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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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Deaths in Custody: Deliberate Indifference to Ferdinand Dix.

For those of you who think that the health care in prison is free and guaranteed, think again. Medical co-pays can cost a weeks' pay, and the negligence one must contend with inside costs prisoners plenty. This is why the ACLU National Prison Project and the Prison law Office are about to sue the State of Arizona.

After receiving the following video, I asked the sender how she knew him:

"He was my brother.  I spent 36 hours watching him die in a hospital in Tucson, shackled hand and foot to the hospital bed, even though he was basically vegetative/comatose and had tubes coming out of every orifice – and I mean every one of them.  It was very sad and painful to see.  I just could not believe how he looked, with his belly so distended, filled with tumors in his liver.  I could not understand how anyone inside that Tucson prison could see a man, like my brother, walking around that prison complex looking like he looked and not instinctively known or felt like: "Hey, that inmate needs to see a doctor and get some serious treatment!"  I just can't believe that people like that exist.   Just where do they find these people who work within the AZDOC?  Did no one who examined him in the medical clinic think that his belly looked a bit odd?  Did they bother to touch it, particularly given his complaints about not being able to eat?  My mother was just now telling me how she remembers in some of his letters and phone conversations he would say, "Momma, I'm just so hungry and I can't eat anything."  Peggy, his liver was so big it had literally compressed his digestive organs and made it such that he could not eat.  Can you imagine a human being walking around like that, for Lord knows how long, feeling so hungry and feeling like nothing was being or could be done about it?"

video by Michelle Lependorf

Survivors of police and prison violence, abuse, and institutional indifference are often isolated, and may be vulnerable to state oppression if prisoners or their survivors try to sue for violations of their civil rights. Please, if you find yourself in that situation, contact me (Peggy at 480-580-6807 / I can put you in touch with other families for support, we can work on getting your narrative out there, so there's more than just a criminal record or mugshot telling your loved one's story, you can help in the larger fight against state violence.

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