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

Branstad Contradicts IDOC Numbers on Prison Staffing Claims

DES MOINES – AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan issued the following statement in response to Governor Branstad’s press conference remarks on prison staffing:

“In yesterday’s weekly press conference, Governor Branstad responded to a question about staffing levels resulting in contraband in our prisons by saying, ‘Actually, we have increased the staffing since I came back and Lt. Gov. Reynolds came into office and we have been able to reduce the prison population, so we are continuing to work to make sure that we have adequate level of staffing and staff have the right training.’ I’m unsure whether the Governor is simply misinformed or just fails to accept the reality of our prison staffing situation, similar to his take on how privatized Medicaid is going.

“Rather than simply refuting the Governor’s claims, I would like to use his own figures to disprove his statement. In FY 2009, there were 3,077 employees in our institutions, according to the ‘Quick Facts’ quarterly report from the Iowa Department of Corrections. As of June 30, 2016, this number dropped to 2,557, which is a loss of 520 employees, including a new prison addition in Mitchellville. The Governor also claimed that the prison population has been reduced, which it has, by 2.9%, or 253 inmates. What he doesn’t mention is the rise in post-release reconviction rates. This is directly tied to the Branstad-Reynolds Administration’s changes to the classification system that pushes inmates out into the community before they have fully rehabilitated. Additionally, what limited training is provided to prison employees is almost solely e-learning that doesn’t reflect the unique circumstances of their roles and responsibilities in understaffed facilities.

“I strongly urge Governor Branstad to review his own Administration’s facts and figures before dismissing issues as serious as our current prison staffing crisis. As always, I am happy to work with the Governor and his Administration on finding solutions to this failing department.”

The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Iowa Council 61 represents 40,000 public employees including law enforcement and correctional officers, firefighters, mental health workers, professional school staff, emergency responders, and many other workers. AFSCME Iowa Council 61 also represents home health care and child care providers across the state and private sector workers at Prairie Meadows, Palmer College of Chiropractic, Des Moines University, and ABM (Marshalltown).

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