Charles Ryan, ADC Director, Reports 640 Staff Arrests in last 4 1/2 Years
No one was ever prosecuted for Powell's death, though 16 prison employees were either fired or sanctioned. Powell's demise caused howls of outrage from prison reform advocates and resulted in changes to ADC's outside enclosures, such as access to water and shade.
One of those howling the loudest back then was Donna Hamm, executive director of Arizona's Middle Ground Prison Reform. Hamm was unaware of the blog item when I called her, but after reading it she was surprised, and full of questions.
"If they're convicted, do they have the ability to keep their weapons?" she wondered of ADC staff. "If they have a domestic violence [conviction], are they reassigned so they're not allowed to work in female prisons?"
ADC spokesman Bill Lamoreaux stated via email that ADC "did not analyze the data beyond what was posted online," and so was unaware of the conviction rate or "the specific discipline resulting from the arrests."
Lamoreaux said that the purpose of the director's message to its 9,284 employees was to advise them of available services, as well as to solicit input.
"The 640 arrests over the past 4.5 fiscal years represent the total number of arrests and criminal citations throughout the Department," wrote Lamoreaux. "The arrests equal approximately 140 per year, or almost 11 arrests a month. This averages out to about 1.5% of the employees in the Department being arrested or criminally cited annually.
"The Director is concerned about these arrests. The message is to share this concern and to provide assistance to those that may want or need it."
Sounds noble enough on its face, but Hamm noted the very public nature of this disclosure, and the fact that the data comes from an internal document called the "ADC Morning Report," which she says is not made readily available to the public.
I asked Hamm why she thought Ryan went this public route instead of choosing a less public method to communicate with his employees.
"I think he's got a problem that he doesn't know what to do with," Hamm replied. "He's going to claim he doesn't have the resources to do anything, but I think he just doesn't know what to do about it."
Why not apply more stick as opposed to carrot? Why not stiffen discipline for offenders and start firing people?
"It's our experience that [ADC honchos] don't fire people very often," she said. "They shuffle [problem employees] around from post to post. Ryan's got a lot invested in these people once they get through [ADC's] academy, a lot of money in training and so on."
Hamm wanted to see how ADC's rate of criminality compared with other law enforcement and correction agencies, in state and out of state.
Truly, Ryan's unusual admission about his own employees opens a Pandora's box of questions for the director. Lamoreaux says Ryan may be available Monday. If so, perhaps he'll choose to answer some of them.