Bryan Milliron, who served as a corrections officer at the Stillwater prison for 32 years, retired last summer but is speaking out after a string of inmate assaults on corrections officers.
A total of eight corrections officers were recently assaulted at Oak Park Heights and Stillwater prisons, in addition to six other staff who were assaulted at Rush City in early February in two separate incidents, the Department of Corrections (DOC) confirmed to Alpha News.
“I wasn’t surprised. It’s liberal mayhem,” Milliron said. “It’s going to happen again. It’s not a matter of if but when.” He explained that staff are not even allowed to call prisoners inmates anymore; they have to call them “incarcerated persons.”
“They need to do something different. I just don’t know if we are going to get anything different than what we have right now,” Milliron said.
He criticized the lack of activities for inmates. “Idol time in prison is bad, bad news,” he said. A spokesperson acknowledged that many activities were limited during the COVID-19 pandemic but said programming has “greatly expanded lately.”
Milliron told Alpha News that DOC has weakened punishments for inmates who assault staff. This combined with being short-staffed means prisoners “know they can get away with it,” he said.
“If you were an inmate who assaulted a staff member, before you used to get 720 days in segregation. Now the max is usually a year, so basically it’s been cut in half,” he said. “It used to be if a guy did three days in segregation, then one more day would be added to their sentence — it’s a lot less now. That isn’t given out as a punishment like it used to.”
He told Alpha News that while the number of inmates housed by DOC has increased over the last 30 years, the number of officers hasn’t kept pace. “The leadership at the facilities is so bad,” Milliron said.
Aaron Swanum, the information officer with DOC, told Alpha News that the wardens of the prisons will be moved soon. “At the end of March, the current warden at Stillwater will transfer to our Shakopee facility, the warden at Oak Park Heights will transfer to Stillwater, and the current Shakopee warden will transfer to Oak Park Heights,” he said.
“The moves are all made with thought and purpose to best align the strengths of each warden with the facilities’ various and ever-changing needs,” Swanum said.
Swanum confirmed that solitary confinement for a staff assault can occur for up to one year.
“Those responsible for assaults on our staff will be fully held to account for their unacceptable actions. Punishment for assaulting a Corrections Officer can include internal discipline conviction within the DOC — including time in Restrictive Housing — and potential felony-level charges for Assault on a Corrections Officer. Restrictive housing placement is up to one year,” he said.
Dominique Antoine Jefferson, who is incarcerated at Oak Park Heights, was recently charged with first-degree assault for a Jan. 15 attack on a corrections sergeant that left her with permanent vision loss.
“Our top priority is the safety of everyone in our facilities,” said DOC Commissioner Paul Schnell. “We are working very hard right now to prevent these incidents from happening while ensuring those who commit these senseless, violent acts are held accountable.”
Milliron thinks many of these issues could be resolved with “better training and better leadership.”
“I’d like to see changes made to help. I hate to see people being injured,” he said.
Milliron now works with Correctional Peace Officers Foundation. If a corrections officer is injured, killed, or facing hardship, CPOF will support the families of the officers.