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By Matthew Hendley
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"If you look at the section on the Department of Corrections, there's very precise directions of what to do [if accreditation is revoked]," Oxley says. But the paragraph about county jails doesn't give the ADHS power to enforce health regulations.
"The Legislature did not provide any other direction, except to tell the jail that [it] must obtain the accreditation," Oxley says.
"Prior to 2003, the ADHS did inspect the health facilities in county jails. The [Legislature] needs to create the next step for resolution," she says.
It's generally thought that national accreditation is easier to come by than passing ADHS inspection. But from 2003 to 2007, the ADHS failed to even enforce the law that requires proof of jail inspections.
"In 2003, when the law changed, the Department of Health Services reassigned personnel within the Division of Licensing Services," Oxley says. "The county was responsible for filing the report for the department to keep on file. When the lack of certificates was discovered in early 2008, a request was sent immediately to all county sheriffs to comply with the law."
For those familiar with conditions in Maricopa County jails, the decision from the NCCHC is hardly surprising.
As New Times has reported, the jails' own correctional healthcare expert resigned on February 20, citing unconstitutional conditions. Dr. Todd Wilcox also cited the growing number of lawsuits the county has been losing. New Times has determined that cost of those lawsuits totals more than $43 million.
Additionally, national accreditation has been a first line of defense in lawsuits brought by individual inmates against Arpaio. With jail accreditation gone, such lawsuits (filed in both county and federal courts) have a better chance of securing hearings or judgments.
"We regret that the jails have not been able to maintain compliance with the NCCHC's standards and provided information that was not accurate," Harrison's letter said. "We sincerely hope that health services at the jails improve to the point that the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office can once again achieve NCCHC accreditation."
Maricopa County Correctional Health Services provides healthcare to inmates in Arpaio's jails. Betty Adams, director of CHS, sent a rebuttal to the NCCHC's letter last week.
The NCCHC will review Adams' rebuttal and decide whether it should continue the termination or reinstate it. Until that decision is made, the termination is on hold.
The responsibilities of Arpaio and Correctional Health Services in the jails are intertwined and poorly defined, as demonstrated by both the NCCHC decision and the Hart v. Arpaio case.
CHS was established in 1992 as a separate department from the MCSO, but CHS must rely on Arpaio's personnel to do its job. CHS provides healthcare for those detained in the jails and juvenile court system, but Arpaio is responsible for feeding, housing, and transporting inmates to CHS.
As such, Arpaio is liable for inmates who are injured in the jail, malnourished, or not delivered to CHS. If inmates are mistreated in medical practitioners' care, CHS is liable.
To further confuse things, the NCCHC letter was addressed to Arpaio, and Arizona law expressly reads that the "sheriff" must provide proof of healthcare accreditation in the jail.
However, Arpaio and CHS are separate defendants with separate attorneys (all paid with county taxpayer dollars) in the Hart v. Arpaio suit.
In 2004, Arpaio asked the county Board of Supervisors to give him control of CHS and its budget, but the supervisors refused.
Increasingly, plaintiffs who sue the sheriff list CHS as a second defendant, because the overlap of jail conditions and healthcare are often inseparable in cases of wrongful death.
But plaintiff's attorneys in Hart v. Arpaio had plenty to say.
"We commend the NCCHC for its decision to terminate its accreditation of Maricopa County Jails for failing to meet essential standards and providing false information to the Commission," Winter says.
"This decision is long overdue, as medical and mental healthcare in the jails have been grossly inadequate for years. We hope that the NCCHC's decision will be a reality check for Sheriff Joe Arpaio that even the self-proclaimed 'toughest sheriff in America' has to abide by the Constitution."
I have been on both sides in the Joe debate. I worked as a fill in RN dozens of times over the years. 3 years ago I got a DUI. I had to spend a week in the 4th Ave jail, because my family was out of town and I had no one to bail me out. Of course jail sucks(as it should)Most of people's main concern was they could not smoke. All the repeat offenders could not wait to go to prison, so they could smoke. The other big issue is the food. It is better than what i got in the Army. Just remember these birds did something to get there
I can telll you that the Maricopa/Estrella Jail is a hell hole. My daughter was tried ans sentenced to FCI Phoenix Satellite Camp, and was tried and sentenced again, not by a judge, but by her case manager at the Camp. She gets a meal twice a day, a sack lunch for breakfast, and again something that resembles slop at 6:30. She is a non-violent inmate that has been placed with murderers, mentally ill, prostitutes, etc. and has been there for 30 days on the say so of this so called case manager. There has been no investigation involving a SRO and no one seems to be able to help. I have written to the Warden with no response. I have filed a civil rights petition with the justice department with no response. We do not know where else to turn. An investigation, by someone, is in order. Please someone contact me.
why has there been no action on the federal goverments partto remove the sheriff from office for continuing to violatepeople's civil rights. this man must be stopped!!! he and his goone squad violated my wife's and kids rights by video taping them while showering , dressing etc. we left the valley because of it. god help you all. this sort of stuff does not happen in the midwest. it is against the law, against the constitution of this great country called the USA
When are the taxpayers going to kick this clown out on his A**. How many more inmate deaths need to be committed before firing this bozo the clown. Dan Saban is the right man for the job, and he won't need to sheriff deputy force to protect him either. Sheriff Joke Apile is history, do your civic duty and vote this clown out, before he costs us millions more, and remember, what kind of Sheriff can afford to live in Fountain Hills!!
Yea, but according to Bozo Joe's latest campaign ad, he lied, I mean got an "A" on how the jails are run....