Arizona DOC Requests Additional Correctional Officers

PHOENIX — Arizona Department of Corrections (ADOC) Director Charles Ryan is seeking about $60 million in additional funding from Governor Jan Brewer for fiscal 2015, which begins July 1, 2014.

Approximately $18 million from the budget increase request would go to hiring 296 new correctional officers for the ADOC’s close- and maximum-custody units, which house the most violent inmates, reported Arizona Central. The new employees would allow the ADOC to increase the number of floor officers from one to two in close- and double-bunked maximum-custody units, which would help reduce suicides, inmate-on-staff assaults and response time.

The number of violent offenders in the prison system increased from 66 percent of the inmate population in 2009 to 71 percent of the population this year, according to state records. As of Nov. 15, Arizona housed 41,029 inmates, including 6,516 in private prisons that only accept minimum- and medium-security inmates.

Ryan said he is requesting the money for additional correctional officers due to the 500-officer reduction the ADOC made in fiscal 2006 under previous Director Dora Schriro. The state currently employs 5,954 officers.

In addition to the staffing increase, Ryan, who manages a $1 billion annual budget, also plans for $18.7 million of the new budget to fund the operation of Red Rock Correctional Center in Eloy, scheduled to start accepting inmates as of Jan. 1. He hopes to move about 1,000 inmates into that facility sooner than the anticipated two years because of the state’s projected increase in the inmate population.

Ryan also plans for $11.3 million to fund operating costs of the new 500-inmate maximum-security prison slated to open at the Lewis Complex in Buckeye in October in the budget plan. An estimated $ 8 million would go toward new technology for an inmate-management system, $3.46 million to cover operating costs for a projected 300 more inmates in the state’s prison system and $635,200 for substance-abuse treatment services.

Brewer will present her budget to the legislature in January and has made no promises in terms of Ryan’s request.