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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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Video Visitation at the MCSO: InSecurus and Sheriff Joe's newest money-making scheme...

So, for those of you who missed it, there's no longer such a thing as a "contact visit" at the Maricopa County Jails. Prisoners are also now only allowed one "free" visit a week, which must be conducted via videophone from 4th Ave Jail or the Lower Buckeye Jail. All video visits from off-site are unlimited, however - so long as you are able to access a computer with a camera and the internet, and can afford the $12.95 every 20 minute visit will cost you. 

As for the "inmate Services" fund this extra money is supposed to be going to: he should just refund it straight to the families, since the last time he had a chunk of change in the "Inmate Services" fund (where MCSO profits from the canteen sales presumably go, as well) he "misappropriated" it. Remember that $99 million he lost - almost $15 million of which came from this "Inmate Services" fund he likes to force prisoners and their loved ones to contribute to?

There never was actual contact allowed that could have facilitated smuggling at "contact" visits when they had them anyway - not at Estrella, at least - the women were always chained to the tables when visitors sat across from them. Mothers weren't even allowed to hug their kids. MOre access to prisoners from family the world is great - but should be affordable and not result in fewer visitation privileges for those who can't afford it. 

This is just more of the same: extortion and exploitation of what is largely a population of individuals who haven't yet even been convicted of a crime.  Arpaio needs to rein in his departmental corruption, really, if he wants to get that contraband issue under control, as far as I can see.

Anyway, this is what you should really be checking out - we got taken for a ride, people!

#inSecurus | Ensuring Visitation for Prisoners and their Loved Ones

.... (among other resources...)

---------or settle for this, from

Video chats replace in-person visits at county jails

Face-to-face visitation has a new meaning for inmates at Maricopa County jails now that in-person visits have been swapped for Skype-like video chats.

On Thursday, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office launched a Web-based video-visitation platform that eliminates in-person visitations and expands visitation hours.

The system, developed by Texas-based Securus Technologies, allows people from all over the world to talk to any of the 8,500 inmates in the county's six jails via video, as long as they have a high-speed Internet connection and a webcam.

The Sheriff's Office is offering a promotional price of $5 for a 20-minute conversation, but that price will increase to $12.95 for 20 minutes after Jan. 1.

Securus is paying $2.3million to provide 600 video stations to the six jails at no expense to the taxpayers, according to Securus CEO Rick Smith.

The system, which Securus says is the largest in the country, is expected to generate thousands of dollars for the Sheriff's Office while increasing jail security by eliminating the potential for contraband smuggling, an issue during the more than 20,000 in-person visitations each month, according to sheriff's officials.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio said it will also allow friends and family members to schedule visits without having to miss work or drive down to a facility.

"It's a win for everyone involved," Arpaio said.

Remote visitations can be scheduled seven days a week between 7 a.m. and 9:30 p.m at Visits must be scheduled at least 24 hours in advance.

Inmates can receive one free on-site visit per week, but they will be held through the video platform at either the Fourth Avenue or Lower Buckeye jails.

On-site visitation hours at those jails have expanded to seven days a week between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., up from a single visit on Sunday or Monday.

Sheriff's officials say on-site visits will no longer be conducted at the Durango, Estrella, Tent City or Towers jails, but inmates there have access to video chats.

Securus will receive 100 percent of the revenue until the number of calls reaches 8,000 per month. Ten percent of the excess revenue will then go to MCSO, and that will increase to 20 percent once the company's initial investment is recovered.

Money generated from the system will go toward the Sheriff's Office Inmate Services Fund for education.
The Sheriff's Office will store video calls for 60 days and will monitor calls for criminal or sexual activity.