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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Monday, August 29, 2011

Brutalizing the mentally ill: Gerster's Sentencing.



Maricopa County Courthouse (W. Jefferson / 3rd Ave)
March 2011

Went to Kevin Gerster's pre-trial this AM, only to learn that he entered a plea last week to three counts: a misdemeanor for tampering with criminal records (he gave a buddy the address of a guy his ex-girlfriend was dating, and the buddy stalked and assaulted them both), as well as two aggravated assault charges for beating up his mentally ill prisoners (both are just class 6 felonies, though - charging him for assaulting "vulnerable adults", as I strongly urged the prosecutors to do, would have made it a class 2 felony).

Here's what really troubles me, though: ev
en though he's a repeat offender of violent crimes against vulnerable persons, they let him off the hook with "non-dangerous/ non-repetitive" designations on his assaults - how can aggravated assault be "non-dangerous"???? That's real BS. It's so he can get out without a felony in the end - just probation and a misdemeanor, if he behaves (see the law below)

That favor by the prosecutor may well be what helps him avoid prison for all this.
It sure minimizes his responsibility for hurting people repeatedly - the only reason he can't keep doing so is because he got caught, not because he found God or something. That's one sign of a sociopath - that and the sheer absence of a conscience.

This is all so disappointing - I really thought Prichard and her boss Bill Montgomery had what it took to really get justice in this case. That guy's going to walk with probation and community service, no doubt - despite violating all of our trust, as well as the welfare of his prisoners. God only knows how traumatized his victims still are - they'd have every reason to be afraid of the uniform of the state, now, too - as do the rest of us.

Here's Gerster's sentencing date; be there if you can:

10/21/2011 at 10:30 a.m.,
Judge William Brotherton Jr.
201 W. Jefferson St, PHX
Maricopa County Superior Court

Look for this provision to be pulled out at sentencing, so he has a chance of getting out of there without any felony charges at all (and could therefore become a rent-a-cop at your local high school or mall) .

Shame on the MCAO for not prosecuting him for abusing vulnerable adults... and this plea they gave him is hardly justice for those of us who were victimized by the breaking of our trust - on our dime - much less for the guy whose jaw he broke.


Arizona Revised Statutes
Title 13: Criminal Code

13-604. Class 6 felony; designation

A. Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, if a person is convicted of any class 6 felony not involving a dangerous offense and if the court, having regard to the nature and circumstances of the crime and to the history and character of the defendant, is of the opinion that it would be unduly harsh to sentence the defendant for a felony, the court may enter judgment of conviction for a class 1 misdemeanor and make disposition accordingly or may place the defendant on probation in accordance with chapter 9 of this title and refrain from designating the offense as a felony or misdemeanor until the probation is terminated. The offense shall be treated as a felony for all purposes until such time as the court may actually enter an order designating the offense a misdemeanor. This subsection does not apply to any person who stands convicted of a class 6 felony and who has previously been convicted of two or more felonies.

B. If a crime or public offense is punishable in the discretion of the court by a sentence as a class 6 felony or a class 1 misdemeanor, the offense shall be deemed a misdemeanor if the prosecuting attorney files any of the following:

1. An information in superior court designating the offense as a misdemeanor.

2. A complaint in justice court or municipal court designating the offense as a misdemeanor within the jurisdiction of the respective court.

3. A complaint, with the consent of the defendant, before or during the preliminary hearing amending the complaint to charge a misdemeanor.

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