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Iowa Prison Stabbing Leads AFSCME to Demand Action ‘Before Someone Gets Killed’

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AFSCME Council 61 Pres. Danny Homan is demanding action from Iowa Department of Corrections officials, following two inmate attacks on correctional officers in less than a week. The latest attack on Wednesday left a correctional officer hospitalized after he was stabbed five times.

The attacks took place at the Iowa State Penitentiary (ISP) in Fort Madison and by members said to belong to a white supremacist gang.

Homan said the attacks occurred because of unresponsive management from everyone including the governor, the director of the Department of Corrections, the warden and the facility’s managers. He accused them of ignoring the issues brought to their attention and failing to provide a safe environment for the staff and inmates.

Inmate informants have been notifying staff for months that attacks like these were being planned, Homan said. Following the first attack on Saturday, the ISP warden denied a request from local union leaders for a meeting over safety concerns.

“We have been sounding the alarm on the increased frequency of brutal assaults within our correctional facilities,” Homan said. “Our thoughts are with the two correctional officers who were the victims of the Department of Correction’s inaction. … I hope their assaults will be taken seriously and acted upon with the urgency they deserve.”

“The perpetrators are confirmed members of the Peckerwood white supremacist gang,” Homan added. The Peckerwood gang is active in prisons in many states throughout the country, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Understaffing and unsafe working conditions are endemic in many Iowa state facilities, including prisons. AFSCME Iowa Council 61 will continue to fight for much-needed reform.

“We are demanding that the Department of Corrections meet with us to discuss this health and safety crisis before someone gets killed,” Homan said.