Charles Ryan, Director of the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADOC) recently requested $60 million, $18 million of which would go toward hiring 296 new correctional officers for ADOC’s maximum custody units, home to the state’s most violent inmates.
The funding, which is requested for FY2015, would begin on July 1, 2014. The additional correctional officers within the maximum custody units would double the number of floor officers from 1 to 2, thereby helping to reduce suicides, inmate assaults, and response time.
The need for this funding as to increase the number of correctional officers in these units comes at a time when violent offenders within the Arizona prison system have increased from 66 percent in 2009 to now about 71 percent. As of November, there were 41,029 inmates in the ADOC.
Ryan also states that the need for more correctional officers is also a direct response to the officer reduction in FY2006, which resulted in a reduction of 500 officers. There are currently 5,954 officers in the ADOC.
Opportunities at the New Red Rock Correctional Center
In addition to an increase in correctional officers, Ryan plans on using $18.7 million of the new budget to fund the Red Rock Correctional Center, which is set to open and begin accepting inmates as of January 2014. Ryan said he hopes to have about 1,000 inmates in the new facility within two years. He also expressed a need to do this sooner than later, given the state’s projected increase in inmate population.
Lewis Complex in Buckeye Set to Open
Another $11.3 million will go toward the new maximum security prison expected to open in October at the Lewis Complex in Buckeye. About $8 million would be used for an inmate management system, and $3.4 million would be used to cover the facility’s operating costs for the projected 300 inmates.
Governor Jan Brewer is set to present her budget to the legislature in January, but whether or not Ryan’s budget will be approved is still unknown.