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Correctional officer assaulted by inmates at Buckeye prison speaks out


PHOENIX — A correctional officer assaulted by several inmates in December at a Phoenix-area prison said he’s not the only one who has been attacked.

“They can just slide open these doors and come out – and that’s what happened that night,” Eduardo Garza told KTAR News 92.3 FM, recounting what happened when three inmates attacked him at the Lewis Prison in Buckeye after they got out of their cells because he said the doors didn’t lock.

He said these types of incidents are common.

“There’s been a lot of assaults,” he said. “We hear about them all the time.”

Garza blamed the assaults on cell doors not locking, which he said has been going on for years and is putting correctional officers at risk.

“We know what we signed up for, but we definitely have to watch our backs even more because these doors don’t work,” he said.

A video that showed Garza being attacked by the inmates was one of several leaked to ABC15 last month. The video showed Garza being punched several times and his blood smeared on the ground.

After the attack, Garza had to get two surgeries to repair his nose. His recovery took more than three months. He recently went back to work and said he wants to see changes made immediately, starting with fixing the broken locks.

Last week, Gov. Doug Ducey authorized an investigation into problems related to cell locks at the Lewis Prison. It came after the Arizona Department of Corrections said in a statement that inmates have been tampering with their cell doors and that padlocks had been installed as a temporary measure.

Garza said inmates used to tamper with their cell doors, “but not anymore because now they just don’t work.”

He added that the padlocks “have made it worse.”

“The inmates are getting angry – they’re ready to cause havoc,” Garza said. “The tensions feel a lot higher since those padlocks came on.”

He said instead of the padlocks, he’d like to see the cell doors fixed and more resources for correctional officers. He noted they use radios that don’t work.

“That’s the main priority,” he said, adding that correctional officers “definitely deserve a competitive pay … because we are putting our lives on the line every night, every day.”

He said pay raises would help “increase morale” and attract more correctional officers to fill shortages.

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