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:

Monday, August 29, 2011

ASPC-Yuma officer suicides.

...maybe these aren't the kinds of jobs these prison towns should be wishing for their kids to grow into. The rate of suicide among corrections officers is reportedly higher than that of regular cops...

Our condolences to Dale's friends, family, and colleagues; suicide is a devastating way to leave.

--------from the Yuma Sun------

Correction officer's death believed to be suicide

A 52-year-old corrections officer at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Yuma died in an apparent suicide last week at the prison.

The corrections officer, now identified as Dale Thomas, fatally shot himself at about 10 p.m. Wednesday night, at the complex's parking lot shortly after his shift began, according to Barrett Marson, media relations administrator for ADOC.

Thomas, who was working the overnight shift that night, was a 12-year veteran of the job, having entered service with the Department of Corrections back in September of 1999.

The Arizona State Prison Complex - Yuma is located on the corner of Avenue B and Juan Sanchez Boulevard, east of San Luis.

Marson said the incident is under investigation.

Thomas is not the first corrections officer from ASPC-Yuma to have committed suicide while on the job.

In January of 2007 a male corrections officer died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the firing range during weapons training.

James Gilbert can be reached at or 539-6854.

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