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Old 03-18-2017, 07:47 PM
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Default Good News for Arizona Death Row Inmates

I receive email updates from Middle Ground Prison Reform. Today, I received an email from them with the following information.

"Thanks to a lawsuit filed by lawyers for death row inmate Scott Nordstrom, which challenged the DOC internal management policy of requiring* permanent mandatory max custody for all death sentenced prisoners, Arizona death row inmates will soon be eligible to be housed in a Close Custody facility.* The case was settled out of court and it mandates that death sentenced prisoners will be classified for purposes of housing just the same as other prisoners -- based upon behavior, programming, work performance, etc. -- and will no longer require them to be permanently housed in a supermax (Browning Unit/SMU) facility.* The arguments in the original complaint were grounded in Due Process and Eighth Amendment (Cruel and Unusual) claims.* However, they can not move any lower than "close" custody.

The benefits to these prisoners (and their loved ones) will be the opportunity for contact visits, group meals and recreation, more varied work opportunities, and other privileges beyond those currently available.* These death-sentenced prisoners will still be housed as a separate group and will not be simply placed in general population, but their conditions of confinement should otherwise be identical to all other prisoners who are classified as close custody.

The DOC has 120 days to change its policies and implement the re-classification changes, and it is presumed that the housing unit to be used for death-sentenced close custody inmates will be at CENTRAL UNIT/FLORENCE.* So, don't expect any changes to be implemented until about July 2017.
Some death-sentenced inmates, of course, will remain at Browning Unit due to disciplinary or STG (gang-related) issues, but at least there is now an incentive for death-sentenced inmates (who often spent 20 years or more prior to final resolution of their case) to achieve better conditions of confinement/additional privileges.

It is unfortunate that it requires threat of litigation in order to "convince" the DOC to do what they could have done on their own decades ago, but -- nonetheless -- it will benefit those prisoners currently on death row, many of whom have spotless disciplinary record

This is all the information we currently have on this topic.

Donna Leone Hamm, Judge (Ret.)
Director
Middle Ground Prison Reform
MIDDLE GROUND IS ARIZONA'S PREMIER ADVOCACY ORGANIZATION FOR THE INCARCERATED SINCE 1983."
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Old 03-18-2017, 09:11 PM
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Sounds much like what Texas used to have before the escape from Ellis...there was Death Row Seg and Death Row Work Capable. The product out of the DR Garment Factory was arguably better than what was being produced at Eastham...

The escape is what resulted in everyone on the men's death row being moved to Polunsky and placed in 12 building.
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Old 03-19-2017, 10:33 AM
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I can definitely see both sides this. Having known several lifers make dumb choices because they "had nothing lose" I can same thing happening with DR inmates....but that's just a choice they have to make. I'm glad they will be given the opportunity to live on a more open yard.
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Old 03-19-2017, 10:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sinir.Fridyrr View Post
I can definitely see both sides this. Having known several lifers make dumb choices because they "had nothing lose" I can same thing happening with DR inmates....but that's just a choice they have to make. I'm glad they will be given the opportunity to live on a more open yard.
It is a mix of risks...in theory, the ones with no previous criminal history that might still have a shot at a successful appeal don't want to be acting stupid in custody since that shoots down the whole 'not a future risk' argument if they get a retrial. The ones that the appeals are effectively foreclosed truly don't have anything to lose since, after all, it isn't like you can stack death sentences.

There was a point in time in Texas where an active warrant would result in a stay on the execution date. There were a few who you could set your calendar by for when they would seek to assault staff or other inmates. Finally someone wised up to the pattern and put a closure to that 'loophole.'

Hopefully, Arizona pays attention to the experiences of other States that had a two-tier classification process for death row...
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