Suspect in escape threw guns into Arizona prison, report says

KINGMAN, Ariz. — A woman charged with helping three dangerous inmates escape from a northwest Arizona prison tossed handguns into the prison along with wire-cutting tools, according to a report released Monday.

A 46-page state Department of Corrections investigative report states Casslyn Welch provided the tools the three needed to cut through a perimeter fence to make their July 30 getaway.

The report also reveals that escapee John McCluskey borrowed a prohibited cell phone that another inmate used for “drug dealing” to speak with Welch minutes before she parked near the prison and walked to the fence to facilitate the breakout, according to fellow escapee Tracy Province.

Also, the escape was undetected for an unknown period of time because the perimeter security alarm system was not correctly installed and had not functioned properly for 2½ years, it states.

Appearing before Mohave County officials in Kingman on Monday, Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan said blame for the escape from the 3,400-inmate facility in Golden Valley is shared by his department and MTC, the company that operates the private prison .

The report indicated Ryan fired the state’s site monitor, who admitted he never read the prison’s operations contract.

Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan expressed disappointment that more than an hour passed before MTC notified his department after detecting the escape. He also said the manhunt was further hindered because current photographs of the escapees were not available.

Ryan responded that he has tightened reporting requirements for private prison operators. He also said the state is updating its photo files..

Ryan said seven armed guards are patrolling the prison perimeter because of the unreliable alarm system. He said the system will be repaired or replaced.


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