Broken locks lead to attacks on officers, inmates at Arizona prison

Apr 26, 2019, 10:10 AM | Updated: 11:15 am
Former Arizona Dept. of Corrections Director Charles Ryan (AP File Photo/Matt York)...
Former Arizona Dept. of Corrections Director Charles Ryan (AP File Photo/Matt York)
(AP File Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — Arizona prison officials said they have implemented countermeasures to thwart cell door tampering by inmates at the state prison in Buckeye.

The Thursday statement was issued after ABC15 reported surveillance videos that showed violent assaults on officers by prisoners who escaped from cells that do not have proper locking mechanisms.

The station had surveillance video from six assaults inside Lewis Prison in Buckeye that occurred between June and December 2018.

Some of the incidents led to serious physical injuries on officers. One inmate was beaten to death.

The Arizona Department of Corrections said in the statement that the inmates actively devise new ways to tamper with the doors.

But the station reported that Director Charles Ryan has been aware of the broken locks since May 2018, but instead spent millions meant to repair them and security on other projects.

“There’s a building renewal funding process to repair the locks,” Ryan told ABC15 after a recent public event.

“It costs money, and it takes time. We receive about $5 million a year in building renewal, and there are other projects that also had to be evaluated.”

The department said in a statement that inmates tampered with the doors by inserting “small objects in a way that allowed doors to close and show a positive lock on the control board.

“The object would leave just enough tolerance that an inmate could jar the door open.”

In an effort to thwart the attempts, the department installed external locking pins on the doors, but inmates continued to tamper with those by breaking them, stealing them or having other inmates remove them.

The department then put padlocks on some doors to “ensure the door remains secure.” Any inmate who is caught tampering with a door or locking pin is rehoused in a pod that has a padlock on the door.

The department said in a statement that pin tampering has continued, but has “drastically subsided as a result of the countermeasures put in place.”

Department leaders met in January and shared plans to implement door upgrades to replace those temporary security measures early next fiscal year.

“ADC understands that until such time as the current locking system can be replaced and/or upgraded, the agency has no choice but to take steps to ensure staff, inmate and public safety,” the statement read.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Arizona Department of Transportation Photo)...

Jomax interchange opens to complete Loop 303 expansion in Peoria

Work on a yearlong, $20.3 million project to expand Loop 303 in the northwest Valley wrapped up Thursday, authorities said.
1 day ago
(Facebook Photo/Arizona Capitol Museum)...
Associated Press

Arizona bill would ban transgender girls, women from teams that align with their gender identity

Transgender girls and women would be barred from competing on the high school or college sports team that aligns with their gender identity under a proposed Arizona law that was approved on party lines by a state Senate committee on Thursday.
1 day ago
(AP File Photo/Ross D. Franklin)...
Associated Press

Woman acquitted in protest of Arizona border wall construction

A Tohono O’odham woman was found not guilty Wednesday on federal misdemeanor charges stemming from her protest of border wall construction on her tribe's ancestral land.
1 day ago
(Sketch provided by Yavapai County Sheriff's Office)...

Arizona authorities hoping to identify remains of girl known as ‘Little Miss Nobody’

An Arizona sheriff's office is working in hopes of finally identifying the remains of a young girl who was found 60 years ago and dubbed "Little Miss Nobody."
1 day ago
Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz.(AP File Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)...
Associated Press

U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona announces 2nd COVID-19 infection

U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva has contracted COVID-19 for the second time, saying Thursday he has minor symptoms.
1 day ago
Irene Luevano and Jorge Quintero Lara (Courtesy Photos)...

Body of missing 37-year-old Phoenix woman found in western Arizona

The body of a missing 37-year-old Phoenix woman was found in a western Arizona county and her boyfriend is set to face charges in her death, authorities said Thursday.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

HVAC upkeep in Arizona saves money, keeps families prepared in the long run

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
Arizona State University

Gain insights on next year’s trends at 58th Annual Economic Forecast Luncheon

Employment is recovering from the severe contraction induced by the pandemic, but it is still way below levels at the start of 2020. Can it fully recover in the coming year?
(Facebook Photo/NHTSA)...
Sweet James

Upcoming holiday season is peak time for DUI arrests

The holiday season may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the most dangerous time of the year to be driving. That’s why it’s important to remember to call Sweet James Accident Attorneys if you’re injured or arrested because of a DUI accident.
Broken locks lead to attacks on officers, inmates at Arizona prison