Records Show More Than 500 Arizona Department Of Corrections Staff Arrests From 2015 Through 2019

By Jimmy Jenkins
Published: Monday, October 26, 2020 - 12:08am
Updated: Monday, October 26, 2020 - 7:29am

(ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS)

Records obtained by KJZZ show there were more than 500 staff arrests of Arizona Department of Corrections employees from 2015 through 2019. The charges range in severity from driving under the influence, the most common arrest, to human smuggling and sexual assault.

The records only indicate arrests and do not provide information on how cases were resolved. Department of Corrections policies mandate staff must report arrests to their supervisor. 

Nearly a fifth of the arrests were for domestic violence charges. Karen Oehme is the Director of the Institute for Family Violence Studies at Florida State University and has researched domestic violence among correctional officers. In a 2012 study, Oehme and colleagues found 33 percent of survey respondents said they knew of at least one fellow correctional officer who had committed unreported domestic violence.

She says while domestic violence is a choice, officers are trained to use power and control to survive a dangerous work environment. “There are totally legitimate job skills that are learned," Oehme said, "that can be appropriate on the job and illegal when used at home." But she said work conditions are not a defense for committing domestic violence. "There have been lots of studies that show correctional officers are under a lot of stress," Oehme said. "But there are lots of people who work in jobs that have a lot of stress who don't use domestic violence."

A domestic violence arrest can result in disciplinary sanctions from the Arizona Department of Corrections ranging from an 80 hour suspension upon the first offense to termination after repeat offenses.

ADC policy states conviction of any felony as well as the conviction of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge results in the termination of an employee.

Spokesman Bill Lamoreaux said the Department does not tolerate inappropriate conduct by its staff and supports their prosecution to the fullest extent of the law. 

Correctional officer union representatives declined to comment.

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