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Case Name Nielson v. Shinn PC-AZ-0022
Docket / Court 2:20-cv-01182-GMS-JZB ( D. Ariz. )
State/Territory Arizona
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
This is a case challenging the constitutionality of private prisons in Arizona. On June 6, 2020, a plaintiff who was incarcerated by the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation & Reentry (ADCRR), filed this class action suit against the ADCRR Director David Shinn in the US District Court ... read more >
This is a case challenging the constitutionality of private prisons in Arizona. On June 6, 2020, a plaintiff who was incarcerated by the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation & Reentry (ADCRR), filed this class action suit against the ADCRR Director David Shinn in the US District Court of Arizona. The plaintiff sued the Department under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Represented by private counsel from the public interest organization Abolish Private Prisons, the plaintiff sought declaratory judgment that the Department’s reliance on private prisons is in violation of the Constitution. The plaintiff also sought an injunction that would forbid Director Shinn and his successors from continuing to assign prisoners to serve time in private prisons and compel the Department to discontinue use of private prisons. Attorneys fees and further relief were also requested. The case was assigned to Judge Grant Murray Snow.

The plaintiff argued that the ADCRR’s reliance on private prisons amounted to a violation of his right to be free from forced servitude under the 13th amendment, his right to protection against cruel and unusual punishment under the 8th Amendment, and his due process rights and equal protection rights under the 14th amendment. According to the plaintiff, ADCRR turns prisoners into economic assets by entrusting their care to for-profit prisons, in effect turning prisoners into commodities and benefiting from their forced labor. By relying on private prisons, ADCRR also delegates the exercise of the punishment power solely belonging to the government to a private entity, a violation of the 13th amendment’s “punishment clause.” The complaint also highlighted the incentive misalignment created by the use of private prisons: through its contracts with private prisons, ADCRR incentivizes jail and prison workers and administrative professionals to work in ways that are contrary to prisoners’ due process rights. In a final count, the plaintiff argued that ADCRR’s reliance on private prisons creates disparate outcomes for prisoners in the public and private prison systems, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

In July 2020, the defendants filed for a Motion to Dismiss for a Failure to State a Claim. As of October 15, 2020, the case remains open.

Gabrielle Simeck - 10/10/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Equal Protection
Slavery/Involuntary servitude
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Forced labor
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Non-government for profit
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Director
Plaintiff Description All prisoners of the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation & Reentry, who are or may be placed by the Department in a private prison for incarceration. The complaint does not specify class size but the Department currently incarcerates 7,922 people in private prisons.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 06/15/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
D. Ariz.
10/01/2020
2:20-cv-01182-GMS-JZB
PC-AZ-0022-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D. Ariz.
06/15/2020
Class Action Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
PC-AZ-0022-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Ariz.
09/29/2020
Lodged: Plaintiffs' Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 17]
PC-AZ-0022-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Boyle, John Z Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PC-AZ-0022-9000
Snow, G. Murray (State Appellate Court, D. Ariz.) show/hide docs
PC-AZ-0022-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Baer, Jacob Jeffrey (Minnesota) show/hide docs
PC-AZ-0022-0001 | PC-AZ-0022-0002 | PC-AZ-0022-9000
Craig, Robert Eugene III (Arizona) show/hide docs
PC-AZ-0022-0001 | PC-AZ-0022-0002 | PC-AZ-0022-9000
Dacey, John R. (Arizona) show/hide docs
PC-AZ-0022-0001 | PC-AZ-0022-0002 | PC-AZ-0022-9000
Hoppe, Lousene (Minnesota) show/hide docs
PC-AZ-0022-0001 | PC-AZ-0022-0002 | PC-AZ-0022-9000
Zlaket, Thomas A (Arizona) show/hide docs
PC-AZ-0022-0001 | PC-AZ-0022-0002 | PC-AZ-0022-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Acedo, Nicholas Daniel (Arizona) show/hide docs
PC-AZ-0022-9000
Hanna, Katherine Lindsay (Arizona) show/hide docs
PC-AZ-0022-9000
Love, Rachel (Arizona) show/hide docs
PC-AZ-0022-9000
Struck, Daniel Patrick (Arizona) show/hide docs
PC-AZ-0022-9000

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