Does Arizona's inmate categorization system need to be changed?Posted: Updated:
PHOENIX -- Even as former fugitives John McCluskey and his accomplice Casslyn Welch sit behind bars on $1 million bond, authorities are turning their focus to preventing a similar escape in the future.
On July 31, McCluskey and two other convicts -- all three of whom were known to be violent -- escaped from the private prison near Kingman.
One of the questions now that all three have been caught is why the convicted murderers were in a medium-security facility in the first place.
Under the current system, the state assigns each inmate a risk number between one and five, one being the lowest risk and five the highest. Over time, that risk number can be adjusted based on the inmate's behavior.
Authorities said the system works when it's used properly, but it can also allow violent offenders to be placed in less-secure facilities.
More than 1,400 inmates are serving time for murder in medium-security prisons in Arizona. Nearly 800 of those were sentenced to life. More than 100 were being held at the prison near Kingman. Most of those prisoners reportedly have since been moved to higher security facilities.
The facility near Kingman has come under intense scrutiny since the escape. Earlier this month, the warden, Lori Lieder, and a security chief resigned.
The escape is being blamed on a combination of human error and systemic failure.
The risk-number system was put in place in 1978, after an inmate escaped from prison and went on a killing spree.
In the wake of the July 31 escape, which sparked a nationwide manhunt, there is some discussion of revamping that system.