Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa and union leaders connected to USP Thomson have voiced new frustration about a lack of response to sexual assaults of workers at the federal prison.

More than 125 employees left USP Thomson last year. A letter from Ernst to the Bureau of Prisons indicated a lot of them left because of sexual misconduct inside the prison. She urged the bureau to create a workplace free of sexual harassment.    

She had a deadline of last week to have her questions related to that issue answered. Ernst says those answers didn’t come.

A statement to our Quad Cites News from a spokesperson for Ernst says “The Bureau of Prisons has once again failed to provide important data related to the sexual misconduct at UPT Thomson. Senator Ernst will continue her oversight and press for answers to ensure that BOP employees across the country have a workplace free from sexual misconduct.”

The union that represents a lot of those workers at Thomson made a claim against the prison system over the incidents. The Union says the former warden accused them of lying and faking in some of the complaints. That’s when the union went to lawmakers.

Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst (

“The director sent a non-response and Senator Ernst sent a letter over a month ago saying hey, we want you to respond to this,” said Jon Zumkehr, AFGE Local 4070 president. “And she didn’t respond. The director talked about in her testimony that she wants transparency and holding managers accountable. Well this isn’t transparency and she isn’t holding her manager accountable.”

However, union leadership says these incidents aren’t happening as often since a new warden took over the facility.