Safety inspectors discovered the radio system employees inside the Anamosa State Penitentiary used to communicate was malfunctioning more than a year before the inmate attacks that killed two Anamosa employees.
KCRG TV was first to obtain the report Iowa’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued last August. It was based on an inspection in February of last year.
Iowa OSHA investigators warned the prison’s communication system would not show the location of an emergency if an employee radioed that he or she was being attacked. OSHA said the system had other deficiencies, including dropped calls within the prison. The OSHA report also indicated some prison staff assigned to respond to emergencies within the prison were not always available because of other duties.
Iowa OSHA labeled these violations serious and levied a $20,000 fine against the Iowa Department of Corrections. The agency is appealing the fine and a spokesman declined to comment on the report.
Last Wednesday Governor Reynolds announced an outside group would be hired to conduct an independent investigation of the murders inside the Anamosa prison.
“We’ll address any issues the investigations may reveal and we’ll do what’s necessary to protect our people. Nothing is more important than that,” Reynolds said during a news conference. “Changes may require additional investment, something that I am fully committed to doing, and this includes making sure that the department and its facilities are adequately staffed.”
Last week, House Republicans proposed a $20 million increase in the prison system’s budget. Last month, Majority Leader Jack Whitver announced Senate Republicans were proposing a $4 million increase and he discussed the budget decision on Friday, before OSHA’s August report was publicly released.
“We rolled out that number the day after the incident happened, so that process of figuring out how much we need, if there are safety concerns, has not been vetted,” Whitver said. “The House rolled their number out maybe two weeks later to where they had done a little bit more work. Obviously, it’s going to come somewhere in between there, after talking with both the governor and the director of corrections.”
Whitver made his comments during an appearance on “Iowa Press” on Iowa PBS.