The Iowa Senate’s Oversight Committee plans to hold a public hearing to ask state officials why the new state prison in Fort Madison hasn’t opened. Senator Matt McCoy, a Democrat from Des Moines, is a member of the committee. “It’s now more than six months behind schedule and costing millions of dollars,” McCoy says.
The state has spent more than 132-million dollars to build a new, maximum security prison in Fort Madison, but the scheduled opening in March was delayed due to problems in the prison’s heating and cooling system. There is no date set for opening the facility, which is designed to house up to 800 inmates.
Senator Janet Petersen, a Democrat from Des Moines who is chairwoman of the Senate Oversight Committee, says legislators also have questions about movies that are being shown to prisoners. “So I know there’s a couple of areas of concern in the Department of Corrections,” Petersen says.
A woman who worked inside the prison is suing the state, arguing prisoners should not have been allowed to watch sexually-graphic movies and cable TV series like “Californication.” Prison officials in 2011 did bar videos with that kind of content, but movies with violent and sexual content had been shown in common areas of the prison prior to that, sometimes over and over.