The 'Friends of Marcia Powell' are autonomous groups and individuals engaging in prisoner outreach, informal advocacy, and organized protest and direct actions in a sustained campaign to: promote prisoner rights and welfare in America; engage the Arizona public in a creative and thoughtful critique of our system of "justice;” deconstruct the prison industrial complex; and dismantle this racist, classist patriarchy...

Retiring "Free Marcia Powell"

As of December 2, 2010 (with occasional exceptions) I'm retiring this blog to direct more of my time and energy into prisoner rights and my other blogs; I just can't do anyone justice when spread so thin. I'll keep the site open so folks can search the archives and use the links, but won't be updating it with new posts. If you're looking for the latest, try Arizona Prison Watch. Most of the pieces posted here were cross-posted to one or both of those sites already.

Thanks for visiting. Peace out - Peg.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Criminal Damage: Surviving a Death in Custody.

To: Sgt. Mark Schweikert; Detective Diane Rowe
Phoenix Police Department

Attached is more evidence of my crimes, with a witness list for this confession. I'm going to make the most of that tool in the coming weeks and months. You all get to preview what just became my next blog post... I must really have an ego in order to be such an exhibitionist. If I didn't have such a healthy shot of grandiosity, so many people with the power to really hurt me may not be subjected to my constant irritation, but then no one would know there's a problem in the prisons but the families of the dead and the dying.

In any case, I won't wait for the next dead prisoner to come along for me to paint on the sidewalk before I escalate again; I feel like I've failed now with each one. I have to touch base with two mothers and a sister today alone - survivor
s of a suicide, a homicide, and an apparent overdose on psych meds...they call the latter an "accident" at this point. It's probably the most important yet most painful thing I do, talking to those families...I would guess you can relate, if you've been cops for long. I hate it, but I have to keep letting them know what's going on - they more than anyone want to see change.

The homicide was in Buckeye - Lewis prison. Stiner. It was Dana Seawright - early last July. It was a gang hit, and hate crime (bet the state never called it that, though). "Unsolved" (they know full well who did it, I believe. The gangs run that prison in particular). The killers are probably on the streets again, like one of Pete Calleros' murderers already is. I think I told you about Dana - he was only 26. He was reportedly a self-admitted member of the West Side City Crips, and got caught being friends with a Mexican. They told him in the aftermath of this relationship becoming known that he had to hit a member of a Mexican gang to prove his loyalty - he didn't do a good enough job, though. Dana didn't really want to hurt anyone - he basically faked it, according to both the investigative records and the guards who narrated his days to his mom as he lay dying. For his defiance, Dana was bludgeoned into unconsciousness; his mother took him off life support five days later...

The state couldn't find a single guard to watch that kid's back even from a distance in there, but they had two on him all the time while he was chained to a bed in a coma. What brave public servants we have. Glad they have their priorities straight.

Kini Seawright's life slowly f
ell apart after her only child's murder. Her health and mental status deteriorated, her attendance and performance at work suffered, and she got laid off from the job she'd been progressing steadily at for years. She made good after prison years earlier herself, but was forced this year to turn to unemployment and AHCCCS, both of which are now compromised by budget cuts. She could be waiting months yet to hear back on her Social Security disability claim - I don't believe she told them about her mood disorder being exacerbated by the trauma of the murder, because her back and legs are such a source of trouble as it is, so she may face more denials and appeals.

In the meantime, Kini just received a notice from her landlord that she has to pay up b
ack rent or move out in five days - which I think arrives on Wednesday. Kini says the guy's been gracious and understanding for a long time, but I guess a few people owe him and the bank is coming after his properties - or is threatening to.

I'm honestly in the middle of trying to vacate my own apartment in the next week or so, and have no idea what to do for either of us. If I had the money, then the answer for now would be easy. But instead I have to ask for help - or rather, she does - which is just inviting more abuse from the state, frankly. When her son died, the Department of Corrections gave her 24 hours to get his body under threat of burying him on prison grounds. They couldn't even help her find the $300 she needed to bring him home.

Crime victims and their survivors have certain rights under the Arizona State Constitution - and privileges under a number of programs we've set up - except for those victimized while "in custody for an offense". I think that was a loophole to let cops and governments off for abusing and neglecting the rest of us, when we're supposed to be the most under their control. So when Kini called the Arizona Attorney General's Office Victims Services people for referrals on Friday, she was ultimately told that she didn't qualify for any assistance as a crime victim or survivor because her son was in custody at the time of his death - he doesn't count as human under the victim's rights' amendment, you see, while entities such as "the state" and WalMart do.

Now, doesn't that just mess with your head, when you think about it? Really. Whatever happened to "the People?" As cops in Arizona, you have more constitutional duty to serve a corporate "person" who has been stolen from - or vandalized - than you do the very real mother of a young man who was brutally beaten down by the West Side City Crips.

That must hurt to think about, if you really care about protecting and serving us.

Dana's homicide was actually a double hate crime, you know. We set him up for that kind of death long before he even went to prison, simply by cultivating that kind of garbage in this fine state - then we buried him by decimating his rights in custody. Anyone who truly hates racism, homophobia, gangs, and violence - not to mention prisons - should be on this "unsolved" homicide, our screwed up constitution, and the way Dana's mom is being treated if you're getting any of what I'm saying at all.

We diminished Dana's humanity - along with Marcia Powell's, Shannon Palmer's, Brenda Todd's, Susan Lopez', and every other victim in custody - by withholding from him and his loved ones the same constitutional rights we grant everyone else whose lives are so shattered by violence perpetrated by not only convicted criminals but also the state officers in charge of their punishment and safety.

Of all places in society - especially a nation which so prides itself on the nobility of its law enforcement personnel and the primacy of order - can we not keep our vulnerable prisoners safe within the confines of the most fortified institutions we erect? We can't even protect the tough young guys like Dana. We owe it to him and his mom to do everything we can to direct the resources we've allocated to assist violent crime survivors in times of need to her now.

That's my SOS to all of you today - beginning with those of you "In Blue", so to speak. It'll be up by the end of the day.

As for the alley - the vandals all running for office have claimed the fences for their ugly signs - the streets I still claim as ours. I'll be here to prosecute tomorrow - help a real crime victim instead today. It can be as simple as making a phone call to a community service agency to make a contact for Kini (she's a Chandler resident, for what's it's worth), or even passing a hat around your office, dropping a Safeway gift card anonymously in the mail, or letting me know if you can lend some other kind of hand (480-580-6807) - of those (hands), I need many.

And please don't take too long to think about it; time ran out for Dana's mom already.




Margaret J. Plews, Editor
Arizona Prison Watch
P.O. Box 20494
Phoenix, AZ 85036

"Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness, and our ability to tell our own stories..."

- Arundhati Roy

Arizona Prison Watch
Prison Abolitionist
Hard Time Alliance - AZ
Arizona Juvenile Prison Watch

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