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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Thursday, January 19, 2012

How Brewer's latest budget slams our kids: Children's Action Alliance

I love the Children's Action Alliance. They've done a lot of good work challenging racial disparities in the juvenile justice and foster care systems and the prosecution of kids as adults, and they've built a series of handouts tailored to each legislative district to look at the number of kids in poverty, education levels of parents, voting history for First Things First and the last state sales tax increase, etc. In my own district, LD14, 46% of the children are living in poverty. I had no idea my own neighbors were hurting that bad.That's staggering. 

They really stay on top of legislation and duke it out at the capitol for youth each year, and there are a lot of good reports and statistics on their site for anyone interested in the issue of juvenile justice in Arizona, so check them out. If you are media and have questions about any of these issues, call Amy Kobeta at the CAA, not me. She's their vice president, and handles communications, messaging, etc. Her contact info is:  

Children's Action Alliance
4001 North Third Street, Suite 160
Phoenix, AZ 85012
Phone: (602) 266-0707
Fax: (602) 263-8792

---------from the Children's Action Alliance in Phoenix-----

How Governor Brewer's Budget Recommendation Impacts Kids (January 19, 2012)

Governor Brewer's budget proposal continues most of the past cuts to children's health, education, and security. KidsCare and child care remain frozen. There is no state funding for full-day Kindergarten or preschool and no inflation funding for K-12 schools. Grandparents raising grandkids continue to go without help and the poorest mothers and children continue to be left behind.

Her budget uses current year funds to pay off some debt early, to upgrade some technology, and to build new prison beds. She also proposes investments in specific areas of behavioral health, early reading, and child protective services. Her proposal offers no plan for balancing the budget in future years -- no proposal to meet state priorities as the temporary sales tax expires and new tax cuts kick in. Ongoing revenues remain below ongoing expenditures -- even with the budget cuts in place.

Stay tuned next week as the Legislature begins its budget hearings.


Also, check this link out to see how kids fared under our last AZ legislature. There's a list of state lawmakers and a ranking of their votes for Arizona's children on this handout:

And finally, go here to access links to all the newspapers in Arizona, and send them an old fashioned letter to give the state a piece of your mind about how kids here are being treated. The Children's Action Alliance also has a page to coach you through writing a good one.

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