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9th Circuit allows class action over prison conditions in Arizona

Posted Jun 6, 2014 7:10 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A federal appeals court has upheld class-action status in a suit filed on behalf of more than 34,000 inmates in Arizona’s state-run prisons.

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the Eighth Amendment suit on Thursday, report the Arizona Republic and Capitol Media Services. The court said the inmates are alleging systemic failures in prison medical care "that expose all inmates to a substantial risk of serious harm.''

According to the opinion (PDF), the suit claims the prison system provides “inadequate medial staffing, outright denials of care, lack of emergency treatment, failure to stock and provide critical medication, grossly substandard dental care, and failure to provide therapy and psychiatric medication to mentally ill inmates.”

The inmates also allege some prisoners are held in isolation for months or even years without meaningful interaction with other persons, without adequate nutrition or outdoor exercise, in cells where the lights are never turned off.

The Department of Corrections issued a statement saying prison officials disagree with the decision. "The allegations are not accurate, and the Department of Corrections looks forward to vigorously challenging them and presenting our case at trial," the statement said.

Hat tip to How Appealing.

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