Escalating violence at the Iowa Department of Corrections’ (DOC) facilities are endangering both correctional officers as well as offenders. Reynolds’ budget crisis is driving Iowa correctional facilities to pack offenders together, stretching prisons beyond maximum capacity by nearly 14%. The Republican-controlled Legislature added to the chaos by cutting funding for DOC by $7.6 million from 2016 levels.
Combine that with cuts to correctional staff and we are seeing dangerous increases in the ratio of offenders to staff. The total DOC staff level in 2009 was 3,064 vs. 2,390 in 2017. That’s a huge 22% reduction in staffing levels. The offender levels basically stayed the same while staff levels plummeted. Supervising ever greater numbers of offenders per officer puts these correctional officers at great risk.
In addition, in response to the Republicans’ stripping of collective bargaining rights from corrections staff, the DOC management have ended regular communication with their own staff and union representatives. Imagine a business that refuses to meet and discuss problems with their employees.