This article originally appeared in the June 1993 issue of Directions
Frank A. Eyman  Warden, Florence Prison
Frank Eyman, Florence Warden from 1955 to 1972. Warden Eyman Celebrates Birthday - A.E. "Bud" Gomes (center), Della Meadows (at right) and other staff join in celebrating the Warden's birthday.

January 1955 - August 1972

On his retirement in 1972 at age 74, Frank Eyman stated, "I have never rehabilitated anybody in my life. They have to rehabilitate themselves. I've tried to re-educate and retrain them." He maintained that philosophy throughout his 17-plus years as head of the State prison at Florence and it served him well in dealing with the inmates in his charge.

Mr. Eyman began his law enforcement career in Joliet, Illinois in 1921. He moved to Tucson in 1926 and joined the Tucson police department, rising to the rank of captain before resigning to enter federal service in World War II. For a short time after the war, he worked for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, but returned to Tucson in 1950 to seek election as Pima County sheriff. He was beginning his third term as sheriff when Governor Ernest McFarland appointed him superintendent of the prison in1955.

He was a Courageous and tough administrator, but a compassionate man as well. " You never know whether a man is going to make it until you give him an opportunity," he stated, when questioned whether too many convicts were paroled.

Mr. Eyman retired to his home in Casa Grande; he died in 1984, and the Eyman Complex has been named in his honor.


When the deteriorating condition of the buildings and overcrowding began to be serious problems at the Yuma Territorial Prison, the State Legislature decided to build a new prison in a more central location in the state. Florence was selected and 18 inmates were brought from the Yuma prison in 1907 to clear brush and grade the site in preparation for construction of the new facility. About 500 inmates worked on the construction; the work was completed in1909 at a cost of $182,000.

Thomas Rynning, who had been one of Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders and a Captain in the Arizona Rangers, was the last Superintendent of Yuma Territorial Prison and the first Superintendent at Florence. (The Rynning Unit in the Eyman Complex was named for him.) The first prisoner to be transferred from the Yuma prison was Emmett James, on October 1, 1909. Central Unit opened in 1912; the original Cell Block 2 was built in 1932.

One of the first major industrial activities at the Florence prison was the inception of license plate manufacturing within the walls. In 1946,the newly-installed platemaking equipment went into operation, "turning out the first batch of an estimated 200,000 sets of plates needed to meet the demand for 1947." Governor Sidney P. Osborn was given the honor of stamping out his own license plates on the new equipment.

In its early years, the prison was nearly self-supporting through its agricultural and livestock activities and inmate labor; today, some crops are still being grown, cared for, and consumed by the inmate population. Currently, the two complexes, ASPC-Florence/ASPC-Eyman together have a designated capacity of 5,620 inmates. The 1986-87 building program added the Special Management Unit (SMU), a 768-bed structure;100 Emergency Bed Units (EBUs) were added to the East Unit; and 104 EBUs were added to the already established 100 beds in a block dormitory building at Picacho. ASPC-Eyman was designated as a separate complex in October 1992; it consists of Cook, East, Shock incarceration, Rynning, and Special Management Units. ASPC-Florence consists of Central, North, South, Women's Prison, Special Programs, and Picacho Units.

ASP-Fort Grant

The Commander's House
Fort Grant: "The Commander's House", one of two historically-preserved buildings on the grounds. Destroyed by arson January 1, 1989.

Founded as Camp Oak, an army post, in1872, the facility was renamed Ft. Grant in1879. In 1912, it was deeded to the State of Arizona by the federal government and maintained as a juvenile facility, the Arizona Industrial School for Boys (ASIS).

In 1973, Ft. Grant was converted to an adult male minimum security prison and reopened in1971 It has a designated capacity of 588.


Though it has only been recently designated as a prison complex, Safford had its beginnings as a Department facility in 1970. Then called the Safford Conservation Center, it was a minimum security work camp that housed 185 adult male inmates in tents and Quonset huts before any permanent buildings were erected, the first one a 48-man dormitory constructed in 1976. Two 64-man dormitories were completed by 1983.

The 1986-87 building program added 100EBUs, in the form of Quonset huts, to expand the capacity of the unit. Today, the prison has a designated capacity of 730 and the Graham and Tonto units house adult male minimum security inmates, the majority working in the community or for other government agencies.


The prison had its beginnings as the Arizona Correctional Training Facility its first phase opened in January 1978; it was fully open by August 1979, housing 384 non-violent male first offenders, age 18-25 A separate unit held juvenile males convicted as adults, as it does today. The Santa Rita Unit was built in 1982, with the first inmates being received in July1982.

The 1986-87 building program established the 744-bed Cimarron Unit, creating the Tucson Complex, and added 200 beds to Echo Unit. The Rincon/Santa Rita/Units form a hub, which has buildings for inmate records, health services, maintenance and a 40-cell lockup. The complex in total has a designated capacity of 2,328 adult male inmates.


The Phoenix Complex is a unique facility within the Department. Four of its units are on the grounds of the Arizona State Hospital and leased through the Department of Health Services. They are Alhambra Reception and Treatment Center, which opened in 1979, and handles all incoming male inmates. Reception has a design capacity of 207; another 40 beds are in B-Ward, the Treatment Center; and there are30 beds designated for resident workers. The other units are Aspen DWI, a 200-bed facility which opened in 1983 for adult males incarcerated under the state Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) law; Flamenco Mental Health Center, a licensed 105-bed psychiatric hospital for adult males which opened in 1985; and Flamenco Health Center for Women, a licensed 20-bed behavioral hospital for adult females which opened in 1990.

Two other units are separated geographically but considered part of the Phoenix Complex. One, the Arizona Center for Women at 32nd Street and East Van Buren, has a designated capacity of 250; it opened in 1979,originally under a lease arrangement, and is now owned by the Department. The other is ASP-Globe, a 150-bed prison for adult males which was originally Pinal Mountain Juvenile Institution; it was legislatively transferred to ADC on July 1, 1991.


Three units of the Perryville Complex, San Pedro, Santa Cruz, and San Juan, opened over a period of several months in 1981 for minimum and medium custody male inmates. Santa Maria Unit, for all custody levels of female inmates, began admitting inmates in May 1982. The design capacity for the four units is 2,208. In1990, double bunking in all four units added 808 beds to the total, bringing the designated capacity for the complex to 2,208.

ASP-Yuma, a 250-bed adult male prison which opened in 1987 as a part of the $72 million 1986-87 building program, became a part of the Perryville Complex in October 1992.


The Douglas Complex, adjacent to the Bisbee-Douglas airport, first opened as the Cochise Correctional Training Facility early in1984. It now consists of three units, Gila, Maricopa and Mohave. The 600-bed Gila Unit was created in 1986 with funds from the EBU program; these modular housing units accounted for more than half of the EBUs erected during that period. The three units, with a designated capacity of 1,634, house adult male inmates.

The Papago DWI Unit is also a part of the Douglas Complex. Papago is a 250-bed facility for adult males incarcerated under the state's DWI law. Converted from two adjacent motels located in Douglas, it opened in March 1984.


The first prison built in Northern Arizona, the Winslow Complex opened in 1986. The 400-bed Kaibab North Unit and the 250-bed Coronado Unit were both established through the $72 million appropriation that funded the1986-87 building program. Kaibab South, a 400 bed unit, was constructed in 1988 with funds obtained through an emergency appropriation.

Adult male inmates are housed at Winslow which has a designated capacity of 1,292


The construction of Arizona state prisons has come a long way since the building of Yuma Territorial Prison.  Operational just a mere 100 years ago, it was built out of stones, mortar and flat strap iron.  In 1906, construction of a territorial prison in Florence began due to the severe overcrowding in the Yuma Prison.  Time hasn't changes the trend to build new prisons in order to meet overcrowding; however, the construction technology, and safety and security features of Arizona's prisons most certainly have changed.

On a vast span of desert about 40 miles southwest of Phoenix, the State of Arizona is putting construction technology, safety and security designs to practical use in a massive prison construction project known as the Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis.  Based on numerous comments by corrections officials from around the country who have toured the facility, the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) has been described as a leader in the field of prison construction.  Other states are interested in learning how ADC builds at such a reduced cost rate.  According to (then) Corrections Director Terry L. Stewart, the reason for its prison construction success is attributable to the continuing use of a prototypical concept.

 "The concept includes using a system of parts or designs which have proven effective in building a new facility.  This process, in turn, makes the planning process quicker and more efficient, and cost is significantly reduced by eliminating special building preferences," Stewart says.

Other savings ideas included the careful selection of geographical location to maximize cost efficiency and enhance safety considerations.  Construction design included consolidating all prison units into a smaller land area, thereby reducing the need for additional utilities, site lighting, and roads.  All units are housed under one complex operation, but maintain the autonomy to respond to unit alarms.

The Arizona State Prison Complex - Lewis is one of the largest single correctional facility construction endeavors in the United States.  The behemoth of prison, costing $157 million, includes two 800-bed level 3 male units, two 800-bed level 4 male units, one 600-bed female unit, and one 350-bed maximum security minors unit, with a total inmate population of 4,150, making ASPC-Lewis larger than over 30,000 towns across the United States.  The complex contains 294 acres inside the perimeter patrol road.  This acreage supports 23 miles of road, 22 miles of fence, 44 acres of agriculture fields and six 24-acre stand alone prison facilities.

 "City" is an appropriate term for this self-sufficient complex.  The site supports its own wells, water and wastewater treatment plants.  Two 500,000-gallon water tanks tore the one million gallons of water that will be used by the site every 24 hours.  The sewage treatment plant was designed to process 750,000 gallons of raw sewage per day.  The brine pond alone is one-half mile long, holds 60 million gallons of liquid and took 2,400 man-hours to install its 800,000 square foot liner.

The complex maintains six kitchens that can produce 12,450 inmate meals per day and a laundry capable of washing 53,000 pounds of clothes and linen each week.  The estimated 1,500 visitors per week are shuttled from the main entrance by trams to the six prison sites.  ASPC-Lewis contains its own vehicle maintenance facility to maintain and fuel the shuttle buses, patrol vehicles, fire fighting equipment, and other support vehicles.

 New structural designs were implemented, allowing fewer staff to monitor more inmates than ever before.  The realized savings will be $2.7 million annually.

Another design feature of ASPC-Lewis was to integrate the entire medical and support service in one centralized area.  Building one consolidated medical unit and one mail and property building created savings of $3 million.  The health facility provides a pharmacy, hospital, laboratory, x-ray facility, nurses, dentists and psychologists.  A telemedicine program implemented by the ADC in 1997 is being utilized in the medical unit at Lewis.  This program has reduced the number of inmates moved from prison sites to health care service centers, thus reducing the possibility of escapes by inmates while being transported.  Importantly, it has also reduced the physical presence of inmates in the general civilian population served by hospital-based clinics.  In addition to these security measures, telemedicine has reduced transportation expenses and security staffing overtime.  A significant reduction in administrative and logistical efforts on the prison site for scheduling and moving inmates has been recognized.  The inmates also benefit from telemedicine as they receive medical intervention prior to conditions developing into possibly more serious situations.

Operational improvements at ASPC-Lewis include a new design for controlling the higher-level custody units.  Touch-screen computers are used to electronically open cell doors and record the movement of inmates within the facility, reducing the need for officers to do manual logging. Water control devices have been installed to prevent inmates from over flushing toilets and causing floor flooding.  The complex installed a highly sophisticated Electrodialysis Reversal (EDR) water purification system, which electronically charge particles and impurities, allowing them to be easily filtered out.  Additionally, this system provides a significant increase in the longevity and efficiency of all on-site equipment that utilizes or carries water, such as evaporative coolers, kitchen equipment and air conditioning units.

Staff security and accountability are of the utmost importance in every prison system.  ASPC-Lewis installed a HandNet Plus hand reader which provides them with the capability to network up to 120 hand readers into a controlled access system and alarm-monitoring system with distributed database.  The system provides proof-positive identification of people, not just cards or PIN codes.  The term "centrally controlled" means that from a single central location they can add and remove users from the system; assign the times that individual users are allowed access to any of the system readers; display and record to computer disk all transactions; lock and unlock doors from the central location, and so on.  It has the capacity for 62 time zones and 64 access levels.  In essence, the program ensures complete security is maintained even if communication with the central computer is lost.

With communication being the most important tool of any business or operation, Lewis Complex decided to install the state of the art Meridian 81C AC-powered telephone switch.  This is a dual-CPU stored program control system with standby processing capabilities, fully redundant memory, and up to five full-network groups offering 160 loops.  Option 81C is equipped with two redundant input/output processor and disk drive unit combination packs.  The system is equipped to supply voice mail, an automated attendant, conferencing calling, hospitality features, call accounting and call trafficking to name a few.  With advances in electronics technology and incorporation of modern computers into the control of telecommunication equipment, the Meridian 81C makes it possible to time-share equipment and still maintain efficient transmission of information.

Lewis Complex was also concerned with the environment, and what could be done to enhance the area surrounding the prison site.  The concept of a wetland on each side of the highway was suggested and later approved by the Bureau of Land Management for the restoration and ecological enhancement of the site.  Open water areas will constitute approximately 15 acres, and ideally have depths of 4 feet to preclude emergent vegetation.  These areas would provide sufficient landing and take off surface for waterfowl.  The wetland habitat will include emergent vegetable borders providing cover and habitat for a wide variety of wildlife and insects.  Cottonwood and willow trees will be planted to act as a buffer zone to adjacent wetlands and provide habitat diversity.  A water hole will also be created to benefit wildlife and to discourage the movement of larger animals in search of water to cross the highway.

Substantial savings in construction come from the use of inmate labor in construction of part of each facility.  An analysis by the Arizona Department of Administration has concluded that the Inmate Construction Program has saved taxpayers 20% of the cost of private contract labor.  Staff management is also improved by using inmate labor to tend to 22-acre vegetable and fruit gardens for prison consumption within the secure perimeter.

Construction statistics for ASPC-Lewis are intimidating.  The complex poured 50,000 cubic yards of concrete (enough to fill 35 Olympic sized swimming pools), enough masonry block laid en-to-end to reach from Phoenix to San Francisco; enough PVC conduit to create an electrical super highway between the site and Los Angeles, enough ceramic tile to place a path from Phoenix to the California border, and enough concrete reinforcing rebar to reach from Phoenix to Philadelphia.

Technology in correctional industry is rapidly growing; every year, technologies expand and improve and manufacturers produce better and less expensive products.  The State of Arizona and the Arizona Department of Corrections are maximizing benefits to Arizona citizens by continuing to implement the newest technology and prototypical construction.

ASPC - Yuma

he Arizona State Prison Complex in Yuma has come a long way since the Yuma Territorial Prison that was operational just a mere 100 years ago paving the way for the Arizona Department of Corrections as we know it today.

This complex presently consists of two different levels of custody facilities, and is building it's third unit and a complex administration building.

The Arizona State Prison, Cocopah Unit, built in 1986, began as a 250 bed minimum security facility on 33 acres.  It's status, upon completion of construction, was unique - particularly in a prison system that was overcrowded.  After all activation processes were developed and readied for occupation, the Warden put the prison in mothballs and locked the door.

At the time, consideration was being given to selling Arizona State Prison to the Federal government.  In 1987, it reopened, and has continued to expand ever since.   Cocopah Unit is a level two (low custody) unit and employs 75 staff.

November 1995, stand-alone Arizona State Prison became Arizona State Prison Complex - Yuma.

Construction of the Cheyenne Unit began on June 5, 1995.  The construction of the unit took approximately sixteen months, utilizing both commercial construction workers and some inmate labor.

The unit was built on 39.5 acres.  The first inmates were received at this level three (medium custody) unit on September 3, 1996.  The Cheyenne Unit employs 255 staff members.

Dakota Unit began construction June 3, 1997.  This unit will be occupying 39.5 acres.  The construction of this unit is anticipated to take sixteen months and expects to receive inmates the first part of September of 1998.  Only commercial contractors will be used for this unit.  The Dakota Unit will employ 293 staff members.

The 13,776 square foot complex administration building also began it's origination June 3, 1997 and will employ approximately 87 staff members.

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