Escaped Arizona inmates quickly recaptured - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Escaped Arizona inmates quickly recaptured

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Posted: Friday, August 8, 2003 10:00 am | Updated: 1:46 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Two inmates from Arizona were caught after escaping Wednesday from a private prison in Texas, the facility's second escape since Arizona began sending prisoners there Dec. 4.

The prisoners, Jose Diaz and Victor Lopez, were on a recreation field when they scaled a prison fence and escaped at 5:05 p.m. from the Newton County Correctional Center, said Jim Robideau, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Corrections. Warning shots were fired and the inmates were caught within minutes, he said. One escapee was found near the prison's fence and the other in a nearby wooded area.

"We have our Arizona monitors there, plus we're sending an escape response team that investigates escapes," he said.

Last year, Arizona began contracting with the prison's operator, Sarasota, Fla.-based Correctional Services Corp., to receive about 600 prisoners.

Since then, three Arizona prisoners have escaped from the east Texas facility, the first one within three months of his arrival. On March 2, James Duncan cut a hole in a fence and escaped during a three-hour period. He was caught a week later.

The state has had other problems at the prison. During their first four months at the facility, Arizona inmates staged several uprisings, destroying light fixtures and furnishings in their cells, staging a hunger strike and refusing to leave the recreation area and return to their cells, according to state records.

Arizona corrections officials halted the transfer of prisoners, demanding that the prison operator correct problems that included a lack of recreational opportunities and job assignments, lost belongings and inadequate staff training. The delay cost the state $415,939 and wiped out any savings the state hoped to achieve by contracting with a private company, state records show.

Correctional Services told Arizona officials they had addressed the problems, and on Feb. 19, the department began busing inmates to Texas again.

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