STILLWATER, Minn. - Investigators with the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) are trying to determine what triggered an attack on employees by an inmate in the Stillwater Prison dining hall Wednesday.
DOC spokesman John Schadl says the inmate became involved in a heated discussion over a complaint and attacked the employees without warning. Four workers suffered injuries, two serious enough that they were treated at a local hospital.
Schadl says the DOC's Office of Special Investigations will assemble a case on what occured and then turn their results over to the Washington County Attorney for possible criminal charges.
"This incident underscores how dangerous this work can be," said Corrections Commissioner Tom Roy. "We have been working very hard to make sure that our staff has the training and the tools they need to respond when incidents like this occur."
Roy says that the number of offender-on-staff assaults has dropped dramatically over the past two years. In 2010, there were 42 offender-on-staff assaults in Minnesota's ten correctional facilities; in 2011, there were 16 and in 2012 there were 17.
DOC recently started a new training program for employees who work with offenders on a daily basis called Crisis Intervention Training. The program addresses the challenges of working with offenders who have mental health issues and helps staff recognize and then defuse potentially violent situations before use of force is needed.
"This training won't stop every assault, but it can help us reduce the need to use force," said Roy. "We are committed to making the workplace as safe as we can for our staff."
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