The Iowa Department of Corrections has released information about more problems that have delayed the opening of the new $132 million Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison. Rebecca Bowker executive officer at the Iowa State Penitentiary, says testing conducting by the State Fire Marshal’s office in late July found the facility’s smoke control system failed “to achieve code compliance.”
“We did some different modifications and found a way to provide some additional air flow, which then allowed our smoke control system to pass the test,” Bowker says. The new prison was supposed to open last spring, but problems arose with the geothermal heating and cooling system. Those problems have also been fixed. “It is my understanding that they have been addressed and the commissioning agent is on site this week to conduct the final testing that need to be done on that system,” Bowker says.
There’s still no timeline for transitioning inmates from the old Iowa State Penitentiary. “We have not had an opportunity to have those discussions yet,” Bowker says. “There are a lot of players involved in that conversation. We still have a little bit of refresher training that we need to complete with our staff.”
The new prison is designed to house up to 800 inmates.