AFSCME Iowa Council 61 - Every Day. Everywhere. Making Iowa Better.

ESCAPES IN NEWTON DEMONSTRATE CRITICALLY LOW CORRECTIONAL STAFFING LEVELS

February 29, 2016

DES MOINES –AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan issued the following statement regarding the escape of two inmates from the Correctional Release Center at Newton Correctional Facility:

“The escape of these two inmates from the Correctional Release Center at Newton Correctional Facility on Saturday demonstrates the consequences of critically low staffing levels in Iowa’s correctional system. The staffing levels have been going down and this trend needs to stop.

“We must emphasize that the inmates at the Correctional Release Center at Newton Correctional Facility are not permitted to leave the grounds on their own at any time. If they work off site, they are to be picked up and supervised by their employer’s trained staff. Inmates at this facility should be supervised by DOC or their employer at all times. The escape of these two individuals is a serious matter.

“Five years ago the Department of Corrections discontinued running an around the clock perimeter vehicle patrol around the Correctional Release Center at Newton Correctional Facility due to low staffing levels. After this escape on Saturday, the perimeter was finally reinstituted on Sunday.

“Over the past several years, staffing at the Correctional Release Center has been reduced and we believe there may be plans to further reduce staffing levels.

“Additionally, the broken inmate classification system, which the DOC changed a few years back, is pushing inmates from higher security settings to lower security settings before they are ready. The pattern of misclassification of inmates in a hurried attempt to get them out of prison is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

“Due to the failure of the DOC to staff DOC Institutions and Community Based Corrections facilities adequately, the citizens of the Newton area and the State of Iowa now have to worry about two convicted felons being on the loose somewhere in Iowa. Does anyone remember the Clarinda Correctional Facility escape in 2013?”

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