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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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

ASPC-Lewis: Deaths in Protective Custody: John Jones, 63.

I've been hearing, of late, that the AZ DOC Protective Custody yards are as violent as the GP yards now - this guy was just murdered in PC this week, on the Bachman Unit. 

I'm currently compiling a report on the violence in the state prisons to submit to the US DOJ and ask for their intervention in the way of a federal investigation about policies and practices since Charles Ryan took over that have resulted inthe escalating level of violence and despair at the AZ DOC. If anyone has any information about this homicide or any other act of violenc ea tthe AZ DOC,  please send it my way (Peggy Plews) at

Here's the DOC's news release. Condolences to this prisoner's family, if there's anyone left out there for him.

---------------REVISED June 21, 2013-------------

received a copy of this interesting email yesterday...

From: Middle Ground Prison Reform <>
Date: Tue, Jun 18, 2013 at 6:42 PM
Subject: Death of John Jones #054741: Gross Negligence?
To: Charles Ryan <>

Mr. Ryan:

I was  sorry to learn about the apparent murder of Inmate Jones at the Lewis prison.   As you know, I recently contacted you about some serious security concerns that I noted when I visited the Lewis Prison as an agent of an attorney.  You have not responded to my email on that topic.

While my observations about lapses in security at Lewis Prison and the murder of Mr. Jones may not be connected at all,  I am especially concerned about what I consider to be a lackadaisacal attitude toward security at the Lewis Prison.

Today,  I examined Mr. Jones' inmate internet record.  I note that he had several disciplinary infractions, the most recent being just a year ago (unless there are more that are not recorded on the website) which reflect that this man apparently was given disciplinary for "refusal to house."  Often, inmates who are seeking protective custody (frrom gangs, drug or gambling debts, after having snitched on another prisoner, and for many other reasons) will be denied protective custody and issued a disciplinary ticket for refusal to house (in general population).

Is this issue one that relates to the apparent homicide of Mr. Jones?  Has he been seeking protective custody but, instead, been moved to "alternative placement" with DNHW (Do Not House With) names added to his file as the "remedy"?  If so, it would seem that this method did not suffice to protect him.

How many times has this inmate requested an 805 investigation and been denied?  How many times has this inmate been placed in an 805 investigation and subsequently denied protective custody?

Please consider this a standing request to examine the public records documents (written, electronic, video and by any other means collected)  on the investigation into this man's death.  Please have your staff notify me when the records are available for my review at the Central Office.

Donna Leone Hamm, Judge (Ret.)
Director, Middle Ground Prison Reform
Criminal Justice Consultant
(480) 966-8116