Feathered Bastard

Charles Ryan, ADC Director, Reports 640 Staff Arrests in last 4 1/2 Years

Arizona prisons are notorious reservoirs of criminal behavior, and apparently that's just the staff.

No joke.

Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan admits as much in a recent post to his "Director's Desk" blog, wherein he states that "in the past four and a half years, there have been 640 staff arrests," of which, 433 "were for behaviors like domestic violence, fighting, assaults, harassment, drug use and possession, and drinking-related offenses."

See a graph on "negative law enforcement contacts" by ADC employees.

Ryan also relates that ADC staff arrests are on the rise, "averaging almost eleven arrests per month."

A startling, and very public admission, and yet, the blog item is addressed to ADC employees, with an almost plaintive tone that's far more carrot than the stick you might expect from the top dog at a penal institution.

Study a complete listing of offenses by ADC staff, from homicide and sexual conduct with a minor to DUI and shoplifting.

"No one doubts that employment in corrections can place unique pressures on staff," notes Ryan in a fatherly tone. "Yet irresponsible alcohol consumption or drug abuse - which can lead to Driving Under the Influence (DUI) - and a tendency to solve problems with violence are neither acceptable nor wise tactics for dealing with those pressures."

Ryan details a number of options for staff with emotional or substance abuse issues, and he promises that he will soon add "another corrections-focused employee program," which will provide "education and support for our staff and their families" to assist with the "unique challenges" of being a corrections officer.

"For those employees who are feeling the stress, it is not a sign of weakness to seek help," Ryan writes. "On the contrary, it is a sign of strength and courage to choose the constructive path, and I urge you to do so."

Which sounds more like TV Pastor Joel Osteen than the hard-nosed administrator known to some detractors as "Vader," as in "Darth Vader."

Ryan worked for the U.S. Department of Justice as an assistant program manager overseeing the Iraqi prison system for almost four years during the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

(Abu Ghraib? Ryan wasn't implicated in the abuses there, but Abu Ghraib was one of the prisons that he reportedly helped rebuild.)

You might remember Ryan as the guy who made the call to pull the plug on an indigent, brain-dead Marcia Powell back in 2009.

Powell, 48, had been serving a 27-month sentence for prostitution when she collapsed after being confined to an outdoor cage at Goodyear's Perryville Prison for more than four hours in 107 degree heat without water.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons