Early Sunday morning, precisely January 18,year 2004, two inmates namely Ricky K wassenaar; who was serving a prison sentence of 26years and his co-inmate Steven j. coy on a long time imprisonment of life sentence both decided to escape the territory of morey unit of the prison structure, a complex situated near Arizona at an estimated distance of 50miles( approximately 80,467metres) south west of phoenix . This morey is designed for an estimated capacity of 800 inmates as against the 840 inmates it housed.
At morey, the number of inmate serving life sentence and protective segregation population is the largest in the correction history of Arizona. Probably, owing to the number of inmates housed in the morey’s territory (840 inmates) which was exceeding its design capacity and ultimately because of the limited number of correctional officers placed in security of the unit, these two inmates, Ricky K. Wassenaar and Steven J . Coy, came down heavily on the correctional officers, impounded the units tower and at long last conquered the officers .
This historic incident represents the longest hostage incidence in the history of the nation. As early as 2. 30am in the cool of the day, the inmates who reportedly were numbered around 19 ,working in the kitchen were released from their place of abode such that each of them could report and perform his/her functions at the money kitchen. A short while later , an approximated time of 3. 15am, correctional officers Kenneth martin and the other female civilian kitchen employee came around into the kitchen such that they could oversee and ensure that each inmate does his/her duty as expected.
At this instant in time, inmate Ricky k. wassenaar and Steven J. Coy have already drawn out plans to escape the prison territory and were just about to perfect the plans . Ricky k. Wassenaar entered the office of the kitchen through an open door, he was immediately followed by his co-inmate Steven J. Coy who stood by the kitchen doorway thereby preventing entrance and exit through the only opening. Both inmates had in their possession sophisticated weapons like “shank” which serve as a major recourse for attack when the need arose.
With the weapon being powerfully handled by both inmate, inmate Ricky K. assenaar attacked one of the correctional officers, martins, he was frightened to put off his uniform, an official dress to which was attached his identification card which served as an insignia of martin’s membership of correctional department of the morey’s unit . Wassenaar further ordered martins to undress his boot, an instruction which martins quickly responded to. In the same vein, the other inmate Coy also in possession of shank, the knife like weapon, became confident and consequent upon which he dragged the female correctional officer down to the room where the tools were situated .
This bloody inmate having frightened the female officer with his weapon ordered her to lie down with her stomach touching the floor. He then tied her hands together with her feet using electrical cables. Having impounded martin and the female kitchen worker, both inmates made a stroll for a short period. On their arrival at the morey unit, inmate Ricky K. Wassenaar seized martins uniform and thereafter wore it on himself and in reinforcement of his escape strategies,he also shaved off his beards. He did all these so that he could disguise through every check point as a correctional officer.
With wassenaar now overwhelmed with full confidence of his perfected strategies, he buzzed at martins, inquiring for the kitchen telephone number and this ill-treated correctional officer martin complied with an unusual alacrity. At exactly 4:20am of that same Sunday morning, inmate Wassenaar desperately drew close an area where red yard gate was situated, an enclosure that surrounded a foot tower of an estimated height of approximately 20 feet.
At the top of this tower were two correctional officers who by name were Jason N. Auch and Jane Auch who having looked through the screen in confirmation of the person approaching were deceived by the disguising uniform wore by inmate Ricky K. wassenaar, and consequent upon the aforementioned, they buzzed the door open. Wassenaar came as one would have expected, struck down the two correctional officers and start communicating with coy, his accomplice. The rattling of keys alerted from the kitchen alerted Kelly and Debaughed. Coy was later incapacitated by one of the officers but wassenaar later came to rescue him and led him to the tower where Coy sexually assaulted an officer by .
Wassenaar started shooting sporadically at the gate to scare away other correctional officers. 4 people namely Jones debauch,sergent Andrew and Kelly Went to the outer door to lock it and ran to the dining facility while the other officers withdrew to the administration building The head count of the inmates inside the dry area was also done The tactical supporting unit then came to rescue by removing all the inmates an well as the officers from the dining facility. They later found out that 2 officers were missing. one dabbled to the deputy warden conference room to take note of the staff on ground.
Later at around 7:45 am ,the likes of DPS SWAT team,TSU snipers, as well as the DPS hostage negotiators surrounded the building The support for the incidence came from no less than 16 law enforcement agents with DPS giving up to 230 officers. A total of about 75 detective agents as well as experts in the areas of surveillance were on ground The FBI sent almost 100 personnel,100 field personnel was also provided by the Maricopa county sheriff’s division The FBI officers were instructed to adopt the force oriented policies.
One of the reasons that could have led the incident of the Arizona prison break was the fact that Doc officers were not well remunerated when compared to others in the same compartment This has led to economic hardship with subsequent reduction in the quality of life of the workers as well as their family Some of the sergeants openly confess their inability to afford the basic daily needs because of the meager salary saying also that most officers were less paid even than the officers that guard and supervise.
It is therefore recommended that there must be a review of the salary scale and a balance should be achieved in the payment scale of the municipal, federal and county correctional officers and that of the surrounding Arizona states. Another problem that could have led to the incidence is the fact that the lowering of the Qualification standards to fill the available vacancies at the Arizona.
It is therefore recommended that nothing but excellence should henceforth be promoted and upward review of the worker’s salary should be undertaken and sustained. It should also be noted that as at the time of the incidence that morey unit suffered from negligence and lack of appropriate expectation of elements of professionalism there were so many administrative blunders in the preceding years of the incidence among the staff even though the action of some of the staff members in rising to the incidence is highly commendable.
The panel seeing to the events that led to the incidence noted that a lot of administrative negligence and improper supervision and action led to the incidence. It is therefore recommended that the DOC administrative director should determine if changing or substituting some staff assignments or disciplining some of the erring staff would be contributory. The pervasive nature of the incidence should be ascertained and subsequently to isolate and carry out procedures that could remedy the problem to avert future reoccurrence.
It was also noticed that DOC has stopped conducting operational account audit of the facilities of the prison since 2000 and it is recommended that such practice should be revisited to ensure that proper and effective administration and management of prison facilities. There is also need for effective communication skills among the staff in order to foster prison security and operational success. Policies that favor indirect and not direct observation of the inmate and those that promote bad and ineffective communication between offenders and prison officers should be jettisoned
The building and operational modus operandi should be that which support security and effective management sytem. The hostage taking event that occurred at the Morey unit of the was regrettable in history and it was catastrophic with attendant injury and irreparable loss to correctional officers and facility employees It is an eye-opener to the various challenges and jeopardy that corrections experts are battling with everyday. It is therefore important to properly and adequately fund and pay attention to the corrections operations.
Good organizational quality cannot also be overemphasized encouragement and optimum investment in people involved in manning this highly sensitive sector of national security is therefore of utmost importance. Such set of individuals who have one way or the other dedicated themselves to this course should be well remunerated and properly trained and educated with nothing but very high intelligence quotient. They should be regarded as special people and treated as such. They must be compensated. I believe with these steps, future reoccurrences could be adequately averted.
Courtney from Study Moose
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