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:

Monday, February 24, 2014

PUENTE Hunger strike spreads through detention center.

Please support the hunger strikers by calling to have their loved ones released: 

Call Eloy at 520-466-4141 x 23200 ask for the warden's office to demand that the hunger strikers be released from solitary confinement, and that CCA recommend to ICE they be released from detention altogether:

Jaime Valdez (A# 201-288-309)
Elder Gomez-Lopez (A# 087-455-416)
Rosy Gallego (A# 205-930-728)
Margarita Gallego (A# 205-936-572)
Arturo Castaneda (A# 205-942-830)
J Cruz Lopez (A# 205-920-821)

Also call  AZ ICE 602-766-7030 and DC ICE at 202-732-3000 to tell them that the community demands the above prisoners be freed!

If you're in Phoenix, pay close attention to what's going down at ICE (2035 n central Phoenix), even try to make your support known there today - the cops have threatened to arrest people if they don't clear out. The hunger strikers and their supporters have every intention of staying, so this will be a show-down. Prepare to do some jail support, next.

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE: Defying the anti-camping ordinance in the City of Phoenix.
PUENTE's Encampment at ICE,  as day 6 dawns. 
Photo by PUENTE

for immediate release // excuse cross-posting/
Contact: Caroline Picker, Puente Movement,, 510-501-7276
Carlos Garcia, Puente Movement,, 520-648-1697
Families on Hunger Strike at ICE React to CCA Punishment, Enter 7th Day with Reportedly 9 Detainees in Solitary Confinement

Monday marks the seventh day on hunger strike for six families with loved ones in detention in the Eloy Detention Center.  Since they began their fast on President's Day, they've received countless visitors at their encampment in front of the Phoenix ICE field office, including several hundred undocumented youth from the national United We Dream Network, pledging their support.

Yesterday, Sunday February 23rd, the hunger strikers travelled to Eloy to hold vigil outside of the Eloy Detention Center, in order to draw attention to what their loved ones are facing inside.  (see attached photos) Lourdes Hernandez, whose husband has been detained in Eloy for over 1 year after being racially profiled by the Phoenix Police Departmemt, says, "Without my husband home, my whole family has suffered.  My 20-year-old daughter has dropped out of school and taken two jobs to support us.  We are here to send strength to my husband and all the rest of the detainees to keep their hope alive: we will continue to fight until they are home with us."

By the end of their first week, the hunger strike by those within the detention center had reportedly spread throughout the facility prompting Corrections Corporation of America, the private company that runs the facility, to retaliate against the fasters by placing them in solitary confinement.  Despite multiple phone calls expressing concern for the detainees, the company reportedly has placed nine of them in "the hole" as a disciplinary measure to prevent further participation in the hunger strike.

The detainees, some of whom have been in detention for over two years, are seeking their release so that they can fight their deportation orders from the outside instead of from continued incarceration in the hazardous conditions of the CCA facility.  

To schedule interviews with hunger strikers, please call Caroline at 510-501-7276

All photos by Barni Axmed Qaasim

 Photo 1: From Left to Right, hunger strikers Hermina Gallego, Jose Valdez, Lourdes Hernandez, and Anselma Lopez hold vigil outside of Eloy Detention Center.  Hermina's daughter and sister-in-law, Jose's son, Lourdes's husband, and Anselma's son are all detained inside.
 Photo 2: Anselma Lopez and her granson