An inmate’s lawsuit has ended racial segregation in Arizona prisons, where until an historic ruling Monday prisoners were housed and assigned jobs based on race, and barbers had to use separate tools to cut the hair of black, Latino and Native American inmates.
Stephen L. Rudisill sued Arizona and its Department of Corrections in September 2013 from the state prison complex in Tucson, claiming the state’s longtime practice of housing and employing inmates based on race violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
Rudisill, who began serving 13 years and six months for aggravated assault in 2007, hand-wrote his initial lawsuit and filed it pro se in Federal Court. While most such complaints don’t make it very far, this one caught the attention of Los Angeles attorney Bert Deixler. Deixler, with Kendall Brill & Kelly, had argued the landmark 2005 case Johnson v. California, which led to the desegregation of California’s prison system.
On Monday, after protracted negotiations between the state and Deixler’s team, U.S. District Judge Cindy Jorgenson approved a series of stipulations and ordered the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) to begin implementing an “Integrated Housing Program.”