6 corrections officers injured in 2 separate incidents at Minnesota prisons

Two separate incidents in two days at two Minnesota prisons left six corrections workers injured, officials said on Wednesday.

The first incident happened Monday morning at the Stillwater correctional facility. Minnesota Department of Corrections officials say correctional officers were attempting to break up a fight at Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater when they themselves were assaulted. Officials say a corrections sergeant and two corrections officers suffered injuries. All three were taken to Lakeview Hospital for evaluation and later released.

The following day and not far away at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Oak Park Heights, three other corrections staffers were hurt in a separate attack by two inmates. A sergeant and two corrections officers were also hurt in this attack. Two staff members were taken to Lakeview Hospital for evaluation and then later released. The third staff member suffered "more serious injuries" and was treated at Regions Hospital before being released.

In a news release, DOC Commissioner Paul Schnell writes: "Our highest priority is the safety of our staff and all individuals in our facilities. Those responsible for these senseless and cowardly acts of violence will be fully held to account for their actions. These assaults are a troubling reminder of the very real risks correctional staff take in service to the public safety of all Minnesotans."

In a statement, AFSCME Council 5 Executive Director Julie Bleyhl called for better staffing at prisons:

"AFSCME Council 5 Correctional Officers from across our state have long been gravely disturbed by the constant stream of assaults on staff within the walls of our correctional and secure facilities. These are not merely numbers, there are real human beings behind these assaults who just want to do their jobs well, be safe at work, and feel supported as they do their job. Our union will never stop fighting for the right of every worker to be safe on the job and to be able to end their shift the same way they came to work.

"Increased Safe Staffing levels in every facility and investments in all staff must be prioritized in order to properly staff and secure these often-dangerous workplaces across our state to maintain public safety."

DOC officials say the department's Office of Special Investigations will review the assaults and the Washington County Attorney's Office will determine any charges against the inmates.

For now, the inmates involved in both attacks are being held in the Administrative Control Unit at MCF-Oak Park Heights.