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)


ANTICOLONIAL zines, stickers, actions, power

Taala Hooghan Infoshop

Kinlani/Flagstaff Mutual AID


The group for direct action against the prison state!

Black Lives Matter PHOENIX METRO

Black Lives Matter PHOENIX METRO
(accept no substitutions)



PHOENIX: Trans Queer Pueblo


AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:

Friday, March 25, 2011

Boulder County Jail: postcard victory?

This seems like settling for less - I think they left the incoming mail policy requiring postcards intact. That' still muzzles those of us supporting prisoners, and it still keeps prisoners from getting drawings from their kids...what's the big win? These jails need to be strip-searching their guards if they want to cut back on contraband, not their mail.


ACLU and Boulder County Jail Reach Settlement in Post Card Case

March 21, 2011

Facing a class-action suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado and the ACLU National Prison Project, the Boulder County Jail has agreed to a settlement, ending a policy that restricted most inmates’ outgoing mail to post-cards only.

Prisoners at the jail – many of whom are awaiting trial and have not been convicted of any crime – will once again be permitted to send letters in sealed envelopes to their children, family members, loved ones and friends. The settlement, reached on Friday, is detailed in a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the parties.

Faced with a similar lawsuit from the ACLU of Colorado, the El Paso County Jail ended its post card-only prisoner mail policy in December. El Paso and Boulder County adopted the policies in 2010 and the lawsuits followed soon afterwards.

“Incarcerated individuals will no longer be forced to avoid personal topics such as medical, financial or relationship issues simply because their words are in plain sight for anyone to read,” said ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein. “They will no longer have to guard against communications that they do not wish their children to see. They now can communicate with art and drawings or seek the advice of their clergy without having to expose that to the world.”

The ACLU of Colorado’s lawsuit was filed on behalf of five individual prisoners who represent a class of current and future prisoners subject to the policy. Chief Judge Wiley Y. Daniel granted the lawsuit class-action status March 8.

The settlement agreement ending the policy calls for an official change within 21 days of the filing of the Memorandum of Understanding.

Specifically --

  • Inmates will now be allowed to write and send personal letters on paper provided by the jail and with envelopes supplied by the jail – without having to receive special permission to do so.
  • Postcards will be used by inmates only on a voluntary basis, if at all.
  • The jail must notify attorneys for the ACLU of Colorado if it plans any changes to the outgoing inmate mail policy anytime within the next two years.

The settlement agreement is expected to be approved by the Board of County Commissioners at its next meeting.

“Writing letters to people in the free world is critical for helping prisoners maintain ties to their families and communities and ensuring their successful reintegration upon release,” said David Fathi, Director of the ACLU National Prison Project. “Enacting policies that significantly restrict the First Amendment freedoms of all current and future pre-trial detainees and prisoners in the jail was both unwise and unconstitutional. We are pleased to see it end and trust that this will embolden others to challenge similar policies wherever they may crop up across the country.”

No comments: