What is the difference between misdemeanors and felonies in Arizona?
A U.S. District Court judge in Phoenix ordered the Arizona Department of Corrections not to “harass, intimidate, or otherwise retaliate” against prisoners who testified in a class-action suit about shortcomings in their health care.
The lawsuit was filed in 2012 on behalf of 14 inmates who are mentally or physically disabled. It led to a $4.9 million settlement in 2014 and extensive monitoring of prison health care.
Four prisoners spoke about their care at a court hearing July 14. They claimed in subsequent court filings that they were retaliated against by prison staff.
One disabled man claimed that a deputy warden reprimanded him in front of other prisoners in a way that could cause the others to target him.
A woman claimed that her cellmate was deliberately removed and replaced by another prisoner who was only kept in the cell during the day and slept in a different location, leaving the woman who testified alone at night and at the mercy of other prisoners and correctional officers who entered her cell and woke her several times during the night.
The cellmate, who wrote a statement admitted as evidence in the hearing, was moved to a cell with a known gang member with a history of violence.
In an order published Tuesday, Judge David Duncan ordered DOC to take no actions that harass or intimidate, or do anything “which could reasonably be viewed as having a chilling effect on witness testimony by utilizing group punishments, or actions against other prisoners who could in turn blame or target the witnesses.”
Duncan also ordered that the female cellmate be returned to her cell.
The judge told DOC’s attorneys to state in writing how they instructed prison officials about not retaliating.
At a June hearing, Duncan ordered the department to keep track of all “incidents of non-compliance” with previous court orders in regard to inmate health care, and he threatened a $1,000 fine for each incident.
On July 13, the department reported that there had been 2,127 such incidents over the preceding 27 days, which could amount to fines of $2.1 million.
Read or Share this story: http://azc.cc/2v9pLpR