REMARKS: Kingman Prison Riot Report Press Conference

News Release

August 26, 2015

By now, you should all have the report from Department of Corrections on the Kingman riots. As you know, after those riots, I immediately toured the prison, and I asked Director Ryan to begin a full review and investigation.

What happened at Kingman was frightening, disturbing, and completely unacceptable.

The report that has been prepared and released to the public is very comprehensive.

Director Ryan and his team conducted approximately 300 interviews with employees of the prison operator, MTC, and some 400 interviews with actual inmates. They reviewed thousands of pages of MTC documents.

This report seeks to get to the truth. To air the facts. To ensure nothing is swept under the rug.

I would describe this report as scathing.

Among its findings:

  • A culture of disorganization, disengagement and disregard for state policies by MTC.
  • Failure by MTC to conduct critical staff training, and withholding these failures from Department of Corrections monitors.
  • Failure by MTC to promptly and effectively quell the riots that allowed inmate rampage and property destruction, potentially putting Arizona citizens at risk.

The report verifies the troubling atmosphere I observed when I visited the prison in July. Now that I have the facts, it’s time for the state to take action.

Based on these findings, it is my intention to sever the state’s relationship with MTC at this prison, and I’ve instructed Director Ryan to begin that process, which he has. That process includes negotiating with MTC to assign the contract to a new operator, approved by the state.

We also expect MTC – not Arizona  taxpayers – to pay for all repairs and expenses related to this riot

Bottom line: The obligations of this contract have not been met by MTC.

The state opened this prison 11 years ago this month – two administrations ago. And this is not the first time we’ve had problems there. But it is my intention that it be the last time we see problems there.

This is about accountability.

Our action should send a loud warning shot to all prison operators. Fail in your job, we will hold you accountable. Risk public safety, we will end your relationship with Arizona.

Now – our goal remains public safety.

And this facility has 3,500 beds that the state needs to house men who have broken the law. These are convicted felons from throughout the state of Arizona. We are not going to let people out of prison.

There’s a reason these guys are behind bars.  Many are multiple offenders.  There’s a reason crime has been reduced so significantly over the past two decades — it’s because bad guys have been locked up where they can’t do harm.

That’s why we need a new operator in here that we can trust to ensure this prison is run properly.

So I want the employees at this prison to know – We need you. Keep showing up to work.

I want the Kingman community and elected officials there to know – We will protect your community from financial risk as we begin this negotiation process.

At the same time, we also need to make sure other private prisons in the state are operating properly and following the law.

To ensure that, Department of Corrections has already begun a similar assessment of every other private prison in the state. If there are bad actors, we will find them.

I want to make it clear: The state has an obligation to provide accountability, and under my watch, we will.

The reason the security and operations of our prisons is critical is because it directly impacts PUBLIC safety.

Arizonans need to know that criminals -- people who are behind bars because they have committed serious and multiple crimes, stay behind bars. That we won't have riots. That we won't have escapes.

That is why I am taking this action today.