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Analise Ortiz | 480-709-0503 |

April 29, 2020


PHOENIX—As more people die of COVID-19 in Arizona prisons, the ACLU of Arizona is calling on Gov. Doug Ducey to immediately issue an executive order to allow some incarcerated people to return to their families.

Two incarcerated people have died from COVID-19 and 50 incarcerated people have tested positive, however less than one percent of the incarcerated population have been tested.

At a press conference today, Gov. Ducey said he is confident that Director David Shinn is creating a “safe situation” within the prisons. However, public health experts continue to sound the alarm that releasing people from prison to reduce the prison population is the most effective way to save lives. Ducey has refused to do so.

The ACLU of Arizona Campaign for Smart Justice placed mock body bags outside the governor’s press conference today to represent the lives that will be lost if immediate action is not taken.

“People are starting to die in prison of COVID-19. It is impossible to social distance in prison and there has always been a problem with inadequate prison health care. A prison sentence shouldn’t mean a death sentence. Gov. Ducey can act now to prevent future deaths and to bring people home who have loved ones worried for them and ready to care for them,” said Ruben Lucio, ACLU of Arizona Smart Justice Campaign Manager.

The ACLU of Arizona is asking Gov. Ducey to issue an Executive Order and:

  • Release populations that do not pose an specific risk to public safety.
  • Require Each Jail and Prison in Arizona to Implement Necessary Health and Safety Measures to Limit the Spread of COVID-19.
  • Provide the Public Accurate and Timely Information Concerning COVID-19 Outbreaks in Jails and Prisons.

The ACLU of Arizona sent these demands in a letter to Gov. Ducey on April 16 and has yet to receive a response.

The letter can be viewed here:

Photos of today’s demonstration are attached.