by AFSC-AZ Staff |
For over 40 years, including more than a decade as Director of the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC), Charles “Chuck” Ryan remained mired in an outdated “custody-and-control” model of corrections that stubbornly rejected advances in the field toward rehabilitation and reform. Ryan’s unfortunate legacy is an agency in crisis, with crumbling infrastructure, multimillion-dollar lawsuits, and a systemic culture of dehumanization and cruelty.
Mr. Ryan’s departure leaves in its wake a string of First and Eighth Amendment violations; contempt findings in the Parsons v. Ryan class-action prison healthcare settlement that last year cost taxpayers $1.4 million; a sharp increase in suicide rates and unnecessary deaths; and fiscal mismanagement leading to dilapidated facilities, water shortages, broken cooling systems at some of the hottest prisons in the country, and even cell doors that don’t lock.
Today, as Mr. Ryan relinquishes his post, thousands of Arizonans are hoping to begin a new chapter in corrections.
A debt of gratitude is owed today not to Ryan, but to the thousands of families across Arizona – including hundreds of citizens who attended the ADC Town Hall this summer, hosted by American Friends Service Committee-Arizona (AFSC-AZ) – who have shared their painful stories to force change and bring our state into a new era of accountability, transparency, and respect for human rights.
We call on our elected leaders, including Governor Doug Ducey, to honor those directly impacted voices and bring our prison system into the 21st century.
While AFSC-AZ, formerly and currently incarcerated people and their loved ones breathe a sigh of relief that this dark chapter in our state’s history is finally over, we will continue to hold Gov. Ducey and the newly-named interim ADC director Joe Profiri accountable, push for urgently needed reforms, and demand that the new, permanent director of the department work with all stakeholders to create a corrections system in Arizona that lives up to its name.