Arizona prison officials’ deliberate indifference to ‘grossly inadequate’ medical and mental health care violates inmates’ Eighth Amendment rights, federal judge rule Thursday in a protracted civil rights lawsuit.
Judge Roslyn Silver of the U.S. District Court for Arizona agreed with the ACLU and several other law firms that the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry (ADCRR) has been flouting previous provisions . Address the horrific problem of medical neglect in its prisons and discover that unreasonable delays and incompetence put those incarcerated at risk of serious injury or even death.
“No legitimate humanitarian system would work this way,” Silver concluded.
In an expert witness report filed during the November trial, Tod Wilcox, the medical director of the Salt Lake County Jail System, Several preventable deaths are described He said it was offensive to him as a medical professional and showed that Arizona prisons put incarcerated people at an unacceptable risk of harm.
Cases reviewed by Wilcox included a paraplegic man whose physical condition deteriorated until his penis had to be amputated; an undiagnosed, untreated lung cancer patient who lost 90 pounds Died “slowly and painfully” while taking painkillers; and a woman whose multiple sclerosis was ignored and misdiagnosed until she was almost completely paralyzed at 36.
“A system that allows for this level of continued incompetence and cruelty, and fails to take decisive action to determine the cause of these numerous and horrific failures and to ensure that those involved in the case are thoroughly retrained and/or separated from service ,” Wilcox wrote, “was morally bankrupt.”
Silver found Wilcox’s testimony compelling, concluding that a toxic mix of understaffed and underqualified nurses put incarcerated Arizonans at unacceptable risk of injury and death.
In contrast, she found the testimony of ADCRR officers and expert witnesses “shocking and completely contradicting the evidence at the trial.” At the trial, ADCRR Director David Shinn not only denied there were ongoing health care problems in the system, but testified that inmates’ access to health care exceeded his rights as an ordinary citizen, a statement Silver called “shocking” and “complete” Transcendence” comes from reality. “
In addition, Silver found that ADCRR “was aware of their failure for many years and that the defendants refused to take the necessary action to remedy the failure. Despite the court’s intervention and monetary sanctions, the defendants’ inaction over the years proved that the defendants’ actions were deliberate against the failure. Indifference to the significant risk of serious harm caused by the lack of adequate medical and mental health care affecting all prisoners.”
The ACLU of Arizona, the Arizona Disability Law Center and the law firm Perkins Coie LLP have been suing since 2012.federal class action litigation Medical providers following media investigations and ongoing allegations against ADCRR are severely underserving medical care.
ADCRR agreed to resolve the lawsuit in 2015 by taking steps to improve medical services in prisons. But the ACLU and several other law firms have repeatedly accused ADCRR of failing to comply with the settlement, and a federal judge agreed.
a federal magistrate fine 2018 ADCRR $1.4 million.silver contempt for the department In February last year, it was fined another $1.1 million for failing to meet benchmarks for adequate healthcare. Silver also called off the settlement, forcing ADCRR back into court, where a civil trial began last November.
Colleen Kendrick, deputy director of the ACLU’s National Prison Program, said: “This ruling does demonstrate the overwhelming evidence we have provided that people in prisons suffer, are permanently harmed and are preventable as a result of failing to provide health care. death.” .
Silver also found that the use of solitary confinement in Arizona prisons violated the Eighth Amendment. Silver wrote that ADCRR held “thousands of prisoners in restrictive housing units, where they were not given adequate nutrition and were not provided with meaningful outdoor exercise or social time. Defendants in restrictive housing units Treatment of prisoners results in deprivation of basic human needs. Defendants have known for years these deficiencies, court interventions and directives have highlighted these deficiencies, and denial of meaningful remedies.
The Eighth Amendment guarantees incarcerated persons access to adequate health care, shelter, and sanitation, but as reason Have reportmedical neglect is widespread in American prisons and prisons.
Silver’s order stipulates that the court will find an expert to help craft an injunction that would ease the unconstitutional conditions prevalent in Arizona prisons.
ADCRR did not immediately respond to a request for comment.