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:

Friday, October 1, 2010

Prison suicide and gangs at Florence Central.

UPDATED 3/25/2011

This is the second suicide out of ASPC-Florence Central in one week: Word there is that Rosario, the new prisoner who hung himself last Friday, had just been turned down for protective custody that day. I know of another kid who tried to do himself in to avoid going back into general population. I think the gangs are getting some mileage out of Shannon Palmer's murder.

Our condolences to Duron's mom, Saundra Cunningham, and the rest of his family. By their report, he has a history of depression, and had been both sexually and physically assaulted since being incarcerated just a few months earlier; they think he was seeking protective custody at the time that he killed himself. The discovery process for the lawsuit they file should tell us a lot about how the ADC really deals with prison rape, and if they actually counsel affected prisoners after the suicide of a peer (they provide the COs with critical incident debriefing by a specially-trained team).

If any of you haven't written to the Department of Justice by now, this would be a good time. We're up to 17 dead in 15 months now; that should be enough to get them started. Just print this up, write CRIPA across the top, and mail it. Be sure to emphasize your concern that you see a "pattern and practice of neglect" of prisoners' mental health needs. Their address is:

Jonathan M. Smith, Chief
US DOJ _ Special Litigation Section
950 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Patrick Henry Building
Washington DC, 20530


(602) 542-3133

NEWS RELEASE For Immediate Release

For more information contact:
Barrett Marson
Bill Lamoreaux

Sept. 30, 2010
Inmate Death Notification

Florence, Az- Inmate Duron Cunningham, ADC#245305, died while in Arizona Department of Corrections custody Thursday after apparently committing suicide.

Cunningham, 40, came to ADC on Aug. 17, 2009, after convictions from Maricopa County for dangerous drug violation and kidnapping. He was serving five years and housed at the Central Unit of ASPC-Florence.

The death is under investigation by the Department.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is my husband jst found out he past away oct. 12, still in shock a lost for words duron may you rest in peace love always your wife priscilla cunningham