Some Department of Corrections employees spent part of their weekend holding picket signs to protest job cuts coming next week. Members of Iowa United Professionals marched outside the Anamosa State Penitentiary on Saturday.
Eleven members of the state employees union who work as counselors at the facility will be losing their jobs on January 21. That includes Ken Pirc of Cedar Rapids, a substance abuse counselor. He says the 10-percent across-the-board budget cut ordered by Governor Culver will eliminate half of the counselors in Anamosa.
“There won’t be any time for rehabilitation,” Pirc said. “Those that are left here will just be putting out fires to maintain the safety inside the walls.” Jason Hute of Maquoketa will keep his job as a counselor at Anamosa, but said the public should be more concerned about the situation happening at the correctional facility in Mount Pleasant, where 10 sex offender counselors will be laid off.
“So, we have substance abuse and now violent sexual offenders with no treatment, released,” Hute said. “If the substance abuse doesn’t bother you, the sex offender will, or should.” Several other social workers and counselors at facilities in Fort Madison and Fort Dodge will also be laid off on January 21.
A spokesman for the governor said the union declined to negotiate contract changes to avoid layoffs. Other unions accepted unpaid days off to preserve jobs.
By Justin Foss, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids