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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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ohio Hunger Striker Victory; Executions still loom.

The SF Bay View does excellent coverage of both California's and the nation's issues related to political prisoners, conditions of confinement, mass incarceration, racial profiling, police brutality, etc., and will be following the Lucasville hunger strikers at the OSP - go straight there for your news. They often publish letters from prisoners across the country as well, so if you know any prisoners with something to say about the conditions of confinement where they are, turn them on to the SF Bay View.

Spacebookers, please hit the strikers' solidarity site and join. These guys still have a hard road ahead.

Also, a reminder that it ain't over yet in Georgia, either. The Black Agenda Report has been providing the best coverage of issues there, and is overall a great publication coming from the Black Left.

Finally, for those of you interested in supporting Arizona's prisoners and challenging the conditions of confinement here, contact me (see side column) or drop into the Conspire Art Collective at 901 N. 5th St, Phoenix (NE corner of 5th. St & Garfield) for a prisoner support group on Thursdays at 5:00pm. Look for me in red high tops and a cowboy hat. My cell is 480-580-6807 if you can't find me or just want to know more. The weekly meeting of the Phoenix Anarchist Coalition follows at 7:30pm.


A great rally, a great victory for the Lucasville hunger strikers

San Francisco Bay View

January 15, 2011 @ 8:23 pm

by Denis O’Hearn

Jan. 15, 4:33 p.m. – I have a short report on today’s rally at the Ohio State Penitentiary in support of the three men on hunger strike. But first, I can now report to you the wonderful news that all three have resumed eating because they achieved a victory. The prison authorities have provided, in writing, a set of conditions that virtually meets the demands set out by Bomani Shakur in his letter to Warden Bobby, provided below.

Ohio State Penitentiary

The hunger strikers send you all thanks for your support and state that they couldn’t have won their demands without support from people from around the world. But they add to their statement the following: This time they were fighting about their conditions of confinement, but now they begin the fight for their lives.

They were wrongfully convicted of complicity in 1993 murders in Lucasville prison and have faced retribution because they refused to provide snitch testimony against others who actually committed those murders. Now, because of Ohio’s – and other states’ – application of the death penalty, they still face execution at a future date. Ohio is today exceeded only by Texas in its enthusiasm for applying the death penalty. We need to take some of this energy that was created around the hunger strike to help these men fight for their lives.

So, we may celebrate a great victory for now. Common sense has prevailed in a dark place where there appeared to be no light. But watch this space [2]for further news on their ongoing campaign.

I hope to share a copy of the Ohio prison authorities’ written statement that ended this hunger strike in a short time.

As Bomani has told me many times, “It ain’t over …”

Jan. 15, 4:40 p.m. – The rally at OSP was attended by a large crowd, including many members of the families of the hunger strikers, despite the freezing weather. Family members met with the hunger strikers this morning and they reported that they were in high spirits on ending their hunger strike and winning their demands, but that they now had to turn their attention to their death sentences.

Statements of support came from all over the world and a small delegation of relatives, along with Alice Lynd, went to the prison and left a copy of our open letter for Warden David Bobby [3], signed by more than 1,200 people including prominent people from Ohio and around the world. Warden Bobby was not there, but a designated representative received the letter on his behalf with a promise that he would read it.

The crowd then proceeded to a church hall in downtown Youngstown for refreshments and some celebration over the good news. The organizers, especially Sharon Danann and Alice and Staughton Lynd, want to thank everyone who supported these men for their contribution to this victory.

Our thoughts are with Bomani, Hasan, Jason and Namir, and we will remain at their sides.

Denis O’Hearn is professor of sociology at Binghamton University SUNY. His book, “Nothing But an Unfinished Song,” is a biography of the Irish hunger striker Bobby Sands. This story first appeared on the Facebook page “In Solidarity with the Lucasville Uprising Prisoners on Hunger Strike [2].” Contact Denis O’Hearn through Facebook, at [4].

Letter from Keith LaMar (Bomani Shakur) to Warden Bobby of Ohio State Penitentiary

by Keith LaMar

Bomani Shakur

Jan. 3 – I’m writing to inform you that I am henceforth on a hunger strike. After 12 years of what can only be described as a double penalty, I am respectfully requesting that you cease this tortuous predicament that I am in. As a death-sentenced prisoner, I should be allowed the very same privileges as other similarly sentenced prisoners, and this is all I am asking, nothing more or less. Therefore, in spite of what your personal feelings are, I hereby appeal to your sense of professionalism and ask that you seriously consider the following demands:
  1. Full recreation privileges.
  2. Full commissary privileges.
  3. Full access to Access SecurePac catalog.
  4. Semi-contact visits.
  5. Access to computer database so that I can assist in the furtherance of my appeals.

These things are presently being offered to all death-sentenced prisoners and, again, I hereby respectfully request that I be granted the same. As you know, my appeals are fast approaching resolution, moving me closer and closer to a day of reckoning. Please allow me the opportunity to pursue whatever my end will be with the same level of dignity and respect that other similarly situated prisoners enjoy. You have this within your power to permit, and I ask that instead of abusing your power that you use it justly, and soon.

Bomani Shakur can be reached by writing to Keith LaMar, 317-117, P.O. Box 1436, Youngstown OH 44501. Addresses for the other Lucasville prisoners are:

  • Jason Robb, 308-919, P.O. Box 1436, Youngstown OH 44501
  • Siddique Abdullah Hasan, R 130-559, P.O. Box 1436, Youngstown OH 44501
  • James Were, 173-245, P.O. Box 1436, Youngstown OH 44501; refer to him by his preferred name, Namir Abdul Mateen.

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