3TV tours new maximum-security prison in Buckeye

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

BUCKEYE, Ariz. -- It's the newest place to stay in the Valley, but that doesn't mean you want a room. The Arizona Department of Corrections is about to open a new maximum-security prison at the Lewis Prison complex.

3TV got a rare glimpse inside the facility where state-of-the-art measures are being implemented to keep the most violent inmates housed.

"Basically, the bus will come here, eight inmates here, eight inmates here, they will get their photos taken here," said Deputy Warden Regina Dorsey.

She says the facility can house 500 prisoners, and each room is monitored by numerous surveillance cameras which are mounted all along the wall.

She says these are just some of the safety measures designed to prevent what happened a decade ago at the same facility in Buckeye. Back in 2004, two inmates held two corrections officers hostage for 15 days after their failed escape attempt.

Armed with better training and better security, prison officials say they don't anticipate any issues once the facility begins housing inmates next month. 

The cells are equipped with newly designed, high-security sliding doors with improved visibility.

Because Arizona has the largest protective custody population in the U.S. prison system, Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan says the $50 million project was necessary for the demand.

"This vacant half of this prison was sitting vacant. The infrastructure was in the ground. It was a good use of the taxpayer dollars to go ahead and complete and build out the second half of this unit," Ryan said.

The first round of maximum-security inmates will enter the facility Dec. 1.