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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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Hitting Home: International Women's Day.

"Thank you Neuro ICU: We Heart Mom."

Those of you who get these blogs automatically fed to them will recognize that this is a revision of an earlier post. I'm still working this stuff out, and just wanted to clarify where I'm at these days...

This was the thank you that I left on the sidewalk last night at Scottsdale
Healthcare's campus on Osborn, where my mother is being treated for an extremely aggressive form of brain cancer. We thought she may have had one or more stroke last month because she suddenly lost her vision in her left eye and began falling a lot, but the CT scan in the ER at the time barely even showed the shadow that consumed her right occipital lobe within just weeks; Mom was diagnosed with a sinus infection and put on antibiotics instead of being sent for an MRI.

Had she not fallen and incurred a new head injury last week, Mom's tumor may no
t have been discovered in time to do surgery. It has yet to be seen whether or not the surgery was in time to save her life or prevent her from prolonged misery. Because this particular cancer is so devastatingly quick to kill, they're starting her on both radiation and chemo even though they removed all visible traces. I guess no matter how good your surveillance, people and equipment are, by the time you see it again it's generally too late. This is what killed Ted Kennedy.

Some folks may be wondering why I'm still running a
round protesting and chalking the town while my mom may well be dying - I think I'm just trying to hold on to normal life as best I can through this; I'm afraid that if I put it down I may not be able to pick it up again for a long time. Besides, Mom isn't dying - she's fighting for her life. One of the reasons is so she can continue to be a part of mine. That means I need to keep living it.

My art and politics are a part of me, anyway, not activities I do in my free time. I won't be able to maintain my same level of activism, though - or prisoner sup
port. My mail is flowing again, and I'm back up to my neck in letters from people in trouble. I'll write a post begging the community for more help on that count soon - after which, my blogs may well fall silent for awhile. If you try to contact me from here on out with little initial success, just be persistent. I've got my hands full now, but I'm not planning on going anywhere; I'll still help if I can do so, however this turns out. Mom would want me to.

In the meantime, if you have any good energy to send into the universe for Mom and the people treating her, please do. She's not only a primary source of my own social conscience and fire, but she's generously supported my unpopular causes over the years, even when she barely had enough to live on herself. She's the person that my prisoner friends ought to be thanking and praying for the most today - she helps keep me going when I risk succumbing to both poverty and despair, so that I in turn can be there for them. She is who makes most of my work possible. She saved my life, in fact.

So, my mom, Jean Boatman, is my Woman of the Year. She's a retired teacher from Fountain Hills, and a member of the current school board there. She's actually a registered Republican and has been an officer of the Mayflower Society (yes, I'm a Pilgrim) - but don't let that fool you. She's really an insurgent liberal and lives somewhat vicariously through my radical politics (which the people who love and respect her know already, so her "cover" isn't really blown). Please think good things for us - and do something pro-active to stand up for collective bargaining, public education, and health care rights this week.

Finally, I hope it dawns on Mom's community as they learn of her extraordinary medical needs that if the Republican and Tea Parties had their way right now, she would have been left to die like those AHCCCS transplant patients - and all the other Medicaid patients the state wants to cut off of medical care (but is more than willing to shell out $20,000+/year to imprison). Mom's life would be no less worth saving if she had no health insurance than it is now. Why is anyone else's?

Send that message to the the chair of the Az House Death Panels - also known as the Appropriations Committee - if you're a friend of my mom's. He's the man that Fountain Hills chose to represent their interests: John Kavanagh. Since most teachers are struggling to survive out there - and a lot of kids are hurting, too - I'd say he's doing a lousy job of representing anyone but the rich in that town.

He can be reached at:

John Kavanagh
AZ House of Representatives
1700 W. Washington
Room 114
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Phone Number: (602) 926-5170
Fax Number: (602) 417-3108

"Give my Taxes to AHCCCS: Health care is a human right."

"Give my taxes to AHCCCS: Health care is a human right!"
Get well card for Mom/1st Amendment lesson for AZ students.
Arizona State Capitol/Wes Bolin Plaza.
PHOENIX (March, 2011)

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