Lockdown ends at Minn. prison more than a month after CO's slaying

The state Department of Corrections said the prison has resumed much of its normal activities, but the industry program is still under review


By Randy Furst
Minneapolis Star Tribune 

STILLWATER, Minn. — The Stillwater prison has lifted its lockdown more than one month after an inmate killed a corrections officer.

The state Department of Corrections said that it has resumed much of its normal activities at the Stillwater Correctional Facility, but the industry program remains under review and has not been restored.

Officer Joseph Gromm was killed by an inmate on July 18 at Stillwater Correctional Facility. (Photo/ODMP)
Officer Joseph Gromm was killed by an inmate on July 18 at Stillwater Correctional Facility. (Photo/ODMP)

Edward Muhammad Johnson, 42, who is serving a nearly 29-year sentence for second-degree murder, killed a corrections officer, Joseph Gomm, 45, on July 18 in a prison industry building where prisoners take welding and carpentry classes. Gomm was stabbed and bludgeoned with a hammer. The lockdown went into effect immediately afterward. Johnson made his first court appearance last week.

“Modifications to operations have been made, and will continue to be made, to ensure the safety of all officers, offenders and visitors,” the Corrections Department said.

Until a reconfiguration of the industry building is complete, offenders will not be participating.

Last Wednesday, the DOC came under fire from inmate advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, which criticized prison officials for the lengthy lockdown.

Inmates had been restricted to their cells — for as long as 23 hours a day — and critics said such long-term isolation can be detrimental to mental health. The ACLU suggested inmates were being punished for one prisoner’s actions. The Corrections Department disputed that.

According to a DOC spokesperson, restored programing includes in-unit recreation, religious programming, and access to phones and video visiting. Work in the kitchen, canteen and laundry have resumed, and educational programming including GED classes will resume this week.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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