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 3, 2011

Pima County: ADC officer gets one year for raping child.

UPDATED 09/11/2013: look at how this whole thing turned out, giving that DOC officer such a break - he went back after his victim yet again! Now he's off to prison for 11 years, instead...

-----------ORIGINAL POST 12/13/2011--------

Remember this tough on crime prosecutor

Look at what a swell deal this former corrections officer got from her people. Never would have guessed he'd do the minimum time. I also wonder why the AZ Daily Star is afraid to call this crime what it really was: the repeated rape of a child...


Man gets year in prison for sex with 14-year-old

 Posted: Friday, December 2, 2011
Arizona Daily Star

A Tucson man was sentenced to one year in prison and 7 1/2 years of probation Thursday for having sex with a friend's 14-year-old daughter.

Robert Joseph Hamm, 32, a former Arizona Department of Corrections officer, pleaded guilty in Pima County Superior Court to sexual conduct with a minor and assault in October.

Hamm was facing between one and two years in prison on the assault charge, and he could have received between five and 15 years in prison on the other charge.

The girl's father wrote a letter to Judge Richard Fields saying he has forgiven Hamm but feels incredibly betrayed because he considered Hamm a brother.

It would have been better if Hamm had died, the man wrote. Had he died, the family could mourn his loss and move on, but the harm he has done will never be repaired, the father said.

A tearful Hamm apologized for his "terrible mistake" and said he would regret it the rest of his life.

Assistant Pima County Public Defender Walt Palser asked for the one-year sentence, noting Hamm's remorse and shame. No sentence could make Hamm feel worse about himself, Palser said.

The girl's mother read her diary after catching the teen sneaking out of the house in August, according to court documents. The diary contained explicit details of sexual encounters between the girl and Hamm. When interviewed by authorities, the girl acknowledged she and Hamm had sexual intercourse on three occasions.

At the time, Hamm denied having a relationship with the girl, but said, "Anything was possible while he is passed out from alcohol," court documents state.

Hamm will have to register as a sex offender upon his release from prison. While on probation, he will have to abide by special sex-offender rules.

Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or

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