ANAMOSA, Iowa — Six people inside of Anamosa State Penitentiary — three inmates and three staff members — were sickened in two separate incidents during the weekend. Officials at the penitentiary say the two incidents were caused by two different substances, but have not revealed which substances they believe are responsible.
According to a news release, the first incident inside Anamosa happened Saturday when staff found an unresponsive inmate possibly “under the influence of a suspicious substance.” Three staff members who provided aid to the inmate also became sick.
All four people in the first incident were hospitalized, but all were eventually released. The release said two of the three staff members needed Narcan, which is used for opioid overdoses.
The second incident occurred Sunday when two inmates were found unresponsive in their cells, according to the release. Unlike the first incident, the staff members providing aid did not get sick after treating the inmates.
Both inmates in Sunday’s incident were given Narcan and neither one needed hospitalization.
“The public should really be scared,” said AFSCME Council 61 President Rick Eilander, whose union represents the Anamosa State Penitentiary workers. “Every employee deserves the right to go home every night and not be scared to go to work. When an incident like this happens, who’s there to help, and how fast can we respond?”
Anamosa State Penitentiary responded by “restricting movement for the foreseeable future,” according to Monday’s release. The lockdown eliminates visitation and allows correction officials to do a widespread search across the prison for substances
Eilander worries that the two incidents may cause Anamosa to lose employees. He said it was already difficult for the penitentiary to retain employees before this weekend’s situations.
“There’s a lot of people we hire into the facility that walk in at twenty dollars an hour, only to turn around and walk out a few days later because they say it’s not worth it,” Eilander said.