Prison Staffing

PRISON STAFFING: The head of Iowa’s largest state employees union said Tuesday the discovery of hand-crafted ropes and bottles containing unknown substances points up the inadequacy of staffing at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison.

Danny Homan, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 61, said state Department of Corrections’ officials acknowledge the items may indicate that some inmates were planning to escape.

State officials announced Monday that the Iowa State Penitentiary and Clinical Care Unit were placed on restricted movement after the incident, which remains under investigation.

“Iowa’s correctional staff do excellent work; however, there are simply too few of them,” Homan said in a statement. “When staffing is this low, there are less eyes and ears on inmates and regular staff duties are completed less frequently. Inmates are clearly aware of low staffing levels and it is not surprising that some of them are choosing to take advantage of weakened security that puts inmates, staff, and the public at risk.”

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