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, March 31, 2011

Carlos LaMadrid: another child murdered by US Border Patrol agent for throwing stones.

This sad story keeps repeating itself. Our heavily-militarized US Border Patrol is still gunning down children throwing rocks (though we are told the real threat are the drug cartels), while Joe Arpaio is gearing up his amateur posse pilots to identify "illegal activity" from the sky so the Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies can pick off fleeing "suspects" with automatic weapons.

The AZ governor, meanwhile, wants her own private army to call up for whatever she "considers to be necessary" - which I suspect would be used to put down domestic disturbances as the masses slip deeper into debt and poverty, not to protect us from the alien invasion, as she would have the people believe.

Americans are really a sorry bunch of people. We're the ones perpetrating the most border state violence, hands down. Neither Brewer nor Arpaio have suggested using any of those precious resources to rescue desert crossers with, of course - a record number of whom died in 2010, despite the drop in migration...

And so, here we are again. Last night was the first I heard of this youth. If a Border Patrol officer is murdered, it's the crime of the century. Governor Brewer exploits it as a chance to amp up the war on all brown people passing through the state - redirecting hundreds of millions of health care dollars towards criminalizing and incarcerating more immigrants - while Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano personally declares the guy a hero and swears she will stop at nothing to solve the crime. If a latino child is murdered by an officer, though, his family and community are met with either these lame justifications from the feds for why the agent felt threatened, and stone cold silence from everyone else.

------------------From Border Action Network--------------

*Pulsa aqui para leer este artículo en Español*

Carlos La Madrid was known as the teenager who always smiled, who loved to play soccer, guitar and was learning to work with solar energy. This week however, his family has been mourning his death. On March 21st, Carlos La Madrid was shot and killed by Border Patrol agents near the border wall separating Douglas, Arizona from Agua Prieta, Sonora. He was 19 years old.

This is the second incident to shock the Arizona border region so far this year in which teenagers have been shot and killed by border guards in alleged rock-versus-bullets incidents. In January, 17-year-old Ramses Barrón Torres was shot and killed in Douglas, Arizona. That case is still under investigation.

Family and friends of Carlos La Madrid gathered near the site of the shooting to demand justice as they hung two banners on the border wall, one depicting a smiling Carlos playing the accordion, the second commissioned by Carlos’ soccer team that read “You will always be in our team and in our hearts.”

Holding back tears outside the family home, Marta, Carlos’ younger sister, remembered her slain sibling: “He was a great brother, he was always smiling and loved to play soccer,” she told organizers with Border Action Network, a human rights organization in Arizona.

Although federal authorities have not released any information on the incident, Border Patrol claims its agents were confronted by rocks throwers who were standing on the Mexican side.

“Rock throwing is often the pretext to justify shooting and killing migrants crossing the US-Mexico border. In this case, Carlos was a 19-year- old U.S. citizen and hometown boy of Douglas, Arizona,” explained Jennifer Allen, Executive Director of Border Action Network and co-chair of the Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC), a recently-formed border-wide coalition of over 60 entities. Allen continued, “The Border Patrol agents took the law into their own hands, and acted as judge, jury and executioner and shot a teenager.”

This incident has also had a chilling effect on communities along the international divide with Mexico.

“Border communities from San Diego to Brownsville are saying enough is enough,” explains Christian Ramirez, a San Diego-based National Coordinator with the American Friends Service Committee and SBCC co-chair. “The growing pattern of agents shooting first and asking questions later is a border-wide epidemic that is rapidly diminishing the quality of life of border communities and trampling on the dignity of the millions of people who call the US-Mexico border home.”

The SBCC and its Arizona members expect:

1. For the FBI and the Cochise County Attorney’s office to conduct thorough and swift investigations that include investigating civil rights violations;

2. For Customs and Border Protection to institute new training for agents to better assess levels of threat and determine appropriate non-lethal responses; and

3. For all agencies involved to provide copies of incident reports to the family, including one that explains the delayed paramedics’ transport to the local hospital.

To see more photos and videos of Carlos and his family, click here.

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