Capital Clicks

Former inmate sues state over prison-yard beating

By: - August 30, 2023 2:17 pm

A former inmate at the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility is suing the state, claiming prison staff failed to stop a beating by other inmates that left him severely injured. (Photo by Iowa Department of Corrections)

The state of Iowa is being sued for allegedly failing to halt a prison-yard beating that left an inmate severely injured.

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, Shawn Kiger alleges the staff at the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility violated his constitutional and civil rights when they intentionally failed to intervene and stop an assault that lasted eight to 10 minutes.

The Fort Dodge Correctional Facility opened in 1988 and has a capacity of 1,162 inmates and a staff of approximately 372 employees. It is classified as a medium-security prison.

The lawsuit alleges that on the afternoon of Aug. 27, 2021, Kiger, then 29 years old and a registered sex offender, was in the recreational yard when he was assaulted by two or three inmates unknown to him. The assault allegedly lasted eight to 10 minutes, during which security personnel did not intervene.

“Even if the original assault was not foreseeable or known to security personnel, their response time was intentionally slow,” the lawsuit alleges.

Kiger alleges he suffered severe injuries to his brain and his legs. He was flown by helicopter to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for treatment, remained there for an unspecified number of days, and then was transferred to the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Oakdale. For 18 months, he had to use a wheelchair, and he continues to suffer from memory and speech impairments, the lawsuit alleges.

In addition to the State of Iowa, the lawsuit names as defendants Iowa Department of Corrections Director Beth Skinner, Fort Dodge Correctional Facility Warden Kris Karberg, and the unidentified security personnel who were responsible for the recreational yard on the day of the alleged incident. They have yet to file a response to the lawsuit.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing.