BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – An assault on a correctional officer at Iowa State Penitentiary last week has prompted local union officials to meet with prison officials again about ongoing staffing concerns.
On Friday, ISP officials released a statement that a correctional officer had been assaulted by an inmate with punches and then kicks once the officer was on the ground. The release indicated that other officers in the area responded quickly and got the situation under control. The officer was taken to Fort Madison Community Hospital for treatment was released.
On Thursday, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 61 released a statement that the Iowa Department of Corrections hadn’t released the full scope of the incident.
In the statement, AFSCME Council 61 president Danny Homan wrote that according to eyewitnesses four inmates were involved in the assault. Homan stops short of saying there were involved in the attack on the officer, but instead tried to slow down other officers from helping.
Homan said the offender threw six punches and kicked the at officers head 13 times.
Homan also said on Thursday union members met with Warden Patty Wachtendorf over their concerns about the safety of staff at the facility. Details of that meeting were not released.
DOC Communications Director Cord Overton issued a statement via email to Pen City Current indicating the DOC was standing by its original statement, which he stating it was both accurate and timely.
“Our staff and their well-being is the highest priority of this department,” Overton wrote.
“After any assault on staff or other inmates, the department initiates an investigation into the incident. Any attempt to preemptively release the confidential details and evidence compiled as part of that investigation undermines the integrity of the investigation and the security of the correctional system. Attempts to politicize attacks on our staff, damages the overall security of our facilities and the safety of our staff.”
The assault is the fifth attack on an officer since July 2017 and the third this year. On March 28, a correctional officer sustained minor injuries as a result of a head butt to the face from an inmate in restraints. In January, an correctional officer was attacked by an offender while a search was being done on the offender’s cell. That officer received medical treatment at ISP and resumed his duties that day.
The offender was transported to University of Iowa Hospitals for treatment.
Another incident involving close to 50 inmates broke out on July 1, 2017 that resulted in a prolonged lockdown at the facility.