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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PHOENIX: Trans Queer Pueblo


AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Transgender prisoner raped at CCA Eloy Detention Ctr, punished with solitary confinement.

from the transgender law center:


ICE Retaliates Against Marichuy, Places Her in Solitary Confinement #freemarichuy

Transgender Law Center
August 11, 2014

ICE Retaliates Against Transgender Woman Raped in Eloy Detention Center by Placing Her in Solitary Confinement Against Her Will; Family and Supporters Continue to Call for Marichuy’s Immediate Release as Her Mental Health Worsens
Marichuy Leal Gamino, a transgender woman raped in the privately-run Eloy Detention Center in Arizona, was placed in solitary confinement for two days by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. Marichuy (legal name: Jesus Leal Gamino, A# 047-283-870) was placed in segregation against her will and as calls for her release escalated with support from over 60 LGBT and immigrant rights organizations nationwide and solidarity actions in Los Angeles and New York.


According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, using confinement to protect a threatened population is a punitive measure. Solitary confinement is known to cause severe psychological symptoms, including depression, insomnia, racing thoughts, and hallucinations. For Marichuy, these symptoms were compounded by post-traumatic stress due to her recent assault. On August 4, after two weeks of living in the same detention facility where she was assaulted, she reported feeling suicidal.

Karolina Lopez, a transgender woman formerly detained in Eloy, explains, “What’s happening to Marichuy is not so different from what I went through, or what I saw other trans women in Eloy experience. I was harassed by two men, then placed in solitary confinement. Officials said it was for my own security, but they treated me like I had done something wrong. I almost went crazy, I still have fear of small spaces, and of officials. If ICE actually cares about Marichuy’s security, they should let her go.”

Since Marichuy was first detained in Eloy over a year ago, ICE has failed to provide even a minimum level of safety and dignity. Now, in response to the pressure of public attention, ICE has threatened to send Marichuy to yet another detention facility, further from her family and community in Arizona, instead of using its discretion to release her from detention.

Around the nation, LGBTQ and immigrant communities are calling for Marichuy’s immediate release. A petition to the national ICE headquarters has more than 3,500 signatures, calling on Director Andrew Lorenzen-Strait to free Marichuy as ICE has demonstrated they cannot keep her safe. Over 60 organizations around the country, including the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Detention Watch Network, have publicly called for Marichuy’s release back to her family and community, where she can begin to heal from the rape that took place under ICE’s watch.