Arizona Governor, Department Of Corrections Director Not Planning To Release Inmates In Response To Coronavirus

By Jimmy Jenkins, Mark Brodie
Published: Tuesday, April 7, 2020 - 5:57pm
Updated: Wednesday, April 8, 2020 - 1:26pm

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Arizona Department of Corrections building
Arizona Department of Corrections
Arizona Department of Corrections building in Phoenix.

Despite Attorney General William Barr ordering the release of some inmates from federal prisons to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, Arizona’s governor and Department of Corrections director say they will not be releasing inmates from state prisons. 

At a press conference Tuesday, Gov. Doug Ducey said the state would continue to ramp up testing of correctional officers and inmates but would "not be releasing any prisoners at this time."

Rep. Kirsten Engel has been advocating for elderly inmates and people with underlying health care conditions to be considered for release.

She said ADC Director David Shinn told her recently that he would not be using his administrative powers to remove inmates from the prisons because of a concern for public safety.

“He said, well, he has seen people with terminal diseases and quadriplegics be furloughed and continue to victimize people,” Engel said.

She said Shinn told her he believed because there still were no confirmed cases among inmates, he thinks Arizona prisons are some of the safest places to be right now.

While Engel said she greatly appreciated the chance to speak with Shinn, she was concerned by his responses.

"They seemed a bit callous," Engel said, "and irresponsible."

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