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:

Friday, March 16, 2012

ASPC-Eyman Deaths in Custody: Nolan Pierce, 23.

Our condolences go out to Nolan's mother, family and friends, and all those folks whose hearts may have sunk, as mine did, at the news of yet another homicide in the state prisons. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of any support (Peggy Plews / 480-580-6807 or

Everyone else with a loved one still alive in Arizona's state prisons: tell your people they need to stop killing themselves and each other, and have them write to me (PO Box 20494, Phoenix 85036) if they're struggling to make it through their sentence because they think they'll be hit next. I swear I'm doing everything I can to get help in there to them, and to get Chuck Ryan out. If they're ordered to hurt someone else in order to stay alive, tell them to stand down and contact me immediately instead - no more of these senseless deaths, people, please. Even horrible, hardened criminals have turned their lives around and done good for their communities - there's a world of possible miracles that await us, if we can survive long enough to realize them...

If anyone has any information about how this fellow died, I'd appreciate hearing from you, too. We can't count on the Az Department of Corrections to give us the straight scoop. If you knew Nolan at all, and can tell me what kind of guy he was outside of being involved in criminal activity, please let me know.

------------from APW Facebook (Posted March 21, 2012)------------

Leo wrote: 

"This young man was my nephew, my sister's only child. It's impossible to articulate the devastation the family's been feeling trying to navigate through this tragic event. It can be challenging to embrace "the higher view" spiritually while absorbing the "weight" of this horrendous experience humanistically. He lost his freedom because because of his choices. We don't know why he lost his life. I've been struggling through posting anything on FB regarding this, but being a person who attempts to gravitate toward "the learning" of every experience, I'm passing it on for others to potentially benefit from. My feeling is that maybe we all could learn to be more responsible & accountable in some area of our lives (I know I could) that would enable us to ascend to greater heights of FREEDOM.... a place where I'm sure my nephew Nolan Pierce is now.... smiling down on us. We'll be celebrating his life in Phoenix at the end of the week. May God Bless Us All...."



misty scott said...

This young sweet soul was my nephew and he did not deserve this ...I know what the charges say but this is not the full truth he did not deserve to have his life taken..god be with you my sweet nephew Nolan Pierce

Mackenzie smith said...

my name is mackenzie smith, nolans girlfriend.. there arent words that can explain this feeling, nolan was amazing, he had the biggest heart with tons of love to give. nolan always had a smile on his face and no matter how upset someone was or what a hard time they were going threw, nolan knew how to turn that attitude right around and make anyone smile, either from his goofy dancing, his endless jokes, or just seeing the smile on his face. Nolan did some things in his past yes.. but what teenager doesnt?! He didnt get the chance at making things right, he got a 25 yr sentence that resulted in taking his life, The man that did this should not have been in a cell with nolan let alone anyone.. comsidering he was many charges or assulting the staff in 09'... there will never be anyting we can do to bring nolan back but we can stop this from happening to other families. may his memory live forever just as my love from him will. ill be seeing you in heaven baby.. i love you with all that i have. RIP Nolan Daniel Pierce.. my love. xoxo

Anonymous said...

My name is Sean Behan. I spent two years at smu1 surrounding my stupid decisions on 4 yards in the system.. To this day people are not being told the truth as to why nolan was killed... I was in county in 2009/10 fighting my case before being sentenced when I saw Nolan back on a page 2, awaiting more charges, when he came clean to me about how much trouble he was in, in the system involving politics. And I was with a few mutual friends on buckeye complex when I heard he was killed. I miss him, as I knew him inside and outside of jail. Nolan has slept at my apt many of times. I miss you brother... So very much. I hope your doing well, wherever you are my friend....