Arizona's Morey Unit Prevention and Mitigation Analysis

Topics: Prison, Penology, Corrections Pages: 4 (1495 words) Published: August 4, 2010
Morey Unit Prevention and Mitigation Analysis
Riots and disturbances in prisons are not a new phenomenon in the United States and in the past decades there has been a continuation of these destructive and violent events. The prison riot at a phenomenon can be used in a number of ways. The term riot can be defined as the act of inmates taking control of a significant portion of a prison or correctional center for a significant period of time (American Correctional Association, 2010). Also, the term disturbance is considered a step down from riot because there are fewer inmates involved and there is no control or minimal control of a small portion of the correctional facility by inmates (American Correctional Association, 2010). One of the longest prisoner riots in the history of the United States occurred at the Arizona State Prison Lewis Complex in the Morey Unit. Located in Buckeye, Arizona the Morey Unit is designed to hold 800 prisoners of various security levels from low, medium, too high. This situation in the Morey Unit started in the early morning of January 18, 2004 in the kitchen where two inmates overtook civilian kitchen staff and correctional officers with prison made knives and shanks. The inmates who initiated this hostage situation was Steven Coy and Ricky Wassenaar, during this 15 day standoff two correctional officers were taken hostage, one female and one male. During the standoff the correctional officers were assaulted physically and sexually, but were eventually released alive. This riot and disturbance in the Morey Unit started as an escape attempt inmates Coy and Wassenaar, and when that plan got skewed it then turned into a long hostage situation, during which they were able to gain access to a guard tower with rifles and ammunition. The Morey Unit hostage situation could have been mitigated with four major methods of improved security measures, proper amount of staff and training, more experienced officers, and reduced overcrowding....

References: Breakdowns, Complacency Are Key Problems in 15 Day Arizona Takeover. (2004, March 10). Corrections Digest. Retrieved from administration/justice-public-order/1137791-1.html
Garrett, M. (2004, June 17). In Need of Correction: Arizona’s prison system is overloaded and its staff is overwhelmed. Tucson Weekly. Retrieved from
Ranzau, S. (2009, June 24). Prison Life: Longest Prison Hostage Situation in U.S. History. Associated Content. Retrieved from
Topham, J. (2003). Prison Riots- Why they happen, how to avoid them, and what to do in case there is a riot. Retrieved from
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