hospital less than a week after an apparent suicide attempt.

Arizona Department of Corrections officials say 17-year-old Jerry Kulp died Tuesday at University Medical Center after being taken off life support. They say Kulp's family authorized the withdrawal of care.

Kulp was transported to the hospital on May 5, just two days after he entered the prison system.

DOC officials say Kulp was sentenced out of Maricopa County and was serving 10 years for sexual assault. He was at the minors unit of the state prison complex in Tucson.