DES MOINES – AFSCME Council 61 President Danny Homan issued the following statement regarding the stabbing of a Correctional Officer at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison:
“This morning, a Correctional Officer at the Iowa State Penitentiary was stabbed five times by an inmate wielding two ten-inch shanks. The officer has been transferred to the University of Iowa Hospital, where he is receiving medical treatment. This incident comes on the heels of another assault against a Correctional Officer that took place on Saturday. In that incident, the inmate involved was escorted by the Correctional Officer who was stabbed this morning. Both assaults were carried out by inmates associated with white supremacist gangs. Inmate informants have been notifying staff for months that incidents like this were being planned, yet ISP administration refused to act on the warnings.
“These incidents are a direct result of incompetent management, from the Governor to the Director of the Department of Corrections, the Warden, and the ISP management, not addressing issues that are brought to their attention and refusing to provide a safe environment for the staff or inmates within the facility. In fact, the Warden denied a request for a meeting over safety concerns with local union leaders on Saturday, following the first incident. While Correctional Officers are being beaten up and stabbed within a span of five days, ISP management is focused on providing family picnics and a memorial garden for inmate enjoyment.
“There is a blatant disregard for security that must be immediately addressed within the Department of Corrections. These issues reach far beyond one facility, too: Mount Pleasant Correctional Facility now has counselors supervising the visiting room, Clarinda Correctional Facility has eliminated their reception position, and ISP is hiring former Correctional Officers as temporary employees to cover up the staffing crisis at the root of nearly every incident that occurs.
“We have been sounding the alarm on the increased frequency of brutal assaults within our correctional facilities with absolutely zero change taking place. Our thoughts are with the two Correctional Officers who were the victims of the Department of Correction’s inaction. Thoughts only go so far; I hope their assaults will be taken seriously and acted upon with the urgency they deserve. We are demanding that the Department of Corrections meet with us to discuss this health and safety crisis before someone gets killed.”
The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 61 represents 40,000 public employees in Iowa including law enforcement and correctional officers, firefighters, mental health workers, professional school staff, emergency responders, and many other workers. AFSCME Council 61 also represents home health care and child care providers across the state and private sector workers at Prairie Meadows, Palmer College of Chiropractic, Des Moines University, and ABM (Marshalltown).