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, September 1, 2011

Globe to Goodyear: Resist Private Prisons!

A letter to the editor of Globe's local press, the AZ Silver Belt, from the leader of Globe's private prison resistance, Jim Moss. Nice job, Jim.


Reader gives Kudos to Goodyear's mayor and city council

Posted: Wednesday, Aug 31st, 2011
Arizona Silver Belt

Dear Editor:

The Arizona Republic reported last week that the town of Goodyear will do whatever is necessary to stop a proposed private prison. Goodyear’s Mayor and Council unanimously said NO to the private prison industry. They are willing to sue the State of Arizona if that’s what it takes. Interesting.

Inspiring! The town of Goodyear has a group of elected officials who have conducted due diligence and understand that another big prison in their community would not be a positive development. Goodyear is host to the Perryville Prison, a large state-run facility. Town leaders declared that Perryville was originally supposed to be just one-third its current size. Promises were broken, and the facility has grown to house nearly 3,500 inmates. As with Globe, the town of Goodyear can be thankful that “their prison” is operated by the State of Arizona, instead of a for-profit corporation.

Fortunately for the residents of Goodyear, they do not have to battle their local elected officials. Efforts to stop a proposed prison project are actually being led by the folks elected to represent the people of Goodyear. How refreshing! And, Goodyear can learn a thing or two from the citizens of Globe. If state authority seems too much for Goodyear’s Mayor and Council to deal with — the citizens of Goodyear should take the private prison bull by the horns and subdue the beast. The voice of the majority must prevail in our democracy.

Unfortunately, several Arizona towns are rolling out the red carpet for the private prison promoters. Just like Globe, their elected leaders have been seduced by the empty promises of easy money. There is no free lunch with private prisons. The 2010 Arizona Auditor General Report actually dispelled the myth that private prisons save taxpayer money. One sobering statistic is that 30 percent of Arizona’s 41,000 inmates are doing hard time for a “non-violent” offense. Such offenders could and should be in alternative programs that cost taxpayers far, far less.

Building more prisons in Arizona is very bad public policy. More tax dollars allocated to corrections means less money for education and other vital programs that Arizona citizens need for an improved quality of life. Building more prisons (especially for-profit prisons) is socially indefensible, morally reprehensible, and fiscally irresponsible.

Good luck to Goodyear. Good riddance to private prison promoters.

Jim Moss,
Globe Resident and
Business Owner

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