STILLWATER, Minn. (WCCO) – More details have been released in the assault of four Stillwater prison staff members by an inmate Wednesday.
The Minnesota Department of Corrections is now investigating the altercation that resulted in a correctional officer and a contract food service employee being sent to the hospital. They were both treated and released.
According to Corrections, an inmate who was unhappy with a mealtime rule attacked the female corrections officer and the food employee without warning. Two officers who subdued the inmate were punched — they were treated at the scene.
After the inmate was subdued and handcuffed, he was taken to Oak Park Heights, which is the states only maximum security facility.
“This incident underscores how dangerous this work can be,” said Corrections Commissioner Tom Roy. “We have been working very hard to make sure that our staff has the training and the tools they need to respond when incidents like this occur.”
The state classifies Stillwater as a prison with a security level measuring four out of five – meaning it houses some of the toughest convicts in the state. About 1,600 male prisoners reside there, for violent crimes such as homicide, rape and assault.
WCCO checked and there are 2,142 prison guards in the state — and a total of 9,242 inmates.
Corrections Officers at Minnesota Prisons are members of AFSCME, which is the state employees union. In the past, the union has been critical of staffing levels at prisons, saying they’re unsafe. However, one source told WCCO this attack was not a staffing issue because it took place during dinner time when staffing is relatively high.
Recently, Corrections started a new training program for those who work with offenders on a daily basis, called Crisis Intervention Training.
“This training won’t stop every assault, but it can help us reduce the need to use force,” said Roy. “We are committed to making the workplace as safe as we can for our staff.”
When the investigation is finished, the Washington County Attorney will decide if criminal charges should be filed.