Media Contact

Alessandra Soler, ACLU of Arizona, 602-301-3705
Don Specter, Prison Law Office, 510-280-2621, dspecter@prisonlaw.com

August 7, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 PHOENIX – Late this afternoon U.S. District Judge Neil V. Wake denied the Arizona Department of Correction’s motion for summary judgment in a class-action lawsuit seeking adequate medical, mental health, and dental care for Arizona’s prisoners, and challenging the state prisons’ use of solitary confinement.

Today’s ruling paves the way for a trial in late October on behalf of 33,000 prisoners in the state’s 10 prisons. 

“As expected, Judge Wake saw there was no merit to the state’s claims that there were no systemic problems within the prison system that needed to be fixed,” said ACLU of Arizona Legal Director Dan Pochoda.  “For far too long, the state has ignored the basic medical and mental health needs of prisoners confined to the state’s corrections system and this deliberate indifference has caused pain, suffering and even death of prisoners.  The judge found that there was plenty of evidence to demonstrate that the state has failed to address the serious constitutional problems within its prison system, and we’re looking forward to demonstrating that at the trial later this fall.” 

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Arizona and the Prison Law Office filed the federal lawsuit in 2012, challenging years of inattention to the health needs of state prisoners and improper and excessive use of solitary confinement.  Judge Neil V. Wake of the U.S. District Court in Phoenix certified the case as a class action in March 2013, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit unanimously affirmed that lower court ruling in June.  

The case is Parsons v. Ryan. In addition to the ACLU and the Prison Law Office, other attorneys on the case are Perkins Coie LLP, Jones Day, and the Arizona Center for Disability Law.

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