Iowa Congressman Jim Nussle said Monday that the investigation into last week’s escape from Fort Madison by two prisoners should not be done by the Department of Corrections.
The first-district Republican, who’s running for Governor, said the Attorney General, the Department of Justice, or a private independent security firm should do the investigation, since it wouldn’t be right for an agency to investigate itself.
But Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack called that “nonsense,” charging that Nussle, who chairs the House Budget Committee, should take heed of the deep cuts he’s making to the federal budget. Vilsack says it cuts Medicaid or eliminating child-support recovery funding that’ll hurt the poor, elderly, disabled and people who’ll have to go onto welfare without their child support are problems caused by proposed federal cuts. “I think you should focus on that,” Vilsack, “rather than on the prison system,” and he adds the state will have a thorough, complete investigation of the prison escape but that suggesting an independent investigation is “ridiculous.”
Two inmates escaped from the penitentiary last Monday by using a makeshift grappling hook and rope to scale a wall near an unmanned guard tower. One prison worker’s been suspended in connection with the incident, and the governor’s said a second may be disciplined.
Governor Vilsack has added three more counties to Iowa’s emergency disaster declaration after this month’s tornadoes that destroyed homes in Boone, Story and Webster counties and killed one person. Along with Dallas and Hamilton counties, they’ll now be included in his request to President Bush for federal disaster designation. A presidential declaration would open the door to housing aid, counseling, unemployment compensation, and help with medical bills.