Seven corrections officers were injured by inmates over a period of just four days last week.
“We will take every appropriate action to stop these senseless acts of violence against our staff,” said Department of Corrections (DOC) Commissioner Paul Schnell. “The safety of all those in our facilities is our top priority. Sadly, even though it is a small number of inmates who engage in these acts of violence, these incidents also affect the far greater majority of incarcerated people who are committed to rehabilitation and transformation.”
Two separate incidents at the Stillwater and Oak Park Heights correctional facilities each injured three corrections officers. A third incident led to the injury of a seventh corrections officer at the Stillwater prison.
The first incident occurred on March 6 in the Stillwater prison where a fight broke out among several inmates. Three officers were assaulted when they attempted to intervene.
The next day, two prisoners assaulted a sergeant and two officers at the Oak Park Heights facility.
Then on Thursday a Stillwater corrections sergeant was injured in an unprovoked assault by an inmate.
“During a routine facility unit movement, an inmate rushed up to the sergeant and began striking him in the face,” the DOC said in a press release.
All of the officers were treated for their non-life threatening injuries and released from the hospital.
DOC’s Office of Special Investigations is looking into the assaults. They will be sending the results to the Washington County Attorney’s Office for review.
According to the 2022 DOC Performance Report, the number of assaults of staff has gone from 74 in fiscal year 2017 to 106 in fiscal year 2022, with a high of 120 in fiscal year 2018.
Two legislative auditor reports from February 2020 and January 2021 identified several issues within Minnesota’s corrections system that were creating an unsafe working environment. The reports found there was chronic understaffing which impacted the DOC’s ability to effectively monitor prisoners and to provide them with recreation, therapy, and employment.
In response to the report, the DOC adopted a new “strategic plan” and said it would work on implementing the report’s recommendations.