Judge fines state $1.4 million for contempt in prison health care case

Governor’s press aide tweets defense

By Katie Campbell | Arizona Capitol Times

On Friday, the day of his retirement, U.S. Magistrate Judge David Duncan ordered the Arizona Department of Corrections to pay $1.4 million for continued noncompliance with court-ordered prison health care standards.

That sum comes at a cost of $1,000 per instance of noncompliance with performance measures laid out in the 2014 settlement of the federal Parsons v. Ryancase. Duncan’s order noted 1,445 separate instances between December and February.

Duncan also ordered the retention of an outside monitor – at the defendants’ expense – to review the process of measuring and reporting compliance with the performance measures; monitors within the department have been entrusted with that task, but Duncan determined the outside monitor was necessary to provide confidence in the system.

In his contempt order, Duncan wrote, “The evidence shows that the mere threat of monetary sanctions was not sufficient to generate ADC’s compliance with the stipulation. More importantly, the evidence presented to the court indicates that widespread and systemic failures remain.


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