Marquette Branch Prison inmate assaults female officer, female counselor this week

A prisoner was involved in two assaults this week, against a female officer Aug. 2 and a female counselor Aug. 5.
 Marquette Branch Prison (Michigan Department of Corrections Image)
Marquette Branch Prison (Michigan Department of Corrections Image) (WLUC)
Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 4:55 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Two new assaults, involving the same prisoner, were reported this week at the Marquette Branch Prison (MBP).

According to Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) Spokesperson, Chris Gautz, the first assault happened on Monday, Aug. 2. A male inmate charged at a female officer while in the health care area of the prison. The officer was able to pull back away from the inmate, and other staff were there to intervene as well, Gautz said.

The officer did not need any medical treatment and remained at work.

Gautz said that prisoner was transferred to a temporary segregation area, where cells have an extra doorway and vestibule for added separation.

On Thursday, Aug. 5, a female counselor went to see the same male prisoner. While in the cell’s vestibule, the inmate grabbed her hand and pulled her arm through the prison bars, pinning her body to the bars. Gautz said the inmate twisted the counselor’s arm and wrist a bit, before she was able to break away from him and leave the vestibule area.

Gautz said that while the counselor originally declined medical treatment, she changed her mind as the injuries to her hand and wrist became more painful.

The prisoner has now been transferred to another prison.

The Aug. 5 incident is the seventh serious assault at the Marquette Branch Prison this year. The others happened on Feb. 27, March 3, March 7, March 12, April 17 and July 12.

Gautz said the MDOC has two main classifications for assaults at a prison, which includes “serious assaults,” where officers or other staff have to be treated for injuries at a hospital, and “assault and battery of staff,” which can include such things as pulling away from an officer while trying to be detained, throwing items at staff members from balconies, or even throwing urine and feces at staff.

There have been 69 reported incidents of “assault and battery of staff” at MBP this year, Gautz said.

He said all assaults, regardless of severity, are referred to local prosecutors for review. This is even true for the prisoner involved in these two incidents, even though he’s serving a life sentence.

“Typically, the prosecutor does not charge those that are not within a few years from the end of their sentence, and release, and that’s unfortunate,” Gautz said. “It’s just very frustrating.”

He says that assaults against the officers are just as important to charge as those that take place outside of prison walls.

“Being assaulted is not just part of the job,” Gautz said.

He said the MDOC has worked with the Michigan Corrections Officer Union to address this as well.

The MDOC has a wellness team who reaches out to staff members involved in all prison assaults.

“We take all incidents very seriously, and make sure that they are maintaining physical safety and mental wellbeing,” Gautz.

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