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:

Friday, February 21, 2014

AZ DOC Race war update: Battle at ASPC-Lewis/Stiner sends ten to the hospital; one is critical.

UPDATE: MAY 27, 2014: This is actually what appears to be what was behind the race riot at Stiner. We arent just seeing a few fights here and there. It's a war.

--------------original post (2/21/14)----------

Very troubling, but not surprising. Look up the other racialized fights and riots at Yuma/Dakota, Tucson/Santa Rita, Tucson/Whetstone, and Kingman since Jan Brewer's man Chuck Ryan took over AZ Department of Corrections. 

 AZ DOC Director Charles Ryan

Hate and fear are rampant, too many officers are corrupt or indifferent, and racialized gangs are running those places, making a killing of of their own prison drug trade. Almost no one is given any kind of access to substance abuse treatment, despite the widespread heroin addiction and Hep C epidemic behind AZ bars. In fact, get busted with drugs in prison - or seek protection after being beaten down five times for owing a debt or flushing the drugs the gang threw in your bed during a search - and I guarantee that "help" for your problem will not be forthcoming - you can just look forward to sitting in the hole and losing contact with loved ones. 

Not offering critical care for addictions  is one of the ways that Corizon stands to profit from their AZ DOC prison health care contract, of course. Unfortunately, while judges seem to think they're doing some folks a favor by getting them off the street to where they supposedly get three meals a day and "help" for their problems, addicts are among the most vulnerable people we throw in prison just to become collatoral damage and target practice for the bad guys on both sides in the battle for power between the DOC and the gangs...

Sorry, folks I don't know who was injured or how badly - contact ASPC-Lewis  if you are concerned about your loved one. Check out Prison Talk for the chatter from families of those imprisoned there. And please contact me now or a year from now if you have more information about what went down here (Peggy Plews 480-580-6807 or PO Box 20494 PHX 85036 or


Several inmates injured after fight at Arizona prison 



Video report by Steve Ryan

Posted on February 20, 2014 at 5:45 PM

Updated yesterday at 10:50 PM

BUCKEYE, Ariz. -- Several inmates were injured Thursday after a fight broke out at the state prison in Buckeye.

Arizona Department of Corrections spokesman Doug Nick said fewer than 100 inmates at the Stiner Unit of the Lewis complex got into a fight about 4:15 p.m.

"This was because of some racial tensions that had been recently exposed and ... came to a boil," Nick said.

Ten inmates were taken to local hospitals, one of whom had critical injuries, according to Nick.

Authorities said the fight in the medium-security dormitory area was quickly brought under control with the help of distraction devices.

"Those distraction flashes ... are non-lethal rounds," Nick said. "They are very disturbing and they get people's attention very quickly."

No prison staff members were injured trying to break up the fight.

The prison was on lockdown Thursday night and the Stiner Unit will remain on lockdown until at least next week, according to Nick.

He also said the investigation is ongoing, and any inmates identified as instigators will be moved to a higher level of custody. They could also face additional charges.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.