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:

Thursday, July 25, 2013

ASPC-Winslow guard beaten: Risks grow under Chuck Ryan.

 AZ DOC Central Office
Phoenix (June 2012)

There are many reasons the AZ House minority leader has called for DOC director Chuck Ryan's resignation - the escalating violence under his watch is one. AFSC-Tucson is also calling for more oversight. Gangs run the yards, drugs are rampant, the prisons are erupting in race riots, and there's a class action suit for gross medical negligence in the prisons and abuse of the mentally ill with isolation (where they have been killing themselves at twice the rate in other states). 

AZ DOC officers should join others concerned about prison violence, staffing morale, etc and fight back - call for Chuck Ryan to resign, and a competent administrator to be appointed. The union issued a vote of no confidence and called for Brewer to sack him once before - what's changed since then, except a few more people are hurt and dead? 

Contact me at with your thoughts. 

-------from KPHO / CBS CH 5 / Phoenix-------------

Arizona corrections officer brutally beaten by inmates

Posted: Jul 24, 2013 6:50 PM  
Updated: Jul 25, 2013 1:25 PM


The long-time boyfriend of a female corrections officer at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Winslow said she was brutally attacked by two prisoners while escorting more than 50 unrestrained inmates by herself.

The officer, identified only as Officer Benavidez, is hospitalized after recently undergoing facial reconstructive surgery after the attack.

Benavidez's boyfriend of 20 years, Bill, only wanted to tell us his first name for fear of retaliation. He said there is no doubt in his mind the two men who attacked her were trying to kill her.

"Officers found a hit list in there with her and four other people's names on it," Bill said.

Bill told CBS 5 News on Friday a phone, as well as drugs, were confiscated from an inmate on a tip that came from Benavidez, a six-year law enforcement veteran.

A few hours later, prison officials confirmed two men attacked Benavidez, while more than 50 other inmates watched.

"The first one hit her and knocked her out. He climbed on top of her and continued to pound her head.
There was another one, and he started kicking her," Bill said.

DOC officials said there were more than 160 security staff assigned to the Kaibab Unit of the prison Friday night, but Bill said that number is misleading.

"There may have been 160 spread out in the entire prison guarding the fence or whatever. But there were 19 officers in her unit," Bill said.

Bill said understaffing isn't the only problem officers face. Drug use is rampant.

"We're not talking about simple stuff. It's heroin. It's a killer itself being fed to killers," Bill said.

Bill told CBS 5 News that state officials have kept problems like this under wraps for too long.

"I want stuff in that prison changed, before someone else is standing here like this," Bill said.

A Department of Corrections spokesman confirmed the case is under investigation, but wouldn't go into specifics about the attack...