BUCKEYE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- "Public safety. Staff safety. Inmate safety."
Those should all be top priority for state and prison officials, according to prison reform advocates, who spoke out Tuesday about prison safety.
The news conference came just after leaked videos showed inmates at Lewis Prison going in and out of their cells, which are supposed to be locked.
A source told Arizona’s Family Monday that they’re aware of officers complaining about faulty doors for the past year and that inmates are jamming up the tracks of the doors so that they don’t lock.
The source said officers are getting seriously hurt because of the lax security.
The leaked video, which was recorded last fall, shows an inmate refusing to return to his cell for lockdown. He is seen lunging at the officer as other inmates join in the struggle. After 20 seconds, the officer breaks free and runs to safety.
Moments later, a handful of inmates emerge from the lower level.
The source said the inmates rig the doors and then shake them open—a security issue leading to assaults on officers.
Each of the pods house up to 50 criminals.
Gov. Doug Ducey's office said Monday that there is “zero excuse for anything that compromises public safety,” and that they are sending a special team of law enforcement and management leaders to the prison to review and find out what can be done to prevent safety issues.
Here's the full statement from the governor's office:
"There is zero excuse for anything that compromises public safety. The issues at Lewis Prison are deeply concerning — and we take them very seriously. An environment that poses a threat to the safety of either correctional officers or inmates is unacceptable and must be addressed immediately.
To that end, our office is taking the following actions immediately:
- We are deploying a special team of law enforcement and management leaders including professionals from the Departments of Public Safety, Homeland Security and Administration as well as the State Fire Marshal to ensure immediate action is being taken by the Department of Corrections to protect the safety of officers and inmates.
- An outside review, with long-term recommendations on how to prevent a situation like this again, is needed. The State is currently in the process of initiating an independent, third-party review of Department policies and actions. More details about this review are forthcoming.
The safety and well-being of officers and inmates remains a top priority, and we have urgency around swift resolution."
The leaked videos also have some calling for the resignation of Arizona Corrections Department director Charles Ryan.
Arizona’s Family reached out to ADOC for comment Monday evening, but have not received a response.
On Tuesday, representatives from the Arizona Correction Peace Officers Association and Middle Ground Prison reform spoke out about a situation they call "unconscionable. "
Donna Hamm is is the founder and Executive Director of Middle Ground Prison Reform.
"We stand in support in their right to be safe in their jobs well as inmates to be safe in their cells," said Hamm.
She is asking for a number of reforms at Arizona prisons, including:
-A governor-appointed independent panel that would conduct security device audits
-A separate channel through which employees could tell the director their security-related grievances
-A tuition-forgiveness proposal for college students in who agree to work at ADC (which would address staff shortages)
There has been talk about simply "padlocking the doors of cells. Hamm calls that proposal "insane" and a "blueprint for disaster."
Carlos Garcia of the Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association said it would be "impossible" to safely unlock padlocks on doors in event of fire.