LOCKED DOWN: Federal judge says ADC’s monitoring of prisoners’ out-of-cell time must be viewed with heavy dose of skepticism

Published: Sep. 19, 2019 at 3:01 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Arizona Department of Corrections and its leadership did not get the outcome they had hoped for this week.

The department asked US District Judge Roslyn O. Silver if it could stop documenting its monitoring of maximum custody inmates’ out-of-cell time.

It is one of many mandates set forth in the settlement of a 2014 class action lawsuit brought by inmates against the department and its leadership.

KOLD News 13′s Shaley Sanders has been reporting on the issues facing the ADC for more than a month. In her series titled Locked Down, Shaley has reported on the conditions inside Arizona’s prisons, battle to the reduce the recidivism rate and under-staffing problems that keep getting worse.

Ryan and the ADC are also fighting a $1.4 million fine for failing to meet certain inmate healthcare standards.

The ADC and its leadership had argued some inmates refused exercise, which is why the minimum out-of-cell time wasn’t being met in some cases. But the plaintiffs gave a few reasons as to why inmates may be refusing.

Ultimately, those reasons were enough for the judge to say, “there are too many monitoring deficiencies and factual uncertainties about whether the ADC is meeting requirements.”

She went on to say the ADC monitoring must be viewed, “with a heavy dose of skepticism.”

The judge cited some of the plaintiff’s arguments, like staff routinely offering outdoor exercise to sleeping prisoners during typical sleeping hours and due to staffing shortages, prisoners knew if they accepted recreation it would lead to four hours of confinement in the shower or that they will not be provided sufficient clothing when it is cold outside.

The judge said the offers for recreation were not reasonable, so for now, the monitoring will continue.

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