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Union leader blames underfunding for Iowa prison killings

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Anamosa prison
Anamosa Penitentiary Victims, KWWL graphic
Correctional Officer Robert McFarland and Nurse Lorena Schulte were killed during attempted prison escape at the Anamosa State Penitentiary.
Anamosa Suspects, KWWL graphic
Michael Dutcher and Thomas Woodard are accused of attacking two staff members at the Anamosa facility.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The leader of the union representing Iowa prison workers said Republican state political leaders and Iowa Department of Corrections officials are to blame for the death of two Anamosa State Prison workers two weeks ago because state prisons have been underfunded and understaffed for years.

Danny Homan, local council president of the AFSCME union says grossly inadequate staffing led to the deaths of Correctional Officer Robert McFarland and Nurse Lorena Schulte. They died on March 23 in a hammer attack by two inmates plotting an escape.

A corrections spokesman says changes are underway to make the prison more secure.

House Speaker Pat Grassley says the proposed budget for next year provides the most funding for state corrections in a decade.

During a news conference Wednesday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds says changes are coming following the deaths of those prison workers.

The governor said a comprehensive internal investigation is underway. She went on to say a new statewide position is being created: Director of Prison Security.

Reynolds said the new position will focus solely on assessing and improving security across all facilities.

"She (Beth Skinner, head of Iowa Department of Corrections) is also holding feedback forums and they are being held at each prison so staff can openly voice their concerns to the department leadership," said Reynolds. "In addition to the internal investigation, we will also conduct a thorough external investigation, and we are working with Director Skinner to initiate that immediately across the entire department."

Reynolds said they will do what is necessary to protect people.

The Associated Press contributed to this story

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