MITCHELLVILLE, Iowa -- An incident at the Mitchellville women's prison dining hall left four correctional officers in need of medical treatment Tuesday.
Channel 13 received a photo of a man who was one of two officers that had to seek treatment outside of the prison.
Dan Homan is president of AFSCME Iowa Council 61, which represents the officers at the facility He said the fight involved multiple inmates and staff and that it could have been prevented.
"Lack of staffing was part of this because we didn't have the staff in the dining hall that we should have had, in my opinion. And there ended up being a full-blown fight in the dining hall and it took other officers time to assemble,” Homan said.
The Department of Corrections tells a different story, saying, “one offender was being disruptive in the dining hall and then proceeded to assault a correctional officer, the response to this incident by correctional staff was immediate and the incident was de-escalated quickly."
Homan said the problem comes down to the facility being understaffed and underequipped.
"They had nothing but brute force to use in this situation because at this particular prison, the warden won’t allow pepper spray, which is a tool that every other correctional officer in the state of Iowa has to use,” said Homan.
He said not having immediate access to pepper spray is a recipe for disaster.
“They have y the pepper spray locked up in the Captain's office, and you gotta run back and get permission to get it. By the time that's done, the incident's over. Somebody is hurt. An inmate could be killed. An inmate could be dead. An officer could be killed,” Homan said.
The statement issued by the Department of Corrections also says:
“The department of corrections is committed to operating safe and secure facilities and will continue to work to improve our operations for the safety of all.”
Though this prison does have pepper spray in the facility, the Department of Corrections declined to explain why officers are not allowed to carry pepper spray.