Governor Tom Vilsack says legislators must provide additional money to hire more prison guards. In-coming House Republican Leader Chuck Gipp of Decorah said nearly the same thing earlier this week. Gipp says the state’s prisons are growing unsafe due to low staffing levels, and lawmakers will provide extra money in January to hire more guards. Vilsack says the move is crucial. Vilsack says the system has too many inmates and not enough resources, and something’s “gotta give.” On Wednesday, Vilsack fired the director of Iowa’s prison system. Department of Corrections director Walter “Kip” Kautzky had been credited by legislators for avoiding prison riots in the midst of severe staff cuts. Vilsack, in a parting comment, said the prison director had been put in a difficult situation. But Vilsack praised the prison wardens and other front-line officers for their efforts in coping in an under-staffed system. Republicans have been reluctant to appear “soft on crime” and have opposed sentencing reforms which would send non-violent criminals to half-way houses or sentence them to probation rather than send ’em to prison. But Gipp, the House Republican Leader, on Wednesday said the “political and financial realities” mean legislators have to reconsider those ideas.
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