PHOENIX (AP) - The Arizona Department of Corrections has transferred more than 700 inmates from Phoenix-area state prison with cell door lock problems to other prisons.
The prisoners were moved from one of three units that a union representing guards says have lock problems that led to an inmate's deaths and the severe beating of two guards.
Department spokesman Andrew Wilder said Thursday that the 716 inmates were sent from Lewis prison in Buckeye to five other state-run prisons.
The department recently put padlocks on 1,000 high-security cells at the prison, which houses more than 5,000 inmates. After the transfers, about 600 cells in two other units secured with padlocks remain occupied.
The department said inmates have tampered with locks for about two years and that various other fixes were ineffective.
DOC officials also sent to FOX 10 an e-mail that Ryan sent to all DOC employees, which reads, in part:
"As you know, on Wednesday, May 15th, we completed the transfer of 716 inmates out of the Morey unit to other facilities across the State. We’ve also increased overtime from 24 hours to 32 hours at Lewis and other impacted prisons to ensure safe staffing levels. I want to make clear: these are only short-term measures. The Department continues to work diligently to identify a long-term solution that provides a permanent lock replacement and increases staffing levels.
You are a key part of our comprehensive efforts to ensure the safety of all officers and personnel. We are listening and want to hear from you. It is my expectation that leaders at all levels make themselves available, listen, take any reports seriously and elevate all issues in a timely manner. Retaliation will not be tolerated. If you feel that you have been retaliated against, I encourage you to report such incidents through any one of the communication streams identified below.
Although protocol dictates reporting issues through the chain-of-command, you also always have the option of reaching out to me directly. I have an open-door, email, and phone policy and will meet with any staff member at their request. This is a policy I have always had while director and want to remind you of now."