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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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dear Director Ryan: Writing to Goliath.

The following is an excerpt from an email I sent to Director Charles Ryan at the Arizona Department of Corrections this weekend. I offered to meet him in his office to discuss a few things, so don't expect me to post a written response from him - they aren't often forthcoming, as emails have their way of making it to court.

My side was a long letter, though - this part of which was a complaint about the phone call I witnessed Friday between Julie and Ryan's people. I still can't figure out how to get the video of that call posted and distributed, but will leave those links here once I do. That recording is as real as it gets, and everyone who's advocated on Davon's behalf needs to see it. Keep acting up out there.

"...By the way, your doctor was really cruel and condescending to Julie Acklin and owes her an apology - at the minimum - as far as I'm concerned. If you all taped that conversation from your end, you'd better play it back. I hope you weren't there condoning his behavior. I also hope you know more about Hep C in prisons than he does - and more about your high profile prisoners, too. He didn't even know if the patient he swore was in no mortal danger had been tested yet for HIV - yet he seemed to think that Davon hadn't asked for an HIV test, either (which was by way of justifying why he wouldn 't have had an HIV test. He knows that kid wouldn't have known to ask before all this.).

That's inexcusable. Furthermore, it's a standard Hep C practice guideline, even in prison, for the physician to automatically test for other forms of hepatitis and HIV whenever a lab comes back HCV+. He should have had some certainty that Davon had been tested if he knew his patient was so healthy that he wouldn't even evaluate him further at this time.

He's full of it. This guy is either strategically trying stall and ridicule Julie, or he really hasn't been keeping up with his profession, so you might want to check him out again. Even I know more about current treatment recommendations than he does. And medical ethics, apparently.

My report of how that conversation went will be in my blogs, whether or not we plan to meet this week - there's no damage control to be done to head off that one. It exemplifies the stone wall your administrators maintain when you're really into denying a problem that everyone else out here can already see - like security in the private prisons...we've been screaming about a lot of this stuff for awhile. Funny how it's ending up an election issue. It still looks a lot like you're waiting Marcia out - as if you're hoping we collapse from the heat or fatigue and shut up already. I guess your doctors are pretty much the same...

...Regarding Davon - whether it takes five months or 15 years to kill that kid, I'll figure out how to prove that he could have become virus-free and avoided such a fate if he'd been treated according to current community standards now, before his liver functioning deteriorates any further. You could be responsible for helping spread Hep C through the community, with the shoddy care he's received.

The one good thing the doctor had to say today is that it may still be early enough in the progression of the disease that there's still hope if he gets prompt treatment - even though he refused to admit that's what he was really saying. That part - the hope - I celebrated tonight. But it is good news that Davon isn't in imminent danger of dying only if that is true, and your physician didn't exhibit a lot of knowledge about either Davon or Hep C..."

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