13 Ariz. Department of Corrections Employees Fired After Investigation Into Inmate Suicides

Screenshot showing a corrections officer looking into Cynthia Apkaw’s cell

The Arizona Department of Corrections has fired 13 people involved in two separate inmate suicides for not doing their jobs after an investigation into the deaths led to damning evidence, Fox 10 reports

One of those cases involve 25-year-old Cynthia Apkaw, who was serving time for aggravated assault at Arizona’s Perryville women’s prison. Video evidence shows officers hanging out inside an air-conditioned command center during the hot summer day instead of watching the inmates the way they were supposed to, Fox 10 reports. The video shows an officer looking into Apkaw’s cell, only to find her hanging from the ceiling. Apkaw used a bed sheet tied to an overhead vent to hang herself, something, an investigation found, that patrolling officers would have seen if they’d been present at the time, according to the report.


As the video continues, multiple officers are seen running to the cell in a panic, but it was too late to save Apkaw, Fox 10 reports. 

This February, a similar case unfolded at Arizona State Prison-Florence, this time involving 45-year-old Scott Saba, who hanged himself with an electrical cord. In Saba’s death, it was found that officers also failed to patrol the prison properly. 

“It’s disappointing to find some employees who decided not to do their duties,” DOC Director Charles Ryan said.

So, in an unprecedented move, Ryan fired 13 employees, including three supervisors. Another eight officers were suspended or reprimanded. It is unknown whether officers could have stopped the suicides, but the investigation also found that some of the officers falsified records and lied to investigators looking into the suicides. 


“I don’t believe this is a reflection on 9,100 other employees, but the message is these 21 employees didn’t do their job the way they should have, and they’ve answered for it,” Ryan said. 

There have been five inmate suicides in Arizona so far in 2016, Fox 10 reports. 

Read more at Fox 10

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