Arizona could face a new trial over inmate healthcare

Arizona could face a new trial over inmate healthcare
Prison Bars (Source: ARC)

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Arizona could soon be preparing for trial if attorneys representing the state’s more than 34,000 inmates win their argument.

On Jan. 10, 2020, parties met to attempt to renegotiate a legal settlement over inmate healthcare within the Arizona Department of Corrections.

This comes after a 2014 settlement in a class action lawsuit where inmates accused the ADC and its leadership of failing to meet basic healthcare standards.

Since the settlement, the parties have found themselves in court over accusations that the ADC failed to meet the required stipulations set forth in the settlement.

The state’s failure to comply led to a $1.4 million fine.

In the fall of 2019, U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver ordered the parties to meet for mediation.

According to court documents filed this week, the parties met on Jan. 10, 2020 and made efforts to resolve the disputes, but no resolutions were reached and no additional settlement/mediation dates were set.

The state argued progress was made during the mediation session as to defining general concepts that may govern a re-negotiated stipulation, and believe additional mediation sessions would be beneficial.

The state requested the court issue additional orders that require the parties to continue in the mediation process.

Attorneys representing the inmates, however, said in light of the parties’ impasse, they want the court to schedule a trial date.

“The state’s refusal to recognize the federal court’s authority is the reason the court ordered the parties to try to negotiate a new settlement, but the recently-appointed ADC Director David Shinn did not even bother to attend the mediation session with the magistrate judge on January 10, even though the judge ordered him to be present. Three days later, ADC argues that the parties should continue to meet and discuss matters, yet their attorneys again told the federal judge in Monday’s filing that she has no power. We believe the time for ‘wait and see’ is over, given ADC’s flippant attitude towards the court and the mediation process, and since people in the state’s prisons continue to needlessly die and suffer permanent injuries due to inadequate numbers of health care staff and resources,” said attorney Corene Kendrick with the Prison Law Office.

KOLD News 13 has reached out to the Arizona Department of Corrections for comment:

“The health and well-being of the inmates in our care is a priority for the Arizona Department of Corrections. The state has an obligation to provide inmates the constitutionally-mandated healthcare they are entitled. We remain committed to improving inmate health care and listening - not just to inmates and staff, but family members and community partners.”

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