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AZ Dept of Corrections Settles Prison Healthcare Lawsuit

Arizona Department of Corrections logo
(Courtesy of Arizona Department of Corrections)

The Arizona Department of Corrections has agreed to implement significant improvements to the state’s prison healthcare system. The new standards are a part of a settlement filed on Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The agreement settles the Parsons v. Ryan lawsuit filed in 2012 alleging the state prison system did not provide adequate physical and mental healthcare to the states more than 33,000 prisoners.

One of the biggest changes is an overhaul of the rules surrounding solitary confinement.

Dan Pochoda is with the ACLU of Arizona.  

"And there’s no dispute there’s been unnecessary deaths because of the inadequate care. So yes, this will be a significant plus," said Pochoda "It has to be implemented. The department has shown a willingness to it. They have entered into the settlement voluntarily."

The settlement also asks for more staffing in medical areas.

Arizona Department of Corrections spokesman Doug Nick said it will benefit both prisoners and state taxpayers.

"This is an affirmation that the current practices and policies along with some recent enhancements in programming are working and are effective," he said. "So really, this is a positive development."

According to Nick, meeting the requirements of the settlement will not require additional funding.

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Carrie Jung Senior Field Correspondent, Education Desk Carrie Jung began her public radio career in Albuquerque, N.M., where she fell in love with the diverse cultural scene and unique political environment of the Southwest. Jung has been heard on KJZZ since 2013 when she served as a regular contributor to the Fronteras Desk from KUNM Albuquerque. She covered several major stories there including New Mexico's Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage and Albuquerque's failed voter initiative to ban late-term abortions. Jung has also contributed stories about environmental and Native American issues to NPR's Morning Edition, PRI's The World, Al Jazeera America, WNYC's The Takeaway, and National Native News. She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's in marketing, both from Clemson University. When Jung isn't producing content for KJZZ she can usually be found buried beneath mounds of fabric and quilting supplies. She recently co-authored a book, "Sweet And Simple Sewing," with her mother and sister, who are fabric designers.