Arizona Prisons To Undergo Safety Investigation

VIDEO CREDIT: AZ Family

Following the leak of security camera footage from a Phoenix prison, there will be an investigation into the facility’s security problems and conditions.

Last week, video surfaced of inmates going in and out of their cells at the Lewis Prison Complex in Buckeye.

The source said officers are getting seriously hurt because of the lax security.

The video, recorded last fall, shows an inmate refusing to return to his cell for lockdown. He is seen lunging at the officer as other inmates join in the struggle. After 20 seconds, the officer breaks free and runs to safety. Later, a handful of inmates emerge from the lower level.

It is reported that inmates rig the doors and then shake them open—a security issue leading to assaults on officers.

The investigation will be led by members of Homeland Security, Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Arizona Fire Marshal office, said Patrick Ptak, a spokesman for Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.

“There is zero excuse for anything that compromises public safety. The issues at Lewis Prison are deeply concerning — and we take them very seriously.”

The state also planned to launch an independent third-party probe of the department’s policies and actions. That group was expected to make long-term recommendations on preventing similar situations.

In an recent interview Corrections Director Charles Ryan said that money — millions of dollars — targeted for repairs to cell locks and security had been diverted to other projects.

Due to the lack of upkeep, officers have been injured by inmates that tamper with the locks in order to exit their cell.

On Monday, Gov. Doug Ducey’s office said that there is “zero excuse for anything that compromises public safety.”

The response then created a violation of the state fire code after the only solution for prison officers was to padlock some doors.

Carlos Garcia of the Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association said it would be “impossible” to safely unlock padlocks on doors in event of fire. The union representing guards at Arizona’s prisons joined with an inmate rights group to demand that the state immediately fix the security problems.

Representatives from the Arizona Correction Peace Officers Association and Middle Ground Prison reform spoke out about a situation they call “unconscionable.” Donna Hamm is the founder and Executive Director of Middle Ground Prison Reform.

“We stand in support in their right to be safe in their jobs well as inmates to be safe in their cells,” said Hamm.

She is asking for a number of reforms at Arizona prisons, including:
-A governor-appointed independent panel that would conduct security device audits
-A separate channel through which employees could tell the director their security-related grievances
-A tuition-forgiveness proposal for college students in who agree to work at ADC