Prison overcrowding in Washington and Nevada sent Roy Townsend and Kollin Fol som to a medium-security pri vate prison in Florence.
Both convicted murderers had been locked up in Nevada but were sent to Ari zona because of overcrowding There wasn’t room at prisons in Washington, where they were convicted, said James E Thatcher, a superintendent with the Washington Depart ment of Corrections.
States across the country find themselves in the same spot, as an increasing num ber of people are sentenced to years behind bars.
About 2,000 Arizona pris oners are at a Watonga, Okla. prison owned by Corrections Corporation of America, a Nashville, Tenn.-based company that owns the Florence Correctional Center, where Townsend and Folsom were until they escaped Monday morning.
There are 1,760 inmates from California, Washington, the U.S. Marshals Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Florence center, said Louise Grant, spokeswoman for Corrections Corporation of America.
States such as Washington pay the company to house their inmates. In Arizona, the company owns five prisons — two in Florence and three in Eloy — with 9,200 men.
Monday’s escape marked the first for the Florence center since opening in 1999. In August 2006, an inmate scaled a fence at the Eloy Detention Center but was captured while still on prison grounds, Grant said.
The inmates had one correctional officer watching them when they were working on the cleaning crew and overcame the guard.
When asked if the corporation was examining if there were enough guards available, Grant said no results are available from the internal investigation.
Corrections Corporation spokesman Steve Owen said that for security reasons he could not provide the number of security officers at the prison.
While Townsend and Folsom are convicted murderers, they were eligible to serve their terms in the medium-security prison because of good behavior, Thatcher said.