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Federal judge sends Arizona Department of Corrections to trial

Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 11:11 PM MST|Updated: Jul. 17, 2021 at 10:28 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A federal judge has ordered The Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry to go to trial.

In 2012, Arizona inmates filed a statewide class action lawsuit against the department and its leadership for failure to provide adequate health care.

The parties settled in 2015, and the state promised to fix its healthcare system and meet more than 100 healthcare outcome measures.

In February, a federal judge ruled in favor of the ACLU and Prison Law Office in the ongoing case, finding the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry in contempt for the second time in three years.

The court ordered the ADC to pay a fine of more than $1 million.

Judge Roslyn Silver stated she would use the $1.1 million fine as well as a June 2018 contempt fine of $1.4 million, to hire an independent expert to provide a system-wide analysis of the quality of health care provided to incarcerated people.

On Friday, Judge Roslyn Silver vacated the settlement agreement and ordered the case to go to trial before November 1, 2021.

Judge Silver’s order reads, “In some circumstances, a party’s refusal to comply with a settlement agreement may require drastic action. The present circumstances merit such action. This case must move beyond six years of judicial attempts to enforce the Stipulation.”

Attorney Corene Kendrick with the ACLU National Prison Project said they will be ready for trial.

“Our hope is that this order from the judge is a wake up call not only to Arizona Department of Corrections, but frankly to Governor Doug Ducey and the legislature that this department that consumes over a billion dollars a year just needs to focus on doing its job,” Kendrick said.

The ADCRR said it is not the department’s policy to discuss pending litigation.

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