A key state senator says it’s time to hire more guards in the state’s maximum security prison. Senator Eugene Fraise, a Democrat from Fort Madison, says he was concerned about prison staffing long before the two inmates escaped in November from the state’s maximum security prison in Fort Madison.
Fraise says the state is relying too heavily on forced overtime for the prison guards that are on the payroll. “The last few years (legislators) keep hearing about (who) people can’t take vacations, they can’t go to their kid’s graduations. There (are) all kinds of morale problems with the people,” Fraise says. He believes working overtime repeatedly means the prison guards aren’t as “sharp” as they should be. “I know anybody (who) works overtime day after day after day (loses) their edge,” Fraise says.
Fraise says he hopes lawmakers will provide enough state money to properly staff the state’s prisons. When Fraise first learned of the prison break-out at Iowa’s maximum security prison in November, he expressed concern that the guard towers at “The Fort” were not staffed 24 hours a day because a “taut wire” system had been installed on the prison walls that was supposed to alert guards of an attempt to escape.
“In order to cover the towers right now, I understand that they’ve got people in there working overtime in order to do that,” Fraise says. “I think we probably need to make sure we have adequate officers to cover all the situations not only at Fort Madison but at all the other correctional facilities.”