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:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tell Brewer: No New Prison Beds...AZ is Maxed OUT

From the ACLU of Arizona, which has been really kicking some bad boys butts all over this state. Thank you, friends and comrades. I will carry my ACLU card from this day forward in solidarity with your struggles, too. I'm so glad this campaign is getting off the ground...

This is coming up next Tuesday, AUG 14:

Tue, 08/14/2012 - 6:00pm - 8:00pm

6:00PM to 8:00PM

Burton Barr Library
1221 N. Central Avenue 
Phoenix, AZ 85004

Join the ACLU of Arizona and the American Friends Service Committee for the Arizona is MAXED OUT kick-off event to learn more about conditions in Arizona prisons and the impact of solitary confinement on mental health and re-entry. The community forum will feature presentations about pending ACLU litigation and AFSC’s report on prisoner re-entry after solitary.


-------------------Tell Governor Brewer: No New Prison Beds!!!-----------------

Solitary confinement costs millions of taxpayer dollars and does nothing to reduce crime or make our communities safer. Yet three thousand people are held in isolation in Arizona prisons each year, sometimes for years. States across the country, including Texas and Mississippi have reduced their prison populations and their use of solitary confinement, saving taxpayers millions of dollars.  

Arizona is the only state currently planning to add more maximum-security beds.

This year, Governor Brewer and the Arizona legislature approved a budget that includes plans to build 500 new, state-run maximum security prison beds – beds we don’t need and can’t afford. Arizona’s prison population declined last year and the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) expects the prison population to remain stable for the next two years.  

Like states across the country, Arizona’s budget reflects cuts to essential services and agencies, yet funding for corrections increased again this year. Take action today and tell Governor Brewer to stop plans to build 500 unnecessary maximum-security prison beds because Arizona is MAXED OUT.

Join the ACLU of Arizona and the American Friends Service Committee as we kick-off a statewide “Arizona is MAXED OUT” tour in Phoenix on Tuesday, August 14th with a Community Forum featuring presentations about pending ACLU litigation and AFSC’s new report on prisoner re-entry after solitary. Visit our calendar for events in your area.

 In Liberty,

Alessandra Soler
Executive Director
ACLU of Arizona