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:

Friday, May 6, 2011

The People, United: Resisting Arizona's prison industrial complex.

For those of you who only have a cursory awareness of Black Panther Party history and the story of George Jackson (if any at all), Angela Davis is more than a legendary-black-militant-turned-professor from that era. She's the contemporary visionary whose scholarly work - dating all the way back to her incarceration and study of women's resistance to slavery - has been the foundation of much of my own decision to embrace the politics of prison abolition.

I'd encourage anyone interested in the issue of
criminal justice to read Davis' work and catch a lecture or two on Youtube. Her message this evening was consistent with her written words and strong on principles of abolitionism; Google it if you want more, though. Something more awesome happened in Tempe, AZ tonight than Angela Davis' talk that I need to write about. It's been unfolding all along, really....

I showed up at NEEB Hall early today - somewhere around noon, I think, to scope it out and chalk the walk. There's a great canvas out in front of the place - it was a great spread, though my camcorder photos are all grainy and I didn't pull out my that respect my work was lost. There was hardly any traffic until the event, too, so I didn't have much chance to interact with curious on-lookers, as I usually do. I killed a lot of time in the heat, and started to get bummed.

But as the hour approached and more people began to arrive, I found myself surrounded by friends, old and new. Anarchists, former prisoners, loved ones of those passed, ASU students, members of the immigrant rights' community, and even a few Wobblies (yep - the IWW folks) have all been showing support for prisoner rights' actions of late, organizing and standing in solidarity where our paths overlap - I seem to be in the middle of many of those intersections right now.

Anyway, as a result of all my comrades' assistance, I had a ton of t-shirts with prisoner mug shots floating among the standing-room-only crowd this evening: at least 15 victims of prison suicide, neglect or violence were represented. Again, I was slow on the draw with my camera, but at one point after the lecture everyone was milling around the AZ Prison Watch banner out front: God, I hope someone out there had the presence of mind to take pictures of them. I was just kind of stunned, really - seeing these folks gather from a distance in all those shirts, I realized how much power we actually have among us, within us, and behind us...

So, I have no doubt that what we have together far exceeds the power against which we fight. I'm not just talking about pushing through some feel-good legislation or coercing the ADC to make a few reforms. Prison abolition is not a losing battle, not even in this forsaken place.
That's going to help me sle
ep a little better tonight. Thanks all.

And thanks, Professor Davis, for coming to town today.

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