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, March 27, 2011

More prisoners bound for Kingman; no legislative oversight in place.

I hope the ADC does a better job of monitoring their contract than they have been - people seem to forget that this place fell apart after nearly two years of business-as-usual under Ryan before those escapes. I think Central Office fell down on the job as much as the people of Kingman running that place did. The legislature didn't have the courage to put better oversight mechanisms in place, either, despite the escape.

WHAT is wrong with those people, anyway?

The next family who sues the state after the Haas' are done with us will have a whole body of people to blame, now, who were willfully indifferent to the safety of both the surrounding community and the staff and prisoners inside these places. Looking at how the rest of Arizona's private prisons are running, the next suit will probably be the survivor of a prisoner who gets murdered by another prisoner, or raped and beaten by guards, like what's been happening in CCA's Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy.

Of course, they aren't doing that much better in the state prisons, either. They need some serious legislative oversight, folks.

Chuck Ryan's tone in this press release is a little self-righteous: the ADC just had their own escape attempt at ASPC-Tucson on Christmas Day that no one likes to talk about. One guy was on the roof and the other was cutting through a fence when they got caught. We didn't see a big public investigation of their security protocol there.

It doesn't bode well that the only people we can really market to private prisons anymore are non-violent offenders and immigrants. That means CCA, GEO et al - as well as all these private prison towns that will need a constant supply of warm bodies to fill their cells -- will be lobbying for more punitive sentencing laws for drug, property and immigration offenses, so we can fill all the new beds we're giving the industry. Doesn't it alarm folks that no one has any incentive to actually bring down crime rates in this state?

Our government is getter bigger and badder in all the wrong places. At $20,000 a prisoner, those 5,000 new beds are going to cost us another $100,000,000 per year, increasing the corrections' base budget by at least 10%. That's staggering. We'll need more police and prosecutors, too. The profit-motive embedded in the punishment end of our criminal justice system supports continued victimization and progressive criminalization, and these prisons are sucking precious resources from areas where crime could actually be prevented. The public's interests are not being well-represented in this legislature.

Needless to say, a whole lot of people would be working more productively in our communities if their health and mental health needs were taken care of on the front end, and a good many lives could be salvaged if our corrections' funds went into rehabilitation and treatment. Sadly, Arizona's priorities are inverted. For the sake of boosting a few rural economies with prison jobs - and padding their legislative districts with non-voting bodies - we're about to lock up a whole bunch more people like Shannon Palmer and Marcia Powell - as well as Good Samaritans - as dangerous criminals and throw away the key.


(602) 542-3133


NEWS RELEASE For Immediate Release

For more information contact:

Barrett Marson

Bill Lamoreaux

March 24, 2011

ADC to restart loading Kingman prison

Phoenix, AZ. - Following an extensive security review, the Arizona Department of Corrections next week will resume sending prisoners to a privately-operated facility in Kingman.

ADC ordered significant security and operational improvements after a July 30, 2010, escape of three inmates from the 3,400-bed facility. ADC conducted several security inspections of the Management and Training Corp.-operated prison and has determined the company is prepared to securely house inmates in accordance with ADC policies.

“The prison is now adhering to ADC security policies and is ready to house more inmates,” ADC Director Charles L. Ryan said.

Ryan said he will keep in place restrictions that prevent the Kingman prison from receiving inmates convicted of murder or attempted murder, or those who have a history of escape attempts. Additionally, a seasoned ADC deputy warden has been assigned to oversee daily operations at the MTC facility.

“The security failures that led to the escape cannot be allowed to occur again,” Ryan said. “The state will insist that MTC continue following ADC policies.”

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