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ACLU In Court Tuesday Challenging Conditions At Maricopa County Jail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 8, 2008
11:12 AM

CONTACT: ACLU
Will Matthews, (646) 233-9572 or (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

 
ACLU In Court Tuesday Challenging Conditions At Maricopa County Jail
Sheriff Joe Arpaio Seeks To Evade Federal Oversight Despite Inhumane Living Conditions And Lack Of Medical, Mental Health Care
 
PHOENIX - August 8 - The American Civil Liberties Union will be in federal district court beginning Tuesday seeking to rebuff an attempt by Maricopa County and its sheriff, Joe Arpaio to terminate a consent decree mandating that he maintain conditions at the Maricopa County Jail that meet constitutional minimums.

Margaret Winter, Associate Director of the ACLUís National Prison Project, and co-counsel Debbie Hill of the Phoenix-based law firm Osborn Maledon will argue that deteriorating conditions within each of the jailís five facilities that house pre-trial detainees Ė people who have been arrested but not yet tried or convicted Ė necessitate federal court oversight to ensure that Arpaio and other county officials maintain safe and humane conditions and provide the thousands of pre-trial detainees held there basic levels of medical and mental health care.

Pre-trial detainees at Maricopa County Jail are regularly given moldy bread, rotten fruit and other contaminated food. Detainees with serious medical, mental health and dental needs receive inadequate care, and they are routinely denied beds or bunks at intake, forcing them to sleep on the floor. Additionally, severe overcrowding in three of the jailís facilities has created extremely dangerous environments by significantly increasing the potential for violence among inmates.

Arpaio has been attempting for nearly seven years to get out from under the consent decree that governs conditions under which pre-trial detainees are housed and which resulted from nearly two decades of litigation that centered on the jailís horrific conditions. Under a provision of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the consent decree has been unenforceable since Arpaio filed a motion to have it terminated in September 2001.

WHO: Margaret Winter, Associate Director of the ACLU National Prison Project, and Debbie Hill of the Phoenix Law Firm Osborn Maledon.

WHAT: Opening day of arguments before U.S. District Court Judge Neil Wake regarding a motion filed by Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio to terminate a consent decree governing conditions under which pre-trial detainees at the Maricopa County Jail are housed.

WHEN: Tuesday, August 12, 2008, 9 a.m. MDT

WHERE: United State District Court for the District of Arizona
Sandra Day OíConnor U.S. Courthouse
401 W. Washington Street
Courtroom 504
Phoenix, AZ 85003

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