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Union leader rips women’s prison warden over safety concerns after vicious attack

Danny Homan
Danny Homan

DES MOINES – Several guards were injured after an attack at an Iowa women’s prison, leading to accusations from an Iowa union leader.

AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan issued the following statement regarding the security situation at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville:

“On Tuesday, an inmate attacked a member of the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women (ICIW) staff in the dining hall. A fight then broke out in the dining hall that involved multiple inmates and staff. The fight resulted in four staff members sustaining injuries. At least two of those four injured staff were taken outside the facility for medical treatment. One of those staff members received serious injuries to their face.

“From February 2015 to today there have been sixteen inmate assaults on ICIW staff. Six of those assaults resulted in serious injury to ICIW staff. Some of these injured staff were unable to continue working in corrections while others have been unable to return to full duty.

“Warden Patti Wachtendorf has consistently refused to give staff the tools they need to do their job in the safest manner possible. Unlike staff at almost every other state prison, Iowa Correctional Institution for Women staff are not issued pepper spray to carry on their person while working. Staff are expected to always use brute force when an inmate becomes violent. This is less safe for everyone – both staff and inmates.

“Warden Wachtendorf’s poor leadership is compounded by the lack of staff. The number of inmates at ICIW has been increasing while the number of staff has been decreasing. This has created a situation that compromises the safety of inmates and staff.

“Warden Wachtendorf needs to start taking safety seriously.”

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