Whistleblower Claims Cover-Up In Governor's Review Of Arizona Prison

Published: Friday, May 17, 2019 - 3:03pm
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2019 - 7:40pm

The correctional officer who leaked footage of dangerous conditions at an Arizona prison has come forward, casting doubt on the integrity of the state’s response to security problems there.

Carlos Garcia is a spokesman for the Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association. He says a sergeant at the Department of Corrections has come forward to call attention to wrong doing in state prisons.

“She says 'I can’t do this anymore you know I’m in the leadership position I can’t be leading my troops into battle when it’s a sure loss so she’s letting everyone know that I’ve got evidence,'" Garcia said of her decision to speak out.

In a letter to the Gov. Ducey, the ADC employee, identified as Gabriela Contreras, writes of her concerns, including allegations of "violations of law" and "abuse of authority."

"I did my best to ensure my staff and inmates were safe and secure," Contreras writes. "I reported broken cell door locks, missing pins, and other security issues. I expected my chain of command to take employee safety and safety of inmates seriously and act on the reports of security concerns. The chain did not."

Contreras also accuses a deputy warden at the Lewis prison in Buckeye of providing false information to special task force appointed by the governor.

"I believe the Deputy Warden is intentionally minimizing the significant Morey issues, presenting you with false and/or misleading information, and falsifying public records," Contreras wrote to the governor.

Garcia says CO's statement shows the process can’t be trusted. "We applaud her for it," Garcia said. "We want an admission from this administration to say 'the doors are broken.' We want them to fix it now and apologize."

Garcia says AZCPOA is planning a press conference next week where they will release more evidence of wrongdoing and mismanagement in the state prisons.

The Department of Corrections says it is working with the Governor’s investigation and has moved more than 700 inmates until longer-term solutions are found for security problems at the Lewis prison.

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