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Labor group: Situation at Iowa penitentiary is “critical”

For Madison Penitentiary
For Madison Penitentiary
DES MOINES – AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan released the following statement regarding the security situation at the Iowa State Penitentiary (ISP) in Ft. Madison:

“The security situation at ISP has reached a critical juncture. The security and safety of staff and inmates is being completely compromised by the severe staffing shortage and Director Baldwin’s decision to reduce the inmate population in a way that imperils staff, inmates, and the public.

“When an inmate is found with certain types of contraband, ISP is no longer following long standing practices of segregating that inmate from the rest of the prison population. Instead, the ISP Administration is splitting hairs trying to find ways not segregate inmates found with contraband. Even worse, the ISP Administration is not fully informing its staff of what contraband has been found.

“Due to the staffing shortage, ISP is not always being fully locked down or shook down when contraband weapons are found, or even when the contraband weapons are used by inmates. Instead, serious situations are being termed isolated incidents and partial shakedowns and lockdowns are occurring, which compromises the safety of staff and inmates.

“In addition to these disturbing developments, an Iowa House Republican proposal would close the Clinical Care Unit (CCU) at ISP. Director Baldwin and Governor Branstad have also proposed closing the CCU. Closing the CCU will cause more overcrowded and understaffed correctional institutions in Iowa and take inmates with mental health issues out of a setting that is designed for their treatment.

“The DOC needs to stop implementing its unofficial ‘hear no evil, see no evil’ security policy. While that policy might sound good in the Director’s Office, it will lead to disastrous consequences in our correctional institutions.”

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