A prison work program that allowed two inmates to escape in November will resume operating by March. But plans call for fewer than half the 122 inmates who were in the program to return. Program Director Roger Baysden says the workshop isn’t secure enough to accommodate more than about fifty. He calls the escape “a real wake-up call for everyone,” and says the Corrections department is embarrassed by it, “but we’re gonna move on.”
Baysden says those who remain on the job will face much tighter security to prevent any more escapes. When inmates come into a shop he says supervisors will get a list of names and check them off. When a door opens for a vehicle to come into the prison or leave, production will stop, inmates will go to the center of the building and will be counted off. He says they’ve really beefed up the internal security in the prison industry operation.
The prison industries program at Fort Madison has been shut down since November, and Baysden says during that time he’s had to turn down a contract to make dormitory furniture for a school in another state, an order that would have been worth one-point-three-Million dollars. The future for prison industries is “pretty bright,” he still insists, saying the November escape from Fort Madison was “merely a wake-up call for all of us.”
While he wishes it had never happened, he says now it’s time to move on. Baysden has a plan to move prison industry jobs to other facilities around the state, so they don’t lose more contracts. He says it’ll actually create more jobs at the prisons in Rockwell City, Mitchellville, and Anamosa than were lost at Fort Madison.
“We’re not going to abandon Fort Madison,” Baysden says, “we just need to get rolling before all our customers take off.” He says he just wants to get back into business now. Baysden says being involved in work programs will help prevent inmates from returning to prison once they’ve served their sentences.