A key Republican legislator rejects the idea Monday night’s prison break happened because of state budget cuts. Representative Lance Horbach, a Republican from Tama, says in each of the past two years legislators provided more money to the state’s prison system than prison administrators or the governor had requested.
“The funding has not been the problem,” Horbach says. Another legislator, Democrat Senator Eugene Fraise said he believes budget cuts that led to empty guard towers at the state’s maximum security prison are to blame for the escape of the two convicted murderers.
Horbach says the problem was the break down in the recently-installed security system. A newly-installed hot wire system on the prison’s walls and fences is supposed to be “touch sensitive” and for some reason it did not immediately notify guards that someone was trying to scale the prison’s wall.
Horbach says prison officials need to answer some other security questions. The two inmates were part of a work group in the prison yard. “What enabled these two inmates to break away from their group and thus escape within the next hour or two?” Horbach says. “So there are questions to be asked, but I think the appropriate questions aren’t being asked at this time and I think the focus is being misdirected. We need to focus at doing everything possible to maintain public safety while these two criminals are out and about and make sure they get captured.”
Horbach is chairman of a House panel that drafts the budget for the state prison system.