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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AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:

Monday, August 9, 2010

Province apprehended. Who wants to be the next prison town?

(FYI: McCluskey and Welch arrested in AZ 8/19/10 post)

Tracy Province was apprehended this morning in Wyoming without incident, looking nothing like his prison photo - it's a miracle and irony he was recognized at a church. Hopefully he will never be allowed to kill again. McCluskey and Welch are still out there someplace, and believed to have left the Yellowstone area. I've heard no news yet to suggest that any insiders or other accomplices have been arrested.

Based on the kinds of Google searches hitting this site in the past week, it appears as if a lot of citizens across the country are re-considering the wisdom of community leaders who have collaborated with other entities to convince them that a nice little prison in the hills or desert would be good for their town. Here's a little something more for you to consider: if you only want to lock away people who have been consumed by poverty or addiction or snared in desperate efforts to survive and don't mean anyone else any harm, then what is wrong with you? If someone is safe enough to be in minimum security prison - or a family detention center - why build the prison in the first place?

I endorse the proposal that we take that $25,000 or more/year Americans pay to brutalize each "desirable" prisoner, and invest in housing, health care and education on the outside instead - not industries and politicians guaranteed to profit from more crime, greed, and fear.
They just promote public policies and celebrate ideologies that breed more sociopaths in our midst who think it's alright to exploit the vulnerabilities of others to their own advantage. They're among the worst offenders we have, and are already trying to figure out how to use this escape to make migrants, misfits and the mentally ill appear more dangerous than they are so we'll keep shelling out protection money for more prisons - which does very little, as you see, to keep the rest of us safe and free.

With more investment in building communities and restoring lives, we can then focus our energies on how to disempower and contain the most destructive and violent people among us who are truly determined to hurt anyone who gets in their way - whether or not we've thought to criminalize their methods yet...

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