Az. hospital security scrutinized after sex offenders escape www.privateofficer.com
PHOENIX AZ Nov 9 2010 – Another sex offender escaped from the Arizona State Hospital, marking the second time in the past year, and the facility’s CEO says he has implemented changes to prevent it from happening again.
“I do have two toddlers, so it does scare me, it does worry me,” said Valley resident Marisa Ojeda.
Convicted rapist Jorge Murillo scaled a fence to freedom last year. He was caught by Border Patrol six days later, but the escape brought the hospital’s security under scrutiny.
“It feels horrible,” said CEO John Cooper. “The Department of Health Services is very serious about protecting the community.”
After that incident, the hospital brought in a prison expert to make suggestions, and the facility ended up with $250,000 worth of improvements. Workers, including Department of Corrections inmates, installed microwave detection systems, security cameras, better lighting and new fencing.
Motion detectors alert staff and pinpoint the exact location if there is movement on a fence.
Cooper said he has also made improvements in the way staff monitor patients.
But then, two weeks ago, another sex offender scaled a fence, this time from the minimal security transitional reintegration program.
He was caught less than three hours later.
“It was a low security area,” said Cooper. “He had been in and out of the community with supervision, ordered by the courts, and he just decided during a plumbing incident to take off.”
The hospital has since moved the transitional program into the improved secure perimeter.
Valley residents had mixed feelings about the upgrades prompted by the escapes.
“It’s unfortunate it happened the first time, it’s unfortunate it happened again after they fixed it,” said Roger Seid. “Obviously, they didn’t fix it well enough.”
“There’s always going to be weaknesses in any system,” said Ryan Wimmer. “Nothing is going to be perfect.”