ARIZONA NEWS

Arizona Democrats want COVID-19 transparency from prison officials

May 12, 2020, 1:25 PM

PHOENIX – Democrats in the Arizona Legislature are calling for more transparency from state prison officials regarding the coronavirus situation.

House and Senate Democrats also released Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry Director David Shinn’s response to a series of questions they sent to him about the issue last month.

“Increased transparency will not only provide peace of mind to the many Arizonans whose loved ones are incarcerated or employed by the department; but provide an opportunity for analysis and improvement of those procedures,” the Democratic lawmakers said in a press release Tuesday.

They called for the state to take the following actions.

  • “As part of the Governor’s announced ‘testing blitz’ provide ample ongoing diagnostic and antibody testing for staff and inmates across the department and maintain a public and updated record of results.”
  • “Create and share with the public a long-term strategy for mitigating COVID-19 in the prison population and establish a system for interval diagnostic and antibody testing to protect against future outbreaks of COVID-19.”
  • “Work with county attorneys and the courts to release high-risk, non-violent offenders who have a year or less on their sentence and ensure that they have a safe place to go after release.”
  • “Allow a select group of legislators, media and AZDHS personnel to tour Florence and Perryville prisons in order to observe the department’s COVID-response procedures first-hand.”
  • “Release and demonstrate compliance with guidance provided by AZDHS staff for prevention and response to COVID-19 in prison facilities.”

The Democratic legislators sent Shinn 11 questions, some of them with multiple parts, on April 29, and he replied May 5.

Some of the questions focused on the Papago unit reopening, which Shinn said was planned before the pandemic.

Questions about COVID-19 testing for staff and inmates, staffing levels, protective equipment and virus-related costs were also asked and answered.

Some of the data requested was added to the corrections department’s COVID-19 dashboard between the time the questions were submitted and when Shinn sent his response.

One inmate death has been officially attributed to COVID-19, and four others are suspected but not yet confirmed, according to data on the dashboard Tuesday morning.

The department has tested 370 of its 41,000-plus inmates for coronavirus, with 60 confirmed cases, 242 negatives results and 47 pending. Sixteen of the patients have recovered.

Sixty staff members have self-reported positive tests, with 35 cleared to return to work by their personal doctors.

Shinn said he can’t say how often employees have taken days off because of coronavirus because they aren’t required to report reasons for using sick time.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

An IRS 1040 form, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, is shown on Thursday, April 5, 2018, in New Yo...
KTAR.com

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide provides free income tax prep assistance

One taxpayer assistance option available is the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, which is providing free tax assistance and preparation in Arizona.
7 hours ago
(Arizona Game and Fish Department Photo)...
Alex Weiner

Sonoran pronghorn population in Arizona declared sustainable after AZGFD partnership with Mexico

The Sonoran pronghorn native to Arizona was on the cusp of extinction in the United States with 21 individuals in the wild in 2002.
7 hours ago
(Jim Poulin/Phoenix Business Journal)...
Ron Davis/Phoenix Business Journal

Radix Law partner helps launch ride-share carts in Scottsdale ahead of Super Bowl LVII

In a matter of weeks, those looking for a ride will be able to call for one through a mobile app to take them through Scottsdale's entertainment district at no charge.
7 hours ago
(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Police Department)...
KTAR.com

Shooting in central Phoenix leaves 1 dead, 2 others injured on Saturday

Phoenix police are searching for a suspect in a shooting that left one man dead and two others injured on Saturday.
1 day ago
(Photo by Wagner Meier/Getty Images)...
Wills Rice

Producer Marshmello added to second day of BetMGM West Fest

Westgate in Glendale announced a second day of BetMGM West Fest with performances from artist and producer Marshmello as well as NGHTMARE.
1 day ago
(Flickr/Martin Ely)...
KTAR.com

Tempe asks Arizona Supreme Court to review South Pier development case

Tempe has asked the Arizona Supreme Court to review a recent appeals court decision concerning a proposed development at Tempe Town Lake.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
Arizona Democrats want COVID-19 transparency from prison officials