WIUM Tristates Public Radio

ISP Correctional Officer in Stable Condition after Attack

Oct 19, 2017

The Iowa Department of Corrections released a statement saying the Iowa State Penitentiary employee who was injured during an attack by an inmate Wednesday morning is in stable condition at the University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City.

The DOC has not released the identify of the ISP employee, but it did identify the inmate involved as Kieth Piper, 33, who is serving a 45-year-sentence after his conviction in Jasper County, Iowa. According to the agency's website, Piper was arrested multiple times in multiple counties prior to arriving in ISP as a habitual offender.

The initial statement from the DOC said Piper struck the ISP employee multiple times with an unidentified weapon. The agency, in a subsequent statement, said "two homemade weapons" were used in the attack, but did not identify the type of weapons.

"Iowa State Penitentiary continues to review and investigate this incident," said the DOC. "Any incident of this nature is considered critical. Staff safety is the highest priority as the investigation into this matter continues."

Wednesday's attack followed another assault on a correctional officer by an inmate over the weekend.

"The Department will continue to attend to the needs of the injured officers of both today's and in the incident on Saturday and commends all responding staff for their prompt and excellent response to protect fellow officers and prevent any future harm."

Union Response

AFSCME Council 61 President Danny Homan also weighed in on the attack, providing details that were not released by the DOC. He said in a statement that Piper had two 10-inch long "shanks" that he used to stab the male correctional officer five times. 

Homan also said the inmate assaults were related:

"Both assaults were carried out by inmates associated with white supremacist gangs. Inmate informants have been notifying staff for months that incidents like this were being planned, yet ISP administration refused to act on the warnings. These incidents are a direct result of incompetent management, from the Governor to the Director of the Department of Corrections, the Warden, and the ISP management, not addressing issues that are brought to their attention and refusing to provide a safe environment for the staff or inmates within the facility."

Homan said ISP Warden Patti Wachtendorf chose not to hold a meeting with local union leaders to discuss safety concerns following the first attack on Saturday. The prison said it would not comment beyond its prepared statements.

"While Correctional Officers are being beaten up and stabbed within a span of five days, ISP management is focused on providing family picnics and a memorial garden for inmate enjoyment," said Homan. "There is a blatant disregard for security that must be immediately addressed within the Department of Corrections.

“We have been sounding the alarm on the increased frequency of brutal assaults within our correctional facilities with absolutely zero change taking place. Our thoughts are with the two Correctional Officers who were the victims of the Department of Correction’s inaction. Thoughts only go so far; I hope their assaults will be taken seriously and acted upon with the urgency they deserve. We are demanding that the Department of Corrections meet with us to discuss this health and safety crisis before someone gets killed.”