A number of prisons in the US try to help inmates with their education by bringing in teachers to help them obtain their GEDs. They also provide access to prison libraries and online classes for prisoners with those privileges.
Such is the case with the Arizona Department of Corrections. In January 2014, they brought in a female teacher at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Eyman in Florence to give a GED exam to seven convicted male sex offenders. One of the prisoners had recently arrived at the prison after being convicted of raping a woman in front of her child. You would think that prison officials would take measures to protect the female teacher from the inmates, but that’s not what they did.
According to azcentral.com:
“Normally, such tests are given in the visitation room, which is monitored by security cameras and corrections officers. But on that day, because of a special event, she was sent to an unmonitored classroom, handed a radio and told to use it if there was any trouble, according to her lawsuit.”
“The test lasted 90 minutes during which not a single corrections officer checked on her or radioed to ask if everything was OK. As they finished the test, six inmates left, returning unescorted to their dorm. One, Jacob Harvey – in his first year of a 30-year sentence for raping a Glendale woman in front of her toddler — lingered.”
“According to court documents, the 20-year-old inmate grabbed her from behind and took her to the ground as she struggled. He then stabbed her repeatedly in the head with a pen, choked her, slammed her head into the floor, tore away her clothes and raped her.”
“The teacher told investigators she screamed for help, but no one came. After the attack, Harvey tried to use her radio to call for help but it was tuned to a channel the guards didn’t even use. Eventually, he allowed her to phone for help.”
You would think that prison officials would be all apologetic and doing everything possible to help the teacher, but that’s also not the case. Even after Harvey plead guilty to rape, kidnapping and aggravated assault in August and receiving a life sentence, the prison continued to deny responsibility for the attack.
The Arizona Industrial Commission found that prison officials were negligent in leaving the woman alone, unguarded and unmonitored, in a room full of sex offenders and fined the Department of Corrections a mere $14,000. Instead of taking responsibility, the DOC is appealing the fine.
The teacher filed a lawsuit against the DOC for failing to take any measures to protect her. However, the DOC tried to get the lawsuit dismissed asking what the teacher expected since she knew she was in a prison. The Attorney General’s office got involved in the request to dismiss, writing:
“By being placed in a classroom at the complex, the officers were not placing Plaintiff in any type of situation that she would not normally face. The risk of harm, including assault, always existed at a prison like Eyman.”
“If Plaintiff did appreciate the danger of her situation, as an employee, she could have done something about it.”
Current Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who took office this January, was reported to be ‘disheartened when he learned about the language used in that filing.’ He tried to persuade DOC officials to take responsibility for what happened to the teacher, but failed.
The DOC effort to get the lawsuit dismissed also failed. Just before Christmas, it was reported that the DOC finally agreed to settle with the teacher for an undisclosed sum. In the settlement, they half-heartedly admitted to some responsibility in what happened to the teacher.
Seems to me that the prison officials were guilty of accessory to the crimes committed by Harvey against the teacher and should spend some time behind the bars instead of in front of them.