Iowa correctional workers call for increased state funding - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa correctional workers call for increased state funding

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CORALVILLE (KWWL) -

Representatives from the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Coralville say this past weekend, they were lucky to avoid disaster.

"If we would have had a fight, an inmate have a heart attack, or a staff member have a heart attack, there was nobody in this institution that could have responded," said Danny Homan, President of AFSCME Iowa Council 61.

Workers say they are significantly short staffed, while the prison population continues to grow. They say there are 57 fewer positions than the year before, most of which were products of attrition.

"We do not feel safe.  The current staffing patterns is not working at this institution, and it's putting us in jeopardy," said Marty Hathaway, President of Local 2985.

AFSCME representatives say the dangerously low staffing levels are being felt at all Iowa state prisons.

The shortage forced the Department of Corrections to recently pull $1.7 million from the Coralville facility, and distribute that money to the other institutions.

Workers are calling on the administration to allow overtime and restore the positions that were lost.

"It is time for Governor Branstad and John Baldwin to get real and to provide the money that we need, to safely operate these prisons," Homan said.

The Department of Corrections issued a statement in response recognizing the impact of continued reductions in staffing.

The statement reads in part:

"The department is grateful Governor Branstad recommended and the legislature approved funding for 40 additional correctional officer positions in the current FY2012 budget.  The department has and will continue to present funding requests for more adequate staffing levels across our system. "

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