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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Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Ghosts of Doug Ducey: JANUARY 2015 State Prison Deaths

#CHUCKCHUCK #DARTHryan #DarkSideRyan  #FireChuckRyan" 


The first month of the new year was not kind to Arizona's prisoners, at least three of whom died in the first week by their own hand, and one of whom was brutally murdered. What follows are death notices for January 2015. The AZ DOC seldom updates the public with information about a cause of death unless there's a compelling demand from media for it - and all they are inclined to tell us about at times like these are their dead prisoners crimes and punishments. If you have any information on any of these individuals' lives or their deaths, or are a loved one who needs assistance, please feel free to contact me. Peggy Plews


January 1   ASPC-Lewis       SUICIDE      Donald Condra, 51, ADC #233190

January 5   ASPC-EYMAN  SUICIDE      Bernard Stewart, 47, ADC #277366

January 5   ASPC-EYMAN  SUICIDE      Justin Reif, 24 ADC#244623

January 6   ASPC-Florence   UNK           James Haley, 50 ADC#075188

January 7   ASPC-Perryville  UNK           Carolyn Thompson, 67 ADC#038274

January 14  CACF (GEO)     UNK          Craig Aubert, 46 ADC#278241

January 19 ASP-Kingman  Homicide      Neil Early, 23, ADC #250396 

January 31 ASPC-Perryville  UNK        Cheryl Smith, 54 ADC#288162

23 year old Neil Early
Murdered at ASP-Kingman, 
on a minimum security yard.

This was the AZ DOC's Director's statement about suicides on his watch after two guys killed themselves the same day, in the same prison. What I've seen is that Ryan's AZ DOC's methods of "suicide prevention" and "suicide watch" are so brutal and humiliating, with mentally ill prisoners in particular sustaining such emotional and physical abuse, that its no wonder more aren't sent home dead. This really sounds like Ryan is trying hard to look on the bright side of being mediocre ("average") about suicide prevention and response. I wouldnt find it acceptable, myself, if my own kid was inside - by not offering drug abuse treatment and mental health care where needed, Corizon is cutting corners where Ryan lets them, making a profit at the most severely impaired prisoners' expense...


“The Department of Corrections is dedicated to the safety and security of the general public, ADC personnel and the inmates in our custody.  Any inmate self-harm attempt is taken seriously and is thoroughly investigated.

This department has a goal of zero inmate suicides, and while one suicide is one too many, data from the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics indicate that ADC’s rate of inmate suicides was approximately 17 per 100,000 from 2001-2012 (the most recent annual data available).  This is nearly identical to the overall rate for the entire state population. 

This data also shows that in terms of prison systems, 21 states had a higher rate than Arizona, 27 had a rate below, and one has the same rate as ADC. This places Arizona’s rate in alignment with national average. 

In 2009, ADC instituted enhanced measures to address this issue. Those strategies include an integrated approach to mental health and suicide prevention that combines environmental, programmatic, operational, training and staff considerations. This begins for every inmate upon arrival at ADC where they are assessed for any mental health, medical and dental issues.

Specifically, ADC has instituted additional inmate programming to address mental health and self-esteem concerns, enhanced officer patrol procedures to ensure ongoing observation of inmates in max custody units, made facility modifications such as enlarging cell windows to increase visibility and communication between inmates and staff, modified recreational enclosures to increase group contact and promote socialization, replaced individual classroom enclosures with secure desk chairs for programming classes, and installed televisions for self-paced inmate programming.”

# # # #
Inmate Deaths by Year and Cause
*FY 2015 as of 01/05/2015
**Actual inmate population as of 01/05/2015
Includes ADC and Contract Beds
ADP – Average Daily Population (for Fiscal Year)
Cause of death figures are subject to change based on official medical examiner reports, which may be issued in a subsequent month.