EXCLUSIVE: Former Corrections Officer Says 'It's Only Going to Get Worse' if Policies Don't Change

August 02, 2018 04:39 PM

A recently retired Minnesota Corrections Officers spoke out for the first time publicly about what he calls "woeful staffing shortages" and a "flawed segregation policy in prisons" administered by the Department of Corrections.

Robert Uran retired as a lieutenant at Oak Park Heights prison eight months ago and he told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS he is speaking out because the murder of Stillwater Corrections Officer Joseph Gomm could be repeated if things do not change at the Department of Corrections.

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RELATED: KSTP Coverage of Officer Joseph Gomm's Death

Uran was in charge of staffing at the time of his retirement and said he performed a staffing analysis for the Department of Corrections four years ago in which he requested 12 new officers for the Oak Park Heights facility.

He said none were hired after his recommendation.

"They did not hire a single new corrections officer," Uran said. "I think a shortage in staffing and a terrible segregation policy led to the death of Officer Gomm."

RELATED: Minnesota Prison Union Calls for Changes after Officer Death

Uran said the segregation policy was put in place in late 2016 and it allows prisoners who assault staff to get out of segregation in 90 days, if they behave well and "say the right things" during their first 90 days in segregation.

"This flawed policy is what's leading to the increase you are seeing against prison staff across the state and it is only going to get worse and Officer Gomm's death is directly related to the policy change and the poor staffing levels the DOC has right now," Uran said.

RELATED: Nonprofit Donates Check to Family of Slain Corrections Officer

"I think he would be alive today, if they would have staffed it correctly and I firmly believe that. It is a tragedy."

Uran said he does not hold out much hope for the future of his fellow corrections officers if the segregation policy and staffing issues do not change.

RELATED: DOC Commissioner Plans to Request More Funding from Legislature Again

"The murder of Joseph Gomm, well, we are lucky he was not number two and I do not think it is going to stop until the DOC starts dealing with the issues at hand," Uran said.

KSTP asked the DOC for interview or comment on Uran's concerns and the agency released a statement through spokesperson Sarah Fitzgerald that said, "DOC Commissioner, Tom Roy, has requested an additional 187 Correctional Officer positions to increase staffing in our prisons since 2011.  Only 15 of the 187 positions requested were approved by the legislature."

Credits

Jay Kolls

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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