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Union files OSHA complaint, claims Department of Corrections denied inspectors access to Coralville facility

Published: Apr. 9, 2021 at 1:09 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - AFSCME Council 61, which is the union that represents most employees in the Department of Corrections, said the Department of Corrections denied state inspectors access to its Coralville facility.

The union filed a complaint with the Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration over the training, equipment and safety of workers at the Iowa Medical Classification Center Correctional Facility. This comes about two weeks after two inmates killed two staff members in the Anamosa State Penitentiary.

According to the Department of Corrections, The Iowa Medical and Classification Center (IMCC) currently houses an average daily population of approximately 950 offenders. The Iowa Medical and Classification Center is in Coralville and takes in all those entering the adult male institutional corrections system, before processing them to other facilities.

The complaint, which was filed on March 31, said radios do not work properly, people are not able to socially distance and employees are being trained on computers with no person to ask questions too. Those complaints are similar to penalties brought against the Department of Corrections at Anamosa in August.

The Department of Corrections didn’t immediately respond to comment about the new complaint. But did tell our i9 team it was appealing the complaints against its Anamosa facility.

The Iowa Medical and Classification Center was fined in August 2018 for $9,472 related to issues where employees didn’t have a reliable means for emergency communication during a violent attack. A lot of the complaints centered around a TAIT 9300 radio, which was also cited in the complaint at Anamosa.

The fine occurred after a representative for the union said an assault took place in February 2020 where an officer was injured by an offender and struck 15-17 times before anyone could intervene. It also cited low staffing levels and overcrowded prisons leading to an increasing in the number of assaults.

Our KCRG-TV9 i9 Investigative Team found eight facilities, including the Anamosa Prison were overcapacity during the attack. Experts told TV9 prisons that are overcapacity are more likely to create dangerous situations for staff members because the chance of violence increases.

Our KCRG-TV9 i9 Investigative Team also found disparities between the state budget, Department of Corrections, and Anamosa State Penitentiary. State funding at the Anamosa State Penitentiary has grown by around 2.7 percent, even though the estimated total funds available for the state have grown by around 22.7 percent. The Department of Corrections budget over the same time period has increased around 9.3 percent.

After our investigation, State House Republicans proposed more than $20 Million in new funding for the department on Tuesday.

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