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Case Name U.S. v. Maricopa County JC-AZ-0002
Docket / Court 2:97-cv-02273 ( D. Ariz. )
State/Territory Arizona
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Case Summary
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 ( ... read more >
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

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Assault/abuse by staff
Restraints : physical
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq.
Defendant(s) Maricopa County Jails
Plaintiff Description United States Department of Justice
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1997 - 1998
Filed 10/30/1997
Case Closing Year 1998
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing JC-AZ-0008 : Graves v. Arpaio (D. Ariz.)
Additional Resources
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  See this case at (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Review of the Use of Monitors in Civil Settlement Agreements and Consent Decrees Involving State and Local Government Entities
U.S. Department of Justice
Date: 9/13/2021
By: Attorney General Merrick Garland and Assoc. AG Vanita Gupta (U.S. Department of Justice)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  An Analysis of CRIPA Findings Letters Issued to Jails for Constitutional Violations by the Department of Justice
Date: Apr. 15, 2016
By: Jeff Mellow, Bryce E. Peterson & Mijin Kim (John Jay College of Criminal Justice Faculty)
Citation: Am. J. Crim. Just. (April 2016)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
D. Ariz.
JC-AZ-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
not recorded
Findings Letter re: CRIPA Investigation of Maricopa County Jails
JC-AZ-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
D. Ariz.
Settlement Agreement
JC-AZ-0002-0003.pdf | Detail
D. Ariz.
Complaint [ECF# 1]
JC-AZ-0002-0002.pdf | Detail
D. Ariz.
Order [ECF# 9]
JC-AZ-0002-0004.pdf | Detail
show all people docs
Judges Strand, Roger Gordon (D. Ariz.) show/hide docs
JC-AZ-0002-0004 | JC-AZ-0002-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bartels, Robert (Arizona) show/hide docs
Masling, Mark S. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-AZ-0002-0002 | JC-AZ-0002-9000
Napolitano, Janet (Arizona) show/hide docs
Nelson, Mellie H. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Pinzler, Isabelle Katz (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Reno, Janet (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Rosenbaum, Steven H. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Stein, Lee David (Arizona) show/hide docs
JC-AZ-0002-0002 | JC-AZ-0002-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Duke, Cleon M. (Arizona) show/hide docs
Jones, William R. Jr. (Arizona) show/hide docs

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