Picketers patrolled outside the state prison in Anamosa on Tuesday afternoon. Off-duty prison workers protested what they say are unsafe working conditions, claiming half the needed staff is there to handle the inmate population.
Jillian Failee lives across the street from the prison with her two young daughters.
Failee says “I would have had no idea that they were short-staffed so it is a little scary actually to hear that.” A security officer at Anamosa had to be hospitalized earlier this month after being attacked by an inmate, an incident picketers blame on inadequate staffing.
AFSCME President Danny Homan says the prison’s designed for 850 inmates but now holds 13-hundred. Homan says, “If we keep putting bad people inside these walls and we don’t adequately staff it, something is going to happen.”
Local Union Member Jeff Lueken says the picket is not a scare tactic. Leuken says, “No, we don’t want the public to be scared. We’re confident in what we do but if we don’t get enough help things are going to take a turn for the worst.”
Prison Warden Jerry Burt says the employees have legitimate concerns. Burt released a statement saying, “We have begun a comprehensive analysis of the staffing patterns in Iowa’s correctional facilities. We are hopeful that this analysis will enable us to better utilize available resources and if indicated provide necessary rationale for additional staff.”