Arizona settles with ACLU to improve prison conditions

October 13, 2014

Arizona agreed to improve prison conditions in a settlement of a class-action lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union. The state Department of Corrections will take more than 100 measures to change its practices on providing prisoners with medical and mental healthcare, according to terms of the deal, filed in the U.S. District Court of Arizona. The settlement covers Arizona's state prison system, which holds more than 33,000 inmates. The measures will allow mentally ill prisoners who are held in isolation to have better access to treatment and 19 hours a week outside their cells; will provide more medical and dental care for the overall prison population; and will restrict the use of pepper spray to situations that jeopardize the safety of prisoners or guards or compromise prison security. The settlement didn't include any financial compensation for prisoners, although the state agreed to pay legal fees totaling $4.9 million related to the lawsuit. The Department of Corrections didn't admit any wrongdoing in agreeing to the settlement.