An inmate housed inside a state prison where dozens of doors don’t lock wrote ABC15 a letter that asked journalists to investigate the issue and called security inside the facility “non-existent” and a “joke.”
The ABC15 Investigators expose leaked surveillance videos and documents from inside Arizona's Lewis Prison. Experts call it one of the most chaotic and dangerous environments they've ever seen. Click here to read the full investigation.
The handwritten letter was sent in February from an inmate at Lewis Prison, who asked ABC15 to withhold using his name for fear of retaliation.
ABC15 has redacted portions of the letter and typed it to avoid the identifying the author through certain details and his handwriting. Take a look at the letter below.
“We call the situation a 'symphony of insanity,' as there’s no better way to describe it. The predators and drug addicts love it, but weaker inmates live in a constant state of fear,” the inmate wrote.
Officer interviews, internal investigations, and documents support many of the letter’s claims.
“This is a clean letter. I’ve read it, it’s clean,” said Carlos Garcia, a retired 20-year DOC veteran, who still represents officers in union matters and spent years working in the state’s prison intelligence teams. “Most of the things he’s said in there are confirmed.”
By interviewing multiple DOC officers and reviewing internal investigations, lawsuits, months of security inspection logs, and administrative records, an ABC15 investigation has found there are dozens of cells doors that don’t lock inside three units at Lewis Prison.
ABC15 has also obtained multiple leaked surveillance videos from violent assaults inside the prison that highlight the chaotic and dangerous situation.
“The prison is so out of control, where inmates are saying this is out of control,” Garcia said.
While Garcia said most of the letter is accurate and true, he raised doubts about a few of the claims, including a section discussing the FBI visiting the prison and inmates being able to escape their pod into the outside yard.
“I think they did that to get your attention,” he said.
Even though the letter was sent and signed by one inmate, Garcia believes it’s highly likely it was sent with the premising and backing of many others.
“This is co-signed by everyone. That’s why he didn’t have a problem writing it to you,” he said. “They’re hoping for follow-up on this letter.”
Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at firstname.lastname@example.org.