Corrections director comments on sentencing in Anamosa prison deaths

Iowa Department of Corrections director Beth Skinner

ANAMOSA — The Director of the Iowa Department of Corrections says the guilty pleas of two men in the killings of an Anamosa corrections officer and nurse are one step in the process of recovery.

Corrections director Beth Skinner talked with Radio Iowa about the life sentences given to Michael Dutcher  Wednesday and Thomas Woodard back in August. “Both Woodard and Dutcher have pleaded and have been sentenced and have left the state — and we are still grieving — with our families and our staff. This is something that is going to take a very long time,” Skinner says.

The two men admitted to killing officer Robert McFarland and nurse Lorena Schulte during an escape attempt in March. “The loss of Bob McFarland and Lorena Schulte is always going to be a part of our fabric. They are our family, and they will always be our family, and their family is our family. Our staff has been deeply affected,” Skinner says.

She says along with the grieving comes the effort to make sure this doesn’t happen again. “We will continue to do everything we can to keep our prisons as safe as they can be,” Skinner says. “And that is our commitment moving forward — to do the best that we can — so that everyone can go home safe at night, and so the people in the community can feel safer.”

That effort includes the hiring of more staff members, and a review of the prison operations that is underway.

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