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Arizona officials threatened with contempt over prison care

FILE - In this Aug. 19, 2010 file photo, Arizona Dept. of Corrections Director Charles Ryan arrives at a news conference at the Arizona Department of Corrections in Phoenix, Ariz. A hearing is being held in Phoenix, Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, regarding allegations of retaliation against inmates in a class-action lawsuit that protests the quality of health care in the state's prisons. (AP Photo/Matt York, file)

PHOENIX — A judge has warned Arizona Corrections Director Charles Ryan could be held in civil contempt of court for falling short in improving health care for inmates.

The order Tuesday by U.S. Magistrate David Duncan also said the state could face fines for not making the improvements when it promised when settling a lawsuit that alleged inmates were getting shoddy health care.

Duncan says officials will be required early next year to file a list of every instance during December in which it was unable to comply with the changes.

He threatened a $1,000 fine for each instance of noncompliance.

The magistrate also said he will impose civil contempt sanctions against Ryan and another prison official if there is convincing evidence that they haven’t taken reasonable steps to make the improvements.

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