To the editor:
Is the Branstad administration paying attention to the issue of escapes?
During September there have been six reported escapes from work release facilities in Waterloo, Des Moines, West Union, Fort Dodge and Ottumwa. One of the two Ottumwa work release facility escapees was serving time for attempted murder, escape, and assaulting a peace officer.
Similar escapes occurred in Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Waterloo and Davenport during prior months. The escape of a Clarinda Correctional Facility inmate led to a sheriff's deputy being shot, a couple being taken hostage, and the inmate's death
Gov. Branstad and Director Baldwin are pushing inmates, including those convicted of violent crimes, towards lower security settings and parole as quickly as possible in order to avoid addressing prison staffing shortages. Furthermore, inmates are being pushed into understaffed work release facilities. The consequences of this policy are apparent in these escapes and in the recent assault of three community based corrections staff by a Waterloo work release facility inmate.
Even though Branstad's policies are compromising their safety, Iowa's corrections staff are working hard to protect the public and I commend their dedication and professionalism.
President, AFSCME Iowa Council 61