Az. Withholds Prison Hostage Names, Public Records


Two days after the nation’s longest prison hostage siege ended, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano’s office is withholding public records on security breakdowns that allowed inmates to strong-arm officers and take over a watchtower, reports the Arizona Republic. Napolitano and corrections director Dora Schriro have yet to provide basic information about the 15-day standoff, from the type of shank used by convicts to the hostages’ names. During an escape attempt Jan. 18, inmates Steven Coy and Ricky Wassenaar obtained shanks, subdued corrections officers, took a uniform, shaved, bluffed their way into the tower, and took two hostages. They armed themselves with an assault rifle, shotgun, tear gas and other weapons.

A Napolitano spokesman said that a request for anonymity by the corrections officers’ families “is being honored by the governor and the [corrections] director.”

Among public documents that have not be provided:

• The initial incident report on the Jan. 18 kitchen melee.

• Full disciplinary records for Coy and Wassenaar.

• Records showing whether they were qualified for kitchen work under prison policies.

• Grievances the two filed during the past four months.

David Bodney, legal counsel for The Republic, said open government is “essential for an informed public.” He added that Arizona residents are “entitled to know details of the performance of government officials, including corrections officers who had the misfortune of participating in this hostage incident.”


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