The Iowa Senate has given initial approval to a quarter of a billion dollar spending plan to build a new maximum security prison, a new state prison for women and more space in halfway houses.
The bill which cleared the Senate just before midnight calls for building the new maximum prison in Fort Madison. Senator Gene Fraise, a Democrat from Fort Madison, argues that makes sense. “The community is attuned to a maximum security prison forever. We have the land to build it on and there’s been some new infrastructure put in just a few years ago — sewer, water up to the farm,” Fraise says. “It’s just a half-mile up the road from the main facility.”
But Senator Paul McKinley, a Republican from Chariton, argues building the new prison in central Iowa makes more sense. “Unfortunately we did not examine any other site where it could or should have been built,” McKinley says.
The plan must also be endorsed by the House. Governor Culver started talking about building a new prison in Fort Madison in 2006, while he was running for governor and he’s expected to ratify the Democratic-led legislature’s prison decision.
Today may be the final day of the 2008 Iowa legislative session. A few topics remain unresolved, including the final components of a roughly six-and-a-half billion dollar spending plan for state government.