May 19, 2004
The woman held hostage during a 15-day prison standoff called Tuesday for the state S enate to confirm her boss as director of the state prison system.
Correctional officer Lois Fraley delivered a letter to all 30 senators asking for a confirmation hearing on Dora Schriro, appointed 11 months ago by Gov. Janet Napolitano as director of the state Department of Corrections.
"She’s already proven herself to me and what she’s willing to do for the department," Fraley said. "The lady had my life in her hands. I thank her for that and I will fight for her."
Senate President Ken Bennett, R-Prescott, has been blocking consideration of Schriro’s appointment since two inmates at the Lewis Prison Complex took control of a guard tower Jan. 18 and terrorized Fraley and correctional officer Jason Auch.
On Tuesday, Fraley repeated earlier statements that Schriro avoided a disaster by keeping law enforcement from storming the tower. The two inmates had obtained guns from within the tower and were planning to shoot both hostages if officials moved against them, Fraley said.
"It was her patience, her time and her knowledge with the department throughout the states she has worked with that helped bring this through," Fraley said. "She had no tools to work with. The policy for negotiating . . . there was no negotiating."
Bennett said Tuesday that Fraley’s letter won’t prompt him to move faster. Bennett said the process should be about Schriro’s qualifications to run the state agency, not just the prison standoff.
Bennett said he’s waiting for the conclusion of a grand jury investigation of the standoff being conducted by special county prosecutor Melvin McDonald, and a separate review requested by Napolitano that’s being handled by former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Zlaket.
There’s no indication when those reports will be finished, and Bennett admitted he can’t hold off much longer. Schriro must be confirmed by June 13 or she automatically loses her post under state law.