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716 inmates transferred from Lewis prison as officials seek long-term solution to lock issues

The Arizona Department of Corrections began transferring close-custody inmates from Lewis prison last week to reduce the number of inmates in cells with padlocks, a temporary solution to the lock issues.

BUCKEYE, Ariz. — Editor's Note: The video in the player above is from a previous attack on correctional officers at the Lewis prison.

The Arizona Department of Corrections said it completed the transfer 716 close-custody inmates from the Lewis prison to other state-operated prisons on Wednesday.

The ADC said the inmates from the 400 general population cells in the Morey Unit were moved to prisons in Winslow, Florence, Tucson, Yuma and Douglas.

Corrections officials began the transfers last Monday with the goal of providing a long-term solution to problems with lock issues on cell doors at Lewis prison. Inmates had been tampering with their cell doors so they could open them from the inside.

Inmates were moved to reduce the number of prisoners housed in cells with padlocks, a temporary measure that the fire marshal said does not follow fire code. 

The relocation also provides an opportunity to reassign correctional officers to boost staffing for the remaining inmates at Lewis prison, ADC said. 

RELATED: Corrections officer stabbed by inmate at Lewis prison near Buckeye

The efforts are aimed at addressing concerns raised by the Arizona correctional officers union and inmate advocacy groups, which alleged poorly kept facilities have created conditions that put officers and prisoners at risk. 

Gov. Doug Ducey announced an investigation into prison security in response. Former Arizona Supreme Court Justices Rebecca Berch and Ruth McGregor were placed in charge of the investigation.

RELATED: Correctional officers union alleges danger in Arizona prisons, Ducey starts investigation

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