TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - A landmark Arizona desegregation prison case was in the hands of a federal judge on Monday.
Federal Judge Cindy Jorgenson heard from both sides on a federal civil rights settlement agreement that would require the Arizona Department of Corrections to end desegregation in 10 prisons.
The agreement would impact around 40,000 inmates.
The lawsuit was brought on by inmate at the Wilmot Facility here in Tucson.
Stephen Rudisill challenged the Arizona Department of Corrections's racial segregation practices on constitutional grounds.
The practices included assigning inmates to cells or bunk beds with inmates of the same sex or ethnicity.
Making certain employment assignments based on race or ethnicity.
Even segregating barbershop tools so that there were separate tools for each racial or ethnic group.
"He's someone who knew what it was like to have to drink at a different water fountain or to be in a different part of the courthouse from white people. and so when he he came to the Arizona prison system, being someone who lived through the civil rights era, was very surprising to him to that this was in effect in this prison system, this segregation," said attorney Randall Jackson.
Rudisill's attorneys argued this led to increased racial animosity.
The department of corrections denied the allegations citing it's consideration of race is an appropriate and critical component of ensuring the safe, secure, and orderly operation of the prison system.
One of the attorneys for Rudisill previously won the landmark case ending forced racial segregation of California's prison system in 2013.
In that case, attorney Bert Deixler contended that among other things, the entire prison system was unconstitutionally racially segregated and that ADC gave race unconstitutionally excessive weight when making housing and job assignment decisions.
The settlement involves a nearly six-year plan.
The Arizona Department of Corrections will review on a case-by-case basis to determine who is eligible for racial integrated housing.
The court will oversee the process from January 2016 until November 2023.