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.

[WATCH: Prison reform advocates speak out about prison safety]

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.

[WATCH: Video raises concerns about officers' safety at Arizona prison]

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.

 


Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

 

Locations

Recommended for you

(4) comments

Bearly

Violent criminals that are in prison should be chained to a wall or shot.

Arizona is the most corrupt state in America

crasher13

I can almost excuse the locks not working, but if they're not working, why are they putting prisoners in there? Either fix the locks or seek new ways of housing inmates aside from being in unlocked cells.

Daddy

Arizona prisons are incredibly dangerous, among the most dangerous and deadly in the country. Very unsafe and dismal working conditions. ADC needs at least four times the funding it currently works with as well as new training, new policies and procedures, new mission and goal, and many other improvements.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.