Gov. Ducey authorizes 2 investigations into prison security issues

Apr 30, 2019, 7:44 AM | Updated: 5:29 pm
(AP File Photo)...
(AP File Photo)
(AP File Photo)

PHOENIX – Gov. Doug Ducey has authorized two investigations into the Arizona Department of Corrections in the wake of reports about security issues at a prison complex near Phoenix.

On Tuesday, Ducey said the state hired former Arizona Supreme Court Justices Rebecca Berch and Ruth McGregor to conduct an independent, third-party investigation into problems related to cell locks at Lewis Prison in Buckeye.

A day earlier, Ducey’s office launched a state probe with a team of law enforcement officials, including members of Homeland Security, Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Arizona Fire Marshal office.

“There’s no excuse for any situation that compromises public safety at our prisons,” said Ducey said in a press release.

“We need the facts and we need to make sure a situation like this never happens again.”

The release said Berch and McGregor will look into how locks at the prison were tampered with and how the Department of Corrections responded.

Their report will include recommendations for policy changes.

ABC15 reported last week that inmates have been able to get out of their cells and assault guards and each other.

Corrections Director Charles Ryan told the TV station recently that money — millions of dollars — targeted for repairs to cell locks and security had been diverted to other projects.

The union representing guards at Arizona’s prisons joined with an inmate rights group on Tuesday to demand that the state immediately fix the security problems.

Carlos Garcia of the Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association accused the department of negligence for the door lock problems.

“We’ve had one inmate killed because of doors not being fixed by this administration, two staff severely beaten with countless more that went under the table simply because they were deemed a low-level thing,” said Garcia, a retired correctional officer.

“It’s inappropriate, completely inappropriate.”

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

Prisoners repeatedly found ways around corrective measures. Eventually, some doors were padlocked, a violation of the state fire code.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

We want to hear from you.

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

Arizona News

(Facebook Photo/Bike Easy)...

Chandler wants residents to have their say on protected bike lanes

An East Valley city is asking for feedback through on online survey regarding the potential installation of protected bicycle lanes.
1 day ago
(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoes bill to ban tents in public places

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoed a bill Thursday that would have prohibited people from setting up tents or tarps in public areas.
1 day ago
This undated image provided by Raman and Puja Kalra shows their Dairy Queen franchise restaurant in...
Associated Press

Arizona Dairy Queen on the hunt for missing red spoon statue

The owners of a Dairy Queen in Phoenix remain perplexed as to why someone would steal the giant red spoon that adorned their restaurant.
1 day ago
(Facebook Photo/City of Phoenix, AZ USA)...

Population growth in Maricopa County was largest in nation for second consecutive year

For the second consecutive year, more people have been moving to Maricopa County than any other county in the nation.
1 day ago
(AP Photo/Reba Saldanha, File)...

Arizona politicians react to indictment of former President Donald Trump

Arizona politicians were quick to speak on the unprecedented news of Donald Trump's indictment, with reactions split along party lines.
1 day ago
(Google Maps Screenshot)...
Taylor Kinnerup

Arizona’s News Roundup: Phoenix business owners win homelessness suit, Hobbs’ staffer resigns

KTAR’s Arizona’s News Roundup this week catches you up on homeless encampment updates, a change in the governor's office and more.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
Gov. Ducey authorizes 2 investigations into prison security issues