More leaked video shows Ariz. inmates trap COs in stairwell

“It’s the inmates, as you can clearly see, who are running things here,” said the COs union director

By Sarah Sinning

FLORENCE, Ariz. — In the second leak of Arizona prison video in just over a week, an unsettling dynamic can be seen between COs and inmates. 

"It's the inmates, as you can clearly see, who are running things here,” said Carlos Garcia, Executive Director of the Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association. “This is not me saying it. I’m not coming up with some hypothesis. The inmates are running it.”

And Arizona prison officials, ABC15 reports, are allowing this to happen.

'They held two staff hostage'

In the May 29 surveillance video from Florence State Prison, a series of apparent contraband exchanges can be seen taking place.

But just how these deals are carried out reveals "a high-level of coordination and planning by prisoners," the news outlet explains.

While the first exchange attracts a pair of officers, one of whom enters the cell on the second tier, the second deal takes place only minutes later on the third after inmates surround the officers in a stairwell.

Garcia said no inmates were disciplined over the incident. 

“They held two staff hostage so they could finish passing whatever it was they were passing; and in the aftermath, nothing was done,” he said. “Nothing. Zero.” 

Partnership with inmate 'leaders'

Garcia points to something called the "step down program" for this egregious lack of discipline. 

“At some point in 2019," writes the news outlet in a previous investigation, "supervisors ... instituted a step down program, which used inmate 'leaders' – those who had influence over other inmates – to help control inmate behavior and keep the peace. These inmate leaders were rewarded by extra privileges and withholding discipline."

"When asked what makes inmates influential," the report continues, "interviewees told us that it was sometimes personality and often because of the inmates’ connections, such as gang leadership positions or affiliation.”

ABC15 confirmed that the inmates involved in the May 29 incident are known to have gang ties. 

In response to a request for comment, ADCRR issued the following statement:

"There was a brief incident when several inmates appeared to obstruct staff. As additional staff promptly arrived, the inmates dispersed. Eight inmates were initially issued formal disciplinary reports over the incident. The Unit Administration reviewed the incident and determined no formal disciplinary action was warranted. All inmates involved in the incident were reviewed and found to be appropriately classified and housed."

Next: Leaked videos show brutal assaults on COs in Ariz. prisons

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