I've received hundreds of letters from prisoners in the past year about the esclaating level of violence on the yards. Even being housed in a single cell in maximum security isn't safe: if you're a target for assault, the other guys will throw hot oil, feces-tipped darts, urine, and other things at you as you're being escorted past their cells on the way to the phone, or the shower, or rec - causing some guys to just stay in their cells 24/7. Guards have all sorts of protective gear to prevent injury, but prisoners in chains generally don't.
Staying holed up doesn't always assure one's safety, though, as the guards sometimes "accidentally" pop the cell doors to let people get assaulted. In fact, I've heard from prisoners across the system that it's also not uncommon for officers to turn the other way when they know a hit is about to go down - or just take a bit longer than necessary getting there to intervene. That seems to be especially the case if the prisoner has been charged with assaulting an officer at any time along the way (the guy who survived this fight was apparently just charged with assaulting staff in October).
I dont know how someone had the time and ability - perhaps tools - to cut through that fence and be prepared with a weapon to attack the other party, who only the guards should have known would be placed there next to him, without there being officer complicity...I've seen some guys get hurt pretty seriously by the DOC staff getting their revenge. Though I guess it's possible that this maximum security facility in the center of prison valley would be so lax that it wouldn't take that much for one prisoner to bust through the fence keeping him contained with his bare hands.
It's also interesting that Jonathan Williams (search 222798) is Black and the other guy (search 204980) was Mexican American - usually the races take care of their own, so to speak. There are serious implications if you attack someone of another race - especially if you kill them - without the gang's or yard leader's permission - you could start a race riot that way.
But that's really just on the lower security yards where prisoners are in dorms or share large common areas and times, like dining and recreation. It's harder to "run" a maximum security yard because everyone is in lockdown, communication and movement is restricted, staff have more control than on the lower custody yards, and so on. Florence Central is max lockdown - they subsist on no meaningful stimulation or programs and a "sedentary diet" that seems to consist mostly of sack lunches eaten alone in their cells. So a cross-racial hit like that to settle a personal grievance or one the assailant's gang or race had with the target isn't out of the question - it's just usually that the whites kill the whites and so on.
Anyway, its really hard to tell what happened here beyond what the DOC has to say (which is generally a whitewash, people). If anyone out there has first hand info on this incident, please contact me. Peggy Plews / 480-580-6807 / firstname.lastname@example.org.
If your loved one is trying to get protective custody because they are in particular danger, by the way, access these links, and contact me.
AZ DOC Protective Custody Battles: Surviving the fight. (August 29, 2013)
AZ DOC's Protective Custody fight: tend to both body and soul. (April 12, 2013)
If you are about to enter prison and are freaking out, hit this link, then contact me.