KINGMAN - Three separate incidents involving rioting or disruptive prisoners drew Gov. Doug Ducey to the Arizona State Prison-Kingman on Sunday.
Ducey met with prison officials, all local law enforcement agencies and Mayor Richard Anderson at the Golden Valley prison about 15 miles west of Kingman.
Buses continue to transfer some of the estimated 700 inmates who have or will be relocated due to damage to two of five dormitories.
The first incident, described as a "major disturbance" by prison officials, occurred in the minimum security Cerbat Unit on Wednesday. Inmates rioted in the adjacent medium-security Hualapai Unit the next day in which "severe damage" was done to the facility.
The prison was secure by Friday, but the damage done to two of the five housing units forced the transfer of hundreds of inmates.
Eight prison staffers were treated for minor injuries during the two incidents and the prison remains on lockdown.
Anderson in a Sunday interview said Ducey is "deeply concerned" over the disturbances.
"Governor Ducey wants to find out exactly what happened, review the procedures that were in place and institute new procedures to keep this from happening again," said Anderson.
Ducey also told the mayor, police and executives at the privately run prison that he is concerned about the safety and welfare of area residents.
"He really wants to get to the bottom of what happened so we can prevent it in the future," said Anderson. "That's kind of hard when a group of inmates want to attack another inmate."
Anderson said there was no evidence the attack was motivated over racial issues, which was the cause of riots that last occurred at the prison in 2010.
Anderson said he also worries about the safety of locals and that he is satisfied with the "intent" of Ducey's response to the unrest.
"He wants information. He wants to understand what happened and what measures can be taken to prevent this from happening in the future," said Anderson.
Anderson acknowledged the problem could be due to the fact inmates are housed in large dormitories rather than individual or two-man cells.
"When you have that many people in one area, all of them who are there for reasons other than honorable, and given the physical layout and constraints, the best response will take a lot of money," he said.
The mayor said he would advocate for a thorough study with a number of potential alternatives to remedy the problem.
But the mayor would also like the prison to be more open about its issues.
"I think they need more transparency," he said. Anderson believes Management Training Corporation, the company that owns the private prison, has the competence and resources to successfully and safely run the institution, but his concern is with MTC's ability to execute its plan.
"They could be like Vegas. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Well, maybe what happens there [the prison] stays there and I don't think that's a good idea."
The mayor also expressed frustration with the fact several inmates were found in possession of cell phones. "They're not supposed to have them, but they are making calls," he said. "Members of the inmate fraternity are experts at being bad. You give them cell phones and they can be an imposing force."
Anderson said Ducey would provide the city with updates on the plans to improve security at the prison and to provide a safer environment for employees.
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