Ignoring the multiple red flags that have been surfacing since his takeover back in January 2009, what we are witnessing is a prime example how one man, hired by key members of the Republican legislature, has performed or for a better word, underperformed, deliberately under the guiding eye of main players in the party.
By design he had become the deliberate obstructionist he was hired to be when he took his oath as the prison agency’s director. Repeated reports gathered since his term began unveiled a strategy, a plan and a mission to allow the Department of Corrections to fail. His leadership style was purposely designed to enact a failing policy that has now cost the citizens of Arizona so much money it is now beyond repair with budget shortages coming up this year.
Citing report after report showing substandard working and prison conditions he developed a strategy to sabotage our public safety nets related to the incarceration, the management and supervision of prisoners inside our prisons and those on community corrections supervision. His collusion with legislators gave him immunity to criticism and the accountability for his failures.
To this day, the ADOC has gone nowhere fast. It has failed in every facet of public service and it has been challenged by key media reports but has always rebutted the facts of the incidents with a cleverly cynical argument that plays on the fact that these matters are being looked into, pending investigation, under consideration or there are incomplete factors to consider to seek the truth.
This complicity to refuse to do good government effort and implementing his policies in a committed ineffective manner has been recognized to be the main catalyst in the diminished capacity to provide adequate safety and wellness for the state’s employees, the legal and moral responsibility to take care and treat the prisoners.
Strongly supported for this action our state is now facing a class action lawsuit for medical care and other constitutionally provided services, essentially costing Arizona more money than necessary and through a political collusion with the Legislature, provided private prison medical and bed contractors for shoddy but expensive work with profits paid for with taxpayer’s money.
His deliberate failure to manage his administrators to enforce policies and procedures has resulted in excessive litigation against the state. The irony of this ploy of milking the state for more funding has benefitted only two parties: contractors and lobbyist who knock on these legislators doors and deliver their share of the bargain.
It would be remiss to mention some kickbacks are in place to further enhance the profit margin but that is only suspect. Unfortunately this includes the governor’s office as well as the Legislature thereby illustrating how deep this strategy is plotted and seated.
The approach was easily created. First he tampered with employee disciplinary policies, human resource personnel policies and inmate classification policies that rendered the state severely handicapped when it came to alternative spending or prison programming. Since the culture of the state support toxic and harsh punishment of our prisoners none of this was challenged.
Disregarding best practices adopted by many other states, he made his own rules based on the traditional “lessons learned” ideology that has drifted from the national standards for prisons. This rogue management style makes Arizona 6th in the nation for prison population growth.
Implementing steps to punish employees arbitrarily, he decimated morale of the troops. His policy to change hiring and job classification status to at-will or uncovered put these employees in fear of losing their job nullifying the employee grievance process along the way.
Applying peer pressure and political pressure from the administrators targeting those staff close to retirement Ryan claimed savings based on attrition rates, vacancies and other strategies that caused a statewide staff shortage and now jeopardizes public safety as the state is experiencing a high rate of turnover. Elimination of essential programs also lowered costs but created designed chaos on the other end of the scale as inmate idleness created security problems.
With the employees under control and using fear and intimidation as his HR tactics to keep them silent he changed the classification policy so the state could send more inmates to private beds for a healthy per diem and a guaranteed set quota which would pay for empty beds promised but not used. He tampered with national accepted “best practices” for custody levels and institutional security needs to allow more inmates to be transferred to private prisons.
This exploitation of employees is shameful and deliberately fragmented essential services, lowered performance expectations and compromised the quality of security and safety within the prisons. It made great political lines for taking the necessary steps to show management of self-created problems but it hurt the state and it hurt the employees. It will do nothing for Arizona’s ability to recover from the economy but it will make the private prison contractors richer.
Indirectly, because the classification risk assessment tool was no longer similar to original tool once developed on evidence based criteria, the results were poor housing decisions, more violence at the medium custody levels, more staff assaults and more inmates being locked up into the higher and more expensive close and maximum custody.
Disregarding gang issues, he drove the prison setting into a drug haven, cell phones are plentiful and inmates are continued to be assaulted by gangs as they are trying to do their time. The expensive use of K9 detection dogs have been lend out more to the community than their use inside the prisons allowing contraband to flow freely exist.
All designed to drive up the cost of our prisons making it a prime reason to privatize them. To say it was operating at a disproportional rate of effectiveness would be an understatement. The lack of balance and the creation of a nonlinear organizational flow to perform the mission has been compromised.
In the meantime he denied capital outlay budget requests to repair or replace physical plant structures and infrastructures that are near disaster levels now. The agency’s computer infrastructure is outdated creating classification errors as the risk tool is computerized but compromised due to faulty computations of time, severity of crime, erroneous disciplinary histories, and an omission of security concerns not computed by the computer but needs to be inputted manually to reflect the inmate’s actual risk score.
This is an election year. It would be an opportunity to change the guards as matter of speaking for it is time we change leadership in this state. Our state is in deep trouble, our prisons are at the cusp of imploding because of the internal sabotage that has taken place.
Upon hire, Charles L. Ryan walked away from his oath and his duty to serve this state honorably and ethically. He signed on with a selfish legislative cast that hired him to lead the destruction of our prison system. When it explodes, they will all walk way and blame the director but in the end he will be rewarded for doing the job he was hired to do – destroy Arizona prisons and open the door to prison privatization efforts led by these same legislators who hired Ryan.