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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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

AZ DOC:Lightning strikes twice: Botulism at Eyman again.

SOS from AZ prisons, CDC! I can't believe there's more botulism at Eyman The last time this happened was July 2012, and the AZ DOC's claim it was from prison hooch was an outright lie. Those men got sick from something they ate this summer, and three of the four were left to suffer with it for a week without medical attention before being taken to the hospital - check out this post here. That's twice now since Wexford took over that there's been a botulism outbreak.

So before anyone else buys the latest DOC report that their prisoners are just up to no good again, let's look at the other possible reasons for this kind of exceptionally rare outbreak to have occurred twice in the same prison in just a few months period of time (mind you - there were only 110 cases of botulism poisoning in the entire US in 2010 - only 9 of which were food-borne). Even if this batch of botulism really came from an alcoholic beverage cooked up in a cell and not a can of beef stew or something smuggled out of the chow hall, I'd be looking at what they're selling in the canteen theses days, boys. Something those guys are eating in that prison just isn't right.

"SOS from Arizona's other death row..."
 Phoenix, AZ (June 2012) 

 The Arizona Department of Corrections is already facing a class action suit, Parsons v Ryan, for gross medical neglect of its prisoners and the abuse of solitary confinement for managing the mentally ill. For their part, Wexford Health Sources has been outright accused of criminal misconduct in their management of AZ state prisoner health care since wining the contract in July 2012. If the CDC doesn't really look into things this time, who can the public trust to do so?

--------------from Food Poisoning Bulletin----------- 

Prison Hooch Sends 7 Inmates To ICU with Botulism

Food Poisoning Bulletin
November 26, 2012


Prison hooch, or homemade alcohol,  is the likely source of a botulism outbreak at an Arizona prison that sent seven inmates to intensive care. The seven inmates, all from Special Management Unit 1 of the Arizona State Prison Complex Eyman in Florence, were hospitalized over the weekend.

Botulism is not spread through person-to-person contact. Although it can develop in contaminated wounds or through IV drug use, it most often develops after eating or drinking food that is tainted with the toxin. Botulism poisoning  must be treated with a course of special anti-toxin, the stockpile of which is controlled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Health officials in Pinal County, where the prison is located, suspect that the inmates became ill after drinking  hooch made from fermented fruit. After discussions with county health officials, the CDC made a preliminary confirmation of botulism and released the anti-toxin. Samples of the hooch were collected and sent to the CDC lab for testing.

Five of the inmates became seriously ill on Saturday and two more fell ill on Sunday. All seven are in intensive care. Symptoms of botulism poisoning, which can be fatal, include: muscle weakness, difficulty speaking, chewing, swallowing and breathing; and paralysis.

County, state and federal authorities are working on the investigation into the outbreak. This is the second time in four months that such and incident has occurred at the prison. In August, four inmates contracted botulism from prison hooch.