Staffing problems persist in Iowa prisons after Anamosa killings

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A review that was ordered after two inmates killed a guard and a nurse has found that major staffing problems and overcrowding persist in Iowa prisons.

The Des Moines Register reports that improved training and better pay also were recommended in the summary findings that the Iowa Department of Corrections released Monday.

The state paid nearly $500,000 to consulting firm CGL Companies to review security after the April beating deaths of nurse Lorena Schulte and correctional officer Robert McFarland at the maximum-security Anamosa State Penitentiary.

Authorities said prisoners, Michael Dutcher and Tom Woodard, had been able to obtain the hammers used in the slayings from a prison maintenance shed and make their way to the prison infirmary where they planned to break out through a window. The pair pleaded guilty in September to first-degree murder and were sentenced to life in prison.

The report also found that the department still needs to address inconsistent enforcement of rules on prisoner tool use and movement. But it praised the department for replacing administrators and creating a process to screen the suitability of inmates for particular work assignments.

State corrections Director Beth Skinner said in a statement that the completion of the review was the “next step” in making the prisons safer.

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