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Under Pressure From Federal Judge, Arizona Changes Prison Health Care Policies

Under pressure from a federal judge, the Arizona Department of Corrections has changed some of its policies related to health care in state prisons. 

In Arizona prisons, incarcerated people are forced to pay for their own personal hygiene supplies like soap and toothpaste. If they need medical attention, inmates must pay a $4 copay, just to be seen by a nurse.

After attorneys from the Prison Law Office and the ACLU asked a federal judge to intervene in light of a coronavirus pandemic, the court responded immediately. Judge Roslyn Silver  ordered the Department of Corrections to respond to the concerns by Wednesday.

In response, the Arizona Department of Corrections announced it is waiving copays for inmates with cold and flu symptoms, and making soap available for free.

ADC spokesperson Judy Keane said "These are ADCRR’s latest proactive measures to defend against the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus.  They will not be the last." 

The Department also announced new screening measures for employees and inmates on work crews who are reentering the prisons.

In a recent tour,  attorneys for the inmates found squalid, filthy conditions at the Florence prison, which they described as a breeding ground for infection.

ADC said it was also stopping "all routine internal movement of inmates across all Arizona Prison Complexes."

→  Read The Latest News On The Coronavirus Disease 

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