Arizona prison system implements changes after reviewing January escape

Dec 3, 2021, 8:00 PM
John Charpiot, left, and David Harmon. (Facebook Photos/Coolidge Police Department)...
John Charpiot, left, and David Harmon. (Facebook Photos/Coolidge Police Department)
(Facebook Photos/Coolidge Police Department)

PHOENIX – The Arizona prison system announced new safety measures Friday following a review of how two inmates escaped last winter in an incident that sparked an intense five-day manhunt.

David Harmon and John Charpiot escaped from the medium-security South Unit at the Arizona State Prison Complex – Florence on Jan. 23 by breaking into a tool shed and stealing bolt-cutters and other items they then used to cut through an exterior fence.

Harmon and Charpiot were captured Jan. 28 by Coolidge police officers and U.S. Marshals deputies in a farm field less than 15 miles from the prison.

“In order to safeguard against such an event happening in the future, we immediately began a wide-ranging, in-depth review and investigation into the circumstances surrounding the escape and we have implemented several systemwide changes going forward,” David Shinn, Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry director, said in a press release Friday.

The release listed the following changes:

  • Implementation of enhanced physical plant security countermeasures, including additional fence structures, reinforced gates and detection systems.
  • Implementation of enhanced storage system requirements.
  • Ongoing annual inspections by the inspector general that will be conducted at all ADCRR facilities to ensure continued compliance with departmental security policies.

Harmon, who was imprisoned in 2012, was serving a 100-year sentence for kidnapping and second-degree burglary. Charpiot’s 35-year sentence for child molestation and sexual abuse started in 2011.

A year before the escape, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced plans to shut down ASPC-Florence.

According to the ADCCR release, the South Unit will be closed by the end of 2023, completing the Florence complex deactivation.

The Governor’s office said the closure will save $274 million over three years by removing the need for maintenance and repairs at the aging facility.

All jobs were being maintained by transferring staff to the nearby ASPC-Eyman, which is also in Florence.

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Arizona prison system implements changes after reviewing January escape