A candidate for governor of Iowa has visited the state prison at Fort Madison, where two inmates escaped a month and-a-half ago. Sioux City Republican Bob Vander Plaats says he wanted to talk with people at the prison about their vision for correctional facilities in the state.
Vander Plaats says the tour was enlightening, including visits with the warden and other prison officials. “They have a heart and a passion,” he says, to serve well. Vander Plaats says he’d like to see a strategic plan for the entire corrections system in the state. He says he wants a look at the whole picture, what’s done and what could be done better, “But let’s not shortchange public safety in the process.” “It’s not leadership to respond just when something goes wrong,” says Vander Plaats. He says there should be some forethought about what can be done better to keep citizens safe.
Vander Plaats says the first step’s a strategic plan, he declares, possibly made up by a blue-ribbon commission, in regard to what the strengths and weaknesses are of the current prison system. He says decisions need to be made at the state level with a five- to ten-year plan, “versus a one-year vacuum.” He says such short-term decisions have led to responding only when things go wrong, and he’d take a more pro-active approach.