The Iowa Department of Corrections says an autopsy will be done to determine if COVID-19 was a factor in the weekend death of a Fort Dodge prison inmate.
The department says 62-year-old Ronald Holdsworth had multiple pre-existing medical conditions and was taken to the hospital after experiencing a medical emergency and died Saturday. Holdsworth had been serving a 25-year sentence for second-degree sexual abuse from Boone County. His sentence began on May 14th, 2008.
The first and only state prisoner to die from COVID-19 was from the Fort Dodge prison on July 7th.
Some family members of people behind bars at the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility are disappointed the state didn’t do more to reduce prison populations before a coronavirus outbreak hit the facility. As of today, there were 186 prisoners there who have tested positive.
Savannah Moore’s boyfriend is housed at Fort Dodge and she wishes more people had been released, based on good behavior or medical conditions, to lessen the chances of an outbreak. Moore says, “That’s why I think it’s so disappointing is that I feel like people could have been looking to other prisons where this has happened, to say, ‘Okay, this was an issue they have, let’s solve that so that it doesn’t happen here.’ And it’s hard for us to see that they were doing that.”
Aundrea Nobelt who also has a boyfriend at the Fort Dodge facility, recounted a story of a man who was ready to be released, except he had to finish one last life skills class.
“How is one class holding him back from early release,” Nobelt says, “to be home with his loved ones quarantine at home, not spread it?” The Iowa Department of Corrections has worked to grant early releases, but as of last Friday, state prisons were still eight-percent over capacity, on average.
(Kate Payne, Iowa Public Radio also contributed to this story)