From ATAC’s August 11, 2020 piece regarding the ADCRR’s tenuous response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Arizona prisons:
When the COVID-19 outbreak began emerging in the United States, concerned voices from those directly impacted by the criminal justice system harmoniously warned against what anything less than a swift, coordinated effort would produce: the avoidable death and suffering of vulnerable citizens.
Nearly 4 months later, Arizona continues to experience exactly that, with the response from the ADCRR failing to equal the growing sense of urgency shared by scientists, public health officials, and medical professionals in Arizona and abroad.
Today, the ADCRR confirmed 655 new COVID-19 cases within the La Paz Unit at Yuma state prison, marking the largest outbreak in the ADCRR since the inception of the pandemic. To date, the ADCRR has reported 4,295 positive cases and 26 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 among those incarcerated, and 1,348 staff self-reporting positive cases.
Many of the ADCRR prison complexes are located in rural areas of this state that are already overwhelmed with COVID-19 infections. Many local medical facilities are transferring patients to other counties due to the demand on healthcare resources. Any additional influx of staff and inmate patients to these facilities due to these large outbreaks will significantly limit the provision of healthcare to these communities.
The response from the ADCRR continues to be underwhelming and opaque. For the safety of the men and women incarcerated in the ADCRR, the employees, and our communities, full transparency and accountability of this immense executive agency is more critical than ever. It is time we pass comprehensive legislation creating an independent, permanent structure of transparency and accountability in the ADCRR.