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, April 5, 2012

SB 1184: Anti-shackling bill signed into law.

Sorry to be so slow on this, folks - thought I already posted it. Congratulations to all who worked so hard on this - and thank you! 

As for you, Sheriff Joe - go shackle yourself....

------------from the ACLU-AZ--------------

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Alessandra Soler Meetze, ACLU of Arizona, (602) 773-6006 (office) or 602-418-5499 (cell)

PHOENIX – In a historic win for women and mothers in Arizona, Governor Jan Brewer today signed a bill banning the practice of restraining pregnant inmates in shackles. The bill – which generated support from across the ideological spectrum – prevents jail officials from using leg or waist restraints during transportation, labor, delivery and postpartum recovery. With the passage of SB 1184, Arizona now joins 14 other states in banning this inhumane and unconstitutional practice.

"The end of this dangerous and widespread practice is long overdue," said ACLU of Arizona Public Policy Director Anjali Abraham, who worked with the bill’s sponsor, Senator Linda Gray (Republican- District 10), to garner support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. "Restraining a pregnant woman can pose undue health risks to the woman and her child, and this bill reaffirms that pregnant women in prison—and their children—do not lose their right to safe and humane treatment."

The bill was drafted based on Arizona Department of Corrections policy and protects pregnant women incarcerated in county jails throughout Arizona. An ACLU analysis of county jail policies from across the state found that because there was no state law restricting the use of restraints on pregnant inmates, each jail had adopted its own set of policies and procedures that subjected pregnant inmates in Arizona jails to belly, leg and/or hand restraints, even while giving birth. In some jurisdictions, women wear leg irons on the way to the hospital to give birth. In Maricopa County, restraints are used until the woman goes into “active labor” or is administered an epidural.

“For far too long, shackling a pregnant inmate was a common practice that was not only dangerous to women and children, but made no sense considering most women inmates are nonviolent offenders who pose low security risks,” added Anjali. “Our legislators were rightly concerned about this practice. Not one Arizona legislator voted against this bill.”

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Correctional Association, Federal Bureau of Prisons, the American Medical Association, and the American Public Health Association all condemn the practice of shackling pregnant women. In addition, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2009 that the practice was considered cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
SB 1184, which does permit corrections officials to use the least restrictive restraints necessary for individuals perceived as a security risk, passed unanimously in both the House and Senate.

To read a copy of the bill, visit:

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