Ariz. ends outdoor prison cells after inmate death
By Jonathan J. Cooper
PHOENIX — Arizona is ending its use of outdoor prison cells after an inmate died in triple-digit heat last month, the corrections department said Tuesday.
Corrections spokesman Barrett Marson said in an e-mail that the decision came after consulting with Gov. Jan Brewer's office.
Brewer spokesman Paul Senseman said "the governor made a judgment that she didn't desire this usage."
"It's certainly to prevent any future exposure out in the elements," he said, adding that Brewer believes indoor cells would be a good replacement for the outdoor ones.
The department said last week it was temporarily halting use of the cells to add shade and water. Corrections Director Charles Ryan planned to discuss the change on Wednesday.
Marcia Powell, 48, died from heat-related complications hours after she collapsed May 19 in an uncovered outdoor cell. She had been in the cell for nearly four hours, despite a policy that set a two-hour limit.
Ryan has said Powell's cell was 20 yards from a control room where officers were supposed to be watching her. Three prison employees were suspended pending an investigation.
The chain-link holding cells were used to house inmates being transferred between various sections of the prison. Powell was placed in one at the Perryville prison in Goodyear after seeing a psychologist.
She had been serving a 2-year sentence for prostitution. A string of convictions left Powell in jail or prison for most of the past decade, according to court documents.