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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Friday, March 8, 2013

County Attorney Montgomery: Hardly Fair and Balanced....

Thanks to that Feathered Bastard, Stephen Lemons, for this blog this week at the Phoenix New Times. Jacking up the charges to give serious time to hard-working immigrants is brutal and discriminatory - shame on Bill. Sign the petition to stop the prosecutions and drop charges against people caught up in Arpaio's racist raids, then call Bill Montgomery at (602) 506-3411 and let him know how you feel about his version of "justice".


Bill Montgomery and ICE, Partners in Crime, To Be Protested in Monday March

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery and his partners at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will feel the heat of Latino and pro-immigrant rage this Monday when the Phoenix human rights group Puente spearheads a march demanding an end to the deportations of individuals whose only real "crime" is working for a living and supporting their families.

See also:

-The MCAO Follows ICE's Blueprint for Separating Immigrant Families

"We need immediate relief for our entire community," said Puente organizer Carlos Garcia in a press statement. "Montgomery is turning working into a crime by choosing high-level charges instead of using his discretion to allow our families to stay together."

Indeed, Montgomery's office regularly over-charges undocumented Latino mothers, fathers, sons and daughters with harsh, class four felonies for forgery and ID theft, while looking the other way when white college kids committing the same crimes are charged with misdemeanors, if that.

As I've illustrated at length, those felonies make undocumented persons, some of whom have been here for decades and have valid claims to remain in the U.S., removable from the country.

In fact, that is the reason for this grotesque, discriminatory practice by the MCAO, which was developed in part by Montgomery's predecessor, disbarred ex-County Attorney Andrew Thomas.

Despite Montgomery's embrace of the so-called SANE immigration initiative, he persists in persecuting the very people who would benefit from it. And he does this with a blueprint for deportation developed by ICE, in how to prosecute the undocumented in order to secure their deportation.

The result? Human misery and a waste of taxpayer-backed resources.

Such is the case with Julia Ojera's husband Miguel Venegas, who recently was arrested in Arpaio's immigration raid on Sportex Apparel in Tempe.

Venegas had worked at Sportex for 18 years, and the couple have three U.S. citizen children, who are upset by their father's incarceration.

"My children ask me where their father is and I don't know what to tell them," Ojera states in Puente's press release.

Venegas may face an excruciating, six month wait or more before trial, during which his life with his family hangs in the balance.

And he is only one of hundreds treated this way every year by the MCAO.

This injustice must come to an end, which is why I applaud Puente for their efforts, including this march, which is scheduled to begin 8:00 am Monday, March 11th, at Steele Indian School Park (3rd St and Indian School), go on to ICE Headquarters (2035 N. Central Avenue), and end at Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery's Office (301 W Jefferson).

The message: Until we have justice, Monty, there will be no peace, and the protests will roll on.