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, April 28, 2011

Another Death at Eyman: Carey Wheatley, 49.

I don't know what exactly this man was accused of, or what he actually did, for that matter. I do know of men and women alike who I believe were wrongfully convicted, however, so before you jump on my blog to post "good riddance", bear in mind that we do have innocent people in prison, including those doing life for murder and facing death for horrendous crimes against children.

That's not to say this guy was innocent - just keep it to yourself if you're doing nothing but trolling for the misery of others to exploit. His survivors, if he has any, will read these posts for a long time to come. So will the survivors of other dead prisoners. Respect them, at least, and lay off.

Furthermore, believe it or not, even some of the guilty ones have a conscience they can't live with. Some men mutilate and destroy themselves so as not to hurt others again with their own buried trauma and rage. Most offenders don't get life or death, though, and are eventually returned to the community - so we need to learn better responses to them than just slamming our collective door, or they're set up to re-offend in the shadows again.

The best way to hold perpetrators accountable and transform their behavior, in this context, is to keep them in the light of higher expectations as community members with major amends to make to us all, not simply to expect the worst when they return from exile. Really, if there was an option of a deserted island where they could go be self-sufficient and not hurt anyone, most of these guys would go - we just don't have that for them, except in prison...some guys even violate themselves and go right back in when released on lifetime probation.

The introduction to prison comes only AFTER these folks violate another human being, though - we need to give them a safe retreat before they go that far. Many many of them display some form of intellectual or psychiatric disability, are still considered victims themselves, and are just beginning to struggle with the manifestations of trauma then. Regardless of how we feel about pedophiles (I'm as disturbed by their conduct as anyone else - especially being a survivor myself), an intervention at that point in the continuum of the criminalization of abuse victims could save lives and prevent another child from being hurt.

Evidence-based practice compels us to begin to look differently - at the level of community - at how we deal with sex offenders coming home from prison. If we let them suffer even more trauma in there and alienation out here, we won't have very much success with them once they're free again to do as they please. Kudos to Barbara Broderick, Chief of Maricopa County Probation Department, for having the wisdom and courage to tackle issue that head-on in last week's panel discussion at the ASU Art Museum (sorry, I didn't report on that one - there are many things I do that I just don't get to) - as she said, even these people are human. I can certainly attest that their stories are often far more complex than headlines let on...

So are their victims', of course. Some of the stories of violent crime victims I profile as well - at least those who are raped, assaulted and murdered in prison or jail. The mainstream victims' rights people take care of the rest.

This notice was released the day the ACLU hit Eyman, by the way, so hopefully they're already getting records.

Our condolences to anyone who cared about this man.


Anonymous said...

My wife and I adopted this man's daughter out of the foster care system. Considering the horrible abuses he inflicted on her and the serious psychological scars she suffers as a result, it is hard to have much sympathy.

In a broader sense, we could look at his past and theorize why he did such terrible things to children, and use that information to devise effective strategies to counter such abuse in the future, but for this one individual...I must say that I am glad we have prisons.

I respect what you attempt to do on this website. Our country has forgotten that rehabilitation is the goal of incarceration rather than ostracism. Try to understand, however, that some of these human beings, such as the garbage shown in this blog, really do belong where they can no longer harm society's most vulnerable: our children.

Anonymous said...

I know what he did. He molested his gfs d daughter then drowned her in a bathtub.she was 7.