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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Thursday, March 1, 2012

More than just a number: Watching Tony Die, Part 3.

Most folks who have been reading here any amount of time know about the highly preventable suicide of young Tony Lester, whose tragic story has been revealed in several parts since he died in July 2010 at ASPC-Tucson of self-inflicted wounds to his neck. For those needing to catch up, I've compiled links below to the previous posts I've made about Tony. 

Deaths in Custody: Anthony Clayton Lester (9/15/10).


The Highly Preventable Suicide of Tony Lester (1/8/11).


Waiting in the Silence: Remembering Tony Lester (6/16/11).


Watching Tony die: The Halloran Investigation and feedback (11/11/11).


 (the above post has the links to both of Wendy's first two pieces on Tony)


The conviction of Tony Lester: A juror's regrets (1/2/12).


Below is the third part of the CH12 / KPNX investigative series: "Watching Tony Die". Wendy Halloran has done an outstanding job challenging the Department of Corrections' treatment of prisoners with serious mental illness, and even dug deeper to look at the sentencing reforms needed to spare people like him inappropriate terms of incarceration...unfortunately, our legislature has pretty much obliterated chances for that again this year, however.

Those folks with loved ones in prison need to watch this clip and please email to register your feedback. Especially with the current conditions in the state prisons, it's important for the media to know that these lives matter.


Friday, March 9 at 10am 
AZ State Capitol/Wes Bolin Plaza.

Thursday, March 22, 6:30pm
Maryvale Community Center

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