Arizona’s prisons are failing World Health Organization standards for COVID-19 testing

For Media Inquiries:
Tripp Laino, 202-999-4273

Arizona’s prisons are failing World Health Organization standards for COVID-19 testing

PHOENIXFAMM Vice President of Policy Molly Gill sent a letter today to Governor Doug Ducey and Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation, and Reentry Director David Shinn calling for safe and targeted release of vulnerable and low-risk prisoners, increased COVID-19 testing in prisons, reporting of data on staff testing and infections, and safe staff-to-prisoner ratios in all state prison facilities.

“Any response to COVID-19 that does not include release of vulnerable people from prison is shortsighted, and Arizona has taken no steps toward decarceration,” Gill said. “Now, nearly a quarter of prisoners tested are positive for COVID-19, a positive rate more than double the recommended maximum by the World Health Organization. Worse, we don’t know anything about staff testing and infection rates, and correctional officer unions have promised to walk off the job if they’re not tested and protected. It’s beyond time to act — Arizona’s prisons and communities need to be kept safe.”

The Centers for Disease Control has issued interim guidance on managing COVID-19 in correctional facilities, and reducing the prison population will help meet these guidelines.

For nearly three decades, FAMM has united the voices of affected families, the formerly incarcerated, and a range of stakeholders and advocates to fight for a more fair and effective justice system. FAMM’s focus on ending a one-size-fits-all punishment structure has led to reforms to sentencing and prison policies in six states and is paving the way to programs that support rehabilitation for the 94% of all prisoners who will return to our neighborhoods one day.


FAMM is a national nonpartisan advocacy organization that promotes fair and effective criminal justice policies that safeguard taxpayer dollars and keep our communities safe. Founded in 1991, FAMM is helping transform America’s criminal justice system by uniting the voices of impacted families and individuals and elevating the issues all across the country.