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)


ANTICOLONIAL zines, stickers, actions, power

Taala Hooghan Infoshop

Kinlani/Flagstaff Mutual AID


The group for direct action against the prison state!

Black Lives Matter PHOENIX METRO

Black Lives Matter PHOENIX METRO
(accept no substitutions)



PHOENIX: Trans Queer Pueblo


AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:

Friday, February 10, 2012

AFSC Releasing Private Prison Report: Legislature Lawn FEB 15.

February 10, 2012
Contact:      Caroline Isaacs, (520) 256-4146 (cell),     
Report Reveals Widespread Problems in Arizona’s Private Prisons:
Cites Safety Issues, Lack of Accountability, and Cost
Phoenix:  A Quaker group that has been advocating against prison privatization in Arizona will release an extensive report reviewing the safety, quality, and cost of private prisons in Arizona—including 6 prisons operated by Corrections Corporation of America that do not contract with the state.  The report is the first of its kind to be completed in Arizona, and reveals widespread and persistent problems in private facilities.
The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is holding a press conference on Wednesday, February 15th, at 10:30 am (please note time change) on the lawn of the state capitol to announce their findings and call on the state to cancel its plans to expand privatization.  The group will also offer a telephonic press conference at 11:30am for statewide and national media unable to travel to Phoenix.**
The report cites data showing that the private prisons under contract with the state cost more than equivalent units operated by the Department of Corrections.  The group estimates that in 2009 and 2010, Arizona overpaid for these units by as much as $7 million. If the state adds 2,000 medium-security private beds, Arizonans could be losing over $10 million every year on private prisons.
The report also reveals that all private prisons in Arizona for which security assessment information was available had serious security flaws:
  • The Arizona Auditor General found a total of 157 security failures in the 5 private prisons under contract with the Arizona Department of Corrections, including malfunctioning cameras, doors, and alarms; holes under fences; broken perimeter lights and cameras; and inefficient or outright inept security practices across the board by state and private corrections officers and managers.
  • California's Inspector General found serious security flaws and improper treatment of California inmates held in three CCA prisons in Arizona.  Inspectors found flaws with the incident alarm-response systems at the three prisons because there was no audible alarm, and two were found to have malfunctioning and out-of-focus security cameras.
  • AFSC found evidence of at least 28 riots in private prisons since 2009.  The number of riots is likely underreported.  AFSC also found evidence of as many as 33 other serious disturbances involving groups of prisoners classified under “refusal to obey,” “tampering with state property,” and “obstructing an officer.”  Some of these incidents involved as many as 10, 20 and even 50 prisoners.
  • There were at least 6 escapes from inside Arizona private prisons in the past 10 years
Both press conferences will feature the following speakers:
  1. Caroline Isaacs, Director of the Arizona American Friends Service Committee and the author of the report
  2. Dante Gordon, formerly incarcerated at the Kingman prison, operated by Management and Training Corporation.  Mr. Gordon was injured in a 2010 riot at Kingman during which the private prison guards stood by as a small group of African-American prisoners were assaulted by a mob of white inmates.
  3. Rep. Chad Campbell, who has introduced 6 bills this session that would impose reporting, oversight, and accountability requirements on all private prisons operating in Arizona.
  4. King Downing, national representative with the AFSC in Philadelphia.  Mr. Downing will speak on why the findings of the Arizona AFSC report have national import and impact.  

**For statewide and national media who cannot attend the press conference on the Capitol Lawn, AFSC will offer a telephonic press conference at 11:30am.  Reporters who wish to participate are asked to please RSVP by Monday, 2/13 by sending an email to Caroline Isaacs at  All registered participants will then receive the call in number and access code.  Phone lines must be reserved in advance, so please be sure to contact us if you wish to participate.  
The American Friends Service Committee is a non-profit organization that works for justice and human rights both nationally and internationally.  The Arizona office, based in Tucson, advocates for criminal justice reform.

No comments: