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Federal Judge Suggests Outside Monitor For Arizona Prison Health Care Case

In 2015 the state settled a lawsuit alleging it was not providing adequate health care to people in Arizona prisons. Judge David Duncan ordered the state comply with more than 100 performance measures to increase the level of care behind bars.

Two years later, the plaintiffs in the case argue the state is not meeting the measures fast enough. At issue is how the standards are defined and who’s overseeing their implementation. Currently, the Arizona Department of Corrections (DOC) is monitoring private healthcare contractor Corizon.

But Judge Duncan declared a quote “chasm of competence” after hearing the testimony from DOC and is now recommending both sides agree to an independent monitor.

Corene Kendrick is a staff attorney at the prison law office, which represents the plaintiffs. She said they welcome the opportunity to have a neutral expert reporting to the court.

“It’s possible that they need some sort of expertise or guidance on how do you properly audit a private contractor that’s doing a job for the state," Kendrick said.

Plaintiffs and the state will now submit briefs on the proposed monitor to be discussed at a future hearing.

Jimmy Jenkins was a producer and senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2014 to 2021.