Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Avoid jail in Arizona

PHOENIX - An Arizona inmate who died after spending nearly four hours in the desert heat was left in an outdoor holding cell for twice as long as she should have been, the state prisons director said Wednesday.

Three corrections officers have been put on paid leave while the state investigates Wednesday's heat-related death of Marcia Powell, who was left in her unshaded cell in 103-degree heat at a prison in Goodyear.

"The death of Marcia Powell is a tragedy and a failure," prisons director Charles Ryan said. "The investigation will determine whether there was negligence and will tell us how to remedy our failures."

Powell, who was serving a 27-month sentence for prostitution, was placed alone in the cell while being moved to an onsite detention unit. Ryan said officers placed Powell in the cell after a disturbance at the detention unit, but he would not elaborate on the nature of the disturbance.

This story seems to me to miss two larger points: first, why do they have outdoor holding cells in Arizona? That seems nuts on the face of it. And why would anyone be serving 27 months for prostitution? Sad and preventable and unlikely to have any real effects given the nature of the victim.

Hat tip: theagitator.com