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Federal judge declares Arizona county jail conditions 'unconstitutional'

[JURIST] An Arizona federal district court ruled [linked order, PDF] Wednesday that conditions in Maricopa County [official website] corrections facilities violate the constitutional rights of its prisoners. US District Judge Neil Wake's order demanded that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio [official website] take standards steps to address the jails' overcrowded and unhygienic conditions. Sheriff Arpaio, who took office in 1993 and has called himself 'America's Toughest Sheriff,' said that he will comply with the 'minor modifications' imposed by the federal judge, but maintained [Sheriff's Office press release, PDF] that he has always run a 'safe and constitutionally adequate jail system.' Attorneys for the ACLU National Prison Project [advocacy website] argued [pret-trial brief, PDF] the case, which had been in the courts in various guises for 31 years. AP has more; The Arizona Republic has local coverage.

Last week, a federal judge ordered [JURIST report] California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger [official website] to give his position on providing $250 million this year toward the $8 billion needed to reform that state's prison health care system. In January, a federal judge ruled [JURIST report; opinion, PDF] that the health care provided in California's prisons does not meet constitutional standards.

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