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:

Sunday, June 16, 2013

AZ mortgage settlement building prisons, not communities.

Ironically, in the same session in which they took this $50 million from people victimized by forclosures, the legislature decided to invest $50 million in the building of a new Supermax prison in Buckeye. Perhaps the Legs figure that at least these families and their children can inhabit it if they are unable to recover from the recession. Some "re-investment in the community," eh? I don't recall Tom Horne being among those of us who protested that new prison down at the legislature...

 Mother's Day 2013: ASPC-Phoenix


Arizona victims of illegal foreclosures still waiting for compensation

June 11, 2013
Dave Biscobing

Thousands of Arizona families have lost their homes in illegal foreclosures.

Illegal foreclosures are based on forged or phony documents manufactured to push people out of their homes.

Banks and processing companies agreed to pay billions of dollars in settlements to the states.

While they did not admit any wrongdoing, they pledged to stop using forged documents to foreclose.

The ABC15 Investigators found more than a year after that settlement, little has changed.

Victims of illegal foreclosures in Arizona have yet to be compensated—not a dime has been paid out.

And some say the use of forged documents in foreclosures continues here in our state.


With the collapse of the housing market, many homeowners asked their lenders to modify their mortgages.

Homeowners were told they could get a modification, but only if they stopped paying their mortgages for three months and fell into default.

When homeowners followed that advice—instead of a modification, the banks foreclosed.

Many Arizona homeowners who challenged the foreclosures in court discovered they were done with fraudulent documents.


On February 9, 2012, Attorney General Tom Horne held a news conference boasting that Arizona was part of a $25 billion national settlement with five of the nation’s largest banks.

Horne said, “The fact that many people who lost their homes who didn’t deserve to is a terrible tragedy.”

At the time Horne announced they had put a stop to the robo-signing and forgery of foreclosure documents.

And the Attorney General announced Arizona’s share of the settlement would be $110 million.

Horne said that money would be used to compensate the victims.

But more than a year later, the ABC15 Investigators have found Arizona victims are still waiting for help.

Attorneys Dan McCauley and Beth Findsen are two of a small handful of lawyers who go to court to fight for the victims of illegal foreclosure.

Dan McCauley said, “I’ve seen nothing go to the victims, nothing from the state of Arizona at all.”

Beth Findsen told us, “I have yet to see one dollar awarded to a homeowner."

What’s worse the lawyers say—the use of fraudulent documents in foreclosure cases hasn’t stopped.

McCauley said, “It’s not just the financial rape of the middle class. It’s a crime."

Findsen said, “The banks are getting away with murder.”

Both attorneys say they are still seeing foreclosure cases based on bogus documents.


Chances are you know somebody like the victims ABC15 spoke to.

Mike Brosnahan is a husband and father of two.

He is fighting to stay in the home he built in Sedona.

He has fought all the way up to the Arizona Supreme Court.

Brosnahan told ABC15 Investigators, “All they’re doing is breaking up the American dream and leaving it in shambles.”

Rocky Coronado served in the U.S. Air Force.

The veteran and his wife have been fighting for their home for three years while raising a teenage son.

Rocky said, “I think it demoralizes him.”

His wife Brenda said, “It consumes your waking life.”

Both the Coronados and the Brosnahans insist they are not deadbeats and are not seeking a free house--they just want a fair deal.

They say they paid their mortgages until they were told to stop so they could get a modification.

And now their lawyers say their banks are using fraudulent  documents to foreclose and take their homes.

These families are like countless other Arizona victims still waiting for help.

That’s because our state is far behind other states when it comes to distributing those millions of dollars in settlement funds meant for the victims of foreclosure fraud.

The ABC Investigators asked Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne why states like California, Nevada, Maryland, Michigan, Oregon, Florida, Hawaii, and Oklahoma have already cut checks to help out victims but not Arizona.

Horne said, “There was a year lost because of the legislature saying we have to appropriate the money.”

Horne said he had to wait until they gave him permission to use the settlement funds.

He insisted he’s working hard to get the victims help as soon as possible, but he does not have a timetable yet.

Horne also admitted it’s too late for victims who have already lost their homes.

Nobody who has already been foreclosed on and evicted is going to get their house back.

And who gets help may depend on how much money is left because last year the legislature swept $50 million of the $110 million settlement into the state budget—a budget that already had $400 million in reserves.

Horne told ABC15 he fought against the sweep but in the end he had to abide by what the legislature decided.

He points out they could have taken the entire amount of the settlement.

Horne also said he plans to spend another $30 million of the settlement on outreach and marketing.

He said he is also setting aside $4 million to provide legal assistance to homeowners fighting foreclosure.

The victims of illegal foreclosures we spoke to say every penny of the $110 million settlement should have been used to compensate them.

Rocky Coronado said, “It just blows my mind that they could have the nerve to take that money that should have gone to homeowners like us."