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Iowa State Penitentiary drug infiltration allowed without lockdown, union leader says

This news story was published on April 15, 2017.
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For Madison Penitentiary

DES MOINES – AFSCME Council 61 President Danny Homan issued the following statement in response to a rising drug problem at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison:

“In recent weeks, a total of twelve inmates have been tied to an infiltration of the synthetic drug, K2. The inmates involved have either been found in possession of the drug, or near overdose from the dangerous effects of the substance. Despite the sudden rise in drug-related incidents, the facility has yet to be locked down for a thorough sweep to remove all traces of the drug from the premises. Staff who have worked at the facility for decades are confident that this is the worst drug problem they have ever seen.

“The presence of K2 is a safety concern for both inmates and officers. Offenders have been found incoherent in their cells with head injuries from falling, pretending to be swimming on the floor, covered in their own vomit, and registering a near-death blood pressure with a skyrocketing pulse. The effects of the drug have caused inmates to be extremely combative with staff until they come down, at which point they have no recollection of their behavior. The drug itself is difficult to detect, especially for K9s, due to frequently changing strains. This problem significant enough that inmates themselves are expressing concern that someone is going to get seriously hurt.”

“The Iowa State Penitentiary, like all of Iowa’s correctional facilities, is dangerously understaffed, which is heightening a problem that could be addressed with an adequate number of correctional officers and other security personnel. The facility’s administration has taken small steps to change how the visiting room is operated, which is clearly not enough. I can tell you, the additional $2.1 million being cut from the Department of Corrections by House and Senate Republicans will undoubtedly make matters worse.”

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