The man who killed two Waterloo police officers 20 years ago is not getting the maximum benefits from a medium-security prison.
James Michael "T-Bone" Taylor, 48, who is serving two life sentences for the July 1981 shooting deaths of Michael Hoing and Wayne Rice, has asked Department of Corrections staff to return him to the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison, according to a relative of one of the victims.
Taylor was transferred from a maximum-security unit at Fort Madison to a medium-security cell at the Newton Correctional Facility April 27. Prisoners with life sentences can be moved to a medium-security facility if they meet certain criteria.
News of the transfer brought an angry reaction from relatives of the slain officers, who first learned of it in July.
But now the son of the Michael Hoing said Department of Corrections officials told him Taylor isn't happy with his new accommodations and wants to go back to his old cell.
Corrections staff told Travis Hoing, who lives in the Des Moines area, they have denied Taylor's request to be returned to Fort Madison.
"Leave him there," Hoing said. "We would only be doing Taylor a favor by trying to have him moved back to Fort Madison."
He said other members of his family share his opinion.
Hoing reached his conclusion after meeting with a prison public relations employee and a victim services worker in Des Moines Aug. 1. He said Taylor's new living conditions are not any more cozy than those at Fort Madison.
At Fort Madison, Taylor had a private cell with its own television and was allowed to exercise in the yard anytime except during lockdown periods and lights out at the end of the day, corrections staff told Hoing.
Now Taylor shares a cell and a television set with two or three other inmates, and his exercise time is limited.
Hoing said he was assured the risk of escape at Newton is no greater than at Fort Madison. Where Fort Madison has a brick wall, Newton has two rows of pressure-sensitive electric fence topped with razor wire, he said.
Taylor was sentenced to life with no chance of parole for first-degree murder in connection with the July 12, 1981, deaths of Hoing and Rice. The officers had been sent to a loud-music complaint on Franklin Street when they became involved in a fight
Taylor grabbed Rice's handgun and shot him before firing a number of shots at Hoing, who was struggling with another man.
Under corrections policy, prisoners with life sentences can request reclassification if they have served 10 years of their time in maximum security and are clear of recent discipline.
Taylor has had only had two discipline reports since 1986, which is as far back as the Department of Corrections' computerized system tracks. Both reports were in 1986.