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. firstname.lastname@example.org
until all are free -
MARGARET J PLEWS (June 1, 2015)
AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Mohave County's Holiday Cheer for the Poor: New Jail.
Those of you in Mohave County know that the new jail is now open in Kingman, as about 350 prisoners were moved there yesterday. The Sheriff's website hasn't been updated with new visitation or a clear mail policy yet, so I called the information line this afternoon (928-753-0759).
DANGER: KEEP OUT
(this is neither the new nor the old jail, by the way - just a well-placed word of warning to unsuspecting travelers and home-grown drug addicts who haven't found redemption yet: they have plenty of beds to put us up in now)
I always hate to see new jails and prisons built - especially at a time when so many people have been losing their homes and jobs and health care...those places are overwhelmingly filled with the poor. But the old one was in horrible shape, and posed a threat to the health and safety of prisoners and officers alike. It's just so sad to see such an enormous investmant made in plans for large numbrs of prisoners down the road, instead of expecting the region's kids to grow into high school and college classrooms and find homes that their incomes can afford.
Anyway, the officer I spoke to was quite pleasant and professional, but advised that visitation has been suspended for all prisoners, until further notice, due to the move. She suggested calling back on Wednesday or Thursday (December 15/16) to see if they had worked out a schedule yet. The officer I spoke to expressed hope, but not certainty, that visitation would resume before Christmas. The officer was unable to find the new jail's mailing address, but assured me that prisoner mail can still be sent to the old jail - at least for now.
That address is:
Mohave County Jail
415 Pine Street
Kingman, AZ 86401
Remember that you can only use standard store-bought postcards, write in black or blue ballpoint pen, no highlighter or felt tip markers, no stickers or crayons, and keep your conversation away from inflammatory, provocative, and (of course) criminal subjects. DOn't send stamps or cash, either. Be sure your name and return address is clearly visible, as well, and that you are using the legal name of the person you're writing to.
If you have legal documents you want to provide a prisoner, either suggest that they request the specific item from the jail law library, or pass the material on to their attorney to give to them. Actually, below is the notice I received from the jail in correspondence they returned when I tried to send information to John McCluskey about concern for his legal rights as a prisoner and defendant. There are quite a few rules that make frank correspondence difficult, and the limited visitation opportunities leaves prisoners extremely isolated and families feeling abandoned.
It would help if this kind of information was readily available on the jail's website, along with the inmate manual, so family and friends have a clue about their policies there. I'm learning to write long, open letters on postcards now, between the Mohave and Maricopa County Jails. Frankly, I think if they're going to strip-search our mail for contraband and forbid contact visits with prisoners, they should strip-search and sniff every single guard when they arrive for shift, too.