Ariz. Rankled by Promise Made to Prison Hostage-Takers

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A former Arizona Supreme Court chief justice said promising out-of-state incarceration to two inmates who took guards hostage in January was the right thing to do. Thomas Zlaket, in a report to Gov. Janet Napolitano, said it was important for officials to keep their word to Ricky Coy and Steven Wassenaar, who holed up in a guard tower for 15 days after a botched escape attempt. “Anything less would have spelled trouble with the entire prison population,” he said.

Zlaket, asked by the governor to review the negotiations during the standoff with the armed inmates, also said it would not have been a good idea to keep the pair in the state prison population “for their own safety as well as for the general good and order of the institution.” But Barnett Lotstein, special assistant to the Maricopa county attorney, said, “They got rewarded for doing what they did. It sets a horrible precedent.”

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