Arizona Prisoner Dies After Writing 'I Am Being Killed' in Court Document

Arizona Prisoner Dies After Writing 'I Am Being Killed' in Court Document
Matthew Hendley
An Arizona state inmate died of health complications six weeks after he filed a court document claiming that he was “being killed” due to inadequate medical care.

Richard Washington died on January 31 in the prison infirmary, according to a spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Corrections. He died of complications related to diabetes, hypertension, and hepatitis C, according to an investigator with the Pinal County Medical Examiner’s office.

Washington, who was being housed at Arizona State Prison Complex - Florence, was 64. He was serving a 63-year sentence on armed robbery convictions.

Washington is the second case since 2017 in which a Florence inmate filed a court record raising concerns about imminent death before actually dying.

About six weeks before his death, Washington wrote a court filing titled "Notice I am being killed."

click to enlarge Richard Washington - ARIZONA DOC
Richard Washington
Arizona DOC
Washington claimed in his filing that the corrections agency was "actively refusing" to give him medication for his medical conditions, including "diabetes, liver conditions, and blood pressure issues."

"My greatest fear is that I'm going to die more sooner than later should this treatment — or lack there of — continues [sic]," Washington wrote in a document dated December 15, 2018.

Washington filed the document in the docket for Parsons v. Ryan, the federal lawsuit that resulted in a settlement requiring Arizona prisons to improve healthcare services at facilities and conditions in solitary confinement units. The Parsons settlement, reached with the American Civil Liberties Union in 2014, outlines more than 100 health-care standards for the ADOC.

In June, a federal judge found the state prison system in contempt of court for failing to meet Parsons settlement requirements. U.S. Magistrate Judge David K. Duncan imposed fines of $1.5 million on the prison system.

Arizona currently contracts with Corizon, a private company, to provide its health-care services. Beginning on July 1, state prisons will switch to a different healthcare provider, Centurion, following whistleblower reports on KJZZ of shoddy record-keeping by Corizon.

click to enlarge Walter Jordan - ARIZONA DOC
Walter Jordan
Arizona DOC
Corene Kendrick, a staff attorney with the Prison Law Office, said she saw Washington's court notice in the Parsons docket on Wednesday evening, the same day the U.S. District Court of Arizona officially filed the record. The Prison Law Office serves as co-counsel with the ACLU on the Parsons case.

Kendrick says it's unclear why Washington's notice is dated six weeks before it was actually filed in the court.

She said Washington's case reminded her of a case in 2017 when an Arizona inmate named Walter Jordan predicted his death from cancer in a court document in the Parsons docket titled "Notice of Impending Death."
Jordan wrote on August 29, 2017, "ADOC and Corizon delayed treating my cancer. Now because of there [sic] delay, I may be luckey [sic] to be alive for 30 days. The delayed treatment they gave me is causing memory loss, pain."

Jordan died on September 7, 2017, from cancer. Three months later, Todd Wilcox, a medical expert, filed a declaration in the Parsons case stating, "Mr. Jordan's case was unfortunate and horrific, and he suffered excruciating needless pain from cancer that was not appropriately managed in the months prior to his death,"

Like Washington, Jordan was housed at Florence.  
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Steven Hsieh was a staff writer for Phoenix New Times from August 2018 to April 2020.
Contact: Steven Hsieh