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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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona: outreach to prisoners and daughters...

Way to go, Girl Scouts. Follow the link below for an interview with the Southern Arizona Girl Scouts' Social Justice Coordinator to learn more about their outreach to girls in the juvenile justice system and the daughters of incarcerated mothers...

---------------from Arizona Public Media------------

Girl Scouts Reach Out to Those Behind Bars

December 8, 2011

According to recent statistics, the U.S. has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world. It has an estimated inmate population of more than 2 million people, which means that many children are separated from one or both parents who are serving time behind bars, or are serving time themselves.

Now the Girl Scouts, a 100-year-old youth organization usually associated with outdoor and service activities, is reaching out to the incarcerated and their families to offer guidance and support.

Lesley Rich, social justice coordinator for the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona, works with girls behind bars to help build their hope, life skills, and confidence so they are better able to cope with traumatic personal and family circumstances.

"When the girls go into the prison, they see what it's all about and that can really help reduce the recidivism rates in the families as well," Rich says.

But Arizona isn't alone in providing such services. Troop 1500 is a documentary about a similar program in Texas that works with girls whose mothers are in prison.

The documentary will be shown several times in Tucson during the month of December as part of a cooperative effort between Arizona Public Media, the Pima County Public Library and Community Cinema. The showings are free and open to the public.

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