Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) Director Charles Ryan has provided additional details of unrest and rioting that injured 12 people and ransacked the state prison in northwest Arizona last week. The disclosure came during Ryan’s Thursday appearance on “Horizon”, a nightly news program that airs on KAET-TV in Phoenix.
Ryan said a group of African American inmates attacked another African American inmate during the first disturbance that erupted about 6:00 p.m., July 1 in the minimum security Hualapai Unit of the prison. He said the aggressors turned their assault upon corrections staff when the targeted inmate sought safe haven.
Ryan said a full scale riot broke out in the medium security Hualapai Unit of the prison at about 8:00 p.m., July 2. He said inmates severely damaged three of five housing areas in the Unit after what started as a verbal altercation between an inmate and a corrections officer.
Ryan said control was not established until inmates finally gave up about 6:00 a.m., July 3. He said 700 inmates were extracted from the destroyed housing units, placed in flex cuffs and put to the ground in the prison yard.
Ryan said he declared an emergency and ordered the transfer of hundreds of inmates to other facilities because they could no longer be housed on site. He said it is believed prisoners who rioted on July 4 did so simply so that they could be transported elsewhere as well.
Ryan said the private Utah-based company that runs the prison under a contract with the state is on the hook financially.
“Management and Training Corporation is going to foot the bill,” Ryan said. “This is not going to be a burden to the taxpayers of Arizona. It was their facility and it was greatly damaged and all but destroyed and they’re going to have to renovate it and they will have to pay expenses related to the relocation of the 1,168 people (inmates) that were moved.”
Ryan said one ADC team is investigating criminal conduct associated with the uprisings and another is exploring operations and the handling of the incidents. Both probes should be completed by the end of the month.
Ryan chose not to shut down the prison or transfer its operation to state following an escape five years ago that resulted in two murders and exposed extreme public safety, security and operations failures. Ryan said he and Governor Doug Ducey will consider appropriate options once the investigations are concluded.