State Capitol News
2:20 pm
Tue September 21, 2010

State Instituting New System for Monitoring Private Prisons

Phoenix, AZ – While the prison in Kingman is owned and operated by Management
and Training Corporation, there is supposed to be state
oversight. Ryan said the last evaluation, done in two years
before the breakout, gave the facility high marks. But he said
that system, in place since 2005, is flawed.

(The peer performance is looking at hundreds, if not thousands of
lines of policy. And then they were being measured, on a
percentage basis, whether or not there was compliance. Frankly, I
think that is very misleading.)

For example it didn't show up the fact that the perimeter fence
alarm system was malfunctioning so badly that it went off
regularly, to the point that corrections officers pretty much
ignored it. He said a new evaluation system will spot
deficiencies, and much sooner. But Ryan acknowledged the problem
wasn't limited to the evaluation system. There was also the fact
that the top state employee who was stationed at the site -- and
supposed to be monitoring security -- was so inexperience he
simply didn't see or recognize the problems.

(From my vantage point, retrospectively, that was not a good
decision. We're looking for, and appointing, seasoned deputy
wardens who have proven themselves running their own unit so they
can say they've been there, they've done that, they have the T-
shirt, they know what they're talking about.)

In the meantime, Ryan said Monday the security fence around that
15-hundred bed facility is still not working correctly.

(What I put place on July 31st following the escape was posting
more armed officers on that perimeter because of the flaws of the
security system. And there are seven armed perimeter patrols at
that prison.)

Ryan said they will stay there until the new fence monitoring
system is in place and he's convinced it is working. But that is
not the only problem. Ryan said the first audit following the
escape found 50 items that were significantly deficient. He said
some of those problems still exist. Ryan said he still must
decide whether to keep housing state prisoners at the facility.

(The jury is still out.)

For Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.