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:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

CALI prisoner rights' activists under investigation.


This post below is ominous. It comes from CaliforniaWatch, founded by the Center for Investigative Reporting. Both of the agencies in question are pretty prominent and well established in the area of fighting for prisoner rights - they're also serious antagonists of the system out there. They would be the ones to go after if the state wanted to intimidate everyone else into backing off the Pelican Bay prisoners - they've been a resource for other activists all across the country over the years.

So, defy the state of California - or whatever state you're fighting prison systems in: Support the California prisoners on hunger strike demanding to be treated like human beings. Don't just sign a petition: tune in and follow along, look for local solidarity actions, help local prisoners get their stories told - just take it one step further than you have before. What's been happening at Pelican Bay is a whole lot bigger than is this investigation.

By the way, the strike is now 12,000 prisoners big and growing...

- in Solidarity from Arizona Prison Watch

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State prison officials investigate 2 advocates

Just days after thousands of California inmates renewed a hunger strike, two Bay Area attorneys closely involved in mediation efforts got a surprise: They were under investigation by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for allegations of misconduct and unspecified security threats.

The attorneys – Marilyn McMahon, executive director of California Prison Focus, and Carol Strickman of Legal Services for Prisoners With Children – have been banned from state institutions until the investigation is resolved, according to temporary exclusion orders signed by Corrections Undersecretary Scott Kernan on Sept. 29.

The investigation will determine whether the attorneys “violated the laws and policies governing the safe operations of institutions within the CDCR,” the order states.

The document does not provide details about the allegations. It cites a section from California Code of Regulations that reads:

"Committing an act that jeopardizes the life of a person, violates the security of the facility, constitutes a misdemeanor or a felony, or is a reoccurrence of previous violations shall result in a one-year to lifetime exclusion depending on the severity of the offense in question."

Corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton confirmed the department had banned "some specific attorneys" from one facility for alleged misconduct. She declined further comment, citing an ongoing investigation.

The move is another indication that the corrections department intends to handle the current protest differently from an earlier hunger strike, which ended July 20 after officials agreed to some concessions, including a review of policies governing the state’s controversial Security Housing Units, where some inmates have spent decades housed alone in windowless cells.

Since then, strike leaders have accused corrections officials of failing to carry out their promises.

“CDCR has responded with more propaganda, lies and vague double-talk of promises of change in time," reads a statement from the leaders posted on an advocacy website. The inmates vowed to continue the protest indefinitely, “until actual changes are implemented.”

But corrections officials say they’ve kept their commitments and claim the protests are the work of dangerous gang leaders.

“Unlike in the first instance where we certainly evaluated their concerns and thought there was some merit to it, this instance appears to be more manipulative, and it certainly has the possibility of being a real disruption to the Department of Corrections and the security of its staff and inmates,” Kernan said.

A memo signed by Kernan and distributed to inmates Sept. 29 warned the department was treating the new hunger strike as a “mass disturbance” and said any prisoner who joined the protest would be subject to disciplinary action.

General-population inmates identified as strike leaders will be locked in special segregation units normally used as punishment for major rules violations, according to the memo.

Strickman and McMahon have been involved in extensive discussions with corrections officials, including Kernan, and leaders of the strike, who are housed in Pelican Bay State Prison’s Security Housing Unit.

Neither attorney was available for comment.

Dorsey Nunn, executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners With Children, condemned the sanctions against the attorneys and said he expected the department would place similar restrictions on other advocates in order to further isolate leaders of the hunger strike.

“They’re trying to move us out of the way,” he said.

Nearly 3,400 inmates at six prisons have refused state-issued meals for three consecutive days, according to the most recent data from the corrections department.

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