Tue. Oct 4th, 2022

The exterior of the Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence.

In an emphatic rebuke of Arizona’s privatized prison health care model, U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver found that Arizona is denying the constitutional rights of people in state prisons by failing to provide minimally adequate health care.

In a ruling issued Thursday, Judge Silver also condemned the state for improperly detaining a subset of prisoners in solitary confinement.

“While this case involves an unusually large amount of evidence, there are only two

basic questions,” Silver wrote. “Are Defendants violating the constitutional rights of Arizona’s prisoners through the existing medical and mental health care system? And are Defendants violating the constitutional rights of a subset of Arizona’s prisoners by almost round-the-clock confinement in their cells? The answer is yes to both questions.”

Silver ordered injunctive relief in a form that is yet to be determined.

The ruling comes after Silver rescinded a long-standing settlement agreement reached in the Jensen v. Shinn prison health care lawsuit between prisoners and the state of Arizona.

In 2012, the federal court recognized a group of people in Arizona prisons who claimed their Eighth Amendment rights, against cruel and unusual punishment, were being violated. The class-action lawsuit was then named Parsons v. Ryan, after plaintiff Victor Parsons and then-director of the Arizona Department of Corrections Charles Ryan agreed to settle the case in 2014 and the settlement was certified in 2015. 

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