The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Maricopa County Arizona officials in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on October 31, 1997, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This action stems from an investigation authorized under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act ( ...
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The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Maricopa County Arizona officials in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on October 31, 1997, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This action stems from an investigation authorized under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997, as a result of allegations that poor conditions in the Maricopa County Jails (Jails) violated inmates' constitutional rights. The investigation was commenced on August 8, 1995, and it focused on allegations of excessive force and denial of adequate medical care. On March 25, 1996, the Justice Department sent a letter to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, stating that the Department of Justice had concluded that unconstitutional conditions exist at the Jails with respect to the use of excessive force against inmates and deliberate indifference to inmates' serious medical needs. Letter from Deval L. Patrick, Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice, to Ed King, Chairman, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors (Mar. 25, 1996).
The findings of excessive force included punching and kicking inmates and the use of cuffs, restraint chairs and stun guns. Systematic factors in the Jails were found to lead to excessive force because of inadequate and inexperienced staffing, the overavailability of non-lethal weapons, overcrowding in intake, insufficient training and inadequate tracking of potentially problematic staff. The findings regarding medical care included insufficient access to medical care, inadequate medical screenings in intake, inadequate protection from infectious disease, inadequate psychiatric care and deficient medical care for prisoners on work furlough. The letter concluded by stating that pursuant to CRIPA, the Attorney General would be permitted to institute a lawsuit if the identified deficiencies were not corrected.
The instant lawsuit was subsequently filed, alleging that Maricopa County had failed to adequately address the stated constitutional violations resulting from the CRIPA investigation.
On November 18, 1997, the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona (Judge Roger G. Strand) issued an order granting the dismissal of the civil action conditioned upon compliance with the terms of the settlement agreement by the defendants. U.S. v. County of Maricopa, No. 97-2273 (D.Ariz. Nov. 18, 1997) (order granting conditional dismissal). The remedies mandated by the settlement agreement included the construction of a new intake facility to reduce congestion and waiting time, access to adequate toilet and shower facilities for inmates on work furlough, increased staffing, increased in-service training, changes in Jail policy regarding use of force and restraint techniques, and improved investigations and increased sanctions for incidents of use of excessive force. The case was dismissed by Judge Strand on July 6, 1998.Tom Madison - 02/04/2006