Several investigations launched into Anamosa attacks, Iowa prison security

By: - April 15, 2021 4:20 pm

(Photo by Getty Images)

Internal and external investigations are underway at Anamosa State Penitentiary following the murders of two staff members, the Department of Corrections said Thursday.

On March 23, two inmates at Anamosa attacked and fatally injured correctional officer Robert McFarland, 46, and registered nurse Lorena Schulte, 50. Department of Corrections spokesperson Cord Overton said Thursday several investigations are ongoing into the incident, staff safety and facility conditions. 

In addition to investigations by the Division of Criminal Investigation and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Department of Corrections is conducting an internal review to “learn from what happened, and create a public-facing report that can help provide the public an understanding of our findings without compromising future security,” Overton wrote in a statement.

The department has not announced when that internal investigation will be completed.

The department also called in six security experts to observe at Anamosa and make policy recommendations. The team includes corrections department staff from South Dakota and Minnesota, both states that have dealt with inmates killing correctional officers in recent years.

In addition, the Iowa Department of Corrections intends to contract with an independent organization to conduct a review of the entire system, which includes nine prisons statewide. Overton said the group will be selected through a “soon-to-be released” request for proposals.

Lawmakers, meanwhile, are at odds as the session comes to a close and budget proposals are due. The House has proposed an increase of over $20 million for the Department of Corrections in fiscal year 2022, whereas the Senate proposed an additional $6.2 million. Overton said the department intends to pay for the wide-ranging independent investigation using appropriated funds.

Speaker of the House Pat Grassley said Thursday that it was “too early to say” where the groups would compromise.

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Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Katie Akin is a former Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter. Katie began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.