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, February 24, 2012

AZ DOC: Sexual Harassment settlement.

As I was saying, the corrosion at the Department of Corrections is deep and damages not only prisoners but also staff. This is bigger than just Chuck Ryan - prisons poison the entire social framework; we'd be better off without them. Unfortunately, Arizona is planning on not only 2,000 new medium security private prison beds, but also 500 new maximum security beds at Lewis to accommodate the growing numbers of mentally ill prisoners the state wishes to torture.

Here's the link to the last big Az DOC sexual harassment settlement...


Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Justice Department Settles with Arizona Department of Corrections Resolving Sexual Harassment Allegations
WASHINGTON - The Justice Department announced today that it has entered into a consent decree with the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) that, if approved by the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, will resolve allegations that the ADC discriminated against a female employee, based upon her sex, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.

The department’s complaint, filed today along with the consent decree, alleges that Susan Peterson, a female correctional officer at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Tucson, Ariz., was regularly subjected to verbal and physical sexual harassment by several of her male supervisors and coworkers from early 2005 through November 2008.  That conduct included unwelcome grabbing, touching, hugging and kissing, as well as exposure to sexually explicit comments and pornography.  The complaint alleges that despite Peterson’s timely and repeated complaints to ADC management about the harassment over a nearly three year period, ADC did not investigate her complaints or take any corrective action until November 2008.  The department’s complaint was based on a charge of discrimination filed by Peterson with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that was forwarded to the department by the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office.

Under the terms of the consent decree, which must still be approved by the federal district court, ADC is required to review and revise its sexual harassment policies to protect its employees from sexual harassment and must provide training on equal employment opportunity law and its sexual harassment policies to all employees at its Tucson complex.  The consent decree also requires the ADC to pay Peterson a monetary award of $182,500.

“All Americans are guaranteed the right to work in an environment free from unlawful harassment and retaliation,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.  “The department is pleased that we were able to work cooperatively with the Arizona Department of Corrections to resolve this matter without the need for contested litigation.”

The enforcement of Title VII is a priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available at and


Anonymous said...

I too have entered a lawsuit regarding sexual harrassment and intimidation at CACF a private prison owned by GEO. I was contacted by the states attorney and there are many involved. I too continually got harrassed by co-workers (male) that never ended the sexual harrassment. even though the Sgts and Lt's knew about it. They never lost their jobs. in fact a few were moved to the next door prison owned by the same company. kindof like the Catholic church they moved the Priests. It is now going into deposition phase. and hopefully ending real soon. my first allegation was handled by HR who didn't do anything but move the male officer to next door, after that, I never felt safe to go to HR for anything. I heard through one of the Lt's they destroyed all of the paperwork. there are now 31 women who have come forward for this lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

Hello, their is a lawsuit going on, wich started with the facillity neext door. You do have to worry about retaliation, constantlly.
Their are things that have been swept up. However, their is enough evidence that this will win in a trial.
I hope it goes to trial, we have waited long enough, we may as well wait longer.
The poor woman who started the case was kicked out of her job, because she reported the harassment.
Why kick the person who is down?
Why did they get angry with her for standing up for herself?
This is B.S.
I have been retailiated against, this woman has been retaliated against, along with SEVERAL other classmembers.
They are loosing their jobs, one in wich lost her home, because she spoke up.
Let it go to trial. Whats a little more time? I think it needs to, I think the people who suffered need justice.
We are constantlly watching our backs, in work and in public. We have to watch our p's and q's.
Why? Because we were speaking up for harassment.
You should not have to perform oral sex because you want to keep your job, or get a better post, you should not have to be subjected to a** pattings, and lewd comments all day.
I have seen, time in, and time out, if someone speaks up for themself their, they get looked down on.
I do not hope it is over, let them go to court.
Geo cannot really believe that all these women are lying about this, but they still let their lawyers play the time game, and step on people such as the woman who started this lawsuit.
They stepped on her, refused to compenste her, and allowed her to loose her home.
What happened in one of her depositions? They pulled out her past, they did everything but talk about the case, and tried to make her look bad.
This case goes beyond nasty, and I refuse to post the details. This case is discusting, and an outrage.