As the number of COVID-19 related deaths increase in Arizona prisons, the ACLU of Arizona believes it is imperative that state officials take action to prevent needless suffering and death. Governor Doug Ducey has the power to immediately issue an executive order to reduce Arizona's bloated prison population and allow some incarcerated people to return to their families. Contact him now and urge Gov Ducey to release vulnerable populations and hold the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation, and Reentry, and Director David Shinn accountable for its response to this global pandemic:


We will not stop fighting for those incarcerated. Below are the actions the ACLU of Arizon's Campaign for Smart Justice has taken to remind elected officials that incarcerated persons have rights and dignity. 

For information provided by ADC regarding testing and rates of infection, please see their COVID-19 dashboard.

For updates on the COVID-19 actions taken as part of the prison health care lawsuit Parsons v. Shinn visit:

Actions the ACLU of Arizona Has Taken

A.Actions the ACLU of Arizona Has Taken

  • 6/5/20: The ACLU sent a letter to Sheriff Penzone demanding universal testing for all people incarcerated in Maricopa County jails.
  • 5/08/20: The ACLU, the ACLU of Arizona, and Perkins Coie LLP filed a federal lawsuit against the warden of a private prison run by CoreCivic, the United States Marshals Service, and the Bureau of Prisons, demanding that the prison ensure that the facility comply with public health guidelines to protect incarcerated people from the threat of COVID-19.
  • Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel has immense power to limit the jail population. We launched an email campaign demanding that Adel push for broad releases of people from county jails. Contact her now and take action.
  • 4/30/20: Smart Justice hosted a virtual townhall with Maricopa County Attorney Candidates Will Knight, Julie Gunnigle, and Bob McWhirter. Current Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel declined an invitation. We discussed the power prosecutors have to protect people from COVID-19 and whether the current response in Maricopa County is effective. Watch the recorded version here. 
  • 4/16/20: We sent a letter to Gov. Ducey urging him to use his executive authority to release people from jails and prisons, direct state and local officials to ensure health and safety for people inside, and direct jails and prisons to publicly announce information and data about their COVID response efforts.
  • 4/09/20: The ACLU of Arizona joined a broad coalition of criminal justice reform organizations and allies to send a letter to all county sheriffs urging them to use their emergency powers to release persons in their custody.
  • 4/07/20: We joined partner organizations to ask the Arizona Department of Health Services and Dr. Cara Christ to inspect Arizona prisons and ensure that the staff and people incarcerated in our state prisons are protected from COVID-19 and that the state is taking all possible steps to prevent contagion to the public.  Read the letter here. 
  • 4/01/20: Smart Justice hosted a Facebook Live Q&A with lead attorneys on the Parsons v. Shinn prison healthcare lawsuit and Arizona state lawmakers. Attorneys Corene Kendrick from the Prison Law Office and David Fathi from the ACLU, and state representatives Athena Salman and Diego Rodriguez provided an update on how officials are responding to COVID-19 in prisons and answer questions from the community and people who have family members in Arizona prisons. Click here to watch a recording of the webinar.
  • 3/19/20: In a letter addressed to Gov. Ducey, police and county sheriffs, county attorneys and the attorney general, we are demanding they take immediate action to protect people in jails and prisons from the threat of COVID-19.
  • 3/16/20: We filed an emergency motion to ask a judge to order the Department of Corrections to immediately work with an independent medical expert to develop and implement a plan to prevent and management a coronavirus outbreak. The emergency motion also seeks for ADC to suspend monetary charges for hygiene supplies, fees for medical screening, unblock alcohol-based sanitizer as contraband, and to work with an independent medical expert to develop and implement a plan to prevent and manage a COVID-19 outbreak. In response, ADC announced on Wednesday, March 18 that it would waive medical co-pays for people in prison experiencing cold and flu-like symptoms and would make free soap available to people inside. More information can be found here.

Media Clippings

A.Media Clippings


ABC15: ACLU of Arizona Urges Release of Vulnerable Incarcerated Persons

KTAR: ACLU of Arizona Protest at Gov Ducey Press Conference

KJZZ: ACLU of Arizona Files Federal Lawsuit at Florence Complex


Press Releases