Security Lapses Found at Arizona Prisons
The same kinds of serious security lapses that led to the escape last July of three prisoners from the Kingman, Ariz. state prison have been and continue to be found at the 14 other Arizona state and private prisons, according to interviews, audits, correspondence and other documents obtained by The Arizona Republic.
The failures include faulty alarm systems, holes under fences big enough to crawl through, broken perimeter lights and cameras, and scores of poor security practices across the board by state and private corrections officers and managers, says the Arizona Republic report.
Corrections Director Charles Ryan says the department is correcting the issues, the report says, which include large holes under the razor-wire fencing and blind spots at the Florence, Eyman and Douglas state prisons; constant false alarms going unchecked at Perryville; alarms at Yuma's Cibola unit that often were missed or went unchecked because they sounded the same as the call buttons that officers pushed to get in and out of buildings. There were long gaps between patrols of the perimeter fence at Yuma. At all of the state prisons, officers up to the deputy-warden level admitted they didn't understand their perimeter-security systems well, says the report. At the three Geo prisons - Florence West, Phoenix West and the Central Arizona Correctional Facility - Corrections Department inspectors found such issues as inmates having access to a control panel that could open emergency exits; an alarm system that didn't ring properly when doors were opened or left ajar; and that staff didn't carry out such basic security practices as searching commissary trucks and drivers, among many other failures, according to the report.
At MTC's Marana prison, there were broken monitors, a control-room panel that didn't work, missing perimeter lights, missing razor wire, missing visitor passes. Marana's swamp coolers - in August, in Arizona - weren't working, making it hotter inside the prison buildings than outside, says the report.
In February 2011, says the report, auditors found issues at the Yuma prison: problems with the alarm and control systems; lights randomly shutting off; monitoring cameras that had been broken for five months; staff uniforms and tools stored in rooms accessible to unsupervised inmates; areas where visitors could approach the fence and throw things over unseen; and the same litany of failures to properly search people or carry out other basic security practices.
Corrections spokesman Marson said equipment issues identified in these two audits have been fixed, and that, as necessary, staffers at those two prisons have been retrained. Asked whether such flaws should have been apparent to wardens and senior officers and addressed sooner, Marson replied that "it was determined that the findings did not relate to 'top-down administrative failings.' "