It has long been established that in 2007, the Arizona Department of Corrections lost a large number of full time employee positions that have never been regained or reallocated. However, at the same time, turnover, attrition factors have not been adequately addressed by both the agency and the Legislature as the agency continues to run below authorized staffing levels and no relief is in sight.
“What has taken place in ADC has been a major shift in the staffing requirements for the units: particularly at medium and close custody units. The focus has been on staff and inmate safety, as well as security.”
“The Director ordered and has restored 193 security staff to the housing units and cell blocks through the use of overtime. This effort on his part has led to the Governor’s budget recommending the restoration of 306 correctional officer positions over 3 years.”
(This was a temporary solution and no longer feasible due to lack of overtime funding)
This is not an ideal solution to the problem, but it is a significant improvement over the staffing situation that resulted from the abolishment of 565 security FTE’s under the former Director.
Since that time of the Reduction in Force implementation, staffing patterns and rosters have severely suffered in numbers and many security posts were either eliminated or combined into other security posts. This has impacted the agency’s ability to prevent, intervene or even observe crimes committed inside prisons and unreported.
This merging of post also resulted in the merging or re-assignment of duties to other staff include educational staff such as librarians, teachers and counselors. This transition weakened the security practices as many staff had never received any additional training or equipment prior to the delegation of new responsibilities.
This transition has also opened up the vulnerability of staff as they are now more spread out and doing more tasks according to institutional schedules and movement demands. While at the same time, security functions have been reduced or minimized due to under staffing or lack of resources to perform the jobs as before but still outlined as a requirement per Post Orders and policies and procedures.
The biggest diminishing area is supervisory control via rosters and staffing. The mid-level manager level has appalling attendance as well as an atrocious record keeping inexcusable roster management to include RDO balancing for the max security presence. Almost nil comprehension of how to even achieve the above. They auto fill rosters and sign leave slips letting the chips fall where they may…….rarely is it ever questioned.
The following are examples of diminished security practices:
• Intel gathering on open and closed yards
• Prosecution of staff assaults
• Restitution efforts for staff assaults
• Feeding times in excess of 5 hrs. per meal
• PACE\MAP documentation in a timely manner
• Basic security functions such as looking for living breathing bodies
• Quarterly searches not being completed as required in PO
• Sanitary inspections (704) non existent
• Limited access to program staff
• Ingress/egress lax procedures
• Key accountability practices have decreased dramatically
• Inmate accountability practices
• Fence tie process/accountability along w KOP medical equipment accountability
• Inmate access to secure areas w/o proper security measures
• Elimination of essential security posts to meet staffing shortages
• Disproportionate importance on spontaneous [lack of planning] security functions that draw staff away from primary observation or vigilance duties on the yard and other areas of the institution.
Looking at vulnerability factors we can compare inmate on staff assaults for the past five (5) years and you will see a definite pattern of concern as the numbers are astonishing and horrific in growth.
We were observing increasing numbers of assaults on inmates, including those with serious negative outcomes, as well as assaults on staff in housing units and cell blocks. A common denominator was that many security posts were not adequately manned and there was no staff to act as observation to “back” the officer on the “floors” with the inmates.
Since Director Ryan had been responsible for the original staffing justification for most of these standardized prison unit designs, and we had worked in or managed these prototypical units, it was obvious to us that the abolishment of staff positions had led to under-staffing in the housing units and cell blocks.
In fact, these units were being operated with a single officer, as opposed to the minimum safe level of one officer in the “box” or control room/officer’s station, and one on the “floor” to rove back and forth between the “runs” or “pods”.
(This practice has also been discontinued with the use of “sector” officers rather than control and rover positions as it was originally designed and staffed.)
This is largely contributed to poor prison management practices and the lack of staff available to handle routine situations that seem to escalate quickly due to overcrowded living conditions and reduced inmate programs since 2009 leaving many inmates unemployed and idle.
In addition, drug abuse and substance abuse treatment programs have also been reduced while the growth of gangs has increased exponentially over the years.
*FY 2014 as of 05/31/2014 ASSAULTS ON STAFF
FY 10 FY 11 FY 12 FY 13 FY 14*
ADC Staff 329 362 343 335 372
Contract Beds Staff 21 20 34 23 36
Totals 350 382 377 358 408
In Director’s Charles Ryan’s introduction memo dated 02/03/2009 to ADC employees he states in part:
“In other words, we will become informed first, involve employees in the decision making process, and strive to fully understand the impact of decisions may have upon you. We will be guided by some fairly simply “basic to basics” questions: (Give me a break please)
- Is it legal ethical or moral? Ryan makes this a multiple choice or did he?
- Does it serve to further our core mission? Does he really care?
- Does it qualify as sound correctional practice? What difference does it make?
- Does it produce positive outcomes? Really?
- Does it eliminate unnecessary work which does not contribute to positive outcomes or our core mission? LOL
- Have we respected our employees and other constituent groups in the process and our actions? Do you feel respect?
As you know we, as an agency are facing some extremely challenging times, given the budget deficit and the timing of the transition in agency leadership. We cannot tell you that things will be easy, however, you can rest assured that we will continue to advocate for you, strive for safety and security and make the best possible decisions, informed by as many of those affected by those decisions as we can. I cannot tell you that we will always succeed in getting you the resources you need or deserve, but we are confident in the ability of the agency and our fine employees who perform professionally and effectively to protect the public, all employees and the inmates over whom we have custody to the best of our abilities.”
Now you tell me, does he have your confidence as the director or do we need to change administration and leadership?