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Union leader blames governor, corrections director, for prisoner escape

(Radio Iowa) – The head of Iowa’s largest public employees union is calling on the director of the Iowa Department of Corrections to resign following the escape of an inmate from the Clarinda Correctional Facility. Danny Homan is president of AFSCME Council 61.

“This incident falls directly at the feet or on the desk of John Baldwin,” Homan told Radio Iowa. “This inmate, in my opinion, should never have been at Clarinda.” The escaped prisoner, 38-year-old Rodney Eugene Long, had been on the run since Friday until he was killed early this morning in rural Bedford.

Authorities say Long broke into the home of Jerome and Carolyn Mauderly and held them captive for four hours before Jerome, a retired prison guard, somehow got his shotgun and killed Long in the couple’s kitchen. Long had eluded authorities after shooting a Taylor County Sheriff’s deputy Sunday night. The deputy, Dan Wyckoff, is expected to make a full recovery.

Homan calls Long “a career criminal” who had no business being held in a medium-security prison like the one in Clarinda. “Not only did they send him to Clarinda, they put him in the minimum live-out unit and (Long) went over the top of the fence,” Homan said. “Now, we end up with a deputy being shot and without a bullet proof vest, who knows, we could be talking about something different.”

Authorities have credited Deputy Wyckoff’s survival to a protective vest. Homan claims the entire incident are a direct result of Baldwin’s and Governor Branstad’s “lack of common sense staffing and inmate classification” policies. “I think the Department of Corrections failed miserably in their mission statement. They did not protect the inmate and they certainly did not protect the public,” Homan said.

Homan claims the Department of Corrections has “reconfigured the inmate classification system to quickly and recklessly” move inmates toward less secure settings or parole. “What they’re doing to try to bring down the population inside our prisons is they are pushing – and this is a direct quote from my membership – pushing inmates out of the system, out into the public, who have no business being there,” Homan said.

There wouldn’t be an overpopulation problem in Iowa’s prisons, according to Homan, if Governor Branstad and DOC Director Baldwin hadn’t shut down a 200-bed Clinical Care Unit (CCU) in Fort Madison earlier this year. “I believe this is a direct result of John Baldwin changing the classification system, of John Baldwin and Terry Branstad’s decision to close CCU, the staffing shortages in our prisons…this is what we get,” Homan said.

AFSCME Iowa issued a news release calling for Baldwin’s resignation. Governor Branstad’s spokesman, Tim Albrecht, issued a statement in response saying Homan’s comments “only embolden prisoners and put the correctional officers at risk.”