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:

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Deaths in Custody: Brenda Todd

To the family of Brenda Todd: please contact me ASAP.

To the rest of you: Pay attention to ASPC- Perryville in Goodyear. Marcia Powell isn't the only one who's died out there.


Peggy Plews




Celia Harrison said...

It is so sad. An Alaska prisoner died in Colorado, Wesley Shandy at Hudson Correctional Facility. They said he was found down also and was alive at first. Then they said the autopsy revealed nothing and the toxicology would be available in two weeks. After that nothing was reported. My FOIA request was answered with claims of privacy for the inmate. Since when do they care about that and isn't it odd privacy only kicked in when the toxicology came into play? Interestingly the ACLU said the same thing in AK, inmate privacy. This from a state that printed personal information about me in a newsletter and descriminated against me for a disability in it. In Colorado the ACLU responded that the incident happened in AK when the inmate was in a Colorado prison. Thanks fro posting this information,

Gary said...

Some of the truths about Brenda Todds Death,

First and foremost medical system at the Santa Maria Unit of Perryville did fail her. They spent too much time brushing away her need for seeing doctor by making her wait with a submitted health needs request. Though the autopsy results have not been made public it is very likely that she was having a slow anafilactic shock to changes in her medication she was possibly allergic too. As the medication was building in her system so was her bodies swelling response until it cut her airway totally.

Secondly, she was a victim of staff inexperience. The State cross level staffing system left a three week rookie on the yard alone with Todd and the other 200 inmates on building 36. This meant that the rookie officer lacked the experience to determine the difference between sickness that can wait for medical to open the next day and distress that required the incident management system to be activated and get the on call nurse down there right away.

Third, this one is a shocker and goes far to display the incompetence of the DOCs internal affairs division known as the Criminal Investigations Unit. Santa Maria's Deputy Warden is Kim Currier. the initial investigator sent to gather evidence from Todds cell after the the rescue attempt was over was Jim Currier from CIU, Kim Curriers husband. Many of you may know that after Marcia Powell died at Perryville it was determined that the Captain and DW had to be treated as principles in the investigation and since then the DW of Powells yard never returned to service. So Jim Currier the internal affairs investigator had motive to conceal any implications of his wife's deliberate indifference to Todd's lack in health care. This was the biggest conflict of interest to hit the state since the private prison scandal of Jan Brewers policy adviser and spokespersons Chuck Coughlin and Paul Sensemen.

The officers that found Todd the next day did their jobs they initiated ICS, called for medical and began CPR despite the fact that rigor mortise, whitening of the cornea and swelling of the tongue had long since taken place. but when medical staff did arrive, the nurses and institutional Dr. Palmer did not take over. Officers continued to do their job until Goodyear Fire took over.

The DOC calls this an open case but they know all too well by now every detail, the cause of death and the breakdown in getting Brenda treatment. But despite this they will not close this case because they will be outed for their conflict of interest with the Curriers if any further actions are taken. This is due to the fact that many officers who were there that day witnessed Mr Currier head up the investigation.