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Money from inmate fees will pay for new locks in Arizona prisons

(Screenshot)

PHOENIX — Money that’s supposed to be used for services benefiting inmates will go to pay for new locks in state prisons next year.

State lawmakers last week approved $4 million to pay for the locks, as well as new air conditioning and fire safety systems.

David Shinn, director of the Arizona Department of Corrections, requested the funds during a meeting of the Joint Committee on Capital Review.

“These doors – the locking mechanism – simply cannot be repaired,” Shinn told the committee. “Anything that is done to these doors is a service.”

The money will come out of a fund inmates contribute to through fees. The fund, which usually totals up to $9 million each year, is set aside for educational services for inmates.

Rep. Randy Friese, D-Tucson, said it was unfortunate that money is being taken out from the fund to pay for facility issues he said have been going on for years.

“We’re taking funds that are supposed to go towards furthering inmates’ opportunities while serving their sentence, and we’re fixing facilities problems with it,” Friese said.

Rep. John Fillmore, R-Apache Junction, argued that the funds will ultimately benefit inmates.

“I would think that a lock at 2 o’clock in the morning is a good reason to consider that for their welfare,” Fillmore said, referring to inmates.

Both Friese and Fillmore sit on the Joint Committee on Capital Review, which voted to approve the $4 million expenditure.

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