The man who oversees the state’s prison system says the cold weather has slowed progress on the construction of the new state prison in Fort Madison. Iowa Department of Corrections director, John Baldwin, told lawmakers the proposed late March opening for the new state-of-the-art penitentiary will be pushed back to April or May.
Baldwin says the weather has been unusually cold for the area of the state he calls the “Riviera of Iowa.” “Typically in southeast Iowa we don’t get heavy freezes and snows — and guess what. That’s going to back us up a bit until we can get the ground ready,” Baldwin says. “So it depends on when Iowa warms up and it stops snowing again.”
The early start to winter made them scrap plans to pour outdoor exercise areas in late fall, and the mild weather they are used to in the area hasn’t materialized. “Which has shoved back some of these things we were going to do right at the very end. And so, we’re hoping for a really good spring — like next week,” Baldwin says.
Baldwin says its not unusual for prisons to open their doors even before all the work is done.