A new report indicates Iowa will need to build three new prisons in the next decade if current prison admission rates continue. Governor Tom Vilsack says the report raises lots of questions. The governor says the first question to ask is whether the current system is as safe and secure as possible. But Vilsack says the state needs to look at whether the 168-year-old Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison needs to be remodeled or completely replaced.
Vilsack says “The Fort” costs 12-million dollars more each year to operate, than any other state prison, and it might be wise to build a new facility that would be more secure and less costly to operate. Vilsack says the prison situation is one of many spending initiatives the legislature will have to examine thoroughly
“We’ll work with the legislature on this,” Vilsack says. “There are a lot of infrastructure needs that the state has.”
The state currently operates nine prisons with a capacity for 72-hundred inmates. The report concludes that by 2015, the prison system will have to house 10-thousand inmates. Experts estimate it would cost the state 50-million dollars to build a new, eight-hundred-bed prison.