The president of the union that represents prison guards has issued a public statement that reveals more details about a recent lock-down at the state’s maximum security prison.
AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan said working conditions at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison “are an outrage.” Homan said correctional officers “are truly and reasonably afraid for their safety.”
Homan’s written statement reveals the recent lockdown happened after “a series of fights” among about 16 inmates and those inmates had “makeshift weapons.”
Homan charged staffing levels “are so critically low that there are not enough bodies” to respond to emergencies. According to Homan, “at least 15 officers” from nearby prisons have been sent to Fort Madison in the past two weeks to deal with problems at the maximum security prison.
A spokesman for Governor Terry Branstad dismissed Homan’s assertions.
“The Vice Chair of the Democrat Party, Danny Homan, is only interested in taking cheap political partisan shots,” Ben Hammes, Branstad’s communications director, said in a written statement. “Gov. Branstad will keep his focus on the effective management of taxpayer resources at the Department of Corrections and the public safety of Iowans.”
A spokesman for the Iowa Department of Corrections issued a “no comment at this time” when asked to respond to Homan’s statements.
(This story was updated at 4:37 p.m. with additional information.)