Just over 3,900 people are currently employed by the Iowa Department of Corrections. That number would be slashed to nearly 3,400 under the department’s plan to comply with the governor’s 10% across-the-board budget cut.
Brad Hier is the Deputy Director of Administration for the Department of Corrections. “This is a very trying and challenging time, to say the least,” Hier said. “We know that the plans laid out there right now…are preliminary. We know we’ll get through it, we’ll protect the public and safety for the staff and offender population. The vision and mission of the department does not change.”
The Corrections Department is financed almost entirely by state money. Hier says corrections officials, up to this point, have not discussed implementing furloughs to reduce the layoffs. “I believe there are other departments that have furlough considerations in their plans. The Department of Corrections does not,” Hier said. The job cutting plan also includes a proposal to close four towers overlooking the prison yard at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison. Hier says several other towers would remain open at various times.
“We would have many towers still open…at critical spots of that facility,” Hier said. In 2005, corrections officials blamed budget cuts for the escape of two inmates from the Fort Madison prison. The convicts climbed a prison wall near a security tower that was unstaffed. The two men, both serving life sentences, split up after the escape. One was was captured three days later in Illinois. The other convict was captured four days after the escape in Missouri.