Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs issues executive order to form 12-person prison oversight commission

Jan 25, 2023, 2:10 PM

(Public domain photo)...

(Public domain photo)

(Public domain photo)

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs issued an executive order on Wednesday establishing a commission overseeing the state’s prison system.

The commission will be comprised of 12 members and is designed to ensure both prisoners and prison workers receive safe and humane treatment in Arizona’s correctional facilities.

Hobbs ordered the commission to produce a preliminary report on the conditions and recommendations for improvements to Arizona prisons by Nov. 15.

The commission will be comprised of two members of the Arizona State House of Representatives and two members of the Arizona State Senate. It will also include two people who have been incarcerated at men’s and women’s prison facilities.

Eight of the 12 members on the commission will be selected by Hobbs, including the commission chairperson.

Focuses of the commission will include evaluations of mental health, medical and drug treatment programs along with cleanliness and accessibility for inmates to communicate with family members.

The Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry was the subject of ridicule from a federal judge who deemed the prison system provided inadequate medical and mental health care to prisoners earlier this month.

Judge Roslyn Silver outlined changes the department needs to impose within the next three months to improve prison conditions.

Some of those changes, such as ensuring there is enough qualified staff members, were included in Hobbs’ order.

Hobbs had already complied with Silver’s order to appoint a new corrections director following the resignation of David Shinn, who was appointed by then-Gov. Doug Ducey in 2019.

She appointed Ryan Thornell, the current Deputy Commissioner of Corrections for the state of Maine, on Jan. 17.

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Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs issues executive order to form 12-person prison oversight commission