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Arizona prisons, inmate lawyers to renegotiate settlement

PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Corrections was sent back to the negotiating table after it failed to comply with a previous settlement requiring better health care, a judge said.

U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver told the department and lawyers representing inmates last week they have 60 days to reach a new agreement, The Arizona Republic reported Monday.

“Each side must approach these renewed negotiations with the goal of reaching an agreement which will finally end this litigation,” Silver said.

Magistrate Judge Deborah Fine is expected to oversee the renegotiations, he said.

The state owes $1.4 million for noncompliance in 2018 and could face another $1.7 million this year, officials said.

Lawyers detailed multiple stories in letters submitted to the court in May in which the department failed to provide adequate treatment to inmates, court officials said.

One woman gave birth alone in her cell three days after she reported her water broke, according to a letter.

The corrections department replaced its health care provider, Corizon, with a new contractor, Centurion, last July, the newspaper reported Centurion has faced similar accusations of inadequate health care nationwide, the paper said.

If a new settlement cannot be reached, the parties must submit to the court legal reasoning for reopening the case and proceeding to trial, officials said.

In October, lawyers said they would negotiate while preparing for trial when Silver gave them three options to proceed with the case, court officials said. The three options included complying with the existing settlement, agree on a new settlement or go to trial, Silver said.

At the time, the department asked to craft a new settlement.

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Information from: The Arizona Republic, http://www.azcentral.com

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