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AFSC, Arizona - Assessment of Riots in Management & Training Corp Kingman Prison 2015

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Assessment of the
2015 Riots in
Management and
Training Corporations’
Kingman, Arizona
Prison

BY CAROLINE ISAACS
AMERICAN FRIENDS SERVICE COMMITTEE—ARIZONA
AUGUST 2015
PUBLISHED BY:
AMERICAN FRIENDS SERVICE COMMITTEE
103 N PARK AVE., STE. 111
TUCSON, AZ 85716
520.623.9242
afscaz@afsc.org
WWW.AFSCARIZONA.ORG

Executive Summary
On July 1st, 2015, a riot erupted in a prison in Kingman, Arizona operated by the for-profit
prison company, Management and Training Corporation (MTC). The next day, a second
reportedly occurred. Six prison guards were injured and the facilities were so badly damaged
that over 1,000 prisoners had to be transferred elsewhere.
Governor Doug Ducey ordered the Director of the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) to
investigate the cause of the riots. While we welcome any and all information coming from the
Department in regards to these incidents, the American Friends Service Committee has serious
concerns about the ADC’s ability to impartially assess all the factors that contributed to the
riots—most significantly its own failure to properly monitor its contractors.
This report represents an effort to provide first-hand documentation from prisoners and staff,
as well as a larger analysis informed by over 15 years of monitoring the for-profit prison
industry and the Arizona Department of Corrections.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Major Findings
1. Department of Corrections’ tactical support personnel sent in to quell the riot were
unnecessarily violent and disrespectful in their treatment of prisoners—whether they
were involved in the disturbances or not.
2. It appears that several prisoners were injured after the riot by the Arizona Department
of Corrections’ tactical support unit, rather than being assaulted by other prisoners.
3. Factors reported to have contributed to the riots have their roots in Management and
Training Corporations’ efforts to cut costs.
4. The most significant and persistent problem at Kingman is understaffing. Guards at
Kingman are among the lowest paid in Arizona. Staff that are underpaid, undertrained,
and have low morale are not willing or able to properly manage a prison, especially
when disturbances arise.
5. MTC guards were mistreating the people held in Kingman, relying on pepper spray and
other heavy-handed approaches to behavior management, resulting in high levels of
resentment among prisoners.
6. The prison was poorly managed. Drugs were readily available, in many cases brought to
the prison by guards. Prisoners were frequently locked down. The facility had a high rate
of assaults.
7. Ultimately, the Department of Corrections failed in its responsibility to properly
manage its contractor, detect and correct problems, and hold MTC accountable for
persistent problems.

AFSCAZ KINGMAN ASSESSMENT 2015

2

It is clear, given the long-standing and repetitive nature of these issues, that the problems at
Kingman are systemic rather than situational. While there is no question that the contractor,
Management and Training Corporation, was negligent to the point of possible violation of the
terms of its contract, the ultimate responsibility lies with the Department of Corrections and
the State of Arizona.
Corrections is a core public safety responsibility, and should not be hired out to the lowest
bidder or subjected to short-sighted cost cutting strategies.
These issues are now before the state legislature, as it considers contracting for up to 2,000
additional beds. The Department issued a Request for Proposals for new medium-security beds
in September of 2014. The deadline for responses was delayed once in response to the
Kingman riots, and the new due date for bids is September 22.
We must not be fooled again.
No new contract should be signed until a thorough evaluation of Kingman and the five other
privately operated prisons under contract demonstrates that these facilities are safe, cost
effective, humanely run, and accountable to the public.

Recommendations:
1. The Governor should hire an independent, impartial third party to investigate the cause
of the riot and recommend solutions. It should also investigate conditions and contract
compliance in all of Arizona’s other privately operated prisons, to prevent a similar
disaster in the future.
2. The current Request for Proposals (RFP) for up to 2,000 more prison beds should be
canceled. No new contract should be signed until the public can be assured that these
facilities are safe, cost effective, humanely run, and accountable to the public.
3. If it is determined that Management and Training Corporation was negligent in its
management responsibilities and violated the terms of its contract in any way, the
Department of Corrections should exercise its authority to cancel the contract.
4. The Arizona State Legislature should take immediate action to:
a. Reinstate the requirements for biennial quality and cost comparison reviews of
public and private prisons, taking into account all the various factors that may
contribute to the equation. This review should be done by an independent, third
party.
b. Create an independent oversight body that will regularly monitor the
performance of the Department of Corrections in all areas.

AFSCAZ KINGMAN ASSESSMENT 2015

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c. Enact legislation to require that for-profit corporations under state contract be
held to the same transparency and accountability standards as the Department
of Corrections.

AFSCAZ KINGMAN ASSESSMENT 2015

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Introduction
Management and Training Corporation (MTC), a privately-held
company, operates 20 prisons in seven states, with a capacity of 26,000
prisoners. It began in 1981 operating federal Job Corps centers. MTC
operates two prisons under contract with the Arizona Department of
Corrections, a medium/minimum security facility in Kingman and a
minimum-security facility at Marana.
The Marana Community Correctional Treatment Facility was Arizona’s
first privately operated prison. In 2000, the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) signed a
contract for 450 minimum security (Level 2) beds (350 male, 100 female) for inmates “who
demonstrate a need for substance abuse or alcohol intervention.” MTC recently completed the
full extent of its contract for Marana, and the state of Arizona bought the facility. It then
awarded the management contract for the prison to MTC once again.

Source: Arizona Department of Corrections

AFSCAZ KINGMAN ASSESSMENT 2015

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The Kingman facility opened in 2004, in response to complaints of overcrowding in state
prisons. The facility was created in part to absorb the growing number of DUI offenders being
imprisoned as a result of Arizona’s extremely harsh drunk driving laws. The facility has a total of
3,500 beds: 1,500 in the medium-security Hualapai unit and 2,000 in the minimum-security
Cerbat Unit.
In late July 2010, three prisoners escaped from the Kingman prison. They were able to get past
locked doors, avoid surveillance cameras, deter ground and fence sensors, and went unnoticed
by guard towers and ground patrol while they cut a hole in some perimeter fencing. 1
It took MTC employees over an hour to notify the Mohave County Sherriff’s Office that the men
were at large, and the public was not notified until the next day. 2
Two weeks later, a couple from Oklahoma were murdered by two of the fugitives from MTC’s
prison while on the run from police. 3
Five days after the escape, an inspection team from the Department of Corrections found a
broken alarm system, eight burned-out perimeter lights, other broken security equipment, and
new and undertrained staff and rookie supervisors who ignored alarms, left long gaps between
patrols of the perimeter, left doors leading out of some buildings open and unwatched, didn't
alert the state or local police until hours after the escape, and failed in all manner of basic
security practices.
Although the 2010 escapes captured headlines, the Kingman prison also had a history of riots
and disturbances dating back to 2005. Corrections Director Ryan noted that there had been
“13 instances of large groups of inmates refusing directives or chasing MTC staff off the yard.” 4
Also in 2010, MTC’s other Arizona facility saw a serious disturbance. As many as 150 inmates
were involved in a brawl at the Marana Community Correctional Treatment Facility. The fight
lasted about an hour before a 20 member tactical unit helped to break it up. Twelve inmates
and an MTC employee were injured. 5
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

2015 Kingman Riots
On July 1st, six corrections officers were injured during what agency officials described as a
"major disturbance" among minimum-security inmates in the Cerbat Unit. Five officers were

Hensley, JJ. “Prison chief says that state didn’t detect prison flaws,” Arizona Republic, 8/19/10
Gonzales, Nathan and Eddi Trevizo. “Arizona cons’ escape raises many questions,” Arizona Republic, 8/3/10
3
“Arizona prison escapees links to N.M. killings,” Associated Press, 8/7/10
4
Ryan, Charles. “Cure Notice” to MTC, memo, December 29, 2010
5
“Arizona prison brawl involved up to 150 inmates, leaves 13 people hurt,” Associated Press, 2/11/10.
1
2

AFSCAZ KINGMAN ASSESSMENT 2015

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treated at the prison, according to a Department of Corrections spokesman, and one was
transported to a local hospital for treatment and later released. 6
The next day, a full-scale riot broke out involving many more prisoners, this time in the
Hualapai Unit. The disturbance then reportedly spread to involve two of the prison facility's five
housing units.7
The riot was quelled with the aid of 96 members of the Arizona Department of Corrections'
special Tactical-Support Unit (TSU). State correctional employees wearing military fatigues and
bulletproof vests and carrying rifles, tear-gas equipment and batons were sent to the prison.
Local law-enforcement officers were deployed to guard the private prison's perimeter late into
the night to ensure there were no escapes. 8
The rioting resulted in "severe property damage" to the housing units and injury to two staff
members, according to the ADC. A
spokesman for the Department
said three officers were treated for
minor injuries at a local hospital
By most accounts, the riots were motivated by
and released, and no inmates were
prisoner frustration with MTC’s management
harmed in either incident. 9
and the actions of its guards. There were no
However, the damage left many
altercations among prisoners.
housing units uninhabitable.
By most accounts, it is clear that
the riots were motivated by prisoner frustration with MTC’s management and the actions of its
guards. This frustration was directed at the physical facilities themselves. There were no
altercations among prisoners.
The Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) moved 1,168 prisoners out of the facility. It
placed 380 inmates in the Pinal County Jail, 50 inmates to Navajo County Jail, 30 to Apache
County Jail, 24 to Santa Cruz County Jail and nine to state facilities. In addition, 562 were
relocated to Corrections Corporation of America’s Eloy Detention Center and 113 to an MTC
facility in Otero, New Mexico, near El Paso, TX.10
Two weeks after the riots, a guard who had reportedly been at the center of one of the
disturbances committed suicide at his home in Bullhead City. An MTC Spokesman told the

Harris, Craig. “Riot at Arizona prison sparks transfer of 700 inmates,” Arizona Republic, 7/4/15
Ibid
8
Ibid
9
Harris, Craig. “Ducey calls for investigation of Kingman prison riot,” Arizona Republic, 7/5/15
10
Harris, Craig. “More counties taking inmates after Kingman riots,” Arizona Republic, 7/9/15
6
7

AFSCAZ KINGMAN ASSESSMENT 2015

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Kingman Daily Miner that the man was in an altercation with an inmate when he used pepper
spray to control the prisoner, an act that may have set off the riot. 11
Governor Doug Ducey called for an investigation into the riots and charged the Director of the
Arizona Department of Corrections with the task. This prompted many, including the American
Friends Service Committee, to question whether the ADC could perform an impartial
assessment, given that the Department itself is ultimately responsible for the actions of its
contractor, MTC.
Despite numerous calls for an independent investigation, the Governor chose to leave the
investigation to the Department of Corrections.

Brutality in Riot Response
Disturbing reports have emerged that the Department of Corrections’ tactical response team’s
response to the 2015 riots was overly harsh, to the point where prisoners who were completely
incapacitated were still being beaten, tazed, and shot with rubber bullets.
Numerous accounts cite a member of the Tactical Support Unit (TSU) as saying, “flash ‘em, bang
‘em, and roll ‘em” before the team
employed what has been described as
a barrage of tear gas, hornet grenades
“… even though everyone was already on the
that release rubber pellets, and other
floor and on their stomachs they still kicked us,
“less than lethal” munitions. 12

beat us and shot us with their weapons.”

The gas filled the pod until you
could barely see your hand in
front of your face. Your eyes burned and watered so bad you couldn’t open them, snot
poured from your nose and you couldn’t breath and when you could all you did was
cough. After 7 or 8 minutes or so people were yelling and screaming that they couldn’t
breath, some broke windows that go outside, they have bars on them so you can’t get
out, so they could get air. 13
At this point, rather than removing the prisoners, the TSU is reported to have thrown in a
second round of gas canisters and hornet grenades. Accounts describe prisoners being left in
these conditions for an additional 10-15 minutes, despite their pleas for help and reports that
some had been injured and needed medical attention.

McMurdo, Doug. “Prison guard at hub of riot kills himself,” Kingman Daily Miner, 7/16/15
Anonymous 2, prisoner in Kingman, email correspondence, 8/11/15. And Middle Ground Prison Reform, “Letter
to Gov. Ducey RE: Kingman Private Prison Riot,” 7/31/15
13
Anonymous 2, prisoner in Kingman, email correspondence, 8/11/15.
11
12

AFSCAZ KINGMAN ASSESSMENT 2015

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Eventually, the prisoners were told to get on the floor and were then led outside where their
hands were tied behind their backs with zip ties. Prisoners’ accounts relate that excessive force
was used in this operation as well:
… even though everyone was already on the floor and on their stomachs they still kicked
us, beat us and shot us with their weapons. They guy next to me didn't speak any English
and when they came to his house and told him to get up off the ground and he didn't
respond they kicked him in the head and shot him twice and screamed at him again and
again to get up. I yelled that he doesn't speak any English and they kicked him again and
shot him 4 more times and
said "Do you speak English
now mother- [expletive]?"
The Arizona Department of Corrections
Still he didn't move so they
14
dragged him out.
reported that no prisoners were injured in the
A number of prisoners appear to
have been harmed by the officers
responding to the riot, rather than
in the riot itself.

riot. They failed to mention whether any were
injured in the Department’s response to the
riot.

The kid that came out right behind me had his head slammed in to the metal bars on the
windows and had to get 8 staples in his head. He now has a 4 inch scar on his head… The
man next to me was kicked so many times I thought they broke his ribs. A young black
kid not far from me was on the ground and made the mistake of asking an officer to
please loosen up his cuffs his hands were numb, the officer walked over kicked him in the
face and told him to "shut up [expletive] and move your [expletive] ass closer to the guy
next to you".
Each man that was brought out was beaten and abused physically and verbally. The kid
that was kicked in the face had his eye socket busted. His eye swelled up so bad he
couldn't see out of it for 3 days. 15
Another account corroborates this version of events:
… they sent in teargas, smoke bombs and some grenade thing - causing the rioters to
smash the windows for air. Then, they handcuffed every inmate, beating them while
handcuffed, the cuffs were so tight it turned some men’s hands black and blue. My exhusband reported that he laid on the ground for 14 hours, after they beat him, smashing
his knee and forcing him to the ground. He repeatedly told them he was non-combative,
that he had an ankle injury. They stood over the inmates on the ground for 14 hours,
14
15

Anonymous 2, prisoner in Kingman, email correspondence, 8/11/15.
Ibid

AFSCAZ KINGMAN ASSESSMENT 2015

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calling them names. They hit men as they walked peacefully and in handcuffs out of the
prison. He shared that several men had heart attacks, and were not receiving medical
care, and he believes several men died. 16
The ex-wife of the prisoner with the ankle injury described above later told AFSC that as a result
of being hit in the knee with a baton, her ex-husband has been unable to walk and has been in a
wheelchair ever since. After about a month, his knee was so swollen he was taken to the
hospital, as the prison staff feared he may have a blood clot. 17
Prisoners were then left handcuffed, lying in the dirt on the prison yard for anywhere from 1424 hours.
At least five prisoners or prisoners’ family members have reported that the zip ties were so
tight and they were handcuffed for so long that it took at least a week for the feeling to return
to their hands and fingers. One family member said that her son still has no feeling in his
thumbs. 18
The Arizona Department of Corrections reported that no prisoners were injured in the riot.
They failed to mention whether any were injured in the Department’s response to the riot.
It is unlikely that the Department of Corrections’ assessment of the riots will address the
behavior of its own tactical unit. Yet, the full extent of the problem—and the Department’s
response—needs to be addressed in order for the public to be assured that the system is
working properly to ensure the safety of all.

Factors That May Have Contributed to the Disturbances
Cost Cutting
Private prisons make their profits by winning contracts. They win contracts by being the lowest
bidder, yet at the same time, they have to make a profit for their company. As a result, these
corporations are notoriously tight-fisted when it comes to their facilities’ construction,
amenities, programs and services available to prisoners, and, most significantly, staffing.
A former staff person at the Kingman facility, who had worked there for 4 years and resigned
shortly before the 2015 riots reported,
We were working with outdated material. Everything broke, but there was no money to
fix anything. It was all held together with spit and Band-Aids. 19

Anonymous 3, family member of prisoner in Kingman, email correspondence, 8/17/15
Anonymous 4, family member of prisoner in Kingman, phone conversation 8/20/15
18
Anonymous 5, family member of prisoner in Kingman, phone conversation 8/20/15
19
Anonymous, Prison Staff, phone conversation, 8/4/15
16
17

AFSCAZ KINGMAN ASSESSMENT 2015

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The escapes in 2010 were found to be linked directly to Management and Training
Corporations’ refusal to repair malfunctioning alarms and other safety equipment, reportedly
because it would have cost too much money.
Inadequate Cooling: Numerous accounts have cited the lack of proper cooling inside some of
the units, several of which had swamp coolers rather than air conditioning. Some indicated that
the swamp coolers were not working properly. One prisoner stated that the guards would
openly taunt the prisoners, reminding them that the control rooms where the officers sat were
air conditioned while the rest of the unit was not. The average daily temperature in Kingman in
July is 98 degrees.
Medical Care: About three months before the riots, MTC cancelled its contract with prisonmedical corporation Corizon, choosing instead to provide the medical “in house.” The result
was a breakdown in services. It is a safe assumption that this move was calculated to save
money, however several people reported that the medical care “had deteriorated to the point
it was virtually nonexistent.” 20
One prisoner writes, “The health care…is so bad I don’t know where to start. The wait time to
see a provider, or the fact that if you tell them what’s wrong or what hurts they tell you you’re
lying. You literally have to be bleeding or near death for them to really do something.” 21
Facility Design: Another issue that, while not a cause of the riots, certainly exacerbated the
extent of the damage was the poor construction of the facility. Frank Smith with the Private
Corrections Institute, explains that for-profit prison corporations often employ specialty firms
that design and build prisons. Smith claims,
They have consistently used substandard materials, unskilled labor and poor design…I've
seen prison facility after prison facility where
the roofs leaked, for instance. Another problem
has been the use of inferior materials. I recall
in Crowley County, Colorado… that the locks…
didn't work properly, that doors and file
cabinets proved to be grossly insecure, as were
the windows that were supposed to protect the
control rooms.
20
McMurdo, Doug. “Former Kingman prison employee says prison officials knew inmates were going to riot,”
Kingman Daily Miner, 7/19/15.
21
Anonymous 2, prisoner in Kingman, email correspondence, 8/11/15.

AFSCAZ KINGMAN ASSESSMENT 2015

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They also frequently built prisons which had porcelain commodes which could be easily
destroyed and the shards remaining could be used as extremely sharp weapons. 22
Media reports on the Kingman riots show that the porcelain toilets were smashed, and that this
was one of the key factors in determining that the units were “uninhabitable.”
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Staffing Problems

Another issue related to cost-cutting, but requiring its own specific category in this analysis, is
staffing. Private prison companies often pay staff less than states or the federal government.
They frequently offer minimal staff training, which can leave employees frustrated and
unprepared to handle crises. As a result, these facilities tend to have very high turnover rates
and are chronically understaffed.
Essentially, the combination of low pay, understaffing, and having a “green” workforce (guards
with minimal training and experience) is a recipe for unstable and dangerous prisons. Guards
who are new and under trained may not have enough experience to notice when conflicts are
brewing or know how to defuse them before they lead to assaults or worse.
When conflicts do escalate into fights or riots, these guards may be unsure what to do in a
crisis, leading them to wait too long to intervene or fail to take any action at all.
Staffing issues were repeatedly
cited in the Department of
Corrections’ assessment of the
2010 Kingman escapes:
•

•

22
23

Between 2006 and the first part of 2013, the
Arizona Department of Corrections levied a
total of 152 monetary sanctions against MTC,
collecting a total of $2,315,989 in fines for staff
vacancies.

The unit is staffed with a
very high percentage of
new staff and many of
them demonstrated a lack
of experience and
“command presence”. [The Warden] reports that approximately 80% of her staff is new
or newly promoted
There is a question of experience. I conservatively estimate that one third of security
employees have less than three months on the job or in their promoted positions.
Further, there is no FTO program to teach staff new to their job or position. 23

Smith, Frank. Email Communication, 7/27/15.
Arizona Department of Corrections, Kingman Report, August 19, 2010

AFSCAZ KINGMAN ASSESSMENT 2015

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In its 2011 Biennial Comparison Review of public and private prisons, the Arizona Department
of Corrections found that every private prison under contract with the state was judged to be
performing below the Department of Corrections on staffing. The Marana prison had a turnover
rate of 36.4% in 2010 and 56.8% in 2011. In 2011, MTC’s two Kingman Units both had very high
turnover rates of 25.6% each. 24
Materials submitted in response to the RFP for management of the Marana prison in 2013
indicate that staffing continues to be a major deficiency for MTC in Arizona. Between 2006
and the first part of 2013, the Arizona Department of Corrections levied 114 monetary
sanctions against MTC for position vacancies in the Kingman prison and 38 sanctions for
vacancies at the Marana prison. Ranging in cost from $168 to almost $50,000 each, MTC had
been docked a total of $2,315,989 in fines for staff vacancies. 25
Facility
Kingman
Marana
Total

Number of Sanctions
114
38
152

Cost
$1,996,602.68
$319,386.14
$2,315,988.82

The Arizona Republic reported that MTC guards at Kingman are among the lowest paid in
Arizona, starting at a salary of $28,392 a year, the second lowest entry-level salary among 10
public and six private prisons in Arizona. The entry-level wage at DOC is $32,916, although
officers in rural areas are paid more due to the difficulty of staffing these facilities. 26
An MTC employee told AFSC that
she had been working at the
MTC guards at Kingman are among the lowest
prison for over 4 years and was
paid in Arizona
making only $15/hr. She said her
last years bonus was just $92.
“They can’t keep people because
they treat them so poorly,” she said.
A former MTC staff person told the Kingman Daily Miner,
Employee morale is horrible… since correctional officers are made to work copious
amounts of overtime - sometimes 16 and even 20 hours a day - and fatigue…could have
Arizona Department of Corrections, Biennial Comparison of Private versus Public Provision of Services ARS 411609.01 (K)(M), December 21, 2011
25
Management and Training Corporation, “Monetary Sanctions,” Appendix F. Vendor Response to Arizona
Department of Corrections RFP #130052DC. 2013.
26
Harris, Craig. “Sheriffs: Mistreatment of prisoners caused Kingman riot,” Arizona Republic, 8/11/15
24

AFSCAZ KINGMAN ASSESSMENT 2015

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played a role in the riot and disturbances. Inmates know when the guards have been on
duty for extended hours,” she said. “All they have to do is watch. They know when
guards are tired and tired people don’t always have the best people skills. 27
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Routine Mistreatment of Prisoners

The issue of mistreatment of prisoners flows, in many cases, from the staffing issues described
above. Lack of training combined with poor background screening of job applicants has been
linked to several cases of prisoner abuse in private prisons nationally.
Underpaid, undertrained, and overworked staff who have low job satisfaction and do not feel
valued by their employers are at risk for problems like depression, alcoholism, substance abuse
and domestic violence. This can sometimes contribute to abuse of prisoners.
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu and Navajo County Sheriff Kelly Clark told the Arizona Republic
that they heard many complaints of poor treatment from the prisoners who were transferred
to their jails after the Kingman riots.
“What we are hearing is, they were mistreated en masse,” said Pinal County Sheriff Paul
Babeu, whose jail holds more than 300 Kingman prison evacuees. “From what I
understand, there was a lack of professionalism in how they were treated.” 28
In the majority of news reports as well as direct accounts from former guards and prisoners, the
most consistently reported issue is the over-use of pepper spray. This was not in response to
violent situations, but a rather a routine aspect of how the prison was managed. This may a
reflection of poor training or simply an act of cruelty on the part of some guards.
The rioting is said to have begun when a guard refused to allow a Muslim prisoner to attend the
Ramadan ceremony for the breaking of the daily fast. When the prisoner became agitated, the
guard pepper sprayed and then brutally beat him. Many other prisoners witnessed this act, as
they were gathered for “chow.”
This detailed account was provided by a prisoner from Kingman:
It all started…because an officer wouldn't let one of the Muslims go to get his Ramadan
meal and pray. There was argument and instead of the officer walking away and
defusing the situation or even calling a sgt to come and help remedy the situation, he
27
McMurdo, Doug. “Former Kingman prison employee says prison officials knew inmates were going to riot,”
Kingman Daily Miner, 7/19/15.
28
Harris, Craig. “Sheriffs: Mistreatment of prisoners caused Kingman riot,” Arizona Republic, 8/11/15

AFSCAZ KINGMAN ASSESSMENT 2015

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instead decides to spray the person with mace, slam him to the ground and drag him out
of the pod by his feet and into the horseshoe area….
When the door locked and the officer had the inmate alone he kicked the inmate in the
ribs and told him to put his hands behind his back, when the inmate who was on his belly
with is hands up to his eyes because of the mace didn't comply fast enough the officer
plunged his knee into his back hard and forced the inmate's arms behind his back and
cuffed him. He then yanked on the inmate's arms hard and dragged him to his feet
backwards. Now the whole time people are gathered at the windows watching this cop
spray, slam, drag, and beat up this inmate all over an argument about this officer
refusing to let this inmate eat and observe his religion. 29
The heavy-handedness of the guards and the over use of pepper spray had been going on for some time,
and the altercation with the Muslim prisoner released the collective anger that had been building
among the incarcerated population. This account has been corroborated numerous times by a variety of
sources.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Mismanagement of the Facility
Drugs: A number of issues related to the poor management of the facility have come to light after the
riots. One staff person reported that there was a “flood” of drugs in the facility. Reportedly, the majority
of these were smuggled in to the prison by the staff. The Phoenix New Times, citing a report from
Middle Ground Prison Reform described the facility as having “…an atmosphere rife with drug dealing
that is enabled by staff misconduct and improper security practices…Some staff are reported to be
regular importers of controlled substances…”30
Excessive Use of Lockdown: Unable to effectively control the drug problem, the management resorted
to repeatedly “locking down” the unit, meaning prisoners were locked in their cells 23-24 hours per day,
without visits or other privileges. Apparently, this had been happening on and off for nearly four
months.31 At the same time, one of the facilities had only swamp coolers in the scorching heat of the
summer, and prisoners were locked in cells with little ventilation or ability to get outside for fresh air.

Assaults: Another indication of the lack of the management’s control over the facility is the high
levels of violence in Kingman. The Arizona Republic reported that the facility had the most
inmate assaults and fights among the state's private prisons every year from fiscal 2010 to
2014. In fiscal 2014, it accounted for 119 of the 161 inmate assaults in Arizona's six private
prisons. The MTC prison also had the most assaults on staff by inmates among Arizona's private
Anonymous 2, prisoner in Kingman, email correspondence, 8/11/15.
Stuart, Elizabeth. “Poor living conditions sparked Kingman Prison Riots,” Phoenix New Times, 7/31/15
31 Anonymous, Prison Staff, phone conversation, 8/4/15
29
30

AFSCAZ KINGMAN ASSESSMENT 2015

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prisons every year from fiscal 2011 to 2014, records show. In
fiscal 2014, it accounted for 38 of the 41 private-prison staff
assaults. 32
Dereliction of Duty: It has been widely reported that the
prison officials had been told by the prisoners and by staff that
a riot was looming. A former staff person told the Kingman
Daily Miner, “I left because everyone knew what was coming
and management didn’t heed anybody’s warning.” 33
A former staff person told AFSC that when she reported to her
supervisors that the prisoners were telling her there was going
to be a riot, the response was “who told you that?” Rather
than addressing the problem and ensuring the safety and
security of the prison, it appears that MTC staff were more
interested in retaliating against the inmates.34
In the ADC investigation following the 2010 riots and escapes,
there had clearly been instances in which the MTC staff had
lost control of the facility, fleeing the yard as prisoners
fought. ADC security assessments of that prison also
acknowledged that the prisoners had literally “chased the
officers off the yard” at least 13 times. 35

2015 Murder of
Neil Early
In January of 2015 a 23year old man in the
Kingman prison for
shoplifting was raped and
beaten to death by other
prisoners. Neil Early was
serving a 5 year sentence
and was due to be
released in February. A
confidential source told
the Kingman Daily Miner
that Early owed money to
inmates who deal drugs
at the prison. He was
reportedly struck
repeatedly in the head
and body with a
combination lock that
was placed into a sock
and used as a weapon.
The family is suing the
state and MTC for $7.5
million.

There are clear indications that this was likely occurring during
the 2015 riots as well. Several published accounts cite former
Kingman prisoners stating that the staff abandoned their
duties when the violence started:
…when the riot began ‘every cop was scared,’ and they were left alone without
supervision for 12 hours. 36

Harris, Craig.“Pinal County will take 380 inmates after Kingman prison riot,” Arizona Republic, 7/7/15
McMurtro, Doug. “Former Kingman prison employee says prison officials knew inmates were going to riot,”
Kingman Daily Miner, 7/19/15.
34 Anonymous, Prison Staff, phone conversation, 8/4/15
35 Ryan, Charles. “Cure Notice” to MTC, memo, December 29, 2010
36 McMurtro, Doug. “Former Kingman prison employee says prison officials knew inmates were going to riot,”
Kingman Daily Miner, 7/19/15.
32
33

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Another prisoner suggested that “the special forces were brought in because MTC guards fled
during the riots.” 37
An anonymous ADC staff person, who was working with the Department’s K-9 unit, was
brought to Kingman to help put down the riot. He related that, when the teams arrived, they
found one MTC guard who had hidden in the ceiling panels to escape the rioting.
It appears that the Department was aware of many of the problems at Kingman. Materials
submitted in response to the RFP for management of the Marana prison in 2013 reveal that the
Kingman prison was found to have had a total of 114 “contract deficiencies” between 2008and early 2013. This was by far the most of any of the 9 facilities covered in the document. The
Marana prison had 36 documented deficiencies, most related to staffing.
Most of the deficiencies cited
at Kingman were also related to
The Kingman prison was found to have had a
staffing problems, but there
total of 114 “contract deficiencies” between
were also several having to do
with safety issues, including
2008-and early 2013.
“security devices,” “tool
control,” “key control,” weapons storage and accountability, and problems with the perimeter
of the prison. 38
However, it appears that the Department of Corrections was content to simply continue
collecting fees rather than demand that MTC permanently address these long-standing
problems. It is possible that the sum total of these “deficiencies” could have been grounds for
canceling the contract. A key question for Arizona’s leadership and taxpayers remains why
didn’t the Department take stronger action to fix these problems once and for all? It is doubtful
that the Department’s own investigation will address this question.
Another indication of the dysfunctionality of MTC is the number of lawsuits that have been filed
against it. Documents submitted in 2013 show that Management and Training Corporation had
been sued 348 times between 2008 and 2013. Eighteen of those lawsuits were filed in Arizona.
While the majority were dismissed, 74 were still open at the time of the report (2013), 29 had

Harris, Craig. “Sheriffs: Mistreatment of prisoners caused Kingman riot,” Arizona Republic, 8/11/15
Management and Training Corporation, “Deficiencies for the last 5 years for active contracts and 3 years for
inactive contracts,” Appendix E. Vendor Response to Arizona Department of Corrections RFP #130052DC. 2013.
37
38

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been settled, and 28 were labeled “watch,” which means that the case was being handled by a
third party. 39
One of these lawsuits was filed by
the family of the Oklahoma couple
that was murdered by the Kingman
Management and Training Corporation was
escapees in 2010. The family sued
sued 348 times in 5 years
the state of Arizona and MTC,
seeking $40 million in damages.
MTC settled the suit in 2011 for an undisclosed amount.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Oversight and Accountability
It is particularly disturbing that the recent spate of rioting took place just 5 years after the
escapes from Kingman, and that many of the same issues appear to have been at the center of
the problem. Documents released after the 2010 escapes show that the corporation was
reluctant to fix the problems that led to the fiasco and that the Department of Corrections was
unable or unwilling to hold them accountable.
In the aftermath of the escapes from Kingman, a “Cure Notice” was sent to MTC by the
Department of Corrections, citing “9 outstanding deficiencies that remained uncorrected, as
well as 24 additional deficiencies identified at both Kingman units.” 40
In response to this foot-dragging on the part of the corporation, the state pulled 238 prisoners
out of Kingman and said it would stop sending new prisoners until MTC fixed its security
problems and retrained its corrections officers. By contract, MTC was being paid $60.10 per
inmate per day, with a guaranteed minimum occupancy of 97 percent. But Corrections Director
Charles Ryan suspended that guarantee, saying that MTC was out of compliance with its
contract and that until MTC fully addressed lax security, it would be paid only for the inmates it
actually housed.
Rather than taking responsibility to fix the problems, the company threatened to sue for breach
of contract, saying the state had no right to refuse to pay the guaranteed 97 percent.

Management and Training Corporation, “Corrections Closed or Pending Legal Judgements, Claims, or Lawsuits
for the Last Five Years,” Appendix G. Vendor Response to Arizona Department of Corrections RFP #130052DC.
2013.
40
Ryan, Charles. “Cure Notice” to MTC, memo, December 29, 2010
39

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By March 21, when the two sides settled, MTC's demand amounted to nearly $10 million. In
exchange for MTC dropping its claim, Corrections agreed to begin paying MTC at the 97 percent
rate on May 1, even though it would take until the end of August to send enough new inmates
to refill the prison to that level. Between May 2010 and August of 2011, Arizona had paid
MTC—a company whose negligence let three prisoners escape and murder two people—over
$3 million for empty beds. 41
This episode indicates that some of the contract requirements may actually impede the state
from holding such contractors appropriately accountable for these kinds of problems.
In 2011, a report from the Arizona Auditor General stated that the Department of Corrections
needed to improve its oversight over private prisons. The report states, “although the
Department had oversight procedures in place, it had not identified the security issues that
contributed to the escapes.” 42
The Auditor General also made the
following recommendations:
In 2012, the Arizona legislature repealed a law
“The Department should
implement its plans to:
requiring cost and quality comparison reviews
• Revise its policies and
of the state’s public and private prisons
procedures to reflect
changes to the annual
audit.
• Continue developing and implementing training for contract monitors.
• Compare private and state-run prison services every 2 years as required by statute.” 43
It remains to be seen whether the Department was in compliance with the first two of these
requirements.
As for the biannual comparison of public and private prison services, this statute was repealed
by the Arizona State Legislature in 2012. Many have speculated that this was because previous
comparisons showed that private prisons were more expensive to run, and revealed other flaws
in for-profit incarceration. Rep. John Kavanagh, the Chair of Appropriations at the time the
repeal was passed, defended the move by arguing that the existing comparisons did not take
into account other factors that, he claimed, would prove private prisons are saving money.44
Ortega, Bob. “Arizona prison oversight lacking for private facilities,” Arizona Republic, August 7, 2011
Arizona Auditor General, “Department of Corrections: Oversight of Security Operations,” September 2011
Report No. 11-07
43
Ibid
44
Kavanagh, John, “Private Prisons Give Taxpayers the Best Deal,” Arizona Republic, AZ I See It, 7/16/15
41
42

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However, no alternative measurement was put in place, leaving the taxpayers of the state with
no information at all about how these prisons are performing.
MTC and its supporters claimed that the company made significant improvements as a result of
the 2010 escapes. In 2011, a corporate spokesman argued that “Kingman, with a new second
security fence, revamped alarm systems, additional patrols and other changes, is now the safest
prison in Arizona.” 45
This latest fiasco clearly shows that there remain serious problems in the Kingman facility that
were not addressed in a timely manner by MTC and were not identified or addressed by the
Department of Corrections’ monitors.

Conclusions and Recommendations
It is clear, given the long-standing and repetitive nature of these issues, that the problems at
Kingman are systemic rather than situational. While there is no question that the contractor,
Management and Training Corporation, was negligent to the point of possible violation of the
terms of its contract, the ultimate responsibility lies with the Department of Corrections and
the State of Arizona.
Corrections is a core public safety responsibility, and should not be hired out to the lowest
bidder or subjected to short-sighted cost cutting strategies.
While many people assume that
businesses can do most things
better than government
Corrections is a core public safety responsibility,
bureaucracy, in this case the profit
and should not be hired out to the lowest
motive is fundamentally at odds
bidder or subjected to short-sighted cost
with the purpose of prisons: public
cutting strategies.
safety and crime prevention. The
drive to make a profit causes many
corporations to cut corners on staff pay and training, which has a direct impact on the safety
and security of these facilities and the community.
Prison privatization is far from a cure-all for budget woes, and in fact may create many more
problems than it claims to solve.
These issues are now before the state legislature, as it considers contracting for up to 2,000
additional beds. The Department issued a Request for Proposals for new medium-security beds
45

Ortega, Bob. “2010 Escape at Kingman an issue for MTC’s bid,” Arizona Republic, 8/11/11.

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in September of 2014. The deadline for responses was delayed once in response to the
Kingman riots, and the new due date for bids is September 22.
We must not be fooled again.
No new contract should be signed until a thorough evaluation of Kingman and the five other
privately operated prisons under contract demonstrates that these facilities are safe, cost
effective, humanely run, and accountable to the public.
It must be acknowledged that there are serious deficiencies in the management of the Arizona
Department of Corrections. It is not a question of whether state prisons are better than private
prisons. The ADC is far from blameless in the troubles plaguing those private prisons
contracting with the state, and AFSC has substantial criticisms of the Department’s
management of its own facilities.
But it is also clear that simply handing over control of our prisons to a private, for-profit
corporation is not a viable solution. In fact, it appears to exacerbate certain problems and
sometimes create new ones. And, it serves to further remove our prisons from public scrutiny
and control. There is ample evidence of systemic, chronic and—arguably—endemic failures in
the privatization of incarceration.

The solution is more public control of our prison system, not less.
Recommendations:
1. The Governor should hire an independent, impartial third party to investigate the cause
of the riot and recommend solutions. It should also investigate conditions and contract
compliance in all of Arizona’s other privately operated prisons, to prevent a similar
disaster in the future.
2. The current Request for Proposals (RFP) for up to 2,000 more prison beds should be
canceled. No new contract should be signed until the public can be assured that these
facilities are safe, cost effective, humanely run, and accountable to the public.
3. If it is determined that Management and Training Corporation was negligent in its
management responsibilities and violated the terms of its contract in any way, the
Department of Corrections should exercise its authority to cancel the contract.
4. The Arizona State Legislature should take immediate action to:
a. Reinstate the requirements for biennial quality and cost comparison reviews of
public and private prisons, taking into account all the various factors that may

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contribute to the equation. This review should be done by an independent, third
party.
b. Create an independent oversight body that will regularly monitor the
performance of the Department of Corrections in all areas.
c. Enact legislation to require that for-profit corporations under state contract be
held to the same transparency and accountability standards as the Department
of Corrections.

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