The Associated Press reports on the case of a State of Arizona prisoner Marcia Powell, an inmate placed in an unshaded “outdoor detention enclosure” (i.e. cage) for twice as long as regulations dictated and died of heat-related causes the next day in the hospital.
Arizona has used these (currently 233) outdoor cages state-wide since at least the 1960s, even though summer temperatures are as high as 110 degrees F. Believe it or not, the Arizona Department of Corrections Director cannot say if anyone else has become seriously ill or died as the result of being placed in one of these cages.
The Department of Corrections is aware that Powell was not removed at the two-hour mark as regulations dictate and has suspended three guards. The Department is also investigating whether or not the guards in the Control Center 20 yards away from the cage checked on Powell’s well-being every 30 minutes as regulations dictate or even gave her water.
An advocate from Middle Ground Prison reform is incensed, “The big problem for us is that the [Department of Corrections] is conducting its own investigation . . . There is some criminal liability here. They should not be investigating themselves . . . It’s unconscionable.”
Both the US Department of Justice and the FBI have been asked to conduct an independent investigation due to citizen doubts regarding an impartial Arizona Department of Corrections inquiry.