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Arizona official: State didn’t detect prison flaws

SHARE Arizona official: State didn’t detect prison flaws

PHOENIX — A privately operated Arizona prison where three inmates escaped last month, setting off a massive search, had poor operational practices that led to the unstaffing of a perimeter post, the state's prison director said Thursday.

The state Corrections Department released a report on security at the Kingman prison Thursday.

Numerous false alarms led to lax responses by prison personnel, Corrections Department Director Charles Ryan said. He also cited operational practices that led to a gap in permitted staffing during an evening when the July 30 escape occurred.

The three escapees from the prison's medium-security unit included two convicted of murder. Two of the three convicts have been recaptured, and authorities have linked some of the escapees to the killing of an Oklahoma couple.

Ryan said 148 inmates were being transferred to other prisons because of new restrictions on which inmates can be assigned to the Kingman facility, which has both minimum- and medium-security units.

He said his department has accepted a security improvement plan by the facility's operator, Centerville, Utah-based Management & Training Corp.

"This is a terrible tragedy, and the department and the contractor have a lot of work to do," Ryan said, referring to the killing of the Oklahoma couple linked to two of the escapees.

The burned bodies of Greg and Linda Haas of Tecumseh, Okla., were found Aug. 4 on a remote ranch near Santa Rosa, N.M. They had been traveling to Colorado on an annual camping trip.

Previous routine audits gave the Kingman prison high marks and revealed few issues with security or staff training, The Associated Press reported after obtaining copies of audits done in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010.

John McCluskey, Tracy Province and Daniel Renwick escaped with by cutting through fences with wire cutters tossed into the prison by Casslyn Welch, McCluskey's fiancee and cousin, authorities said.

Renwick and Province were recaptured in Rifle, Colo., and Meeteetse, Wyo., respectively, on Aug. 1 and Aug. 9. The last confirmed sighting of McCluskey and Welch was in Billings, Mont. on Aug. 6.

Province and Renwick were serving time for murder when they escaped. McCluskey was serving a 15-year prison term for attempted second-degree murder, aggravated assault and discharge of a firearm.