Thirteen people who supervised state prisoners have been charged during the past four-and-a-half years with felonies for having sex or sexual contact with an inmate or parolee. Prosecutors in every case agreed to plea deals that reduced those charges, allowing probation and no prison time for the defendants, reports the Arizona Republic. Most of the defendants were state correctional officers. Records show that all the employees were charged in Maricopa or Pinal counties, where prosecutorial agencies have tough-on-crime reputations. Prosecutors in all 13 cases dropped one or more of the serious felony charges, which in nearly all cases could have resulted in more than two years of prison per charge, in exchange for a guilty plea to either a misdemeanor or the lowest-level felony.
Oregon last year handled a similar type of case differently: Two female jail workers were sentenced to three to four years in prison, respectively, for having sex with the same inmate. A veteran defense attorney questions whether an average Arizonan would have received the same deals in the two counties. Two victims who alleged they were raped or forced to perform oral sex while in state custody accused the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office of giving their assailants favorable deals. Those two, who have served their sentences and are out of prison, are suing the state and seeking monetary damages. Both said prosecutors did not consult them about the plea bargains, which they normally would with most other crime victims.