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:

Saturday, December 17, 2011

First Contact: Mental Illness and Public Safety in Arizona

Jan. 6, 2012
8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
ASU Downtown Phoenix

Event sponsored by

Morrison Institute for Public Policy

and Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy
Arizona State University

One year after an untreated mentally ill person allegedly shot 18 people at a Tucson grocery store, killing 6 and gravely wounding Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others, we assemble experts to discuss the critical intersection between law enforcement and health care and to ponder what can be done in our communities to reduce the possibilities of future January 8ths. We will explore the proper  balance between public safety and public health systems — focusing on the “first contact” between law enforcement officers (or other citizens) and individuals with mental illness who appear dangerous to themselves or others. We will consider Arizona’s current statutory/policy context and best practices in other states, while considering statutory and/or policy changes Arizona should pursue.
  • Dr. Joel Dvoskin, Ph.D., forensic psychologist with expertise in in treatment of persons with serious mental illness and/or substance abuse disorders
  • Bill Montgomery, Maricopa County Attorney
  • Dr. Chris Carson, M.D., CEO of ConnectionsAZ
  • Charles Arnold, partner in Frazer, Ryan, Goldberg, & Arnold, L.L.P., and specialist in behavioral-health law
  • Officer Nick Margiotta, Phoenix Police Department liaison with the regional behavioral health care system  
  • Dr. Michael S. Shafer, Ph.D, professor and director, ASU Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy
  • William Hart, senior policy analyst, Morrison Institute for Public Policy
  • Sue Clark-Johnson, executive director, Morrison Institute for Public Policy 
Event location:
Arizona State University Downtown Phoenix Campus
Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication
555 N. Central Avenue, Auditorium 128
Phoenix, Arizona

  •  Event admission: No charge, but registration is required.
  • Parking: Space reserved for $3 per hour at ASU Visitor Lot on East Fillmore Street between 1st Street and Central Avenue, directly north of the Cronkite School of Journalism building.
    (Inform the attendant that you are attending the forum; disregard “lot full” sign, if it is out.) Questions: Call 602-496-1023

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