David Arner v. Charles Ryan (our litigation which challenges the legality/constitutionality of the 1% fee deducted from deposits to inmate spendable accounts, which became effective on July 20, 2011.) The case is currently pending appeal in the Arizona Court of Appeals. The Arner case is stronger than the case in which we challenged the $25 background check fee because it is a "tax" based on income (inmates who have no income and who don't receive money from outside sources do not pay anything at all toward the Building Renewal Fund. Inmates who receive large sums of money pay much more than those who only recieve a small amount because they pay 1% of every/any deposit to their inmate banking account). We will be filing our Opening Brief on January 21, 2014 in the Court of Appeals.
James J. Hamm and Donna Leone Hamm v. Charles Ryan: We are sorry to announce that on January 7, 2014, the Arizona Supreme Court issued an Order refusing to consider our case. This is the litigation which challenges the legality of the $25 background fee check that is imposed on all adult visitor applicant, which became effective on July 20, 2011. There are no other appeals available on this case; the case is considerated settled in Arizona.
All of the imposed fees against prisoners and visitor applicants is placed in a Building Renewal Fund that is operated by the ADOC to maintain buildings owned by the DOC -- not just visitation buildings, but ALL buildings. None of the fees are actually used to defray the cost of visitor background checks. That's why these are not "fees" at all. They are unconstitutional "special taxes" imposed on a select group of people with no specialized benefit or gain to the group who pay the fees.
The ruling on this case is especially dismaying because it demonstrates the Legislature's propensity to view prisoner's families as "cash cows" to bolster declining revenues (with the Court's support). You can voice your objection at the polls when retention elections are held for the Judges and Justices who sit on the Appeals and Supreme Courts, as well as discussing your own concerns with your elected state representatives and senator.
Parsons et al v. Charles Ryan: A settlement agreement was reached in this lawsuit on October 14, 2014 (as we predicted). The Plaintiffs were represented by the ACLU, Prison Law Office, and other firms. There will be many changes to the delivery of medical services to inmates -- hopefully with vast improvement -- and for the mentally ill and those held in solitary confinement (note: the DOC refuses to label any unit as "solitary confinement"). The Plaintiff's lawyers will be allowed to conduct on-site inspections of units several times/year, but they have to give a 2-week notice, which we believe is unacceptable. They should be allowed to inspect records and facilities unanounced. The DOC will have to meet certain performance standards, but only -- after a few years -- up to 85% of the time. The complete implementation of the settlement relies upon the legislature allocating money for additional medical or nursing staff; we are skeptical whether this will be approved by the legislature since it involves "better" care for prisoners. We will all have to wait and see what happens with respect to improvement, but this is a beginning.