KMGH 7News, Rocky, Post reported Allard's advocacy for improved security at "Supermax," omitted Salazar's

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

In reports on staffing increases at the "Supermax" prison facility in Florence, several Colorado media outlets mentioned Republican U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard's tour of the prison last month and his push for increased security and more staffing. However, they failed to note that Democratic U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar also had toured the prison and advocated improved security.

On November 10, several Colorado media outlets reported U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard's (R) comments regarding staffing increases at The United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum (ADX) Facility -- commonly known as "Supermax" -- without noting that U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar (D) also advocated increased security and staffing following his own tour of the Florence, Colorado-based facility.

During its November 10 broadcast, KMGH 7News at 6 a.m. reported that "[t]he government appears to be responding to calls for more protection" at Supermax and added that Allard "says more guards have been hired since his tour last month, and he will talk with the U.S. attorney general next week about building a third fence around the prison in Florence." Similarly, The Denver Post reported on November 10 (an online version was published on November 9) that "Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., said U.S. Bureau of Prisons director Harley G. Lappin told him Thursday that 11 officers had been hired since August and that seven more officers will be hired by the end of the month." And a November 10 Rocky Mountain News article reported on the increased number of guards at Supermax, noting that "Allard toured Supermax last month and met with prison staff and Florence municipal officials to discuss staff shortages and other security concerns."

However, in their coverage of Allard's comments, 7News, the Post, and the News all neglected to mention that Salazar also recently has pushed for improved security at Supermax by asking U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on October 11 to improve monitoring of inmates' mail and phone calls, urging President Bush on October 26 to act to ensure better security and sufficient funding for Supermax, and visiting the facility and meeting with local law enforcement and other public officials on October 28.

As the News reported on October 14, "Guards at Supermax say the nation's toughest federal prison is getting more dangerous by the day, and this week a federal arbitrator agreed with them." According to the News:

Arbitrator Joseph Lazar ordered the Federal Bureau of Prisons to boost safety for correctional officers at the Fremont County prison.

Corrections officers claim that safety has nose-dived at Supermax since the prison started cutting guards in March 2005. Since then, there have been two homicides, and assaults on guards have increased.

The same News article also reported that "federal and state lawmakers plan to use the arbitrator's findings to buttress their case to Congress because it validates the [prison employees] union's long-held position that more federal dollars are needed for enhanced security at Supermax."

In response to the federal arbitrator's decision regarding safety concerns at Supermax, Allard and Salazar separately toured the prison in October and met with local law enforcement and public officials in order to assess the prison's security hazards and their possible effect on prison staff and the surrounding community. According to an October 31 Post article (an online version was published on October 30), "Colorado's two U.S. senators have vowed to seek solutions to understaffing and security concerns at Supermax, home to the nation's most dangerous criminals. Sen. Wayne Allard visited the prison Monday, and Sen. Ken Salazar visited Saturday. Both agree that increases in staffing and security measures are needed at the prison, which holds such notorious criminals as al-Qaeda member Zacarias Moussaoui and Oklahoma bombing conspirator Terry Nichols."

As the November 10 News article by Dick Foster reported, "The federal Bureau of Prisons has added 11 new corrections officers since August at Supermax in Florence, and will hire seven more this month to address security concerns at the nation's highest-security prison." The News further reported:

Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Harley G. Lappin outlined the plan to Sen. Wayne Allard in a telephone meeting Thursday.

"He knows there's a need for more staff," Allard said of Lappin.

"He says they simply don't have money in the budget. He's hoping the next budget will have enough money so they can bring on more staff people."

Allard toured Supermax last month and met with prison staff and Florence municipal officials to discuss staff shortages and other security concerns.

Similarly, the November 10 Post article by staff writer Erin Emery reported that "Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., said U.S. Bureau of Prisons director Harley G. Lappin told him Thursday that 11 officers had been hired since August and that seven more officers will be hired by the end of the month." The article also noted that "Allard said federal budget increases in the past few years have gone to the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense."

Despite previous reporting, neither the Post nor the News noted Salazar's visit and his previous comments regarding staffing and security at Supermax.

In contrast to the coverage of the Supermax staffing increases by KMGH 7News, the News, and the Post, the November 10 broadcast of KDVR Fox 31's Good Day Colorado at 5 a.m. reported that "[l]ess than two weeks after his visit to the Supermax prison, Senator Wayne Allard says that the facility is getting more guards. Both Allard and Ken Salazar made the trips to the prison to investigate the reports that the facility is understaffed and possibly unsafe."

Moreover, following a November 1 Colorado Media Matters item, The Gazette of Colorado Springs also reported in a November 10 article about Supermax that "Allard and Sen. Ken Salazar, a Colorado Democrat, have ... toured the prison."

From the November 10 broadcast of KMGH's 7News at 6 a.m.:

BERTHA LYNN (co-anchor): The government appears to be responding to calls for more protection at the nation's highest security prison. Covering Colorado for you on 7News this Friday morning. Senator Wayne Allard says more guards have been hired since his tour last month, and he will talk with the U.S. attorney general next week about building a third fence around the prison in Florence.

From Emery's November 10 Post article, "More prison guards heading to Supermax":

More correctional officers will be hired at Supermax in Florence after an outcry by the union and local officials about understaffing at the prison that houses some of the nation's most dangerous criminals.

Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., said U.S. Bureau of Prisons director Harley G. Lappin told him Thursday that 11 officers had been hired since August and that seven more officers will be hired by the end of the month.

[...]

Allard said federal budget increases in the past few years have gone to the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense.

"It's had a particularly profound impact in the U.S. Bureau of Prisons," he said.

From Foster's November 10 News article, "Supermax staffing rises":

The federal Bureau of Prisons has added 11 new corrections officers since August at Supermax in Florence, and will hire seven more this month to address security concerns at the nation's highest-security prison.

Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Harley G. Lappin outlined the plan to Sen. Wayne Allard in a telephone meeting Thursday.

"He knows there's a need for more staff," Allard said of Lappin.

"He says they simply don't have money in the budget. He's hoping the next budget will have enough money so they can bring on more staff people."

Allard toured Supermax last month and met with prison staff and Florence municipal officials to discuss staff shortages and other security concerns.

[...]

Lappin disputed the inspector general's report, Allard said, assuring him that all terrorists' mail and communications are read and monitored, but the bureau is struggling with a government-wide shortage of Arabic translators.

"I take him at his word," Allard said. "I thought he was pretty straightforward with me."

Allard will visit with U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez next week to press his request for a $12 million fence around the complex.

From the November 10 broadcast of KDVR Fox 31's Good Day Colorado at 5 a.m.:

KEN CLARK (reporter): Less than two weeks after his visit to the Supermax prison, Senator Wayne Allard says that the facility is getting more guards. Both Allard and Ken Salazar made the trips to the prison to investigate the reports that the facility is understaffed and possibly unsafe. Allard says that the Supermax has hired 11 new guards since August, and seven more should be on the job by next month. Senator Allard says that he is also working to build a 12 million-dollar fence around the prison.

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