A Phoenix federal judge has sided with inmates’ claims that conditions in Maricopa County jails continue to violate their constitutional rights, reports the Arizona Republic. U.S. District Court Judge Neil Wake modified a 1995 judgment that laid guidelines for a wide range of issues in Maricopa County jails, including medical and mental-health care, population control and record keeping. “Sheriff [Joe] Arpaio’s horrendous treatment of detainees, especially those with severe medical and mental-health problems, has caused terrible suffering for years,” said Margaret Winter of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project.
Wake said the jail health service violated inmate rights by not giving timely and adequate assessment of health needs and not identifying and appropriately treating many detainees with serious mental illness. A national organization began an effort to pull accreditation from the county’s jails last month after learning of potentially damaging testimony that emerged during the trial, but the jails remain accredited while county officials appeal the decision. Sheriff’s officials said Wake had dismissed nearly 100 of the original points of contention from the 30-year-old lawsuit and that many of the ACLU’s court arguments were about inmate overcrowding and nutrition.