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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Thursday, December 2, 2010

HIV+ Prisoners and World AIDS Day

Yesterday was World AIDS Day - sorry I slept through it. I haven't been well lately. Will try to make up for it through the year.

Here's some info from the AZ Department of Health Services on HIV/AIDS, which also touches on Hep C co-infections. It needs to be updated.

On the national front, this is the latest from the ACLU Blog of Rights:


On World AIDS Day, Fight Ongoing Discrimination Against HIV-Positive Prisoners

At the beginning of this year, three states — Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina — continued to segregate its prisoners with HIV from the rest of the prison population.

In March of this year, we were thrilled to report that Mississippi saw how unjust and draconian that policy was, and integrated prisoners with HIV with the rest of the prison population.

Now, Alabama and South Carolina remain the two holdout states who refuse to integrate prisoners with HIV with the rest of the prison population. Prison officials in those two states contend that segregation is necessary to provide medical care and to prevent HIV transmission. But as an ACLU/Human Rights Watch report released earlier this year points out, the other 48 states that have integrated prisoners with HIV into the general prison population have demonstrated that appropriate inmate education, classification, and risk-reduction programs have proven to be effective HIV prevention tools. And time and again, public and correctional health experts agree that there is no medical basis for segregating prisoners with HIV within correctional facilities.

As a result of this irrational fear-based policy, prisoners with HIV in Alabama in South Carolina face stigma, harassment and systematic discrimination that amount to inhumane and degrading treatment. They're forced to wear armbands or other indicators of their HIV status, to eat and even worship separately, and are denied equal participation in prison jobs, programs and re-entry opportunities that smooth the transition back into society. In fact, South Carolina is the only state in the union to prohibit prisoners with HIV from participating in work release programs. (Alabama finally allowed prisoners with HIV access to work release programs in 2009 in response to the ACLU’s advocacy.)

In June, the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division sent a letter to South Carolina prison officials demanding they end their segregation policies and give those prisoners access to programs and services such as job training and other reintegration programs. South Carolina did not comply with the deadline the DOJ set forth in the letter; it's possible a civil rights lawsuit is in the pipeline.

As the entire country struggles with budget deficits, states are looking to save money by incarcerating less people. This is done mostly by keeping parolees from landing back in prison, which is accomplished by providing the kinds of rehabilitative services that Alabama and South Carolina continue to deny prisoners with HIV, such as education and work release programs.

Alabama and South Carolina: What are you waiting for?

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