Assault on Corrections Officer Causes Concern
Union says staffing levels put officers at risk
ANCHORAGE - A violent assault against a corrections officer in Anchorage Wednesday evening is raising questions about the safety of workers at the Anchorage Correctional Complex.
The 26-year-old officer has been identified as Sean Winslow of Chugiak. Troopers said he suffered “serious but non-life threatening injuries.” Other officers said his injuries included a broken jaw.
The union that represents correctional officers said staffing and scheduling changes at the Anchorage Complex are putting workers at risk.
“We have warned them continually since the staffing cuts and since the blended shift staffing that this type of incident is going to increase, and it has, and it is going to again,’ said long-time corrections officer Matthew Houser.
Houser is on the board of the union that represents correctional officers. In April the union wrote a letter to Governor Parnell outlining concerns about recent work changes. The changes meant fewer officers were on duty in the evening and that work shifts were cut from 12 hours to 8. Houser said the result is that new officers, like the one recently assaulted, don’t get the consistent training they need.
“Their training is getting bumped around to all these different officers,” said Houser. “And it’s the same thing with the inmates because of the schedule. Instead of having the same officer in charge of the unit they are getting multiple officers every day.”
Department of Corrections officials are at odds with the union. They don’t agree there have been multiple assaults against officers since the shift changes went into effect. And they don’t believe the staffing levels or the scheduling changes are unsafe.
The union is battling some of the changes in court, which is where the issues may ultimately be resolved.