July 24, 2018 09:05 AM
The Minnesota Department of Corrections confirmed to KSTP Friday that three corrections officers at the Stillwater and Oak Parks Heights facilities had resigned since Wednesday's deadly attack on a corrections officer at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater.
"The reason for resignation is not public, so I cannot share if they were related to the death of Officer Gomm," DOC spokesperson Sarah Fitzgerald said in an email.
That attack Wednesday left 45-year-old officer Joseph Gomm of Blaine dead. The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating. The suspected inmate, Edward Muhammad Johnson, has been relocated to the prison in Oak Park Heights.
State Rep. Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River, watches over funding for Minnesota's prisons as a member of the House Public Safety and Security Policy and Finance Committee.
He also said following this week's deadly attack by an inmate on a corrections officer at the Minnesota Correctional Facility–Stillwater, it's only natural for everyone to want to take a critical look at all angles.
He said staffing at the state's prisons is one of the issues that needs to be looked at.
"We don't know what the specifics are and if staffing levels played any role," he said. "I think staffing is always a concern and making sure we have the right ratio."
Statistics from the National Institute of Corrections from 2016 show Minnesota has an inmate-to-corrections employee ratio of 2-to-1.
That's the best in the region, and better than the national average of 3-to-1. Wisconsin is on par with the national average. Corrections workers in Alabama are spread the thinnest at a ratio of 9-to-1.
As for staffing at the Stillwater prison when the attack happened Wednesday, officials said there are typically two foremen and a corrections officer working in the industry building where Gomm was attacked.
A source told KSTP there was only one foreman on duty that day because the second foreman was on vacation and had not been replaced.
Minnesota's state budget allocations for the Department of Corrections have increased steadily in recent years, going from $999 million in 2014-2015 to $1.2 billion in the most recent budget approved by lawmakers.
"I think all of that will be on the table as we move forward and try to figure out what went wrong," Zerwas said.
Beyond budgets, Zerwas said officer training and security policies will be given a hard look.
"We're just trying to wrap our minds around how something like this could happen and it serves as a reminder of the dangerous and important work our corrections officers do every single day," Zerwas said.
Matt Belanger and Ryan Raiche
Updated: July 24, 2018 09:05 AM
Created: July 20, 2018 03:37 PM
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