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Correctional officers: conditions worsening inside Yuma Prison Complex

CO's voice concerns over isolation policies and PPE

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - The number of coronavirus cases in the Yuma Prison Complex continues to gradually rise. The Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation & Reentry (ADCRR) claims to be doing all it can to ensure the safety of both inmates and correctional officers. However, sources inside the prison tell News 11 that's not true.

The Yuma Prison Complex saw a rise of 16 positive coronavirus cases within its inmate population on Friday, making the total to 58 positive inmates. ADCRR also reports increased inmate testing. So far 277 inmates have been screened. 91 tests came back negative, but the results for 128 inmates are still pending.

Sources inside the prison, who wish to remain anonymous due to fears of retaliation, say that the inmates with pending test results aren't being properly isolated.

This source describes an incident where two officers without any personal protective equipment (PPE) were watching one of those inmates. We're told, after five hours of direct contact with the inmate, the CO's were informed the prisoner was positive. They say only then did the prison issue the officers hazmat suits.

This is how The ADCRR describes living conditions for infected inmates:

"The inmates who have tested positive are being cohorted in an open setting housing unit and are being closely monitored by medical staff.  The unit is equipped with bunks, toilets, climate control, water, microwaves, and access to television, phones and showers, as is offered in all of our housing units.  The cohorted inmates are not in contact with staff who are not specifically assigned to the area, nor are they in contact with the general inmate population."

ADCRR statement

Even though the ADCRR claims to have everything under control, some CO's still feel their safety is still compromised. Our source tells us many corrections officers are calling off rather than risk contamination without the appropriate PPE.

He also says some CO's who work in the prison's Cibola Unit, are not allowed into other buildings because supervisors fear the guards may have had direct contact with an infected inmate. This becomes a problem for officers turning in paperwork or checking out vehicles.

"You know the officers want to feel like they’re appreciated with what they do." says our source.

He says the lack of PPE definitely makes officers feel very unappreciated.

This weekend families with inmates in the Yuma Prison Complex plan to protest against what they call "horrible conditions." News 11 will be there for that protest, and we'll continute to monitor conditions within the Yuma Complex. Stay with us for continuing coverage.

Arizona Coronavirus / Coronavirus / Top Stories / Yuma County

Crystal Jimenez

Crystal Jimenez began at KYMA as a Digital Content Producer in June 2019, and is now a multimedia journalist for the morning show.

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