‘He was a disciplinary problem’: Anamosa inmates have connections to Woodbury County

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — State prison inmates Michael Dutcher and Thomas Woodward are now identified as the two men responsible for Tuesday’s attempted escape and fatal attack at the Anamosa Prison.

Both men previously spent time here in the Woodbury County Jail after being found guilty in connection to Siouxland robberies.

The Chief Deputy with Woodbury County Sheriff’s Department said Anamosa inmate Michael Dutcher was a disciplinary problem for them.

“He was a disciplinary problem for us also. He was housed here around 2018 that time frame and we had many incidents where we had to call out our jail swat team to deal with him and just a lot of disciplinary problems,” said Chief Deputy Tony Wingert.

Wingert said while working in a jail, your head is always on a swivel.

The Monona County Sheriff agrees. He said there’s no one way to train or prevent incidents like the one in Anamosa from happening, but there are ways to be prepared.

For Woodbury County jailers, the news of Dutcher’s violent attack didn’t come as a shock.

Wingert said Dutcher was involved in many incidents requiring the use of a swat team, during his many months behind bars in Sioux City.

“Some violent outbursts, some tendency’s for self-harm. He was just an anti-social individual,” said Wingert. “We would activate our specially trained team, our risk team, to come in and deal with him. now that might mean 4 or 5 guys going in with a shield and getting him in handcuffs so we can move him to a more controlled situation, or it may mean just talking to him and trying to deescalate the situation. He was a very difficult inmate to deal with.”

De-escalation training is one of the tactics correction officers are schooled in.

“We teach officers where to stand when they’re searching somebody. How to search somebody. How to properly handcuff and un-handcuff. When our officers are walking with an inmate, they’re trained to keep an eye on hands and never let anybody walk behind you,” Wingert added.

That’s something especially challenging in older and smaller facilities like the Monona County Jail.
Sheriff Jeff Pratt said his jailers are consistently in arms reach of inmates.

“We actually still have to do perimeter walk checks and we have to walk through the facility about every 15 minutes so they’re constantly back there in amongst jail mates walking around the cell blocks,” Sheriff Jeff Pratt said.

Sheriff Pratt said updated technology would limit the one-on-one contact his staff is forced to have with inmates.

“That tends to be when people get hurt is when you’re hands-on with individuals moving them from one place to another,” Pratt said.

Pratt adds all jailers go through a 20-hour jail certification class and learn verbal judo which is the martial art of the mind and mouth to help de-escalate situations.

Wingert and Pratt find themselves on opposite ends of the security spectrum.

Late last year, Woodbury County voters approved the construction of a new $50 million jail facility in Sioux City.

Sheriff Pratt was not as fortunate as Monona County voters for the second time rejected funding for a new facility there.

Dutcher was found guilty of robbing the Travelodge Motel on Harbor Drive back in 2015, as well as the Super 8 located on Stone Avenue. He was also found guilty of robbing a Holstein bank and been housed at the Anamosa Prison since 2018.

Woodard also has a connection to Sioux City. He was accused of robbery in the first-degree and crime of burglary in the first-degree in Woodbury County back in 2014.

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