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23rd Iowa inmate dies of COVID-19, Department of Corrections announces

A total of 23 inmates in Iowa's correctional facilities have died from COVID-19, according to the Department of Corrections.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above originally aired on Nov. 23, 2020. See the full story here.

A total of 23 inmates in Iowa prisons have died from the novel coronavirus, according to the Iowa Department of Corrections (DOC).

A DOC release says Kenneth Howell Jr., 59, died on Jan. 23 "likely due to complications related to COVID-19 and other preexisting conditions" at the Clarinda Regional Health Center.

Howell Jr. had been serving a maximum 35-year sentence for Prohibited Acts — Manufacture, Delivery, Possession from Lee County. His sentence began on Oct. 16, 2018.

The data on the DOC's dashboard was last updated on Jan. 25 at 8:30 a.m. with 211 cases— 124 inmates and 87 staff — across Iowa's nine DOC facilities.  

Below is a breakdown of inmate deaths for each facility as of the latest death. Howell Jr.'s death does not appear input on the DOC website, thus a total of 22 below:

  • Anamosa State Penitentiary: 6
  • Clarinda Correctional Facility: 1
  • Fort Dodge Correctional Facility: 4
  • Iowa Medical and Classification Center (IMCC): 5
  • Iowa State Penitentiary: 5
  • Newton Correctional Facility: 1

One staff member from the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women died from COVID on Nov. 16. The other staff member worked at the Clarinda Correction Facility. They died on Nov. 28, according to the DOC.

The first inmate death was reported on July 6, 2020. Two other inmates died that month. One prisoner died in September 2020. 

Deaths from COVID-19 in Iowa's prisons spiked in November. Six inmates died between Nov. 8 through 24. This spike goes along with the surge in cases in Iowa.

Three inmates died in December, four died in January and two died in February. No inmate deaths were reported from March through July 2021. 

Here is the list of inmates who have died from COVID-19: 

  1. Ray Vanlegen (7-6-2020)
  2. Ronald Holdsworth (7-11-2020)
  3. Timothy McGhee Jr. (7-27-2020) 
  4. Richard Peters (9-6-2020)
  5. David Streets (11-8-2020)
  6. Gene Dryer (11-14-2020) 
  7. Jonathan Strain (11-16-2020) 
  8. Robert Sirovy (11-17-2020)
  9. Timothy Bryant (11-22-2020)
  10. Frederick Lewis (11-23-2020)
  11. Larry Whaley (12-5-2020)
  12. Mark Steven Baily (12-10-2020)
  13. Dale Dean Viers (12-20-2020)
  14. Jessie Gonzales (1-7-2021)
  15. Harold Duncan (1-26-2021) 
  16. James Kleppe (1-29-2021)
  17. Robert Taylor (1-31-2021)
  18. Steven Van Riper (2-4-2021)
  19. Kevin McDonnell (2-23-2021)
  20. James Lee Blair (8-27-2021)
  21. Phillip Benito Cuevas (9-4-2021)
  22. Ray Gene Triplett (9-15-2021) 
  23. Kenneth Howell Jr. (1-23-2022)

The youngest inmate to die was 48-year-old Timothy McGhee. The oldest inmate was 89-year-old Harold Duncan. 

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