The out-going director of Iowa’s prison system says state policymakers should consider designating a single prison for drug-addicted inmates. Iowa Department of Corrections director Gary Maynard resigned last week to take a job overseeing Maryland’s prison system. Maynard says Iowa could save money by housing inmates with substance abuse problems in one location.
"Currently, every prison tries to be all things to all inmates. They try to provide dental services. They try to provide medical services, pharmaceutical services, substance abuse treatment services, sex offender treatment services, mental health services — all of that," Maynard says. "It’s not cost effective." After two inmates escaped from the state’s oldest prison, the penitentiary in Fort Madison, in the fall of 2005, Maynard called for building a new maximum security prison.
But Maynard also thinks the old prison in Fort Madison should salvaged. "My thought is that the old penitentiary facility be downgraded from maximum to a low-medium or a high-minimum facility where you can provide another 500 or 600 beds for drug treatment," Maynard says. "That won’t require the severe and extensive staffing required for maximum security." Maynard also warns that Iowa policymakers face a looming problem dealing with female inmates.
The women’s prison in Mitchellville houses 650 women. Maynard says it’s poorly designed, hard to supervise, and it’s not big enough. Another 100 women are incarcerated in Mount Pleasant and as many as 50 are behind bars in Oakdale. "So we’ve got our women (prisoners) scattered in three different places. None of the housing is really adequate," Maynard says. "At Mount Pleasant, it’s a problem just to get the women over to eat in the dining hall because they have to pass by the men’s quarters. It’s a terrible situation." Today is Maynard’s last day on the job in Iowa.