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:

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Raising an Army of Abolitionists and Organizers: Help Wanted.

This goes out to loved ones of AZ prisoners and those who have lost loved ones in AZ DOC's dungeons: 

If you are willing to be on call as part of an organized army of prisoner friends and family members who can show up for rallies and press conferences, sign petitions, do data entry, answer letters from prisoners needing help, write letters to the editor, make phone calls, support the family support groups (see the AZ Justice Alliance and Prisoners R People at PUENTE for that), meet with struggling peers, or otherwise show solidarity with eachother when one of you is in crisis, please FB message or email ( me. My cell is 480-580-6807; you can call me anytime. Whether you're more comfortable lying low behind the scenes, or have a penchant for in-your-face guerilla art and theater, you all have something to give. Everyone can do something to resist new prisons, assert human rights in custody, confront state violence, and unpack the prison industrial complex for the general public. We do not have to stand powerless against the state, and there is no reason that any of us should have to stand alone.

So, let me know about your day to day availability, your level of comfort with media visibility, your willigness to speak publicly or write anonymously as a family of a prisoner, your biggest concerns for your loved one while imprisoned, and of course your relationship to the prisoner (mom, friend, etc) - it may also help me to know who the prisoner is so I'm oriented to who everyone out there is.  There are at least 50- 80 of you out there in my FB Friendland, between my personal FB page and the Arizona Prison Watch page - who knows how many more family and friends hit this blog but never contact me. I think we can really put something powerful together if we try. And I have the feeling we need to be ready for an action soon.

The mural above was done by a small community of anarchists and prisoners' loved ones last summer, not just me - that's what makes the memorial all the more sacred, the embrace by the free world of those who have been lost in prison. There are even more names now, sadly, and I'm a bit older than I was the last time, so I need everyone's help for the next one, among other things. Right now, though, I'll be happy to start with a coherant contact list for you all,  so get back with me soon, please. If you feel okay with leaving your snail mail addy with your phone and email,  I like to know how to reach people in the real world, not just the FB or digital ones, too. You just might get a cool postcard from me someday.

Thanks for your help, and I'll look for your messages over the course of the next few days - or, if you're in Phoenix, come see me at The Firehouse Gallery this weekend, and see the Art of Resistance: Voices from Arizonas State Prisons while you're there.