Settlement Hearing in Suit Against the State's Prison Health Care System Happening This Afternoon

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COURTESY OF THE ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
  • Courtesy of the Arizona Department of Corrections
We might hear of a final settlement later today in the class-action suit against Arizona state-run prisons' poor health care. The suit was put together on behalf of more than 34,000 inmates .

A hearing is scheduled for this afternoon, where a federal judge will decide whether or not to approve the terms of a settlement. These terms were put together together last October by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Arizona, the Prison Law Office and the state Department of Corrections.

That agreement came a few days before a full-on trial was set to begin.

If approved, the settlement would require the corrections department to meet more than 100 health care performance measures, including monitoring prisoners with diabetes, hypertension and other chronic conditions, caring for pregnant prisoners, as well as providing dental care, according to the ACLU of Arizona.

Also, prisoners with serious mental illness would get a minimum of 19 hours per week outside their cell, rather than the previous six hours a week. Mental health treatment and other programs would be a requirement, too.

"ADC must also restrict guards’ use of pepper spray on these prisoners, using it only as a last resort when necessary to prevent serious injury or escape," a press release from the ACLU of Arizona said. 

There would be ongoing monitoring and oversight by the prisoners' lawyer to make sure the state is following through with the settlement terms. 

The lawsuit was filed back in 2012, but it wasn't until last summer that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the inmates could proceed with it. 

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