PHOENIX — The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors approved a $1 million plan to provide compensation to victims of illegal detentions during the administration of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
The board approved the funding unanimously on Wednesday to comply with a U.S. District Court judge’s orders to compensate victims in the lawsuit against Arpaio, The Arizona Republic reported (http://bit.ly/2xR20Rp ).
Victims who were detained illegally by the sheriff’s office from December 2011 to May 2013 can receive payouts ranging from $500 to $10,000 per person depending on the length of detention. The amount could rise if claimants can prove they were physically harmed, lost property or wages, incurred legal expenses or were held unlawfully by immigration officers.
More than 180 known victims could qualify for compensation. It’s unclear when victims can begin filing claims.
The decision moves the county closer to compliance with the judge’s orders, Board of Supervisors Chairman Denny Barney said.
“We want to be in full compliance. We want to be out from under the federal court. We want to be out from under the (court) monitor,” Barney said. “Not just because it saves us money, but because we want to be better.”
Half of the $1 million in the taxpayer-funded account will go to victim compensations, while the rest will go to BrownGreer, a firm that specializes in handling payouts from class-action lawsuits. The funding covers the costs of creating the claims process, advertising to reach victims and evaluating the claims.
BrownGreer will launch a website, toll-free phone number, email address and ad campaign to provide information and reach victims.
Taxpayers have paid nearly $70 million as a result of the lawsuit, with an additional $26 million expected to be spent next year on legal fees, new technology, training and a monitor to oversee the compliance efforts.
The funding comes less than two weeks since President Donald Trump pardoned Arpaio for defying a federal judge’s order in the lawsuit.
Information from: The Arizona Republic, http://www.azcentral.com