Whistleblower says Arizona prison officers denied protection from virus

Mar 31, 2020, 5:15 PM

PHOENIX – An Arizona prison officer has filed a whistleblower complaint accusing the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry of prohibiting employees from wearing protective masks during the COVID-19 outbreak because it would scare inmates.

In a letter to Gov. Doug Ducey and Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ dated March 26, Lt. Mark Hasz said ADCRR Director David Shinn refuses to let staffers wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as N95 masks designed to protect them from the coronavirus.

Hasz, who in his letter says he is assigned to the Lewis Prison in Buckeye, said Shinn acknowledged banning PPE for his staff during a town hall meeting about coronavirus issues.

“Director Shinn had given the order because he believed that masked officers would scare the inmates,” Hasz wrote. “This reasoning is ridiculous and Director Shinn’s decision is putting the health of the staff, inmates and the general public at increased risk.”

The letter was made public Tuesday by the Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association. The labor group also submitted the complaint to Christ, saying, “We are asking you to intercede from a public health perspective.”

Hasz said thousands of correctional officers come into close contact each day with approximately 40,000 state inmates without protection and then return to their homes.

“Any staff infected at work in the prison will bring the virus back to their families and communities,” he wrote.

He added that the department has N95 masks in storage it won’t issue, and supervisors have been prohibiting staff members who brought their own PPE from wearing the protection.

We want to hear from you.

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

Arizona News

(AP Photo/Giovanna Dell'Orto)...

Weekend wrap-up: Here are the biggest Arizona stories from May 26-28

Here are some of the biggest stories that headlined the Arizona news cycle over the busy Memorial Day Weekend.

19 hours ago

Migrants get help with the CBPOne app from a Tijuana, Mexico city worker Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, in...

Associated Press

CBP One app assists asylum-seekers after end of Title 42

More than 79,000 people were admitted under CBP One from its Jan. 12 launch through the end of April.

19 hours ago

(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Police Department)...

Phoenix police investigate hit-and-run leaving 23-year-old woman dead

Phoenix police are investigating a hit-and-run that left one woman dead early on Sunday morning, authorities said.

19 hours ago

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)...

Wills Rice

Lake Pleasant, Salt River see heavy traffic during Memorial Day Weekend

Both Lake Pleasant and the Salt River have seen extensive traffic over Memorial Day Weekend as families try and beat the heat.

19 hours ago

(Facebook photo | Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)...

1 man dead; 2 women, 1 child hurt in Litchfield Park stabbing

One man is dead, two women are injured and one child was taken to a hospital after a stabbing in Litchfield Park.

19 hours ago

(Iren Byers - Mesa Police Photo)...

Police arrest suspect of 5 shootings that killed 4, injured 1 in Valley

Police arrested 20-year-old Iren Byers in connection to the deaths of four men and one injured woman in five separate shootings.

19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles



Why drug-free weight loss still matters

Wanting to lose weight is a common goal for many people as they progress throughout life, but choosing between a holistic approach or to take medicine can be a tough decision.


OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

How to identify the symptoms of 3 common anxiety disorders

Living with an anxiety disorder can be debilitating and cause significant stress for those who suffer from the condition.

(Photo by Michael Matthey/picture alliance via Getty Images)...

Cox Communications

Valley Boys & Girls Club uses esports to help kids make healthy choices

KTAR’s Community Spotlight focuses on the Boys & Girls Club of the Valley and the work to incorporate esports into children's lives.

Whistleblower says Arizona prison officers denied protection from virus