Statement: MHIs Are Not the Place for Violent Offenders


For Immediate Release

March 1, 2018

Contact: Mazie Stilwell, Communications Specialist

(515) 246-2637; [email protected]



DES MOINES – AFSCME Council 61 President Danny Homan issued the following statement in response to recent charges against a patient at the Independence Mental Health Institute:

“Yesterday, the Courier reported on a patient at the Independence Mental Health Institute (MHI) who attempted to kill a fellow patient and threatened to kill a staff member. This patient has a long history of violent behavior, including his time at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Coralville. As an inmate, two Correctional Officers were required to transport him for hospital visits because of his violent tendencies. Staff at Independence MHI tell us that the patient made death threats against multiple employees, including anyone who aided in a crisis intervention with the patient.

“It is no secret that our mental health system in the state of Iowa is in crisis. Iowa’s two remaining MHIs serve a critical role for those with severe mental illness. The staff do an exceptional job of meeting the needs of their patients. They are not Correctional Officers and do not have the capacity to protect themselves while providing the level of care required by someone plotting to kill others in their midst 

“When violent sexual predators pose a significant threat to society, CCUSO is an effective, safe placement within the Department of Human Services. Unfortunately, the same options do not exist for violent, mentally ill patients. An equivalent facility equipped to handle these individuals is a missing piece in our mental health system.

“I hope that the tragic situation that was averted by taking this patient into custody will be taken seriously and measures will be put in place to prioritize patient and staff safety within our mental health facilities.”

The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 61 represents 40,000 public employees in Iowa including law enforcement and correctional officers, firefighters, mental health workers, professional school staff, emergency responders, and many other workers. AFSCME Council 61 also represents home health care and child care providers across the state and private sector workers at Prairie Meadows, Palmer College of Chiropractic, Des Moines University, and ABM (Marshalltown).