FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FRIDAY, OCTOBER 31, 1997

CR (202) 616-2777 TDD (202) 514-1888

JAILS IN MARICOPA COUNTY, ARIZONA TO TAKE STEPS TO REDUCE EXCESSIVE FORCE AND USE OF IMPROPER RESTRAINTS UNDER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AGREEMENT WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Jails in Maricopa County will take steps to ensure guards do not engage in excessive force or misuse mechanical restraints against their prisoners, under an agreement reached today with the Justice Department. The agreement, filed together with a civil complaint in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, stems from a 2-year investigation into allegations of excessive force and the misuse of mechanical restraints by detention officers at the Maricopa County jails-which house 7,000 inmates. "Today's agreement will help ensure the necessary security needs of the Maricopa County jails, as well as the constitutional rights of inmates," said Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Isabelle Katz Pinzler. The Maricopa County Sheriff, who has administrative control of the County's jails, has agreed to take several steps designed to decrease the possibility of incidents of excessive force and the misuse of mechanical restraints, including: * reducing the number of inmates entering the jail's central intake area, decreasing the amount of time inmates spend there, and advocating for the construction of a new intake facility; improving conditions in the outdoor tents that house approximately 1,000 inmates; seeking additional funds from the County to increase staffing in upcoming budgets; increasing in-service training, to focus on handling of difficult inmates, with priority given to training of Madison intake officers; prohibiting hogtying and implementing a series of measures to ensure that restraint chairs are not misused; implementing the Jail's new policy restricting the use of nonlethal weapons such as stun guns and pepper spray; continuing implementation of a Use of Force committee

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to review all allegations of use of excessive force and restraints; * changing the Jail's grievance system to make it easier to file excessive force and restraints complaints, and changing the way in which resulting investigations are conducted; monitoring allegations of excessive force and restraints to identify officers who may be prone to such problems; and, creating a system for Jail management to interview periodically inmates and staff to assess whether there exist use of force and restraint problems.

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"We believe this agreement fairly addresses the issues raised by our investigation into allegations of excessive force at the Maricopa County jails, and we welcome the Sheriff's commitment to resolving these issues cooperatively and in good faith," said U.S. Attorney for Arizona Janet Napolitano. Under the settlement, an expert will review the way in which the Sheriff is implementing the agreement in six months. If the Sheriff has substantially complied with its terms, the Justice Department will ask the court to dismiss its complaint. The civil complaint was filed under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), which was enacted in 1980 to protect the rights of people housed in state and local governmental institutions, including county jails. The Civil Rights Division has launched more than 250 investigations into such institutions since its enactment. An investigation continues into allegations of deficient medical and mental health care at the facilities. # # # 97-451