Back in March, two staff members at the Anamosa State Penitentiary were attacked and eventually killed in an escape attempt by two inmates. Nurse Lorena Schulte and correctional officer Robert McFarland both died in the attack, and as Cord Overton, a spokesperson with the Iowa Department of Corrections (IDC) tells the Des Moines Register, inmates at the state's nine prisons have spent the weeks since the incident using their prison work wages to donate to memorial funds set up for the victims and their families.
Advocates say despite their reputation, most inmates are 'very caring people'
Sue Hutchins is the head of a Marion nonprofit called Living Beyond the Bars and wants to emphasize that inmates, in general, should not be judged by attacks like this. The remaining prisoners (and staff) at Anamosa remain deeply affected by the incident and in speaking about the incident, Hutchins said
What that says to me, is that the people who are incarcerated in prison, that I have contact with...they are very caring people, they feel awful about what happened, and their hearts go out to these family members
In addition to this fundraiser, Iowa prisoners often give back to organizations like Habitat for Humanity and Meals from the Heartland.
Eddie Walker was released from Anamosa in 2019 and tells the Register the killing of Schulte and McFarland hit him hard, saying that in his experience, the two were "some of the best people there."
How much money has been raised?
So far, officials at Anamosa say over $11,000 has been donated through direct donations and fundraisers. A GoFundMe page is still open to help the family of Robert McFarland.
What is the status of the trial of the accused attackers?
Michael Dutcher and Thomas Woodward, who will be tried separately have both pleaded not guilty to charges in the incident that led to the deaths of Schulte and McFarland. Their original trial date of June 22 has been moved to a date yet to be determined.