Arizona Inmate Escape Exposes Serious Flaws in State's Prison Security
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (CBS/AP) The three inmates didn't seem to arouse the least bit of suspicion when they sneaked out of their dorm rooms and rushed to the perimeter of the medium-security prison.
Alarms that were supposed to go off didn't. No officers noticed anything amiss. And no one was apparently paying attention when the violent criminals sliced open fences with wire cutters and vanished into the Arizona desert in their orange jumpsuits.
The series of blunders surrounding the escape and the state's practice of housing hardened murderers and other violent criminals in private, medium-security prisons have placed Arizona corrections officials under intense scrutiny in recent days.
Two of the fugitives remained at large Wednesday as the manhunt entered its sixth day. Authorities believe the inmates have left Arizona and were heading east with a girlfriend who allegedly threw the wire cutters over a fence and fled with two of them.
Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan said he met Wednesday with representatives of the Utah-based prison company Management and Training Corp. and that they "have been assured that MTC is committed to addressing and correcting the security deficiencies that contributed to the escape."
Ryan said a corrections security team at the prison was completing a comprehensive evaluation, and he would meet with MTC next week to finalize a plan.
Investigators were focused on how the inmates managed to go undetected for several hours around the time of the escape and why three violent criminals were allowed in a medium-security prison in the first place.
The trio were in orange jumpsuits when they escaped, which should have been easy to spot against the desert backdrop, said Kristen Green of Phoenix, who visits an inmate at the prison.
"Guards should be on top of this, people in the control room should be on top of this," she said. "There's no way that they should have missed these guys, three of them going through a fence? This was pretty well planned."