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:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Native Women, Domestic Violence, and the Duty-to-Protect.

Have been researching the prosecution of victims of domestic violence for crimes perpetrated against their children by their batterers, and came across the following document - it's brief and worth reading. Given how many Indigenous women are incarcerated in Arizona - and how high the rate of domestic violence is in Native communities - it seemed appropriate to compile some additional resources for Native women who are victims of domestic violence here. Those are at the bottom.


James G. White, Hallie Bonger White, Jane Larrington
Southwest Center for Law and Policy & Office on Violence Against Women , DOJ


"A disturbing trend has emerged in Tribal and state courts. Women are being criminally charged
with “failure to protect” under child abuse, child neglect, or child endangerment statutes solely
because of the violent, criminal actions of their abusive partners. Under the laws and practices of
many jurisdictions, women with children may be criminally prosecuted for failing to leave their
abusers or failing to report or to seek help for the abuse that they and their children suffer.

The criminal justice system has developed an expectation that battered women with children must
leave their abusers (even when no resources exist in the community to assist them in leaving) in
order to protect the children. Failure of a battered woman with children to leave her abuser may
result in criminal prosecution, incarceration, and/or termination of parental rights...

There are significant policy and legal implications of prosecuting battered women for “failure to
protect” their children. For some battered women, the most “protective” choice they can make for
their children is to stay in an abusive home. The reality is that many battered women lack the resources
to feed, clothe, and shelter their children once they leave their abusive partner. Many batterers
are highly lethal and will stalk and kill their partners and children if they leave. Making an
attempt to escape a violent home may actually increase the risk of injury or death for a battered
woman and her children. Careful safety planning and preparation can take time but will ultimately
provide a battered woman with her best chance at safely leaving an abusive home and keeping her
children safe.

Laws and polices that encourage the prosecution of battered women for “failure to protect” do not
accomplish their stated goals. These laws and policies discourage women from reporting abuse for fear that they may be prosecuted or lose custody of their children. By closing off an avenue of intervention
and assistance for battered women, these laws and policies make it less likely that these
women will be able to safely leave their batterers and keep their children safe. Finally, laws and
policies that seek to hold a battered woman responsible for the abuse meted out by her batterer
represent a grave injustice that flies in the face of one of the fundamental principles underlying
criminal justice—that persons should be held criminally responsible only for actions for which they
are culpable."


Sarah Deer, et al
Southwest Center for Law and Policy; Tribal Law and Policy Institute

Amnesty International (2007)

Also check out:

Mending the Sacred Hoop
202 East Superior Street
Duluth, MN 55802

Minnesota Indian Women's Resource Center
2300 15th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404

The Tribal Law and Policy Institute
8235 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 211
West Hollywood, CA 90046
(323) 650-5467 ~ Fax: (323) 650-8149

475 S. Stone Avenue 
Tucson, Arizona 85701

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