PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- A whistleblower has come forward with new allegations of corruption involving those in charge at the Lewis Prison in Buckeye.
The allegations came after major safety concerns at the prison came to light in recent weeks involving a widespread problem of broken locks on cell doors that have led to violence in the prison.
This week, the whistleblower sent a letter to Governor Doug Ducey, and FOX 10 has obtained that letter through the Corrections Officer's Association. In the letter, the whistleblower identifies herself as Sergeant Gabriela Contreras, a corrections officer in the Morey Unit.
According to the letter, after months of witnessing and reporting security breaches in the Morey Unit and not seeing any action taken to fix those issues, Sgt. Contreras said she decided to leak these surveillance videos from inside the prison to the media.
The videos show time and time again, the inmates easily leaving their cells and attacking corrections officers and even other inmates.
Sgt. Contreras says the Department of Corrections retaliated against her for releasing those videos, saying she was placed under investigation and disciplined with a week off without pay.
After learning about the security issues at Lewis Prison, Gov. Ducey recently called for an independent investigation, but Sgt. Contreras is now claiming that leaders at the Lewis Prison are interfering with the efforts to fix the problems. Sgt. Contreras said the staff was tasked with examining every cell door and reporting which ones were broken, but she says the Deputy Warden, Travis Scott, was outraged that staff had reported all the deficiencies, and told them not to include cell doors that open with a slight jiggle or push in that particular report.
Sgt. Contreras said she believes the deputy warden is intentionally minimizing the issues, and presenting false or misleading information.
On Friday, Gov. Ducey reacted to the complaint in a statement, which reads in part:
"Every whistleblower complaint is taken seriously, and this will be reviewed thoroughly as the facts are gathered. Every employee should have an outlet to air concerns without fear of retaliation."
On Friday afternoon, DOC Director Charles Ryan issued a statement on the incident.
"Retaliation is not acceptable. Our officers and personnel should never be afraid to raise concerns, and when they do, we want them addressed. We will be fully looking into this issue."
On Thursday, officials with the DOC said they are still working on a long-term solution to fixing the problems, and in the meantime, more than 700 inmates have been transferred out of Lewis to other state prisons.