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, July 7, 2010

Globe's hospitality plans await state OK.

Personally, I think we should be abandoning our decaying and over-crowded medium and minimum security facilities today, not building new ones. If America evolves as a society, those prison cells will sit empty and Globe will be hurting for cash, wishing we didn't chase all the immigrants away so they could be detained there. If Arizona prisons grow as projected and remain full twenty years out, it will be because the fascists and greed have won (and I will probably be occupying one of those cells).


New Globe prison will require state hearing

Posted: Wednesday, Jul 7th, 2010

BY: Ted Lake/Staff Writer

Arizona Silver Belt (GLOBE)

GLOBE — Last Thursday, the Arizona Silver Belt was told, in the event that the Emerald Company was determined to be the successful bidder for the proposed private prison project in Globe, the Arizona Department of Corrections still could not immediately award a 20-year contract to the company to build the medium security complex here. That is because the statutes require as a next step for DOC to come to the city of Globe and conduct its own public hearing to allow any citizen or group to express their views for and against the proposed 1,000-bed prison and its site.

In short, Arizona Revised Statute 41-1609:02 says the Arizona Department of Corrections shall hold its own public hearing in the city or town the new prison is to be located.

The Department shall also publish a notice of the public hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in the area at least 10 days before the state’s hearing here.

Then, after listening to all public comments about the proposed new private prison from local citizens, the Department of Corrections can move forward in determining whether or not it will award a contract to that bidder.

Previously, the Globe city council held two long sessions over the private prison project which resulted in approving a resolution supporting it by a vote of 4 to 2.

Emerald Correctional Management Company is one of four companies who submitted bids May 28 to built up to 5,000-bed private prison complexes in Arizona, including a site near the Gila County fairgrounds in Globe.

Staff members of the Arizona Department of Corrections are continuing to do their due diligence in reviewing the lengthy bid packages, and could not give a completion date as of last week, only saying the process was taking longer than anticipated. They had originally hoped for the awarding of bids by June 30.

Ted Lake can be reached at