An Arizona prison teacher was raped after being left alone in a room full of rapists, child molesters, and other sex offenders. An Associated Press report about the sexual assault at the Eyman Prison in the Meadows Unit also noted that the incident highlighted “major security lapses” at the correctional institution.
The Florence, Arizona prison’s Meadows Unit reportedly houses approximately 1,300 sex offenders. The prison teacher was giving a high school equivalency test to about six inmates prior to the attack. She was reportedly left in the classroom without a guard nearby with just a radio to use to call for help.
A release from the Arizona Department of Corrections offered few details about the sexual assault of the prison teacher. The Associated Press utilized the Arizona Public Records Act to garner details about the incident. According to the investigatory documents released via the public records request, all the Eyman prison inmates had left the classroom except Jacob Harvey. The inmate allegedly asked the teacher if she would open [unlock] the bathroom and then attacked. The sexual offender is accused of stabbing the teacher in the head with a pen and then forcing her onto the floor of the classroom and raping her.
The Arizona prison teacher told investigators that she screamed for help repeatedly, but none ever came. After the rape, the inmate allegedly tried to use the radio to call for help for the victim. The radio had reportedly been changed to a channel that the prison guards did not use. Harvey then reportedly allowed the prison teacher to use the phone to get aid.
Harvey was initially classified as a Class 4 security risk – Class 5 representing the most significant threat. Six months after arriving at the prison, he was reclassified to a lower level despite reportedly breaking facility rules at least once.
Former deputy prison warden Carl ToersBijns had this to say about the teacher’s rape:
“Here you’ve got a guy that commits a hell of a crime and he’s put into an environment that actually gives him an opportunity to do his criminality because of a lack of staffing.”
ToersBijns oversaw the Meadows Unit for 19 months while serving as the deputy warden at Eyman Prison. Department of Corrections officials reportedly dismissed the former administrator’s concerns. Arizona state prison officials reportedly the sexual assault of the teacher is a “risk that comes with the job” of working with violent prison inmates.
Jacob Harvey was serving the first year of a 30-year sentence for rape. He was only 17 when he knocked on a woman’s door during the afternoon, asked her for a drink of water, and forced himself inside. According to court records, Harvey repeatedly raped and beat the Glendale woman, who had her toddler in the home. The man accused of raping the prison teacher fled the apartment in the nude when the victim’s roommate came home. He pleaded guilty after DNA evidence linked him to the sexual assault.
The Arizona prison is not launching an internal investigation into the attack in order to determine any flaws which may have led to the rape of the teacher. Department of Corrections representative Doug Nick said, “This is an assault that reflects the fact that inmates in our system often act out violently, and it is the inmate suspect who is responsible for this despicable act.” Nick also added that the absence of a guard in the classroom follows “accepted corrections practices nationwide.”
Internal emails obtained by the Associated Press after the correction official’s statement indicate that guards at a nearby prison were ordered to check on civilian staffers every hour and all non-corrections staff at every prison in the state were issued pepper spray.
What do you think about the sexual assault of the prison teacher and how the issue is being handled?