ARIZONA'S LARGEST INDEPENDENT LABOR ORGANIZATION

azcpoa fights for staff safty

 It has been known for many years that door locks at Arizona Department of Corrections do not function.  Morey Unit at Lewis, for example, houses close custody inmates.  Those are inmates that “represent a high risk to the public and staff.”  Those inmates have the ability to open their own cells.

To put it in perspective, Morey’s housing unit building contains four pods, each pod has a total of 25 cells for a total of 50 inmates per pod.  Activity in the housing pods is monitored by a correctional officer located in a control room.  Each pod has a camera that shows the vantage point as seen by the officer in the control room.  The videos below show the vantage point of the housing pods from the control room.  Each control room is monitoring two pods (50 cells, 100 inmates).

The cells in a pod should be locked and unlocked through the use of a panel in the control room; the panel should show whether or not each cell door is secured.   The reality is that many cell door locks are broken, in disrepair, do not lock, and cannot be controlled or even monitored by the officer in the control room. 

The inmates at Morey Unit – designated as a high risk to the public and staff – can open their own cell doors at will. 

Staff and inmates alike have been assaulted by inmates that have opened their own cell doors.   See video below, “assault 2018 12 30” – showing  a situation where two officers being assaulted by two inmates becomes immediately more dangerous when a dozen other inmates open their cell doors to watch and/or to join in the assault against the officers.

A chilling example of an assault on an inmate is found in the 300+ page investigation into the death of inmate Andrew McCormick, who was housed in Cell 16 at Morey Unit.  An investigator reviewed the video of the pod where Mr. McCormick was housed, and determined that several inmates opened/closed their cell doors without the assistance of an officer, went into other inmates’ cells, and moved freely about the pod.  (p.18)  Specifically, the investigator describes that twelve cell doors were open – for a period of approximately twenty minutes, various inmates entered and existed Cell 16.  (pages 19-20)  Reports written by officers on duty reflect that after that twenty minute period, Mr. McCormick was found in his cell with injuries consistent with an “unwitnessed altercation.”  (pages 83-89)  Six inmates were placed under investigation as suspects in a “major assault.”  (page 90)  Mr. MCCormick was transported to the hospital, placed on life support, and was pronounced deceased a week later.    (page 8)

In recent months, officers have been assaulted; inmates have been murdered.  Instead of repairing the doors, the Department of Corrections has installed “pins” and/or padlocks on the outside of the cell doors.  Many of the pins have become broken, inoperative, and in some cases, are missing and potentially can be used as weapons. 

The deficiencies of security devices (such as broken doors, and subsequently, broken pins) are compiled in weekly reports referred to as SDI reports.  (copies of various SDI reports are below).  The problem is that even though information is complied in the SDI reports, the deficiencies are not addressed by Department of Corrections administration.

AZCPOA calls for the locks to be repaired, and for total elimination of the dangerous conditions that have existed at the Department of Corrections for far too long. 

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ADC investigation McCormick Death

Videos