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Final report released after broken locks exposed inside Arizona's Lewis prison

Posted at 3:20 PM, Aug 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-15 18:47:04-04

The Governor’s Office has released a final report on Thursday afternoon from the outside investigation ordered by Gov. Doug Ducey after ABC15 exposed broken locks inside Arizona’s Lewis prison.

The report details confirm ABC15 reports that some of the locks were broken, would not close lock or stay locked.

The report also details similar issues at other prisons, but says they are not as severe as the issues at Lewis prison.

"But it also is clear that some of the locks are just broken ... They simply will not close, lock, and stay locked," the report reads.

The final report was completed by retired Arizona Supreme Court chief justices Ruth McGregor and Rebecca Berch.

TIMELINE: 'Unlocked and Unsafe' investigation into broken AZ prison doors, fires

Ducey told reporters earlier this week that the retired justices’ report was delivered to his office on Monday and staff was reviewing the report before it’s public release.

Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan suddenly announced his retirement on Friday. The report shows he was interviewed a final time by investigators the day before he retired.

On April 25, an ABC15 investigation exposed a series of leaked surveillance videos proving many cell doors inside the Lewis prison don’t properly secure, leading to severe assaults against inmates and officers. At least two inmate deaths are being blamed on the broken doors.

In the months that followed, ABC15 aired dozens of reports that discovered evidence of the problem was overwhelming.

Some key highlights:

- Routine inspection logs, internal investigations, incident reports, and surveillance videos show there was overwhelming and ongoing evidence – often reaching the Director Ryan’s office – documenting a serious problem inside Lewis Prison.

- A l leaked memorandum and video from 2006 showing that previous top officials knew about failing locking systems for more than a decade, but did not adequately address the problem or seek funds to permanently fix it.

- Officers inside Lewis prison called for backup hundreds of times in late 2018 for incidents that involved inmates getting out of their cells without authorization, according to an internal report.

So far, five high-level administrators, including Director Ryan, have either resigned or retired since ABC15 exposed the broken locks.

The governor said the state will conduct a nationwide search for a new prisons director.

CLICK HERE to read the full 52 page report released Thursday.