Isolation Of Homosexuals Proposed
Pay Hike Recommended For State Prison Staff
Ex-Official Submits Report To Governor
By ERNEST C. HELTSLEY
A 20-per cent pay raise for virtually all Arizona State Prison employes and construction of a new facility to isolate homosexual inmates is "the only real solution" to the admitted perversion activity there.
Keith E. Edwards, a career corrections official who came out of retirement to investigate the prison, made these and other recommendations in a report released to the Arizona Daily Star yesterday by the governor's office.
While Edwards conceded there were about 240 homosexuals in the prison, built to accommodate half the inmates it now has, the Florence institution has no more than its share of sexual deviates compared to other institutions across the country.
The investigator started his probe in August on a request by Judge Lloyd C. Helm of Cochise County. Helm was holding court in Tucson on June 25 when an inmate's attorney charged there was rampant homosexuality and certain prison irregularities involving both prisoners and employes.
Edwards praised the prison administration as "very capable," but said it "is working under very serious handicaps. They have a major homosexual problem among the inmates and the facilities have been insufficient to control it.
"A temporary solution would be to rearrange the inmate housing assignments so that more homosexuals will be segregated from the rest of the population," he said. He added the administration has taken these steps.
For permanent solutions, Edwards recommended construction of a permanent two-floor, 150-bed unit for homosexuals.
Another possible long range solution would be creation of an intermediate institution to house inmates too experienced for juvenile detention, but too young, immature, or inexperienced for the existing adult prison
Salaries for prison employes "are entirely inadequate." Nearly every employe should receive a salary increase of 20 per cent. He cited as an example a correctional officer's top salary of $450 a month.
The recommended raise would bring the pay up to $540, still probably less that other law enforcement personnel in major cities in Arizona.
"The only thing that keeps the prison in any semblance of order," Edwards wrote, "is its very capable administrators. However, they need help very badly. This help should be given them now and not after some costly or bloody incident.
He said there were two or more "inmate strongarm gangs in the prison who were preying upon the weaker inmates . . . The leaders of these gangs have now been removed from the general population and their followers are under close surveillance . . ." Strong measures have been taken against the leaders, the report said.
"I could find no evidence whatsoever that any employe was personally involved in any homosexual activities in the institution," Edwards said. The charges to this effect were "absolutely false."