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Fatal attacks on 2 Iowa state prison workers: Officials fear “copy-cat” attacks

On Behalf of | Jun 24, 2021 | Workers' Compensation

Some careers go virtually unseen. Correctional workers and prison staff diligently do their jobs behind locked doors and security fences. Ironically, these brave men and women put their lives at risk by helping to keep society safe. The work environment on the inside can pose numerous stresses and hazards that are unique to this line of work.  

To illustrate the inherent dangers prison staff are confronted with daily, during a failed escape attempt on February, 22nd 2021, a registered nurse and a correctional officer were attacked and killed at Anamosa Correctional Facility. Ten days later, there have been three other attacks at several locations, including Newton Correctional Facility. According to KCRG News, prison officials fear “copy-cat” attacks on correctional officers and staff members.    

What can be done to prevent prison attacks? 

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, these are some remedies to mitigate the common dangers that prison staff face: 

  • Classification: Improving procedures during intake to identify and classify inmates before they become problematic. This could include identifying a mental issue, a history of violence regardless of current charges, and gang affiliation.  
  • Communication: When dealing with inmates, communication among staff members is key. Proper record-keeping and channels of communication to pass along information can help identify potentially harmful inmates that are exhibiting signs of distress and increased aggravation.   
  • Separation: Prison officials place orders to separate inmates that have had conflicts in the past. Sometimes these “keep away” orders are overlooked when transporting inmates to medical or court dates. Inmates that have a grudge, or conflicting gang affiliations, should be kept away from each other at all times. This requires attention to detail and proper record keeping.  
  • Resources: Correctional officers and staff need to have immediate access to back-up in the case of an attack. In addition, training for officers to know de-escalation tactics and conflict resolution is a must.  

The negative physical and mental effects for prison staff can have harmful outcomes on the prison system, family relations, and society at large.  

Workers’ compensation and personal injury cases can arise when safety protocols are not properly implemented or followed. Not all attacks can be prevented, but prison officials are legally responsible to keep staff as safe as possible. To protect your rights as a prison worker, it is highly advisable to consult with legal counsel that is experienced in employment law.