Roughly 228 million dollars worth of renovations to Iowa’s prison facilities were put into motion today. Governor Chet Culver signed into law a measure that includes plans to replace the maximum-security Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison.
Culver says he’s always felt it was good idea to build the new prison in Fort Madison. "You’ve got the best correctional officers in America right there. They’ve been doing this for generations. They’re the real pros, the real experts. The community has embraced the idea of really making that a centerpiece of their community and a very vital part of southeast Iowa," Culver said after signing the bill in Fort Madison.
Construction on a new 800-bed maximum security facility in Fort Madison is expected to begin in July 2010. Some lawmakers and others argued a new penitentiary should be centrally located in the state – closer to hospitals and other services prisoners require.
"It just makes sense to keep that talented workforce right there," Culver said. "With this kind of investment, about 160 million dollars, you’re going to create jobs." The legislation includes an expansion and upgrade to the Mitchellville women’s prison and money to expand community corrections facilities in Waterloo, Sioux City and Ottumwa. Iowa’s prisons currently hold over 8,600 inmates. That number is projected to grow to more than 9,700 by the year 2017.