PHOENIX (CN) – Sheriff Joe Arpaio has sued the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors again, demanding that it return to him control over its Correctional Health Services. County jails lost accreditation with the National Commission on Correctional Healthcare, and Arpaio complains that the board has agreed to let the commission hold private interviews with inmates, officers and health care personnel, review health records and tour jails.
Arpaio claims that supervisors’ “mismanagement and malfeasance” of health-care services in county jails cost the county its accreditation.
Correctional Health Services lost its accreditation in September 2008 by failing to meet a 14-day initial physical and psychological exam requirement, to track chronic illnesses in inmates and to provide inmates with their scheduled timely appointments, Arpaio says.
In his complaint in Maricopa County Court, Arpaio says county administrators continue to provide inadequate health care to inmates despite multiple reports from “outside consultants” that recommend an improved electronic system, hiring more staff and “providing better care to inmates.”
Since the board controls “all aspects of the CHS budget, personnel, staffing and functional objectives and priorities of county jail inmate healthcare services,” Arpaio says he cannot oversee the health care provided to inmates.
The sheriff adds that the county excluded him from participating in its submission for reaccreditation with the National Commission on Correctional Healthcare. Arpaio claims the board-prepared application interfered with his statutory duty and says the Board of Supervisors did not have the authority to submit it.
He says he has been scapegoated for the loss of accreditation, despite his lack of control over CHS, and that he may be held liable for failing to ensure that health care services meet medical standards.
Arpaio has been repeatedly sued by prisoners whose complaint should have been made against CHS, he says.
Before 1977, the county sheriff controlled the jail’s health care services. A class action in 1977 changed that, transferring the health care program to the Maricopa County Department of Health Services. Correctional Health Services was formed in 1980 and since 1992 has reported to the Board of Supervisors through the county manager.
Arpaio asks the court to return Correctional Health to him, and to enjoin the board from interfering. He also seeks costs and fees and wants supervisors ordered “to provide constitutionally adequate health care services to jail inmates.”
Arpaio is represented by L. Eric Dowell of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart.
Defendants include the Board of Supervisors, Correctional Health, County Manager David R. Smith and Deputy County Manager Sandi Wilson.
Arpaio, the self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America,” has been sued 72 times since 2005, according to the Courthouse News Service database, and has been a plaintiff nine times. Five of Arpaio’s complaints were against his putative bosses, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.