When you can't lock a prison cell, it's difficult to keep the prisoner's inside.
That's pretty much common sense and exactly what a former Hays State Employee who maintains close ties to the prison told AM1180 on Monday.
The money was allocated to repair the locks, but those funds reportedly were used for inside fencing. That's what many of the inmates use to make shanks, or homemade knives, according to our source. Shanks that have been used to stab other inmates and most recently two guards who work at the prison. In the most recent case, it is thought that metal strapping from the fence was used to make the shank which was unusually long and deadly. The two guards attacked early Sunday morning received serious wounds according to unconfirmed sources. Again, the Department of Corrections has released very little information and no information to the local media. Shanks are usually short, easier to hide and easier to make.
Due to the lock situation, AM1180 has been told that corrections officers are told not to go inside a building alone if there are inmates on the floor. It seems that many inmates, if the lock doesn't work on their cell, can come and go from their cells, within the dormitories, creating a dangerous and deadly situation.
This apparently is what happened early Sunday morning when one guard entered a dormitory area, and there was either one or more inmates out of their cells, or they came out of their cells. AM 1180 was told one officer was attacked, and another officer came to his rescue, resulting in the second being stabbed. Again, their injuries were life threatening.
This also is apparently what happened when an inmate was strangled to death by other inmates in his cell -non-working locks.
The former employee says Hays, which initially was supposed to be a medium security prison and is now maximum security, was not built to house inmates as dangerous as those being housed there. He said modifications must be made to the prison. He said maximum security inmates are supposed to be locked inside their cells at night with no access to the dormitory area. He said at 1 AM Sunday morning, inmates shouldn't have been out of their cells for any reason.
The job of any prison is to protect the public and the inmates. Hays reportedly is losing that battle and must change it's practices, according to the former employee. He added that he hopes prison officials are able to get things under control for the safety of the community.
Other unconfirmed sources say Hays is extremely understaffed and many of the staff there is "young and inexperienced." The Department of Corrections lists staring pay at just more than $24,000 with maximum page grade at just more than $42,000.
The web site lists 10 correctional officers available at Hays right now, more than any other prison on the list. There reportedly are several people in training for previously listed jobs at the Department of Corrections training facility at the former Tift College Campus in Forsyth.
On Monday of this week Chattooga County Commissioner Jason Winters and State Senators Jeff Mullis and Chuck Hufsetler along with Representative Eddie Lumsden met with Department of Corrections officials who say that they are making "massive changes" at the prison in Chattooga County. According to information obtained by AM 1180 from that meeting, the D.O.C. has sent in engineering crews to assess the situation at Hays Prison. Also, D.O.C. Commissioner Brian Owens says that the state agency is stepping up hiring plans to ge the prison better-staffed quickly.