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State reacts as prison whistleblower releases more evidence highlighting broken doors

KNXV Lewis Prison
Posted at 5:33 PM, Dec 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-12 13:48:11-05

As a whistleblower continues to release new videos highlighting broken cell doors, the state corrections director visited the embattled Lewis prison complex this week and his department is requesting millions more in funding to fix the problem.

The moves come as Shaun Holland, an associate deputy warden, continues to reveal more problems inside Lewis prison after he first filed an official whistleblower disclosure last week.

FULL COVERAGE: UNLOCKED AND UNSAFE

In four new videos from this weekend obtained by ABC15, Holland shows how multiple locked cell doors in his unit can be easily pushed opened by inmates.

“(The door) shows secure on the panel. There are multiple issues with it, and it looks locked,” said Holland in one video before pushing the door open. “But it’s not locked…and the occupants of this cell say (the door maintenance crew) comes two or three times a week to try to fix this door and it doesn't get fixed.”

In his whistleblower disclosure, Holland has alleged door crews have falsified work orders to indicate broken doors are fixed when they are not.

Holland provided ABC15 with videos and documents to support his claims.

In statements, both the Governor’s Office and the Corrections Department said they are reviewing the allegations and take them seriously.

On Monday, Director David Shinn visited Lewis prison.

“Director Shinn wanted to see personally the doors and locks in ASPC-Lewis and speak with officers and staff on the ground,” according to an email from a spokesperson.

Multiple sources said Shinn did not visit Holland’s unit or check the doors there, and he also hasn’t spoken with the whistleblower.

But Holland’s whistleblower disclosure has caught the attention of state officials.

His complaint is specifically mentioned in a new budget request before the legislature’s Joint Committee on Capital Review that seeks an additional $6.3 million.

“A recent whistleblower complaint regarding the department identifies broken locks in the Rast, Steiner and Bachman units and claims that ADC officials are 'closing out' repair requests without completing any repairs. ADC's current plan indicates the locks in these units would be addressed in FY 2021. Until they are replaced, ADC report they have padlocked all affected doors. The complaint suggests that the padlocking is not working or not consistently done, with inmates continuing to freely exit their cells.”

The majority of the money is requested to address the ongoing lock and door replacements in Lewis prison.

The committee meets Wednesday.

The committee previously approved $17.7 million in emergency funding in June to start the replacement of more than 1,000 cell doors.

The entire project is expected to top $50 million and could last until April 2021.

Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at Dave@abc15.com.