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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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Out of the Darkness: Jessica's Operation Orange.

I received a letter of support and encouragement today from the mother of a prisoner at Perryville who has dedicated herself to trying to prevent more fatal drunk driving accidents like the one she caused: Jessica's doing seven years right now for vehicular manslaughter. In the interest of spreading the word, her story from the website her family set up for Jessica's Operation Orange, is below. The family is also doing a lot of great stuff for the other women inside: check out the site if you want to help.

Thank you, Jessica Robinson and folks, for doing what you can to transform this tragic experience into one which prevents harm to others, and helps to heal our communities...
blessings to you all.


Jessica's Story

The day that changed lives…

Monday, September 1st, 2008 was my first day of Radiography School. That summer I was accepted along with only 29 other students into Pima Medical Institutes Radiography program. The first week of the program was your typical introductory week of getting settled in and getting to know each other. That Friday, September 5th, the last day of introductory week we had a potluck and each student was asked to present a poster of our goals and where we wanted our lives to be in 5 years.

Very early that Friday morning, before heading to school, I went to the grocery store to purchase a chocolate cake for the potluck. At the potluck there was so much food and so many colorful posters scattered around the classroom. My poster had my goals of graduating from Radiology school, buying a house, meeting Mr. Right and getting married, having children and traveling. I had no idea that in less than 24 hours my life would be altered forever…

When the potluck ended, my cake was unopened so I decided I would take it and say hello to the ladies at the office I used to work in which was just down the street. I only stayed for a few minutes to say hello and dropped off the cake.

I then went to work at my regular job. On Fridays I only worked until 6:00pm. After work I headed home to get changed and freshen up, I was going to a concert with friends that night! I arrived at the concert venue and met with my friends. The concert was sold out, and I was the only one with a ticket but did not want to go alone, I sold my ticket and we decided to go out for Sushi.

We were finally seated for dinner around 8:30, we had a drink while waiting for a table at the restaurant, and I had a drink with dinner. We sat and chatted for a couple of hours, and at around 10:30 a co-worker called and wanted us to meet at a different restaurant. There was a guy who was with us who does not drink so he drove us to our next meeting place. Once at the other establishment, a friend ordered me a beer. I took one drink of it but decided I would not drink it because I knew I would be driving later that evening.

Around 1:00am our friend drove me back to my vehicle at the Sushi restaurant. I got in my car and headed home. I had been awake for almost 18 hours and was definitely feeling it. Only minutes from reaching home my eyes started to get heavy and for an instant I closed them, taking my eyes off of the road. When I opened them I was approaching a truck right in front of me, I tried to steer around it but it was too late. Glass breaking, tires screeching, my voice screaming, then silence…

Is this a bad dream? It wasn’t... I was there, hanging upside down in my seat, the car had rolled. This was not a dream, this was real, I was alive but someone else was not.

All of the details are not important, but the message of it all is. I went out that evening and I drank and I got behind the wheel of my car and drove. Because of my actions, my careless decision to drink and drive, it cost someone else their life. Not only did it cost someone their life, it robbed someone’s family and friends of their loved one.

We are not invincible; we are not made of steel. If you think you are, you are mistaken. If you think you can drink and drive, don’t ever think that you can or that it is okay. If you DO drink and drive, YOU MIGHT AS WELL SIGN YOUR OWN DEATH CERTIFICATE OR PLEA AGREEMENT TO GO TO PRISON!

I did not physically die on September 6, 2008 but I felt like I did. Due to my actions I faced severe repercussions, not only criminally, but even worse I faced the repercussions emotionally. The mental anguish alone was and always will be a huge obstacle.

Here I am 2 ½ years later, writing this from my prison cell, an 8 by 12 room that I will spend the next 5.8 years in. I was charged with vehicular manslaughter - a class 2 Felony - to which I received a 7 year prison sentence. Not only did I receive a 7 year sentence, but I sentenced myself to a lifetime of grief.

I am not asking you, I am begging you; please do not make the same mistake I made. Please spread the message to everyone you know. DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE. EVER.

If everyone will help me to spread this message, then what I am in here for will not go for waste.

Please ask yourself the next time you want to order a drink and you are the driver, is it really worth it?


Our mission is to make people aware of the dangers and consequences of drinking and driving and to help other families who have loved ones that are incarcerated or facing incarceration.

Write to Jessica at:

Jessica L Robinson
ADC # 256178
Unit Lumley 24-D-164
ASPC Perryville
PO Box 3300
Goodyear, AZ  85395

For Questions, comments or help, email us at:

Want a Jessica's Operation Orange Bracelet?
Make a donation and we will mail you one! :)
Send your donation to:

Jessica's Operation Orange
PO Box 2103
Higley, AZ  85236


Sue Ellen said...

Jeanne is a force of nature and makes a powerful difference in the lives of many. We are very grateful she joined Gina's Team. She understands and has a big vision.

Anonymous said...

This doesn't make any sense... According to her account, she had TWO drinks and a sip of a third over the course of nearly 5 hours.

How exactly was this tragedy even remotely related to alcohol consumption? After 5 hours, her blood alcohol concentration should have been very close if not equal to 0.0%

Something quite simply doesn't add up here...

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous:

She also fled the scene (see link below). BUT >> Important to focus on her sincere remorse, continued efforts & willingness to tell people that even in small amounts, (when they think they are "pacing") - people shouldn't drink (at all) and drive, esp. when exhausted.

Also, her successful efforts to put better books in AZ prisons has really been amazing.