An inmate at the Newton Correctional Center has been charged with willful injury for allegedly beating his cellmate earlier this month.
The head of the union that represents a majority of the workers in the state’s prisons mentioned the assault in an interview with Radio Iowa on March 8.
Danny Homan is president of AFSCME Council 61. “An inmate was beating the living crap out of his roommate, cutting him, and threatening more harm to him if he reported it,” Homan said.
According to the Jasper County Sheriff’s office, the inmate punched his cellmate in the ribs up to 19 times, kicked him in the head, cut him with a razor, and beat the man with a padlock wrapped in a sock. Homan said the attacks took place over several days and went unnoticed by correctional officers.
“Staffing is the issue. We don’t have enough staff to supervise the people who are locked up inside our prisons,” Homan said. The inmate who is charged with willful injury is identified as 31-year-old Keith Piper.
Jasper County authorities say Piper admitted to beating his cellmate, who’s a child sex offender. According to the arrest report, Piper told deputies he was “disgusted” by his cellmate, who kept talking about abusing children.
Homan made his comments prior to a union rally outside the offices of the Iowa Department of Corrections in Des Moines. AFSCME has been critical of the agency over prison staffing levels.