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Des Moines Register, Iowa, 1 January 2000
Inmate spanked; two fired
Others at Iowa prison face discipline
By Jonathan Roos
Two Fort Dodge correctional officers were fired this week and still others may be disciplined because of their involvement in the spanking of an inmate and a possible cover-up of the incident, Iowa Corrections Director W.L. "Kip" Kautzky said Friday.
"It was horseplay, but as a practical matter it was inappropriate use of force," Kautzky said of the Dec. 18 incident.
Officers used handcuffs to restrain the inmate in a stairwell so he could be spanked by other inmates, apparently because it was his birthday, Kautzky said. In addition, one officer put the prisoner in a headlock and took part in a separate spanking.
The inmate, who was clothed during the hazing, suffered some bruises, Kautzky reported.
Because of personnel policies, he refused to identify the two officers who were dismissed, or a third officer who has been suspended with pay while the investigation continues.
Kautzky said part of the investigation focuses on whether there was a cover-up of the incident in which correctional officers warned the inmate not to say anything.
"Obviously some of the people had to look the other way, and that's not acceptable, either," he said.
Corrections officials also want to determine if there racial overtones to the incident, since the officers involved were white and the inmate was not.
"If there was a tone of racism to the whole thing, I find that deeply troubling," Kautzky said.
Even if the incident was more of a prank or horseplay, Kautzky said it involved inappropriate behavior, use of force and restraints. He said there are clear policies about the use of handcuffs.
Jan Corderman, state president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said prison officials' handling of the disciplinary matter is being reviewed, too.
"Our local is still investigating to make a determination if the employer's actions were appropriate or not," she said.
Kautzky said it remains to be seen whether action will be taken against inmates who took part in the spankings.
He said he has consulted with Fort Dodge Warden John Thalacker about the matter.
The Fort Dodge prison holds 720 inmates. With expansion of the facility, it is expected to be at its full capacity of 1,162 inmates by July 1.
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