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Inmate crew being housed at Hickman's egg farm during coronavirus crisis

Corrections Department makes exceptions for business as it pulls back other work crews. County Board chair's family owns Hickman's.
Credit: Google Earth

PHOENIX — The Hickman's Family Farm in the far West Valley will house about 140 female inmates from the Perryville women's prison so they can continue working at the vast egg business during the coronavirus crisis.

The Arizona Department of Corrections said Wednesday it's making an exception for Hickman's, which has relied on inmate labor for 25 years. All other off-site inmate work crews have been canceled until the coronavirus is not longer a threat.

Hickman's Family Farm, one of the largest egg suppliers in the country,  is owned by the family of Maricopa County Board Chairman Clint Hickman. Hickman hasn't responded to a request for comment. 

The Department of Corrections issued its statement after 12 News and other media outlets learned of the plan to house inmates at or near the business.

The minimum-custody inmates have been working at Hickman's under corrections supervision. 

In a prepared statement, Glenn Hickman, president of Hickman’s Family Farm, said:

“Many of these women inmates perform critical tasks related to the raising of baby chicks. Besides daily care, they also perform most of the tasks of vaccination. Their proper care today ensures an uninterrupted food supply tomorrow."

Corrections Director David Shinn said the decision to house inmates at Hickman’s was "necessary to ensure a stable food supply while also protecting public health and the health of those in our custody.” 

Six Arizona prison inmates are being tested for the coronavirus, according to DOC. 

The agency says there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus among its 42,000 inmates.

It's unclear how the inmates at Hickman's will be monitored for the coronavirus.

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