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Arizona fire marshal OKs temporary padlocks on prison cell doors

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PHOENIX – The state office responsible for enforcing fire codes said that an Arizona prison could continue to padlock doors to keep inmates from walking out of unlocked cells.

The Office of the State Fire Marshal said in an email Monday to the director of the Department of Corrections Charles Ryan that while padlocks in close-custody areas at Lewis Prison in Buckeye were a violation, “the Codes do allow for locking arrangements that may otherwise be prohibited.”

Some doors have been padlocked after prisoners continually got out of their cells after rigging locks to stay open.

“The implemented solution is not ideal,” Josiah Brant, acting assistant director for the fire marshal’s office, said in the letter, but would be allowed temporarily.

“After confirming information such as emergency response procedures and local issues regarding overall “assaults” and fire incidents we were taken out to look at a couple of pods that had the locks in place. We also provided some on site concerns to review and take into consideration.”

ABC15 reported Monday that the prison put padlocks on hundreds of cell doors to stop the roamings.

Last week the TV station reported that prisoners have attacked guards, staff and each other because they were able to leave their cells, where the locks have been repeatedly tampered with.

Gov. Doug Ducey has authorized two investigations into security and safety issues at the prison.

The email also said Warden Gerald Thompson indicated officers’ training to open the locks and evacuate prisoners in case of an emergency would begin Tuesday.

The fire marshal’s office said it would return to the prison in a week to check on progress.

ASPC Lewis Padlocks

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