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, July 30, 2014

AUG 5: Conversation with Monica Jones and Laverne Cox: The Criminalization of Trans Women of Color and Visions for Justice

from SWOP-Phoenix and the ACLU of Arizona, 7:30 on August 5 at the Herberger!

Conversation with Monica Jones and Laverne Cox: 
The Criminalization of Trans Women of Color and Visions for Justice

Herberger Theater Center- Stage West
Tuesday, August 5, 2014, 7:30PM
Doors open at 7PM for pre-registered seating and 7:15PM for general seating

Alongside Arizona’s already brutal racial profiling laws, severe anti-prostitution statutes enable police to profile and harass people of color, people in poverty, and LGBTQ people. Trans women of color disproportionately face the discriminatory and detrimental effects of these laws.

Join us for a discussion with Emmy-nominated actress Laverne Cox and Phoenix activist Monica Jones about the fight for fairness and justice for trans people.

Jones, a social work graduate student at ASU and advocate for sex worker rights, is currently fighting a conviction for “manifesting prostitution”-- a crime in Phoenix that some have taken to calling “walking while trans.” Cox is the star of the critically acclaimed Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black” and an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ community.

This event is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is strongly encouraged. To register for this event, visit:

RSVP on Facebook here
Sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arizona and Phoenix Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) with generous support from the Herberger Theater Center