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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Friday, December 2, 2011

RESIST ALEC: Indigenous action - SRP HQ Occupied.

Today, at SRP, we won - at least that small battle to disrupt business-as-usual for a day and bring media attention to the cause. This was this most profoundly spiritual act of resistance I've ever witnessed, blessed by the Elders of different Indigenous communities from beginning to end...


BREAKING NEWS: Indigenous Elders & Supporters Occupy ALEC Member Salt River Project Headquarters


Friday, December 2, 2011
Media Contact:

BREAKING NEWS: Indigenous Elders & Supporters Occupy ALEC Member Salt River Project Headquarters

TEMPE, AZ — Indigenous Dine’ (Navajo) and O’odham elders and supporters are taking direct action by occupying Salt River Project (SRP) headquarters today at 10am. This action is occurring while the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) holds their “States & Nation Policy Summit” in Scottsdale, AZ. SRP is on ALEC’s corporate board.

Louise Benally, a resident of Black Mesa impacted by SRP’s operations, is delivering a letter to SRP that outlines critical concerns of her community. She expressed that “My community is heavily impacted by Salt River Project’s coal and water extraction activities. SRP has extensive ties to Peabody Energy’s massive mining operations and the Navajo Generating Station which they co-own. Coal mining has destroyed housands of archeological sites and our only water source has been seriously compromised. Their operations are causing widespread respiratory problems, lung diseases, and other health impacts on humans, the environment, and all living things.”

“…We demand that SRP & Peabody meaningfully involve the indigenous communities they are impacting, and that they convert to non-fossil fuel based energy sources and address the health impacts on our communities.”

“…ALEC, acting in the corporate interests of SRP & Peabody Energy, continues policies & operations that are not only devastating whole communities and ecosystems, but greatly de-stabilizing our planet’s climate for the profit of a few, the so-called 1%.” stated Benally.

Ofelia Rivas, an elder and activist of the O’odham, Indigenous Peoples on the border of Arizona and Mexico, states “As indigenous people we understand that the balance of the land is actually the balance of our people and any disturbance of that is very devastating not only to our spiritual health but our overall physical health, as well as all living things. As indigenous people we are not separated from our environment. We’re deeply connected to everything in the universe: the land, the mountains, water, air, and all plant and animal life.”

“…The proposed loop 202 freeway extension that threatens South Mountain and the continuing construction of the US and Mexico border and it’s militarization. Trade policies such as NAFTA and CANAMEX alter our way of life and threatens our Him’dag. We will no longer accept the violence the state attempts to enforce on us along their border. Especially the aggressive legislation of ALEC. We demand you recognize the declaration of universal indigenous rights as well as the rights of our mother earth. Enough is enough, it ends now!”

The massive canals constructed before colonial invasion of O’odham lands are now being utilized by Salt River Project. O’odham culture is deeply rooted throughout this area, which is as far north as the Phoenix Valley, as far west as the coast of Mexico in what is now Rocky Point, east as the San Pedro river and as far south as Hermosillo and the Sierra Madres Mountains.

Ray Aguilar stated that “the air conditioning and power we enjoy and water we drink comes at the suffering caused by SRP and Peabody’s exploitation of the land and people. When will we realize that our privileges our based on this? We must take further action. I just spent one week doing direct, on-land support with Black Mesa residents assisting with basic essential human needs. That’s why I’m here today. This critical situation would not exist if not for these greedy corporations.”

Peabody Energy, also an ALEC member, is the world’s largest private-sector coal company. With 2010 sales of 246 million tons and nearly $7 billion in revenues, Peabody creates 10 percent of U.S. power and 2 percent of worldwide electricity.

Since 1974 more than 14,000 Dine’ families have been forcibly removed from their ancestral homelands due in large part due to U.S.-backed tribal councils and cola mining.

To protest the deadly legacy of environmental and cultural destruction caused by the company’s collusion with Peabody Energy the protest has stated the following:

Big Mountain Sovereign Dine’ Nation
P.O. Box 23501
Flagstaff, AZ 86001

Salt River Project
1521 N. Project Drive
Tempe, AZ 85281
David Rousseau, President
John R. Hoopes, Vice President

American Legislative Exchange Council
Ben Shelly, Navajo Nation President
LeRoy N. Shingoitewa, Hopi Tribe Chairman
Barack Obama, United States President
Jan Brewer, Governor of Arizona
Gregory H. Boyce, CEO, Peabody Energy
Peabody Energy Corporate Headquarters
Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission
Ben Nuvamsa, Former Chairman, Hopi Tribe
Black Mesa Water Coalition
Black Mesa Trust
Forgotten People
Gila River Indian Community
Zuni Salt Lake Coalition
Indigenous Environmental Network
Center for Biological Diversity
International Indian Treaty Council

To the Owners, Operators, & Beneficiaries of Salt River Project,

We are a community that is heavily impacted by the Salt River Project’s coal and water extraction activities.

We are particularly impacted by Peabody Energy’s mining operations to which you have extensive ties, the Navajo Generating Station which you co-own, and the exploitation of the water that underlies our ancestral lands. We wish to formally bring before you some critical concerns of our community.

The Navajo Generating Station and Peabody’s mining operations cause widespread respiratory problems, lung diseases, asthma issues, other health impacts on humans, the environment, and all living things. We don’t have access to health insurance. The plants and animals are also impacted and there are no studies on that.

There is no remedy for that for now.

Peabody is an extremely disrespectful company, they’re tearing up everything for the coal. Mother earth and our cultural resources such as sacred sites are not at all respected. Back in the mid-nineties, grandmothers were defending the land when the mine was being expanded more and more, and we witnessed peoples’ graves being totally bulldozed. They have been exploiting and destroying sacred places, and that is not being talked about.

And the coal ash that they’re trying to dump on our lands now—it’s really no different than the uranium that we have suffered from for so many years. It’s toxic and poisonous, and there’s no safe place to store the coal ash.

The mining needs to stop. Until then, we demand that you honor the clean air act and the EPA’s highest standards by installing the best retrofit technology available on the Navajo Generation Station to reduce pollution from mercury, arsenic, and other toxic pollutants being released in to the air.

Our water is being exploited and our aquifers have been depleted for decades, causing springs to go dry and vegetation to change. Salt River Project needs to stop manipulating the Navajo and Hopi tribal governments, coercing them to sign agreements without consent from tribal members. Our water resources are not replenishable, and without the water, we cannot continue our way of life.

The beneficiaries of the energy and water you sell must realize that our suffering is a direct result of their consumption. They must also understand that the continued taking of finite “natural resources” is creating imbalances that threaten the survival of everyone’s future generations.

These issues are not being heard: Stop exploiting and destroying our ancestral homelands. Stop poisoning us. Stop meeting behind closed doors. Stop greenwashing your unfair and harmful practices. Recognize that you have a unique ability and thus a responsibility to put an end to these things, and that by not­­­­ doing so you are also harming yourselves.

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For information on ALEC protests: and

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